Cemetery in Kosovo desecrated
6 November 2010 | 19:38 | Source: Tanjug

DEČANI — Serbs who visited the cemetery in Dečani, western Kosovo, to mark the All Souls’ Day on Saturday found that the Orthodox graves have been desecrated.

This is according to official of the Dečani municipal assembly Snežana Paunović.

“The previous visit to the Orthodox cemetery was organized on August 28, 2010. The cemetery was found overgrown with weeds, but no visible damage was done to the tombstones. But today, two months later, we found tombs violated and human remains scattered around the cemetery,” Paunović told Tanjug. [Note previous documentation of Albanians digging up Serbian remains, as well as the phenomenon of risking life and limb to visit dead relatives in Kosovo.]

She noted that during the day, a problem occurred with regard to organizing the Kosovo police (KPS) escort, although the KPS was notified in advance about the visit to the cemetery.

Other Serb IDPs who visited the graves of their loved ones today reported incidents. [See below.]

Kosovo: Automatic gunfire near cemetary

6 November 2010 | 11:57 -> 18:22 | Source: Beta, Tanjug

BELGRADE — Shots from automatic weapons were fired in close proximity of a cemetery in the village of Mušutište while Serbs were visiting the graves of their loved ones.

Serb IDPs are seen on site of the destroyed church stood (Beta)

The incident happened as the internally displaced Serbs, now residing in central Serbia, visited the cemetery near Suva Reka, to mark the Orthodox All Souls Day.

The persons who opened fire remain unknown, while reports said that Kosovo police, KPS, members went to “suspicious locations”, with an investigation under way.

KFOR troops, which “oversaw the visit of the Serbs”, said that police were investigating the scene, and that should they find any evidence, they will send it to KFOR.

However, KPS in Prizren said during the day that they received no reports about any shooting incidents.

Meanwhile a representative of the Serb confirmed the incident and said about 50 people ventured from central Serbia to their native village today, from which they were driven out by ethnic Albanians.

“Unfortunately we were welcomed by automatic gunfire. It’s not pleasant, but the shooting did not scare us,” said Dragoljub Milošević, and added that the IDPs “still wish to return” and that they expect their homes to be rebuilt in the spring.

Some of the Serbs in Muštište today managed to light candles at the graves of their loved ones, while those who could not reach the graves lit candles on the ruins of an Orthodox church, which was destroyed in an explosion.

Escorted by KPS and KFOR, other Serbs today visited cemeteries in the villages of Sopina and Rečan.

[NOTE by Gorin: Recall from 2008:

…Serb Orthodox cemeteries and chapels located at the grounds are regularly vandalized, with tombstones broken and crosses ripped out, while those visiting the graves are escorted by UNMIK police.

The divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica is one such example – while the northern majority-Serb part has some Albanian and Bosniak inhabitants, no Serbs live in the southern, Albanian part.

But the Serb cemetery is located south of the Ibar River, which divides the troubled town. Yesterday, UNMIK and Kosovo police escorted some 400 Serbs from the north to the graveyard. As has been the case in the past eight years, they found it desecrated and derelict.

Reports said that approximately 80 percent of the Orthodox tombstones there have been vandalized.

“Albanian gravestones look brand new compared to ours, which are almost all destroyed, especially lately. The only reason why a tombstone can bother someone is if they mean to destroy any sign that we ever existed here,” Nenad Milenković, a Serb from northern Kosovska Mitrovica, said after visiting the graves of his parents.

Bisenija Kovačević, who lost her husband 12 years ago, said that while she used to be able to go to his grave each week, this is now only possible when armed escort is organized.

“What hurts the most is that I can’t visit his grave freely when I feel the need to. There’s nothing worse than arriving to find a grave that no longer has a headstone,” she said.

More that 500 Serb graves have been desecrated since 1999, when the new burials there stopped. The Albanian cemetery in the northern part of the town, agencies reported, is not damaged.

A similar scene is reported in the Serb graveyard in Priština. Some Serbs are considering moving the remains of their family members out of the Priština cemetery and to the places where they can be properly protected.

Only around 20 Serbs yesterday braved visiting the graveyard, to quickly light candles and remove the grass and weed from the neglected graves.

Ilija Trajković of Priština, now displaced and living in the Serb enclave of Gračanica, came to the cemetery in a UN vehicle Saturday. He says the scene he and his wife find each time they arrive is “more and more horrible”.

“This here looks horrible. Each time we find new tombstones broken. If you wish to see the degree of a society’s development, come to a graveyard, and it will be obvious,” he was bitter. […]]