On the picture: Kosovo Egyptian and the secretary of the Association of Egyptian People in Kosovo Ćerim Abazi on the fire sight of his demolished house in the village Subotic near Obilic, Kosovo
Interviews with Roma and Egyptian refugees from Kosovo.
Mrs. Jela Jovanovic, Secretary General Tue, 16 Nov 1999 11:11:39 -0800
The Committee for National Solidarity
Tolstojeva 34, 11000 Belgrade, YU
WE HAVE NO FOOD. WE ARE STARVING.
Interviews with Roma and Egyptian refugees from Kosovo.
Transcribed and Edited by Gregory Elich.
Translated by Biljana Koteska.
Additional translation by Predrag Tosic and Gregory Elich.
Special thanks to Predrag Tosic.
Interviewed by Barry Lituchy, co-leader of the North American Solidarity with Yugoslavia Delegation, and Rich Fishkin, member of the delegation.
Biljana Koteska, first secretary of the UN Law Projects Center, Belgrade; and
Jovan Damjanovic, president of the Federal Association of Roma People in Yugoslavia.
First Interviews: in Zemun Polje, August 6, 1999.
[Nenezu] I am vice president of the Association of Egyptian People in
[Lituchy] What is your name?
[Nenezu] Kemendi Nenezu. I am from Kosovo Polje. I’m a member of the
Egyptian population in Kosovo. We are different from the Albanian, Roma and
other ethnic groups in Kosovo. We have our own ethnic community, but we had
the same fate as all the other non-Albanian communities. The people will
tell you their own experience in Kosovo.
[Abazi] I am the secretary of the Association of Egyptian People in Kosovo.
I was a representative on the Yugoslav delegation at [peace negotiations in]
Rambouillet. I represented the Egyptian community in Kosovo. The Egyptian
people always wanted to define ourselves as Egyptians, but this wasn’t
possible. In the early in the 1970s, we attempted to define ourselves as
Egyptians, but we did not get the paper. In the 1990’s, through the
democratic process, we established our association. We brought alive the
culture and interests of the Egyptian people in Kosovo. We wanted to solve
political problems in Kosovo through negotiations. That is why I was the
Egyptian representative at Rambouillet. I took the line that the Egyptian
community should have the same rights as other ethnic groups. We were not
allowed to say that we were Egyptians, because we were told we that we are
Albanians because our language is Albanian.
[Lituchy] All I need to know right now is your name, where you were born,
what village you were living in, and were you forced out of Kosovo, and
under what circumstances?
[Abazi] My name is Cerim Abazi. I lived in Pristina. I arrived here to
Zemun Polje about one month ago. My house was burned down.
[Lituchy] Your house was burned. Did you lose any other property besides
[Abazi] Yes. My flat and my house.
[Lituchy] What about your family?
[Abazi] All of my family is here. My brothers live in tents in Krusevac
because they have no flat or house in which to live.
[Lituchy] Were any of your relatives killed or wounded?
[Abazi] Some were wounded, but I do not know the total number.
[Lituchy] I would like to say thank you, and we will return to you later,
but now we would like to interview some other people.
[Sefedini] My name is Hamid Sefedini. I am from Urosevac. Albanian
separatists, members of the KLA attacked me, in my home. They were armed,
and told me to leave my home and to leave Kosovo.
[Lituchy] Do you know approximately what date?
[Sefedini] Three days after the military agreement in Kosovo. I was only
forced, not tortured. I-
[Lituchy] Give us your address if you could, your exact address.
[Sefedini] My address is Svechinska 17, in Urosevac.
[Koteska] Now, in that flat live Albanian terrorists.
[Sefedini] Egyptian, Roma and Serbs from Urosevac are refugees.
[Lituchy] How many about? Approximately how many?
[Sefedini] About ten percent of the Roma and Egyptian people from Urosevac
have been displaced.
[Lituchy] Thank you very much.
[Tefiq] I am from Obilic. I am Roma, and my name is Krasnic Tefiq. In
Obilic, I lived on Jug Bogdanovic. There is no number. I have thirteen
members in my family. I am very sick. I have –
[Lituchy] What happened to the thirteen members of your family?
[Tefiq] All of the members of my family are here. For two months, we had
nowhere to sleep. Now, we are staying with friends here. We have no food.
We are starving. We are begging in the streets for food, bread, potatoes,
anything to eat.
[Lituchy] Under what circumstances were you forced out of your home?
[Tefiq] Members of the KLA came to my house. They were armed with knives.
