Ljatifi asked us not to photograph or videotape him.
Pristina) Roma made horseshoes, and Roma made bricks from mud. Other Roma made
charcoal. They went into the forest and chopped down trees; they buried the logs
in earth and started fires over them."
people always worked for themselves, with only their ten fingers; they never
robbed anyone, and they trusted people."
Ljatifi refused to let us take his photograph, or
videotape this interview. He’s an angry man- out of work, out of patience, and
out of the neighborhood he grew up in and lived his life in until June of 1999.
Like so many other Roma, he fled Pristina; Selim is now a blacksmith with no
tools, in a village full of Roma men with the same trade. He’s a city Roma,
and he cannot compete with Gracanica’s Roma blacksmiths; the village Roma had
the benefit of not having their homes and equipment looted and burned four years
SL: My father and
grandfather were both born in Pristina. My father’s grandfather was a
blacksmith; he came to Pristina in the time of the Turks, and he stayed there.
was a quarter of Pristina where the Turks lived; Roma lived there as well. We
grew up with the Turks and went to their school.mp3
I remember that Roma never had problems with the Turks. They were nice to us. We
had good communication.
was your father’s name?
My father’s name was Shukri. After he died I went
to live with my mother’s father. He was a very rich man; he had a lot of land.
He worked for no one else; he worked his own land, and I helped him.
father didn’t have a proper job, but he worked for himself. He made bricks
from mud and sold them to others, to build their homes with. This was the way
family had a nice life, a very good life, because we never had troubles with
anyone, and no one gave us trouble.
kind of stories did your parents tell you as a child?
A man once had a dream. He did not know where to go and say the dream he had;
that man decided he’s tell this dream to the king. The king’s court did not
wish to give him an audience with the king; they said his dream, whatever it
was, was unimportant. One member of the court finally requested for the man an
audience with the king. The king agreed to hear the man’s dream.
man entered the king’s court and said unto him:
highness, I dreamt that your kingdom is cursed, because you do not look to God.
enraged king had the man jailed, and the man with the dream of the curse was
quickly forgotten. He rotted there.
from his cell, he dug, every night, until he came upon a rock barrier and he
broke through, and found himself in a wing of the palace. The man walked through
dark halls until he came across a beautiful room and saw a rich table, piled
with food and drink, and his hunger overcame him. He gorged himself on someone
else’s feast. The man then left through the hole he had dug and returned to
room belonged to the king’s daughter; she discovered that someone had eaten
her meal, and she called together her servants and slaves and demanded, which
among you has done this? None answered.
next night, after the king’s daughter had fallen asleep, the prisoner quietly
returned and ate again. The following night the king’s daughter sliced open
her finger; the pain would not let her sleep. She watched the prisoner quietly
walk to the table, take his seat and eat again. When the prisoner stood to fetch
some water, he walked close to the daughter’s bed, and she flew awake and
grabbed his hand.
don’t have me killed,” the prisoner asked. “Your father has imprisoned me,
and he has just as quickly forgotten me. I have no food there.”
my father does not have any prisoners,” the king’s daughter said.
has me, and others,” the prisoner replied.
king’s daughter kept the prisoner’s secret. He returned every night to share
king soon decided to marry his daughter. He put out a riddle for her suitors to
answer. In a fenced field he placed three horses. The king asked the prospective
princes: which horse is the mother, which is the daughter, and which is the
suitors of the king’s daughter were confused and nervous. They had no way to
tell who was who, and they knew their chances of guessing successfully were
night, the prisoner and the king’s daughter had their meal. The prisoner
noticed the girl’s unease; he asked her gently what vexed her and eventually
she told him her father’s riddle.
solution is simple,” the prisoner said. “When the horses are startled, the
mother will run first, the daughter will follow second, and her son will follow
daughter’s suitors all guessed, and failed to win her hand. And the king’s
daughter told the king about one man who knew the answer.
prisoner knows,” she said.
king had the prisoner brought before him, and he put the question to the man.
The prisoner gave his answer, and it was proven correct.
king had the prisoner’s manacles struck from him. And he married his daughter
to the prisoner he had forgotten about, and secured for him another wife as
well; the daughter of a far-away king.
the man told the king about another dream he had had before he was imprisoned:
daughter was my right hand, and the daughter of that far-away king was my
is your profession?
I knew many different trades because my father built bricks, and houses, and I
learned his trades from him. Later I learned to forge iron; that’s what I did
in Pristina, for a long time. In the Mahala there were many skilled Roma- Roma
with trades. If the Roma returned there, don’t you think they would do the
same things? They’ll be there again. The iron-makers, the blacksmiths.
want to say that I stopped forging iron for some time, but I did not forget how;
because I knew that I would start my work again after the bombing. This saved
Roma don’t forget their trades.
were many Roma making things in the Pristina Mahala. Many different trades.
