More attacks on church in Kosovo

A loose translation of the article from the Diocesan website of Ras-Prizren (here)

Frequent attacks and provocations of Serbian Orthodox Churches in Kosovo and Metohija Continue

The Diocese of Ras and Prizren has expressed deep concern today over the latest in a series of attacks on religious buildings of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija. Last night around 10pm, stones were thrown at the church of St. Petka in Vitina and on St. George’s Day unidentified persons attempted to remove the church flag (tri-color, red, white and blue) from the bell tower from the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the town of Klokot. We remind you that money and church valuables were stolen from the neighboring town of Partes earlier this year from the Holy Trinity Church (here).

These incidents before Pascha were not isolated in the southern parts of Kosovo and Metohija. In the village of Drajkovce near Strpce, the church of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and the Church of St. Demetrius in Donja Bitinja were broken into. All of those reported attacks and robberies, which the police allegedly took over for investigation, have not been resolved, or at least our Diocese has not been informed of it, nor has the damage been compensated. The biggest damage was done near the church in Vitomirica, where construction material worth 4,000 Euros were stolen.

Today, in the protected zone of the church of the Most Holy Mother of God in Lipljan, the local priest reported to the police that stones were thrown on the church. During the incident, a window on a 14th-century church was broken. The priest reported the incident to the police, however, there was no reaction because the police officers on duty did not speak Serbian. UMNIK and international representatives were informed about the incident.

Stones were thrown at the St. John the Baptist Church, known as the “Metropolitanate”, in the center of the city of Pec a few days ago. A window was broke during the attack. The attackers either entered the church gate, which is allegedly secured by the police, or they threw stones at the church from a nearby building. A priest who lives alone in the parish house beside the church is concerned about this incident as this, like many other churches now being looted and attacked, was set on fire and desecrated during the great Albanian pogrom of 2004 when, in two days, 32 churches were destroyed or severely damaged and two monasteries were completely destroyed.

This latest wave of violence is not only – as Kosovo institutions would like to say – part of everyday life which also includes break-ins in mosques. Attacks on Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo and Metohija are occurring continuously and for the most part have an ethnic and religious background as they are directed specifically against a community whose presence obviously bothers someone.

The Diocese of Ras and Prizren will inform the head of the European Mission in Kosovo and the head of the EULEX mission, as well as the Quint ambassadors and KFOR representatives, about these latest attacks. Complaints to Kosovo institutions are pointless because this violence is the product of aggressive rhetoric coming from the very top of Kosovo institutions, which instead of solving the problems of population, economy and facing the COVID pandemic, attack Serbia every day with the the most offensive words and collectively accuse the Serbian people and even our church.

Such behavior directly produces a dangerous potential for violence and international representatives must be aware that local authorities are politically manipulating the population in order to amortize their own problems. At the same time, the pressure on Serbs complicates the everyday life of our people, who have already lost all trust in the police and institutions of Kosovo Albanians due to disrespect for laws and court decisions, as is the case regarding the Visoki Decani Monastery.

The Diocese will seek from the international representatives additional protection from the violation of our basic religious and human rights. We expect the institutions of Serbia, which regularly help us, to start solving our problems at a higher international level.

Gracanica-Prizren May 10, 2021

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