They told me to leave the village or die. They were not in uniform, but you
could see KLA insignia on their T-shirts.
[Lituchy] Do you know the names of any of the KLA people?
[Tafiq] No, I don’t know.
[Lituchy] Because these are war criminals and those names should be known.
[Koteska] Yes, I know that, but they were afraid at that moment, and they
didn’t ask them, ‘Excuse me please, can you give me your name? I want to
know that. Maybe I will report you later.’
[Tafiq] Our Albanian neighbors told us, ‘We won’t do anything to you, but
if the KLA come, it is better to leave.’
[Lituchy] Thank you very much.
[Takih] I am Egyptian. My name is Tayih Takih. I had a house in the
center of Magura. My home was protected by the army, but one day they were
gone. In that place, Albanian people did not go out to the street. But the
day when the army left that place, they came out and burned down 19 homes.
Once I had fields, but now I have no food, no property, no home. There are
20 members in my family and all of them are here.
[Rezeza] My name is Puco Rezeza. I am from Kosovo Polje. First, my
brother was killed in Kosovo Polje. I lived near the railroad station in
Krstic. My family has 45 members. I am a refugee now. I am starving. I
have no property, food or money. Albanian terrorists told me to leave or my
family and I would be killed. Some of them were in uniform, and some were
in civilian clothes. I do not know the names of them, because they were not
from my area.
[Lituchy] What property was taken from you?
[Rezeza] My home was not burned down, but I cannot return and live there.
Now we sleep where we can.
[Lituchy] That’s in Kosovo Polje?
[Ibus] I am from Kosovo Mitrovica. I lived at Fabrica 116. My name is
[Lituchy] Your ethnic nationality?
[Ibus] I am Roma. I came here one month ago. One month ago, KLA soldiers
came in my house. They wore uniforms and were armed. They told my family
and I that we have two minutes to leave our house, or they will kill us.
Now they are removing parts of the house.
[Koteska] They are taking windows, doors, the furniture, all the property.
Second Interviews: In Zemun Polje, August 7, 1999.
[Lituchy] Could you tell us your names?
[Ramadanovic] My name is Estrep Ramadanovic.
[Koteska] He is the vice president of the Federal Association of Roma
People in Yugoslavia.
[Lituchy] And what town are you from?
[Koteska] Are you from Zemun?
[Ramadanovic] I am.
[Lituchy] Could you tell us a little about the refugee situation and your
role with the Roma refugees and other refugees from Kosovo?
[Ramadanovic] As a vice president of this association, I received all the
refugees from Kosovo. About 5,000 Roma refugees from Kosovo came here, and
we collected them and asked our friends in the Roma community if it would be
possible to bring them into their homes. I have about 20 refugees in my own
[Lituchy] And 5,000 refugees out of about how many Roma refugees in Kosovo?
[Koteska] All of them are Roma refugees.
[Koteska] All 5,000.
[Lituchy] How many Roma were there in Kosovo?
[Ramadanovic] 150,000 Roma people were in Kosovo before the NATO bombing.
[Lituchy] And how many total Roma in Yugoslavia?
[Ramadanovic] In the whole of Yugoslavia, there are 800,000 Roma people.
[Lituchy] And how many of the Roma people of Kosovo have been expelled or
[Ramadanovic] About 120,000 Roma people are refugees from Kosovo.
[Lituchy] What role did the KLA play in the expulsion of the Romas?
[Ramadanovic] The KLA soldiers don’t want any other ethnic group to be in
Kosovo. Only Albanians. The Roma people who are now refugees were forced
by KLA soldiers to leave Kosovo.
[Lituchy] What role did NATO play in protecting the Roma people?
[Ramadanovic] Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
[Koteska] They haven’t done anything.
[Damjanovic] NATO hasn’t done anything. All they did was kill. When
Albanian terrorists burned down Roma homes, NATO did nothing. Roma people
have no protection from NATO.
[Lituchy] What do you think can happen to help Roma people right now?
[Koteska] Everyone who wants to help the Roma people right now, the
humanitarian organizations and people can give some help, like food,
medicines, blankets. You know, it is a very hard moment in Yugoslavia
without electricity, and winter will come in about two or three months, and
I don’t know what these people will do then.
[Lituchy] So you’re saying that there are 5,000 Romas here who don’t have
adequate housing or heating.
[Koteska] Yes, yes, yes. They live with the other families, and you know
also that Roma families are big. They have about 15 members, and –
[Lituchy] Extended families.
