09 July 2007

Serbs from Kosovo visit graves escorted by Kosovo police

Radio Television Serbia, Belgrade, Saturday, February 10, 2007 18:02


On the occasion of Memorial Saturday hundreds of Serbs visited Orthodox cemeteries in Pristina, the southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica, Obilic, Suva Reka, Kosovo Polje and Pec. With the exception of Pristina, Serbs once again traveled to the cemeteries escorted by security forces.


On Memorial Saturday Serbs from northern Kosovska Mitrovica visited the Orthodox cemetery located in the southern part of the city, which is inhabited by Kosovo Albanians. Serbs arrived at the cemetery in southern Mitrovica, where some 70 percent of tombstones and grave markers have been destroyed, escorted by members of the Kosovo Police Service. There were no incidents during the visit.


Local residents emphasize that religious feasts of Memorial Saturday are the only time they can venture with a police escort to visit the graves of their deceased relatives and friends in the southern, Albanian part of the city.


In the Serb cemetery in the southern part of Kosovska Mitrovica more than 500 tombstones and gravemarkers have been toppled or destroyed. Since 1999 no Serbs have been buried there.


Approximately 30 Orthodox faithful visited the cemetery in Pristina on Memorial Saturday. Unlike in previous years, there was no organized transportation from central Serbia and the few citizens quickly lit candles and headed back to the villages of central Kosovo.


Representatives of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija advised that the provincial government and international forces rejected a request by the Center to organize transportation for Serbs to Pristina.


Two churches in villages near Lipljan broken into


The churches of St. Panteleimon and the Holy Trinity in Serb villages in Lipljan municipality were broken into by unknown persons who stole 40,000 dinars and several religious artifacts.


The wooden door on the church of St. Panteleimon in the village of Lepina was destroyed and approximately 10,000 dinars were stolen.


In the neighboring village of Skulanevo about 30,000 dinars donated by the faithful on the eve of Memorial Saturday was stolen, as well as the liturgical book "Trebnik" and other religious artifacts.


Despite the fact that the churches are located in the center of either village, none of the local residents noticed they had been robbed during the night until the morning.


The break ins were reported to the Kosovo Police Service which went to either scene and launched an investigation.