Geert Lovink on Fri, 26 Mar 1999 17:12:48 +0100 (CET)

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Syndicate: Kosovo monk (fwd)

From: "Kevin Dowling" <>

323 Eachelhurst Road, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield,
West Midlands B76 1DS

Phone: 0121 240 3531 : Fax: 0121 351 7648
Mobile: 0410 401 890   : e-mail:

sava 1

As bombs fall on Kosovo, a medieval monastery has become the last source of
independent news from the devastated region.

While its monks hold nighttime vigils in the ancient church at Decani,
close to the Albanian border south of Pec, Father Sava Jajic toils over a
computer in a library built 663 years ago, before the invention of

The bearded 33-year-old Serbian Orthodox monk sends out a daily stream of
e-mail messages to 300 journalists, politicians and diplomats around the
world describing how his corner of paradise has suddenly become a new
circle of hell.

With the expulsion of foreign journalists, the closure of the country's
only independent radio station and the imposition of censorship on
domestic news, Father Sava's has become the lone voice crying out to be
heard from the wilderness that is Kosovo today.

The monastery at Decani has been on the Balkan front line for centuries.
Its crypt contains the bones of Christian knights who routed the Turks at
the historic battle of Kosovo in 1389.

Today, the monastery's tranquil grounds look out across a wasteland of
burned homes and looted shops.

Last May, as Serb military and Albanian rebel forces fought beneath the
walls, Father Sava's brothers threw open the monastery's doors to refugees
from both communities.

While the rest of his bretheren tried to drown out the noise of automatic
weapons with their chanting, Sava turned to the Internet to plead with
opinion-formers world-wide to give peace a chance.

Yesty Thursday the man they call "the cybermonk" sent an anguished e-mail
to all his correspondents. "As you have probably all heard NATO has
started air strikes against Yugoslavia.

"Our monastery and my brotherhood are safe so far although the monastery
has been flooded with Serb refugees who had been expelled by KLA from
their homes during the previous months.

"With great regret I must admit that this attack will have very serious
counter effects on the peace process in Kosovo.

"We are constantly receiving news from the ground. Despite the official
promises by the Western governments that the attacks will be launched
against military targets only several civilian areas have already been hit
by cruise missiles including the village of Gracanica where one of the
most sacred Serb Orthodox monastery is situated.

"We do not know anything about our sisters in Devic where the new KLA
attacks were reported tonight.

"Among the civilian victims there are several Krajina refugees in
Kursumlija according to the latest reports from radio.

"We make a strong protest against these barbarous attacks which will not
only stop the humanitarian crisis but will make the humanitarian
catastrophe much worse in which the civilian population will suffer the
most. "

Twenty-four hours before the bombing began, Sava sent out an e-mail
message on behalf of the Holy Synod for the Serbian Orthodox Church.

"The way of non-violence and cooperation is the only God-blessed way which
corresponds to human and heavenly moral laws and experiences," it said.

"We remind the responsible leaders of the international community that the
evils in Kosovo cannot be righted by an even greater and more immoral
evil: bombing of a small, but honorable European nation."

"Slobodan Milosevic is playing a wicked game with the emotions of Serbs in
Kosovo," reads one of his earlier messages.

"In 21st century Europe there is no place for ethnically cleansed
territories, terror or crimes. The Holy Scripture teaches us that one
cannot love God without first loving one's neighbor."

Sava predicts that unless a peaceful compromise can be reached, the small
minority of Serbs in Kosovo will pay with their lives for the Belgrade
regime's crimes.

The heavily-bearded monk rests after his day's routine work before rising
at around 1 a.m. to pray - and take advantage of the best connections
while he surfs the Net.

Father Sava, compiles a daily digest of stories about the conflict from a
wide variety of sources and fires them off to his mailing list of

Most days he sends a personal message, too - relying on a network of
contacts throughout the Kosovo region.

"It's nice to live in a medieval setting," says this thoroughly modern
monk. "But that does not mean we are prepared to accept a medieval

"The Internet enables me to speak from the pulpit of my keyboard. Now I'm
on a war footing -- this is not a normal routine."

Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic has added Internet offences
to a draconian new law governing information which was passed in October.

Vucic has decreed that Web publications which commit "verbal or opinion
deceit" would be fined $10,000 to $80,000.

Father Sava laughs at this law. Recently an article headlined "What's
next, Milosevic?" in the magazine "Evropljannin" (European) was banned.
Within hours, the monk had picked it up and sent it off to all his

Milosevic may grind his teeth - but, so farm, he has not dared move
against the Serbian Orthodox Church and Father Sava.


26 March 1999

Sava's address is