[Koteska] Yes, yes. And if their own family has about 15 members, and you
bring home another 15 members, you know what that means. It’s very hard.
[Lituchy] What organizations in the West have given aid to the Roma people?
[Damjanovic] Only two associations helped the Roma people: the Society of
Greek People in Serbia and the International Red Cross, but no one else. As
a president of the Federal Association of Roma People, I appealed to all
humanitarian organizations and humanitarian people to give as much help as
possible for us. Our homes were burned down. Winter is approaching. We
have no food and no clothes. We sleep in the bus stations, in the parks, in
the railway stations. It’s very hard. We’re begging for money, we’re
begging for food.
[Lituchy] What is your name and what town are you from?
[Smanovic] Sasa Smanovic.
[Koteska] He is from Zemun Belgrade.
[Lituchy] And what is your role or job with the Roma refugees?
[Koteska] He works as general secretary of the Federal Association of Roma
People in Yugoslavia. He also helps the vice president to collect all the
refugees and put them in some houses and to give them some help.
[Lituchy] What experiences have you had with the refugees?
[Smanovic] We don’t have much experience with refugees, because this is the
first time we had refugees from Kosovo. I appeal to humanitarian
organizations to help us because the Roma people are not separatists. We
want to live with other ethnic groups, and not live apart.
[Lituchy] What was the relationship between the Roma and the Albanians
[Smanovic] Before the war, we had a normal and friendly life with the
Albanian people in Kosovo-Metohija. After the war, though, Albanians were
stronger and ruled over us.
[Lituchy] Thank you for your interview.
[Fishkin] Do either of you have children?
[Smanovic] I have four children.
[Fishkin] Are either of them here, now?
[Smanovic] They are working.
[Koteska] Because they have to earn money and to help their families and
support the refugees.
[Fishkin] Are either of your wives here? Can we talk to your wife?
[Koteska] Here is his wife. Her name is….
[Ramadani] Djulizara Ramadani.
[Lituchy] Let’s just ask him, do you have children?
[unidentified voice] Two children.
[Koteska] Are they here?
[unidentified voice] No.
[Koteska] Is your wife here?
[unidentified voice] No.
[Fishkin] Would you like to say anything?
[Ramadani] I appeal to humanitarian organizations to help the Roma people
to live a normal life.
[Fishkin] What health problems do your children have?
[Ramadani] Our children had problems because they were not free to go out
to play, to walk in the evening and meet friends, or go to the theater. But
here in Belgrade, we are free. We only have problems with food and
[Lituchy] Thank you all for the interviews.
[Koteska] These are refugees from Kosovo, and now they will tell us what
they survived by the KLA.
[Bajrosha] My name is Bajrosha and I am from Gnjilane, and –
[Lituchy] What is your address? What street did you live on?
[Bajrosha] On Kososka Street. There is no number. I have four children.
My daughter, Anesi Akmeti, was raped by KLA soldiers. At night we were
sleeping in our house, and KLA soldiers broke in and dragged my daughter out
and raped her.
[Lituchy] Do you know what date that was?
[Bajrosha] And now she can’t remember –
[Lituchy] What month was that?
[Bajrosha] After the bombing. She is very ill. She has a sick heart.
This happened after our army left Kosovo –
[Lituchy] Where is your family? Were they expelled? How many?
[Bajrosha] I will show you our family. My family is here. All five are
here and we have no clothes. These are the only clothes I have. I am
sleeping on the street. I have nowhere to stay. I have no food. I have no
[Fishkin] Is your family here? Here? Here? Can we see them?
[Koteska] Yes, yes, yes.
[Lituchy] Make room for them, and let them come here. Make room for them.
[Bajrosha] We are afraid. The baby –
[Fishkin] Put the children up on the table.
[Bajrosha] These children don’t have –
[Lituchy] What is this child’s name?
[Bajrosha] Stefan Dulaj. Stefan. He is only two years old.
[Lituchy] What is his last name? Stefan?
[Bajrosha] Dulaj. Stefan Dulaj. He is only two years old, and you can see
he has nothing to wear. He is without shoes. I am choked with anger –
[Fishkin] The other children? Can we see all the children together on the
table? Put the little one on the table.
[Bajrosha] These are my children. Is it necessary to put them on the
[Lituchy] How many are there altogether?
[Bajrosha] Five children. Five.
[Lituchy] Five children. Give us their names.
[Bajrosha] Stefan. Sanad. Nikola. Samirana. Suada.
