24 January 2007

Flag Day demonstrations in Pristina turn into riots against UN

KiM Info Newsletter 29-11-06

Albanian Flag Day demonstrations in Pristina turn into open riots and destruction of UN property

Reminiscences of March 2004 riots. This time Pan-Albanian Flag Day"celebration" turned only against internationals but Serbs now even more fear for their future in such violent Kosovo (riots in front of UN HQ building in Pristina, Nov 28)

KIM Info-service, November 29, 2006

U.N. police in Kosovo fired teargas to disperse ethnic Albanian protesters lobbing stones at the U.N. HQ on Tuesday. Thousands of protesters demonstrating against U.N.-led efforts to decide the fate of the breakaway province, smashed windows and threw red paint on the UN HQ building during a rampage through the capital. The crowd was dispersed after U.N. riot police fired teargas from inside the U.N. compound.

According to the  Kosovo police statement the demonstrations led by Albin Kurti, the leader of the radical organization "Self-Determination" (Vetevendosje) turned into open riots in front of the UN Mission builiding in Pristina. The rioters violently removed the 4m high protecting fence and began throwing incineratinf devices on policemen in front of the building. The rioters threw rocks and the red paint on office windows. In order to prevent further damage to the UN property and attacks on its personnel the UN riot police used teargas to disperse the crowd.

However, the police did not report that anyone has been arrested after the riots as the international police remained barricaded in the UN compound area. KFOR vehicles and soldiers were not noticed during the violent events.

UN HQ building after the visit of Albin Kurti's "peaceful protesters", Nov 28, Pristina, Kosovo Is this gratitude of Kosovo for billions of euros invested into the Province after 1999 war?

Self-determination movement is a radical organization which is supporting proclamation of Kosovo's independence without negotiations and international mediation. Their activists have organized dozens of rallies throughout Kosovo openly speaking against negotiations with Serbia and against decentralization, return of refugees and protection of Serbian holy sites which they brand as "partition, recolonisation and extrateritoriality".  Self-determination acts ususally together with most radical elements of the former KLA and many of their activists have been arrested by Kosovo police for their violent actions and destruction of the international property. "They gave us hope that they could grow into a constructive youth movement but I am afraid they are turning into an open faschist organization", said one high international representative in Pristina expressing serious fears that Self-determination is acting in a counter-productive way for the Albanian population in Kosovo too.

Political analysts think that the Self-Determination together with most radical right-wing Albanian organizations in Kosovo want so called "unification of all Albanian lands (Ethnic Albania)" and see Kosovo's independence as only one step in that direction. Their rethoric, aggressive methods, open hatred against non-Albanian communities and internationals as well as glorification of most extreme KLA elements give a grim picture of ideals of at least one part of Kosovo Albanian youth. Self-determination has never condemned any post-war crime against Kosovo Serbs nor has shown that in their vision of Kosovo's future exists anyone else but ethnic Albanians. On the other hand their rethoric is following the old patterns of Communist time anti-Western ideology presenting the international community as the enemy of Albanians, neo-colonisers and imperialists.

Kosovo Serb organizations lodged a protest to the UN Mission because the Flag Day was proclaimed a non-working day in Kosovo. "This holiday does not reflect the tradition of all Kosovo's citizens and gives a wrong message for the Province's future" Kosovo Serb politicians advised.

Hardly any window on the UN building remained intact after the riots

Pristina, Nov 28, 2006

Here is a part of Self-determination proclamation distributed before the Flag Day explaining why this holiday is celebrated by Albanians:

"The 28th November has a special symbolism in the national history of Albanians. The first ‘28th November’ was the liberation of Krujë by Gjergj Kastrioti ‘Skenderbeu’ 563 years ago. Throughout a quarter of a century he led the Albanian war against the greatest empire of that time, the Ottoman Empire. The second marked the declaration of independence on Flag Day by what remained of Albania in 1912. Over half of Albanian lands remained outside the official Albanian state. The conference of Ambassdors in London in 1913 legalized this fragmentation.

Nine years ago, was the third great ‘November’. On 28th November, the KLA publicly appeared. And the legendary commander of the KLA, Adem Jashari, was born on 28th November 1952. Despite all our unending suffering through the centuries, the bloody wars and losses suffered, the Albanian people face another danger. Albanian lands outside official Albania have been subjected to fragmentation and to the control of our unrelenting enemy, Serbia. The people of Kosova are now oppressed by the political institutions of UNMIK. They are trampling our rights in every field of social life: politics and education, economy and health.

Serbia is the one that continues her hegemonic aggression towards Kosova, she is making plans to fragment our homeland through decentralization. Our enmity with this criminal state is not a matter of history: it belongs to the present and therefore endangers us in the future. With ‘ext-erritoriality’, decentralization and recolonization, Serbia is intending the consolidation and institutionalization of her state inside Kosova...The three projects through which the government of Serbia is intending the institutionalization and strengthening of the participation of its state in over 1/3 of our country are decentralization, ‘exterritoriality’ of Orthodox churches and monasteries and the recolonization of Kosova" (quoted from Self-Determination bulletin 19, November 26, Pristina)

UN personnel and journalists found refuge on the top of the building  while at least 5000 rioters smashed the windows and painted the building red


Albanians in South Serbia Remove Serbian, Display Albanian Flag

Preševo, 28 Nov. (Tanjug)

Albanians in Preševo removed the Serbian flag and instead displayed three Albanian flags.

Serbian flag was taken off the municipal building as part of the Albanian national holiday celebrations in the south of Serbia. Preševo municipal president Ragmi Mustafa told journalists that the display of Albanian flags instead of the Serbian should ”not be viewed as an incident”, adding that ”Albanians in Serbia have the right to their own symbols”.

Democratic Union president Skender Destani meanwhile expressed his dissatisfaction with the act, and said it left him “surprised, depressed and offended”. He told journalists that had he seen the flag removed and replaced, he would’ve left the Albanian Flag Day celebrations. He also asked for the authorities to establish who is responsible for the event.

Some 2,000 local Albanians, mostly elementary and high school students took part in the ceremonies in Preševo.

The organizers played the Albanian national anthem, after which the gathering paid tribute to the dead members of the officially disbanded Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac Liberation Army (UCPMB).

The stage holding the choir collapsed at the end of the ceremony, but no one was injured.