[Marxism] Update on Yugoslav Ethnic Riots

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 23 08:38:48 MST 2004

Kosovo Declares Day of Mourning
Mon Mar 22
By FISNIK ABRASHI, Associated Press Writer

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro - The top U.N. official in Kosovo inspected Serb 
homes damaged in fires set last week by ethnic Albanian mobs as the province 
marked a day of mourning Monday for the 28 people who died in the ethnic 

Harri Holkeri expressed his shock over the recent violence, but said he 
remained determined to see peace established in the troubled province.

"Kosovo is a test for humanity and we will win in that battle," Holkeri told 
reporters as he walked through an apartment complex in Pristina set ablaze 
Wednesday by ethnic Albanians. The Serbs who lived there were evacuated 
after the attacks and brought to safety at a NATO camp.

Touring with him was Kosovo's ethnic Albanian prime minister, Bajram 
Rexhepi, who promised that his government would try to repair damage 
inflicted on the Serb community by funding the reconstruction of destroyed 
homes and churches.

"But what we cannot repair is the lost lives," Rexhepi said.

Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo's president, promised a thorough investigation into 
the violence and promised action to remedy the source of the hatred.

But he also repeated his calls for the province to become independent — the 
most contentious issue here.

Meanwhile, flags flew at half staff and classical music was played on Kosovo 
television, as the province marked a day of mourning.

Last week's attacks were the worst outbreak of violence since 1999, when a 
NATO air war ended a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians seeking 
independence. The war killed 10,000 ethnic people.

Kosovo has since been an international protectorate, its final status to be 
decided some time in the future by the United Nations (news - web sites). 
For now, it officially remains a part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor 
state of Yugoslavia.

Throughout Serbia-Montenegro, flags were also lowered and Serbian Orthodox 
priests led liturgies and prayer services Sunday as the country mourned the 
victims. As church bells tolled, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, 
Patriarch Pavle, appealed for calm.

Also Sunday, thousands in Kosovo attended the funeral of two ethnic Albanian 
boys whose drowning was blamed on the Serbs and had sparked the violence.

The deaths of the boys on Tuesday triggered days of rioting, looting and 
arson by ethnic Albanian mobs against Serbs. About 600 people were injured 
and 4,000 were homeless by week's end.

The violence in Kosovo in turn set off riots in Serbia — these targeting 
ethnic Albanians. On Monday the Belgrade police chief was fired for failing 
to stop a Serb mob from torching the capital's only mosque. The government 
of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica (news - web sites) has claimed it 
ordered the mosque secured.

The unrest illustrated the depth of hatred between Kosovo's mostly Muslim 
ethnic Albanians, who want independence, and Orthodox Christian Serbs, a 
minority in Kosovo, who want the U.N.-run province to remain part of 
Serbia-Montenegro. NATO has tried to keep the peace here since the end of 
the war in 1999.

With fresh troops now visible and deployed throughout the province, NATO 
took steps to keep law and order on streets wracked for days by chaos.

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