[Fishkin] And how has their behavior changed since the bombing?
[Bajrosha] The children have been afraid since the NATO bombing. They are
afraid of airplanes. They can’t sleep well. They can’t eat. It’s not a
happy childhood for them.
[Lituchy] So they really have no place to live?
[Koteska] No! They live in yards, in parks. Maybe someone will bring them
home for one or two nights.
[Fishkin] Do they cry a lot?
[Koteska] Yes. Every night they wake up every two or three hours and they
are crying. They are afraid. They want to go home to play with their
friends, to play in the play yards, to have clothes, to have their dolls,
toys. They don’t have anything here, because –
[Lituchy] What help have international agencies given you?
[Bajrosha] Nothing. Nothing.
[unidentified voice] We get blankets from the International Red Cross, and
we get something to eat, like flour and sugar.
[Koteska] But they don’t have anywhere to make the food.
[Lituchy] Have American organizations come in?
[Koteska] No, no. I have already told you that only two organizations sent
help to these people. They were the International Red Cross and the Greek
Society from Serbia.
[Lituchy] Let’s interview this –
[Fishkin] Whose baby? Whose baby is this?
[Berisha] My name is Adan Berisha. I am from Obilic, in Kosovo. My family
and I are refugees. My grandson is only three months. I was tortured by
KLA soldiers, by two of my Albanian neighbors. They killed my son, who was
only 12 years old. This is a picture of my son who was killed. It’s very
Sorrow, a world of sorrow.
[Lituchy] What was his name?
[Berisha] Idis Berisha.
[Koteska] And he was 12 years old.
[Fishkin] I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our hearts are with you.
[Berisha] Thank you, but there’s more. This is my wife, and she was
tortured by the KLA.
[Koteska] You can see her arm, her face.
[Berisha] Nebiq Krasniqi was one of them.
[Koteska] He was an ex-neighbor of his, and he tortured his wife and him.
And the other one was…
[Berisha] Habib Krasniqi. He and Nabib are brothers. They threw us out of
our house, and removed all of our belongings.
[Lituchy] What was the address of the house?
[Berisha] My address was 270 Jugobogdan Street, in Obilic.
[Lituchy] What town was that again?
[Lituchy] And you lost a house and what else?
[Berisha] I lost my house, my son, and my job. I worked in the factory for
26 years, and now I have no job. This is the paper showing that I worked
there. One month ago, this Thursday, KLA soldiers killed my father and my
[Lituchy] What were their names?
[Berisha] Milashi Berisha. Alija Selika was my uncle. Hashid Krasniqi was
my other uncle.
[Lituchy] What role did NATO play in that? Were they there? Were they
involved in that?
[Berisha] No. It was after the bombing.
[Koteska] NATO wasn’t in Kosovo, but KFOR was in Kosovo.
[Lituchy] This was about late June.
[Koteska] Yes, yes. It was one month ago.
[Lituchy] Okay. Do you know the names of the killers?
[Berisha] I was here at that time.
[Koteska] He doesn’t know the names of the soldiers who killed his father
and two uncles, because he was here. He only knows the names of the two
brothers who tortured –
[Lituchy] How were they killed?
[Berisha] I wasn’t there. I wasn’t there.
[Lituchy] Did they shoot them?
[Koteska] No, no. He doesn’t know that.
[Berisha] We are all ill, because we don’t have bathrooms. We don’t have
water to wash ourselves.
[Koteska] You can see on their arms –
[Lituchy] Who are the two men who tortured you?
[Koteska] It was their ex-neighbors, Albanians, the two brothers.
[Lituchy] Does he know the names of them?
[Koteska] Yes. He told the names.
[Fishkin] Why do you think they’re doing all this?
[Berisha] The Albanian soldiers did that to us because we support Serbia
and we oppose secession. We want to live our lives in our own homes. This
little baby who is only three months old, went four days without eating.
After we escaped from the Albanians, we went to Nis, where we didn’t have
any food, any bread or water to give to this little baby. Last year, a KLA
soldier gave us only three hours to leave our home. He told us he would
kill us if we stayed even half an hour longer. Three hours to leave Kosovo.
Three hours. I can’t go back to Kosovo because the militias will kill me.
On behalf of my family and I, never in my life would we have left Kosovo,
had it been possible to stay. Perhaps there is some other state that will
accept us into its arms, but there is no place for us in Kosovo. There is no
place for us in Kosovo. We dare not return to Kosovo.
