Kosovars claim Serbs tried to wipe out their history
by Guy Dinmore, Financial Times (London), 21 June 1999
Flattened rubble and the stump of a marble minaret are all that remain of the 300-year-old Qarshi [Market] mosque in this northern Kosovo town, just a small part of the wasteland left behind by the last Serb forces that pulled out of the province yesterday.
The bulldozer used to level the mosque and surrounding buildings stands abandoned next to the scar of bricks and stone in the heart of Vucitrn, a town founded by the Romans that grew prosperous under the rule of the Ottoman empire. The Serbs used explosives to topple the minarets of two other mosques
“They tried to wipe out our Moslem history,” said Abdullah Muliaku, an elderly ethnic Albanian, who in faltering French described himself as the keeper of historic archives. He said Serb forces destroyed the three mosques on March 27, three days after Nato launched its air offensive.
Much of Vucitrn, once a town of 12,000 people, lies in
blackened ruins. Behind the high walls that line muddy lanes,
house after house has been gutted by fire. But with the arrival
of French peacekeeping forces on Thursday, the ethnic Albanian
population of Vucitrn has come down – on foot or with tractors
and horse-drawn carts – from the nearby Cicavica mountains
to discover what is left.
“You can erase buildings but you cannot destroy a people,”
said Mr Muliaku. It appears, however, that the Serb
paramilitaries tried to do just that in Vucitrn, as in
so many other dark corners of Kosovo now being exposed.
The worst single massacre in Vucitrn occurred on May 22 when,
according to survivors, Samadregja Street was sealed off and
70 men were herded into several courtyards.
Ajmonda Ferati, 33, described how men were separated from women,
including her brother, uncle and cousin. Outside in the lane,
masked paramilitaries robbed the women of their money and
jewellery, while screams could be heard from behind the walls.
All that is now left are bloodstains on the grass and paths,
a pair of dentures in the mud.