In June 1999, United Nations Civil Mission and international KFOR peacekeeping forces took over the administration of Kosovo and Methohija while international representatives were getting to grips with the situation in the field, Serbian civilians were subjected to violence and many of them met with brutal death.
In a short period of time, more than 220,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians were exiled.
Destruction of medieval monasteries belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church ensued and the killings of citizens who were not willing to abandon their homes continued.
Albanian extremists destroyed or damaged 150 orthodox churches and monasteries on Kosovo and Methohija many of which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries.
Serbian Orthodox Church and its flock suffered the worst blow on March 17, 2004. The crystal night as it was referred to by many high international representatives, shocked the world.
34 Serbian monasteries and churches were destroyed at the time
Archimandrite Ilarion, Serbian Orthodox Church:
“Some Albanians are continually to forge history and appropriate Serbian holy places. Also we are faced with rising threat of Islamic fundamentalism, a phenomenon that didn’t exist in these parts prior to the war of 1999.”
Destruction of medieval cultural heritage continues to this day. In [sic] village near the town of [sic] that was name after Serbian King [sic], only eleven elderly Serbs remain.
All the Serbian houses were demolished in 1999. New ones were built in their place but in vain. Albanian extremists who, who had free access to open Albanian border crossings for 16 years would demolish them again. This also facilitated extremists in covering their tracks.
300 year old village cemetery has been devastated. [sic] local Serb says that he fears for his safety. He’s committed to preserving what’s left on the graves and the old church to the extent of putting his life on the line.
Rajko Denic’, Babljak Village, Urosevac:
“As you can see, a fence like this encompasses churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Methohija. This church was burglarized 17 times. Even the church bell was stolen. Is that democracy? Is that the democracy they’re advocating? It has nothing to do with democracy. But we’re struggling to preserve our identity and our faith and we will fight for that for as long as we live. We have to prove to them, this is not their culture, that these are not their monuments, but ours. Let them guard their own heritage. We will guard ours. That is our message to neighbors, Albanians.”
In [sic], the largest Serbian village near Pristina, Serbs are concerned about the future of the monastery. They don’t trust Kosovo institutions and oppose Kosovo’s UNESCO membership.
Zivojin Kakocevic, Gracanica Cultural Center Director:
“Is somebody torched your house, would you give that house to him for safekeeping? That is way Serbs in Kosovo are worried. We are living in a ghetto. This barbed wire behind did not stop Albanian extremists.
50,000 armed soldiers could not protect the Serbs and their cultural heritage, and now, after all we have endured, we are supposed to believe that Kosovo authorities would somehow manage to preserve the most important cultural and spiritual treasures of our people. ”
Grancanica Monastery was built by Serbian King Milutin in 1321. This medieval monastery is one of the four monasteries in the area that are on the UNESCO list of the World Heritage in Danger.
For centuries, people have been admiring the beauty of Grancanica, in the spiritual legacy of these monasteries is deeply rooted into the cultural and historic memory of Serbian people.
“Kosovo and Methohija is the Serbian Jerusalem, votive soil that is essential importance for the spiritual and cultural identity of Serbian people (5:32) […]