[Fishkin] We have to go, but –
[Lituchy] We don’t have to go yet, but –
[Fishkin] (to woman) As a mother, can you speak to the mothers of America?
[unidentified voice] I want to say to all the mothers of America that we
want to live with our children, to give our children milk, bread, basic
food. I would be thankful if you could send us some help, some food, some
clothes for the babies.
[Lituchy] What is your name? What town are you from?
[Rakipi] Rada Rakipi. I worked in the military employment office in
[Lituchy] Glogovac is the town you’re from? How long did you live there?
[Rakipi] No, I didn’t live in Glogovac. I worked there. I lived in
[Lituchy] Were you expelled from Pristina?
[Rakipi] On May 11, I was in a police car with two other people, and that
car was attacked by KLA soldiers. No one was wounded, but the military car
in front of us was engulfed in flames. About a month and a half ago, my
house was burned down. We live here with three children. You can see this
child has wounds on his legs and I don’t have a bathroom to wash the
children. I live in the basement of someone’s home and pay them about 115
Deutsche Marks per month.
[Fishkin] No medicine?
[Koteska] No medicine. You see that her son is sick.
[Rakipi] I have no money to buy medicine for children. I have no pillows
for my children.
[Fishkin] Any dolls, anything for the children to play with?
[Rakipi] Nothing. No dolls. We have only the clothes we are wearing.
[Lituchy] Do you remember the day you were expelled?
[Rakipi] On June 26, we left Kosovo. After the KLA forced us from our
home, we went to the bus station. We waited from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM for
the bus out of Kosovo.
[Lituchy] How many people do you have in your family?
[Rakipi] There are five members in my family, including three children. My
uncle died of fear, sitting on a table in his home in Pristina, after KLA
soldiers entered his house. When my family wanted to bring the body to the
hospital, KLA soldiers blocked us and didn’t allow us to bring the body –
[Lituchy] What was your uncle’s name?
[Rakipi] Alija Rakipi.
[Fishkin] Did he have a heart attack?
[Koteska] I think yes. He was an old person. When someone attacks you in
your own home, and gives you two hours to go out, to leave all your
memories, it’s very hard.
[Fishkin] How old was he?
[Rakipi] He was fifty years old. After he died, the KLA soldiers were
looking for his son, to –
[Lituchy] Would you give the address of your home?
[Rakipi] The street is Damitiska 91. My uncle lived in Ramasalihi 35.
[Lituchy] What is your name? What town are you from?
[Elis] Rakmani Elis, from Pristina. The street is Moraska 163.
[Lituchy] Do you remember what day you left Kosovo?
[Elis] I left Kosovo on June 26. After I left Kosovo, KLA soldiers took
everything, all my furniture from my home, and now –
[Lituchy] You gave us your address, right?
[Koteska] Yes, yes, he said the address.
[Lituchy] And what happened then? After they took your property? Did they
burn your house?
[Elis] They burned my house. They took all the furniture, everything they
wanted, and then they burned down the house.
[Lituchy] What I’d like to know is, where was KFOR when this happened?
[Elis] At 6:00 o’clock in the morning. In Pristina. My stove was taken
out. The washing machine, refrigerator and freezer were taken out. We were
watching, but I was so sick of the sight, I couldn’t bear to watch the
Albanians taking my things right out the front. I’ve worked for 50 years.
I have no problem with giving, whether to the church or to the mosque, so
that people can live in peace.
[Lituchy] How many people are living in your house?
[Elis] Nine members of my family lived in that house.
[Lituchy] Who were the members of your family?
[Elis] My wife and I, four children, and five grandchildren.
[Lituchy] Where are they now?
[Elis] This man is my son, and here is my granddaughter.
[Lituchy] And what are their names?
[Sheriferim] My name is Rakmani Sheriferim.
[Lituchy] And the granddaughter’s name?
[Elis] Ceki Ral.
[Lituchy] Were any of the members of your family killed or injured?
[Elis] No one in my family was tortured or killed, but on my street, many
people were killed. I haven’t personally witnessed killings or torture,
because when the KLA told us to leave our house, we left immediately and
[Lituchy] What do you know about the day they took your property?
[Sheriferim] It was the same day, because we lived in the same house. Four
soldiers came into our house, and told us to leave. Two of them were armed
with rifles, and two with knives. While the Albanians waited in the yard,
we left our home. My family lived very well in Pristina. We were well to
do, but now we are living in Zemun. I am grateful for the family that has
taken us in and given us food. Because we don’t have our own food, my wife
goes to the market, and picks up the leftover vegetables.
