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A Victory for the People in Mitrovica North

Interview with Resistance leader Oliver Ivanovic (7-21-00)

Interviewers: Jared Israel and Kole Kilibardi

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This interview was conducted by conference call at 8am Yugoslav time (2 am EST) on 7/20. As we were transcribing it, we learned that the people in Mitrovica North have won a big victory! Under the pressure of ever-growing mass protests, the court in Mitrovica agreed to release Dalibor Vucovic. Speaking to a huge crowd celebrating this victory, Mr. Vucovic said: "As long as you were here, I knew I was not alone."

Today (7/21) at 5:00 Yugoslav time we again spoke to Oliver Ivanovic. During this second conversation, he pointed out that "regarding the driver who drove through the barricades, and whom Mr. Vucovic is accused of assaulting - I say 'accused' because a crime must be proven in a court of law - I would like your readers to know that two weeks prior to that incident, the same driver tried to run over a 10 year old boy." We asked Mr. Ivanovic if the protest movement in Mitrovica North was "Serb only" and he said, "No, no no. There is much participation by Roma ["gypsies"], whose leader is Nusrt Sahiti, and there are Slavic Muslims as well. Mitrovica North is the only remaining multiethnic section of Kosovo. Besides ethnic Serbs we have 600 Roma, 200 Turks and Slavic Muslims and about 2000 Albanians. We are not a racial movement in any way."

Here's the interview:

Kole: We'd like to get an in-depth picture of what's been going on in Mitrovica, if you can do that today.

Oliver: Today isn't a good time; perhaps we can do that later. Today I'll tell you what's happening right now. I'll give you just a short information. The last couple of days we had demonstrations in Mitrovica North, and there were many small incidents with UNMIK police and KFOR. All the problems started Monday afternoon when the UNMIK police decided to arrest a guy, 20 years old, Dalibor Vucovic. What is important is that this guy is one of the original people, one of the 30 people who started to defend Mitrovica North on the 14th of June last year.

Dalibor Vucovic was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an Albanian on the ninth of June, this year. I have to remind you that on that day we had a peaceful demonstration. For two hours we blocked the road in Mitrovica. It was absolutely peaceful and KFOR [that is, NATO in Kosovo] respected our blockade, KFOR, UNMIK [the UN in Kosovo] all the NGOs respected it except this one Albanian who just drove through the barricade. Of course this was enough to make some of the young people quite angry, and some hit the car with sticks and stones, and so on. There were about twenty people involved but only Vukovic was charged.

Kosovo is by international agreement still part of Serbia and according to our law, this thing that Dalibor Vucovic is accused of is just a minor offense and he could be punished with not more than 30 days in jail. I want to make clear that we are not supporting assaulting this Albanian. But I have to say that in the last 13 months we have 53 people who are missing, killed or kidnapped, and no one Albanian has been charged for that, not even detained for that, and at the same time I have to say that we have had 120 who have been injured from the weapons, hand grenades, other weapons, sticks and stones, but also not one Albanian has been arrested over that. And people of course cannot understand what's going on you know, nobody arrested for these violent actions, kidnappings, murder and yet this Serb guy is arrested exactly one month after he allegedly did one bad thing.

Just to show you how everything works, in the Mitrovica detention center we have 36 Serbs; 21 of them are charged as war criminals or for genocide. We have 19 Albanians but not one of them is accused for genocide or the war crimes or even that he threw something or assaulted Serbs. At the same time I would remind your readers that over 200,000 Serbs have been expelled from their own homes and villages and about 1200 people have been killed or kidnapped.

Jared: And a lot of people other than Serbs who are opposed to the KLA have been expelled too. Even Albanians who oppose the KLA's fascism, right?

Oliver: Yes, Albanians whoa re decent people as well. And I want you to know something: everybody knows that. UNMIK knows it, and the UN knows it, but in the justice system they make no attempt at balance. None. And now the Serbs, the common people, they cannot understand this, you know? And they feel, how to say, a pain at this imbalance, that they are not treated fairly and many people are therefore very angry. Should they not be angry? We are waiting today for a final decision of the court. They have the right to keep him no more than three days and after that they have to proceed to release him or to charge him

Kole: Who are the judges in the court?

Oliver: We have Albanian judges and international judges but no Serb judges for now. I hope they will understand our position and they will help us to get this guy out. Of course we are not asking that he not be charged but there is no right according to our laws to keep him in a detention center any longer.

Jared: Wasn't Mr. Vucovic the person who was hit by machine gun fire?

Oliver: Yeah, this is a guy who was, how to say, injured a couple of months ago. This was before this incident. He was shot by one Albanian. But of course this Albanian was not arrested.

Kole: Not arrested?

Oliver: Not arrested. We had yesterday a protest meeting, about 5000 Serbs gathered and we expect that today there will be more and more people, you know. We tried to make closer contact with UNMIK police but UNMIK didn't do the same. They push us away.

***

Note: I came across the following poem the other day. It's about the lynching of Black people in the deep South in the 1930s. Why does it remind me so much of Northern Mitrovica? - Kole Kilibardi

LYNCHINGS
A poem by Sterling A. Brown, written 1937

"They got the judges
They got the lawyers
They got the jury-rolls
They got the law
They don't come by ones
They got the sheriffs
They got the deputies
They don't come by twos
They got the shotguns
They got the rope
We git the justice
In the end
And they come by tens."

***

Further reading:

A couple of months ago fighting broke out in Mitrovica between French troops and the Kosovo Liberation Army, which Gen. Michael Jackson assured us as far back as Sept. 21st had been disarmed and therefore was firing imaginary weapons.

Were these KLA terrorists acting as stand-ins for the US military? See: "Why is the KLA shooting at KFOR?" by Nebojsa Malic, Max Sinclair and Jared Israel at http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/whyisthe.htm

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