There were at least ten families of nothing but blacksmiths.
were Roma making horseshoes, and many Roma made mud bricks. Other Roma made
charcoal. They went into the forest and chopped down trees; they buried the logs
in earth and started fires over them. Roma people always worked for themselves,
with only their ten fingers; they never robbed anyone, and they trusted people.mp3
Some Roma in Pristina worked for others, not themselves, but most of them were
about Ashkalija and Egyptians? Did you know about them before the war?
There were Ashkalija before. We (Roma) didn’t really deal with them; they knew
how to speak Romanes but they would not use it with us. They wanted to be
Albanians. There are many groups- Arlija, Gurbeti, Ashkalija, Bugurdjije- but
they are all Roma. The only difference is their dialects.mp3
Roma around Kosovo speak differently.
you tell us something about Roma history?
Most people say that Roma are from India. I don’t think so. I think
Roma came from Arabia; they traveled in past years
and they went to many cities, and that’s why Roma are everywhere. Just because
we have similar words to Indian doesn’t mean anything; Serbs have many Russian
words, but Serbs don’t say they’re from Russia because of this. You can also
say this for (Kosovar) Egyptians- how can they be Egyptian? Egyptian people are
from Egypt, and a person who speaks
Albanian cannot be Egyptian.
kind of Roma are you?
Arlija. The only difference (between Arlija and other Roma groupings) is
dialect. We understand other dialects; Arlija understand Gurbetija.
about your religion?
I’m a Muslim, and all the Roma in Kosovo are Muslim. We celebrate the Muslim
holidays. We always have. I’m proud of myself because I’m Roma and Muslim.
holidays do you celebrate?
Roma celebrate all the holidays that happen in Kosovo, from Herdeljez to Bajram,
Vasilica to Christmas. We celebrate everything. I should let you know, though,
that I don’t pay too much attention to the details. I celebrate because others
about Roma traditions regarding marriage?
Before, Roma parents would never ask their daughter if she wanted to get
married. A girl’s father would not even speak to her about it; he would simply
choose a man for her.mp3
Regarding a groom, a girl’s parents would ask around- what kind of people are
the groom’s family? Is the groom a good man, is his father a good man? And so
on. And of course there’s the main tradition- where the groom’s family buys
his bride from her family.
you finish school?
No. I went to school for only 6 years. By then I had the skills and trades that
would help me out in life.
there were not any problems then between Roma and Albanians, Albanians and
Serbians, everything was just okay.
you tell us about the bombing in 1999? What was your experience?
We were very afraid. We never had these problems in Tito’s time.mp3
Everything was okay then; we never heard even the shooting of guns. My daughter
is still crippled because of the fear in those days. It was terrible; I won’t
talk about it.
Mevljida helps care for the bed-ridden wife of
another interviewee- Isat Fetahi. She’s known the Fetahis
for decades, first in Pristina, and now in Gracanica. They were neighbors who
abandoned their neighborhood together. Every day they sit and talk, often about
the past; a Serb woman joins them. She fled Pristina as well, and when she had
nowhere to go, the Fetahis put her up. We asked her
for an interview.
have nothing to say,’ she said, and that was all. She was a Serb, cared for by
Roma who loved her. They provided for her when her own family wouldn’t.
My name is Mevlida. I am from Pristina; now I live
in Gracanica. In Pristina we had a good life, good living. Someone took all of
the things that I had before. Now I have nothing.
My father’s name was Fadilj; my mother’s, Fetija.
My father had eight children. He worked very hard to give us a good life. He
worked as a cleaner in a Pristina school.
My family was okay- we had a home, and we had work. After
the war we all got worse. We are all in a different way now.
the war) I went to Pristina, to see my home again. And when I saw it, I had a
feeling- it’s better to die now than to live. There were no houses left: they
destroyed everything. They seized the house of my husband’s brother, and they
kept his two cars. Soon after, I became sick, and was in hospital because of
high blood pressure.
very sad for Roma- because we never had problems before, even with Albanians. I
had Albanian neighbors, but we never had problems with them until recently-
these problems that began to exist between us.
about your brothers? Did they have problems with Albanians?
No. We always cooperated with them.
tell you the truth- when the Albanians told me I had to leave my home, they
didn’t make too many problems. An Albanian saw me standing in front of my home
and he asked me,
house is yours?’
is my home,’ I told him. ‘I never did anything bad to anyone. If you want,
come inside and see if I’ve stolen anything.’
didn’t come to see who stole what,’ he said. ‘I came to tell you- you’d
better leave this place. When we were driven from our homes, you got to stay.
Now it’s your turn.’
called to him, ‘Why are you doing this? Why did you take things from my
told me again, ‘you stayed here and now you must go. We’ll show you who
rules this place.mp3
It’s better for you to go- I won’t do anything bad to you, but worse men
will come. You’d better leave.’
talked about it with our neighbors. And we left the Mahala.
did you go after you left Pristina?