[Lituchy] Do you have any friends that are still living in Kosovo?
[Elis] No one. No one.
[Lituchy] Was the whole family, the whole area ethnically cleansed, is that
[Sheriferim] Yes, yes. All the –
[Fishkin] What do you have for the future? What does the future hold for
[Elis] Well, for us hope for the future means to return to Kosovo, but only
if our police and army also return, so that we know what the situation is.
For 540 years, Turkey ruled here. After 540 years, Turkey left and the
Serbs returned. Here in this region of Serbia, there are Serbs, Turks and
Gypsies. Albanians never lived in that part of Kosovo. Let me tell you.
Kosovo was taken away from us.
[Lituchy] Thank you for the interview.
[Fishkin] Do you have a message for the American people?
[Elis] Well, I’m not against the American people, but this decision they
made strikes me as lunatic. The rights of every people, the Serb, the
Montenegrin and the Gypsy, have been annulled. People are going out to
kill, but you, as an army [KFOR], just sit there. Did you come here to help
or to watch this circus going on?
[Fishkin] We are in solidarity with you. We also hate the American
[Elis] Events now are making history. It is not acceptable what the
American people are doing to us. If they came here to help, let me see them
help. But if they did not come here to help, everyone, Serbs and Gypsies,
will be stamped out. They are allowing that to be done.
[Lituchy] Thank you very much for your interview.
[Lituchy] What is your name, and what town are you from?
[Shatili] Ajsha Shatili. I am from Pristina.
[Lituchy] What was your address in Pristina?
[Shatili] Goberska Street, number 55.
[Lituchy] Can you recall the day you left Pristina?
[Shatili] Yes. I left on June 19. KLA soldiers dragged my children and me
from my home, and started removing all my furniture. I called three British
KFOR soldiers for help. They came, but did nothing. They only told me,
“Good, good. Don’t cry. It will be good.”
[Lituchy] What nationality were those soldiers?
[Lituchy] They were British soldiers.
[Koteska] Yes, yes.
[Shatili] British. We brought the three of them inside my home to show
them what had happened. It was utter chaos inside. I collapsed three
times, and they just told me, “Good, good,” and I started to cry. My son,
Senad is twenty years old.
[Koteska] Was he killed?
[Shatili] No. No. The whole street knows about it.
[Koteska] What was the name of the man who wounded your son?
[Shatili] I don’t know his name.
[Lituchy] He was a KLA member, or just Albanian?
[Shatili] He was a member of the KLA.
[Koteska] Were they were wearing uniforms?
[Lituchy] How many members are in your family?
[Shatili] Nine, including my one-year old baby.
[Lituchy] Would you introduce your family?
[Shatili] This is my son, his name is –
[Fertili Shatili] Ferti Shatili.
[Shatili] And these are my granddaughters.
[Lituchy] Where is the rest of your family?
[Shatili] I will call the rest of my family. One grandson is sleeping now.
[Lituchy] Where are they living now?
[Shatili] I want to thank the people who received us here in Zemun. They
arranged food, medicine, clothes and a place to live for us.
[Lituchy] What do you think would happen to your family if you stayed in
[Shatili] Everyone would be killed. Everyone. As I said, my son was
wounded because he tried to stop the KLA from looting our home. If we
stayed, we would be killed.
[Lituchy] Do you have any other family or relatives or friends in Kosovo?
[Shatili] No one. They all left Kosovo. They were all afraid for their
[Lituchy] How is the water supply here? Is it adequate for your needs?
[Shatili] We do not have our own home, water or food. We only share with
the family we live with.
[Lituchy] Do you have clothes?
[Shatili] Nothing. Nothing, nothing. We have only the clothes we are
[Lituchy] How much property did you lose in Kosovo?
[Shatili] We lost two houses, and everything we owned: furniture, machines,
[Lituchy] Did you say you had a car also?
[Shatili] No. I don’t want to lie. One year ago we finished building the
second house for our son. And now that house also was burned down.
[Lituchy] It was burned down by the KLA?
[Koteska] Yes, by the KLA.
[Koteska] Were both houses burned down?
[Lituchy] Our hearts are with you, and we will do everything we can to help
get your property back.
[Shatili] Thank you.
[Lituchy] Thank you for the interview. Who is next? What is your name,
and what town are you from?
[Berisha] My name is Hasim Berisha, and I am from Pristina. I lived in
Proteska Street, 290.
