31 tetor 2023
The claim that the Serbian cemeteries were damaged on the orders of the Government is refuted
Prepared by: Ridona Berisha
The claim by the Serbian List that the cemeteries in the north of Mitrovica are being damaged on the orders of the Government has been refuted by Kosovo's institutions. The reason for revisiting these accusations that these actions are coordinated to damage Serbian properties is the reconstruction of the house of an Albanian resident in the north of Mitrovica. According to the initial accounts of the authorities investigating the case, there was no decision to damage the cemeteries; instead, they were damaged by the Albanian homeowner of a house in the north of Mitrovica. The Kosovo Police have initiated an investigation and halted their work.
On October 24, 2023, the Serbian portal "Novosti.rs" published an article titled: "THEY HAVE NO MERCY EVEN FOR THE DEAD: Albanians opened a road through old Serbian cemeteries in the north of Mitrovica, bones scattered on the street (VIDEO)." "Kurir" also wrote about this, claiming: "ALBANIANS DIG UP SERBIAN GRAVES IN KOSOVO: Disgraceful scene in the north of Mitrovica, BONES SCATTERED on the road." Other Serbian media outlets such as "Alo.rs," "Euronews.rs," "Blic.rs," and "Kosova Online" shared articles with similar content. The reports were accompanied by the publication of videos showing the remains of bones on the street where the excavation took place.
Photo: Serbian news portal Kurir.rs
In relation to this, the Serbian List has also reacted, condemning the excavation of Serbian Orthodox graves in the northern part of Mitrovica, which they claim is being carried out by Albanian companies under the orders of the government led by Albin Kurti. This entity has called on the international community to intervene and also as they stated, to "stop this desecration of Serbian graves." According to them, the entire Serbian population in Kosovo "is saddened, with reasonable mistrust and anger towards this shameful, inhumane, and antiquity-destroying act."
Meanwhile, on October 25, 2023, the former head of the Court of Appeal in North Mitrovica, Nikolla Kabashiq, filed a criminal complaint on behalf of the residents of this city.
"Today, near the North Mitrovica Police Station, around twenty dissatisfied citizens gathered, who wanted to file a complaint regarding the excavation of graves, and at the request of the police not to open numerous cases based on the same complaint, it was agreed that Kabashiq would submit a joint complaint on their behalf," reported local media in the north regarding the Serbians' complaint.
Photo: Statement from the Ministry of Local Government Administration
However, this claim was denied by the Ministry of Local Government Administration, which stated that the excavations were not carried out on their authority.
"The accusations made by the Serbian List that the Government of the Republic of Kosovo ordered excavations in the Orthodox cemeteries in the north of Mitrovica are entirely untrue and baseless. We want to inform the public that there is no decision, either from the Government of the Republic of Kosovo or from the Municipality, for any such work," the Ministry's response stated. They explained that the subsidy recipient is obligated to contract an economic operator for the construction of the house. Therefore, the Ministry has absolved itself of responsibility for the damage to the graves, stating that "this program only finances the construction of houses and not road infrastructure."
Meanwhile, the homeowner who started excavations in the north for the construction of the house, and whose work was halted by the police, claims that the interventions were made on the road that has existed for 35 years. "We cleaned the road to access the property, to remove the debris from here," he said. However, the work was suspended by the North Municipality Inspectorate until the completion of the investigations. Several weeks ago, the Kosovo government decided to subsidize the construction of houses for Albanians in the predominantly Serbian-populated north, whose homes were damaged by natural disasters and other misfortunes during the period from 1998 to 1999.
Following the tensions in the north that began at the end of May of this year when Albanian mayors were appointed to municipal offices, the Serbian List has accused official Prishtina of aiming to expel Serbs from Kosovo, drawing conclusions even about the cases that are under investigation.
*This article is published as part of the Western Balkans Regional Initiative against disinformation. Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: exposing malign influences through watchdog journalism.
31 tetor 2023