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Slobodan Markovic: In this dark land (fwd: robert fisk)

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Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 14:03:28 +0200
From: Slobodan Markovic <twiddle@EUnet.yu>
Subject: In this dark land, liberation can only end in more bloodshed

  [This is another great article about life on Kosovo by
  the Independent's Robert Fisk. I'll try to write something
  about the situation here by myself soon... --sloba]

In this dark land, liberation can only end in more bloodshed

>From Robert Fisk inside Kosovo
Independent (6-9-99)

If cliches were permitted in Pristina and its like, city of
fear would not be good enough. There are rifle shots in the
empty streets, loud, close to hand, from somewhere behind the
15th-century Imperial Mosque. There is the constant roar of
Nato jets and a thump of bombs in the hills around Kosovo's
capital that changes the air pressure in Marshal Tito street.
There are acres of looted houses, homes to the persecuted
Albanians, two of whom I met - still I wonder at their courage
- walking down the Corso arm-in-arm, a husband and his pregnant
wife waiting for their day of liberation.

And there are the Serbs, fearful of their future, unable to sell
their homes, tens of thousands of them, still unable to grasp
what Yugoslavia's "peace" with Nato really means. "The Albanians
are coming with Nato," a girl said. "This will become an Albanian city."

Nato, of course, is unconcerned by the fate of Kosovo's remaining
100,000 Serbs - mostly civilians and innocent of the crimes of
Serb militiamen - and is already talking blandly of their
"probable" departure.

First the Kosovo Albanians were "ethnically cleansed" by the
Serbs. And in a few days - two weeks at most - the Serbs
will be "ethnically cleansed" by Nato's Albanian allies.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair have both promised to protect
Serbs as well as Albanians in this dark land. Both will fail.
"Moving around is not safe - you have to know that," an army
major told us frankly. And I have the impression that Pristina
is already lost to the Serbs.

As usual, there are the heroes. Two of them were the Albanian
couple and another was a reservist soldier called Zoren Brankovic
who runs the biggest key cutting shop in Kosovo. He pointed to the
single-storey, yellow-painted house in Ruga Zejtaret. "My father was
born here and I was born here and all the Brankovics lived in this
small area," he said.

And he pointed to the mass of rubble at one end of the street -
Nato's work - in which his cousin had died. "No, I will never
leave. This is my home - my very own home which belongs to our
family. I have a brother here and a wife and three sons and we
want to live here with our Albanian neighbours. The Albanian
people of Pristina were never a problem - the money of the KLA
and the mafia is the problem. Everyone came to my shop -
Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Montenegrins."

But that was then, and this is now. And walking past the
bombed-out post office - Nato's work again - we found Marjana
and her boyfriend, Nikola, arms draped around each other, she
holding a rose on a long stem. "Why should I leave when this is
my home and my country?" she asked. Nikola, who was at work in
the Jugopetrol plant when Nato destroyed it in April, talked
about the Orthodox monastery at Gracanina and admitted he wanted
to marry Miljana. "They should never have stopped the war when
they did," the girl said. And there was another of those loud,
echoing rifle shots. Who was shooting at who, I asked?

They shrugged. But I suspect their ignorance. I have a shrewd,
unpleasant suspicion that the Kosovo Liberation Army are not
waiting for Nato to enter Pristina to stake their claim. I think
they are already here, amid the houses of the dispossessed,
waiting to move before a single British paratrooper marches
down Marshal Tito street. Indeed, not far from Urosevac -
scarcely 15 miles from here - the Israeli journalist Ron
Ben-Yishai drove into an ambush yesterday morning. He and
his Serb driver, Ivan Cvejic, were wounded. The KLA fired
20 bullets at a bus on the Pristina-Prizren road a few hours later.

So what life is left for the Serbs here? For mile after mile
yesterday, I drove alone through an abandoned Kosovo on the
road from Raca, the Albanian homes long incinerated by the Serbs.

Rumours are already moving through Pristina than the Serbian
government will not allow the 100,000 Serbs to leave Kosovo,
that the cities of central Serbia cannot absorb more refugees.

A thunderstorm was darkening the skies as I approached Luzane.
On the bombed-out bridge lay the skeleton of that terrible bus
- the Pristina-Nis bus that Nato destroyed with a missile last
month - with its steel roof frame and a boy's sodden left boot
on the road beside it. Below, beside the river into which many
of the dead were thrown - Serbs and Albanians alike - I found a
tangle of mouldering clothes and a spray of plastic flowers,
bright crimson and yellow and purple amid the real pale blue
cornflowers of the riverbank, a token of remembrance to the
death of both Serbs and Albanians, the last memorial to a Kosovo
that might have been but never was.

For they are still here, the Albanians; not many perhaps. But
the couple we stopped on the Corso yesterday afternoon told -
between frightened glances and the wife's nervous pleas to her
husband to stop talking and leave - the story of the pst two months.

"We spend all our time in a flat," he said simply. "Day and
night. We just stay in, that is all. We move from house to
house, from flat to flat, all the time, in case they come for
us. My own brother has disappeared. I've been to the Milosevic
police to ask where he is." At this remark I drew in my breath.
Kosovo is not a place for the brave. "No, I couldn't find him,"
the man muttered. "I have lost my own brother"

His wife muttered desperately again, a young woman, newly pregnant,
a child conceived amid her people's nightmare. They turned away
from us and walked quickly away, arm in arm, waiting for the
tomorrow that Marjana and Nikola and Zoren Brankovic, deep down
in their hearts, fear more than they can ever admit.