[Lituchy] Is he Roma?
[Koteska] Yes, he is Roma.
[Lituchy] Do you remember the day you left Kosovo?
[Berisha] Yes. I left Pristina on June 15th. My brother was in the
Yugoslav Army. Five KLA soldiers came to my house, showing a photograph of
my brother, asking for him. They were looking for him because he was a
member of the Yugoslav Army. They told me I have just five minutes to
produce my brother or they will kill my entire family.
[Lituchy] Where were you working?
[Berisha] I worked for Boro and Rames Sports Center.
[Lituchy] What happened next?
[Berisha] I left my house and went to my sister’s flat, in central
Pristina, on Beograska Street, number 29.
[sister of Hasim Berisha] I went to British KFOR and told them what
happened, and they told me to go wherever I want, but just leave this place.
[Lituchy] The British KFOR soldiers told –
[Koteska] The British KFOR soldiers told her to leave Kosovo, to leave
Pristina, and to go anywhere else, out of Kosovo.
[Lituchy] So then the British NATO forces actually were helping to force
them out of Kosovo.
[Koteska] Yes, yes, because KFOR couldn’t [segment lost during change of
[sister of Hasim Berisha] They told me to go wherever I want to go. I
will go wherever, just so I don’t get killed. So then I went to Pristina to
my boss and told him I am leaving. KFOR just said, ‘Go wherever you want,
just so you don’t get killed.’ Where in Kosovo can I go back? Do you see
[Lituchy] Do you remember the names of any of the British soldiers?
[Ms. Berisha] No, no one.
[Lituchy] When did you leave? You left immediately after that?
[Hasim Berisha] The day after my sister went to KFOR, I went by my house to
check on it, and found that it had been burned down.
[Lituchy] What happened to your brother?
[Hasim Berisha] My brother was beaten by KLA soldiers. This is why they
asked for him.
[Lituchy] Where is your brother now?
[Koteska] This is his brother. What is your name?
[Malic Berisha] Malic Berisha.
[Lituchy] Was Mr. Malic Berisha also in the Yugoslav Army, is that it?
[Koteska] Yes, he was in the Yugoslav Army. He was the guy the KLA
soldiers were looking for. He was a most wanted guy in Kosovo.
[Lituchy] Were there a lot of Roma soldiers in the Yugoslav Army?
[Hasim Berisha] Definitely. Everyone does his duty.
[Koteska] Everyone who is ready to go to the army, who is 18 years old, is
going. It’s their duty, and also they think it’s their honor.
[Malic Berisha] After I was beaten by KLA soldiers, I went to KFOR in
central Pristina and told them what happened. But KFOR’s translator was
Albanian, and rather than translate what I said, he told another story, one
that was favorable for Albanians. One hour later, my family and I left our
[Lituchy] What property did you leave in Pristina?
[Malic Berisha] We had four houses, around one yard. All four houses were
[Lituchy] And the address, again, is?
[Malic Berisha] Projeteska 296.
[Lituchy] How many of your family left Kosovo?
[Malic Berisha] Nine members of my family.
[Lituchy] Would you introduce us to your children, here?
[Malic Berisha] Yes. Selud Berisha. He is 4 and a half years old.
[Lituchy] And this one?
[Malic Berisha] Selda Berisha. She is two and a half. Aridva Berisha. He
is age nine. This is my sister’s son. He is aged 40. Malic Berisha, his
brother, is twenty. Nedjedia Berisha is their sister, and she is 36. My
wife is not here. She is sleeping, as are our two other sons.
[Lituchy] Were any of your family members or friends killed by the KLA?
[Malic Berisha] No. No. No one was killed, but KLA soldiers beat one
third of my family. I want to thank the people who have received my family,
allowing us to live with them, providing us with food and clothes, and
[Lituchy] Would you like to return to Kosovo?
[Malic Berisha] It is impossible to return, given the current situation.
[Koteska] When KFOR can’t guarantee them any peace, can’t guarantee
anything, he won’t go there with his family. But if the situation will get
better, if they have freedom, he will come back.
[Lituchy] Thank you very much, and we wish you the very best.
[Shefik] My name is Abdullah Shefik. I am from Urosevac. Two months ago,
as I was travelling from Urosevac, KLA soldiers stopped me and ordered me to
leave my van with them. American KFOR soldiers stood nearby when my van has
hijacked, but they did nothing.
[Lituchy] They saw this happening?
