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News 17 Apr 12

Serb Nationalists Threaten Mitrovica Albanians

The Serb ultranationalist organization Obraz has left messages on the doors of Kosovo Albanians living in the Serb-run north of the town, reading “We are coming.”

Fatmir Aliu
Pristina / Mitrovica

“Dolazimo” (“We are coming”) is the ominous message that the ultra-nationalist Obraz group has left on the doors the few remaining Kosovo Albanians living in the northern, Serb-run of the divided town of Mitrovica.

Kosovo Police say they are investigating the leaflets posted on apartments owned by Albanian families in the mixed “Three Skyscrapers” neighbourhood of Mitrovica, which was the scene of violence in recent weeks.

Police spokesperson Besim Hoti told BIRN on Tuesday that the leaflets together with the Obraz logo were reported on Monday by several Kosovo Albanian families who found them stuck to their doors.

Obraz espouses a vision of a Great Serbia populated only by Orthodox Christians - and in the past it has not shrunk from advocating physical force to achieve its goals.

Obraz says it strives for the spiritual renewal of Serbdom through a combination of “Serbian patriotism and Orthodox love for God”. According to Obraz, “There is no healthy Serbian society without a healthy Christian spirituality.”

For all its self-proclaimed spiritual values, in many people’s eyes the movement is more obviously dedicated to stirring up religious, ethnic and racial hatred than love of God. They accuse it of persecuting its political opponents and ethnic minorities.

On April 8 an explosive device killed Selver Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian, and wounded his wife and four children in the Three Skyscrapers district. Authorities in Pristina condemned the attack as terrorism.

Kosovo Albanians living in the northern part of Mitrovica have since demanded an increased security presence in their neighbourhoods. In response, NATO’s peacekeeping mission to Kosovo has relocated some troops to mixed areas where both Serbs and Albanians live.

Kosovo police reported on Monday about another incident in the north when a parked vehicle owned by a Kosovo Serb was sprayed with bullets in the village of Cabra, in Zubin Potok municipality. No one was hurt.

According to the media, since the murder of Haradinaj, some 20 Kosovo Albanian families have temporarily left their apartments in the northern part of Mitrovica. These reports have not been confirmed by the Kosovo Police.

But police sources in Mitrovica told BIRN that the Obraz leaflets have fuelled “insecurity among the Kosovo Albanians, since it represents a direct threat to them”.

Police spokesperson Hoti said an investigation aimed to discover “whether the leaflets were posted by individuals or a group”.

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