[Koteska] They saw everything that happened, but they didn’t do anything.
[Lituchy] They let the KLA do what they want.
[Koteska] Yes, they let them.
[Lituchy] So then the United States military is also guilty of the crime.
[Koteska] Yes, yes. Also, same as the British soldiers.
[Lituchy] Do you think the United States Army is guilty of crimes in
[Shefik] They viewed the whole thing, and said nothing.
[Lituchy] What address did you live at, and what property did you lose?
[Shefik] Svecanska 1, in Urosevac.
[Lituchy] And what property did you lose?
[Shefik] I’ve lost my home, but since I cannot return to Urosevac, I do
not know if it was burned down. All the furniture from my home was looted,
[Lituchy] How many members are in your family?
[Lituchy] What day did you leave Kosovo?
[Shefik] When the terrorists took my van –
[Lituchy] So you were robbed while you were leaving Kosovo?
[Koteska] Yes, yes, yes. He picked up some stuff from the home, and he put
it in the van, but the KLA soldiers took away all his property and the van,
and the American soldiers from KFOR didn’t do anything.
[Lituchy] Did any of your friends or relatives get hurt, or injured or
[Shefik] No, no.
[Lituchy] Where do you live now?
[Shefik] I live with a family here –
[Lituchy] Who took you in? Who took you in.
[Koteska] Yes, yes.
[Lituchy] And do you have any property with you at all now?
[Shefik] Nothing, nothing. All of my belongings were in the van –
[Lituchy] Your house? Your house and your property?
[Koteska] Yes, yes, but all the things he brought out from the house and
put in the van stayed with the KLA soldiers.
[Lituchy] Thank you and we wish you the best.
[Kotesi] My name Becet Kotesi, from Gnjilane. I lived in Abdula Presa 294.
[Lituchy] Is he Roma?
[Koteska] Yes, he is Roma also.
[Lituchy] What happened to you, and why did you leave Kosovo?
[Kotesi] On June 18th, KLA soldiers attacked Serbian and Roma people in
Gnjilane. During that time, British and French KFOR soldiers also entered
the town. KFOR did nothing because they were on the other side of town, but
the town is not very big, so they had to know what was happening.
[Lituchy] And then what happened next?
[Koteska] He was in that place when the KLA soldiers attacked the
[Kotesi] I was in the pharmacy, buying medicine for my children, when the
shooting began. When I left the pharmacy, I got on my bicycle and tried to
ride as fast as possible to my home. Three hundred meters behind me was
another man riding a bicycle, and KLA soldiers threw a grenade at him and
killed him. I was lucky. It could have happened to me, because I had just
passed that spot. And I had –
[Lituchy] What was his name?
[Kotesi] Abdula Ramadani. He was twenty years old. Three months before,
he had finished his term in the army –
[Lituchy] He was in the Yugoslav Army?
[Koteska] Yes, yes. And when he finished that, three months after that he
[Lituchy] And was he also a Roma?
[Koteska] Yes, he was Roma.
[Lituchy] He was Roma?
[Kotesi] Roma, Roma, Roma, Roma.
[Lituchy] What street was that on?
[Kotesi] Abdula Presa.
[Lituchy] In Pristina.
[Koteska] No, no. In Gnjilane.
[Lituchy] And when did you leave Kosovo?
[Kotesi] June 20th.
[Lituchy] The 20th or 26th?
[Kotesi] The 20th.
[Lituchy] What did you leave behind in Kosovo?
[Kotesi] My father lives in a tent in Bujanovac, and I went to visit my
father. I have the tickets to show that I visited there. It’s so hard for
him because he lives in a tent with no electricity and no water. Two days
ago, KLA terrorists entered that camp and shouted at them, so they fled from
their tents in fear.
[Lituchy] What property did you lose in Kosovo?
[Kotesi] I lost my two houses, full of furniture and technical equipment.
[Lituchy] Were you threatened to leave? Is that why you left?
[Kotesi] In Gnjilane, KLA soldiers searched for my compatriots, to beat and
kill them, because many fought against them as members of the Yugoslav Army.
[Lituchy] Thank you for the interview.
The documentary movie bellow by tells the story about ethnic cleansing committed after the arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo, about their real task and all the injustice and suffering the Roma population has been through. The interviewee Paul Polansky speaks about his experiences as the UNHCR Advisor on the issue of Roma people. For his work in Kosovo, the German Nobelist Günter Grass nominated Polansky for the City of Weimar Human Rights Award, which he received in 2004.