I moved to Gracanica. I’m still here. I don’t know what the future will
Butić did not allow
us to videotape or photograph him.
did you think during the bombing? Did you leave Kosovo?"
we didn’t leave. Of course we were afraid, but we didn’t leave this place."
that is now the past."
are very good, very hard workers; they stayed in any place where there was a
place to sleep, food to eat and work to do. My grandfather built a house in the
center of Livadje; he worked very hard, and he built the house that became his
After the end of the 1999 NATO campaign, Ismail Butić
found himself utterly cut off from the world he once knew. He was unemployed; to
venture into areas where he could find work was to risk death.
Ismail decided that this was the perfect time to do something he’d
meant to do for years; build a new home for his family. Before, he’d never had
time because of work that had taken him all over the former Yugoslavia,
and as far away as the CzechRepublic
Ismail got the equipment, laid the foundations, and set to work with his
sons. His new home is complete now.
“I want to work; I need to. But there’s nothing here, nothing in
Livadje now, and I can’t go into the Albanian areas to find a job,” Ismail
told us over coffee while he played with his young grandchild. “It’s too
Ismail has applied to international organizations for a small loan, to
buy equipment for blacksmithing; his family trade. He’s waiting for a reply as
I’m 43 years old.
are you from?
I’m from Livadje. My father was born here, and his father as well.
kind of Roma are you?
We are Bugurdjije.
did the Bugurdjije come from?
Smithing was their trade. My father told me they had to survive somehow; my
father told me that his father first did this work in Skulanevo*. The work got
slow, and he moved to Dobrotin*. mp3
There are a lot of Roma left in Dobrotin, and many of them are my relatives.
5 kilometers northwest of Lipljan/ Lipjan town.)
Dobrotin lies roughly 10 kilometers south of Livadje, in Lipljan/Lipjan
Lots of Roma live in Livadje; my grandfather came to work here. The Serbs of
Livadje gave him a small place to work, and they made a deal; he could stay here
only if he worked for the Serbs for free.mp3
And he worked cheap for the Roma.
are very good, very hard workers; they stayed in any place where there was a
place to sleep, food to eat and work to do.mp3
My grandfather built a house in the center of Livadje; he worked very hard, and
he built the house that became his home.
built his house after he worked for awhile in the mines, in Kišnica*. He
retired there, and got a pension. But the traditional trade that my family
followed was smithing. I also finished technical secondary school.
Kišnica lies several kilometers east of Gracanica, on the Gjilan/ Gnjilane
road. The mines there have been worked since Roman times.)
did you attend school?
I finished school in Lipljan. After school I went to Belgrade and worked as a technician; I
stayed there for ten years. I returned to Pristina to work in a factory.
your parents tell you any stories about your family when you were a child?
I don’t really remember. My father was in World War II though; he was with
the Partisans. I know that he had a brother, but they were not together. My
father was a prisoner in Beć*, and after the
war he returned home.
father’s name was Pulji and mother’s name was Sevdja;
she was from Pristina.
When I go to a girl’s father, to ask her hand for my son, I bring a nice
bottle, wrapped in flowers, and filled with sugar water. If the girl’s father
accepts the bottle, his daughter will marry my son
some Roma- Gurbeti*- ask for a lot of money when someone marries their
daughters. They give a lot of money as well There
are big differences between Gurbeti and Bugurdjije regarding marriage. For
example, in my family no son was married until he finished his military
service. And no daughter will marry until she’s finished secondary school.
Roma inhabit Kosovo’s southeast, and are mainly found in Gnjilane/ Gjilan
municipality. The Roma areas of Gjilan town are almost exclusively Gurbeti.)
Ashkalija and Egyptians:
I know about Ashkalija; they live in Albanian areas, and they speak Albanian,
but they are Roma too.
didn’t know about them (Egyptians) before. They came into existence recently.
They don’t want to call themselves Ashkalija, and they don’t want to call
themselves Roma, so they call themselves Egyptians. But everyone knows that they
Vasilica- January 14th – is a day of great importance to us. Then
comes Herdeljez (Serbian: Djurdjevdan- Saint George’s day), on the 6th
of May. And Saint Arangel*, on June 26th.
We also celebrate the Muslim Bajrams.
Michael the Archangel- Arangel-
occurs on November 21. Below IB states that Saint Michael the Archangel is celebrated twice,
and the second time falls in November. I can find no other reference for the
June date IB describes.)
are your customs on Vasilica?
wake up at and prepare ourselves, and we
make the sacrifices. We bake coins in the bread; whoever finds a coin in their
piece will have luck and happiness for the next year. But if no one finds a
coin, that means that the home and family will all have that luck. On the second
day our wives make the traditional meal- Sarma*.
Sarma is a traditional Balkan meal of ground meat and rice, wrapped in cabbage
we prepare Sarma, the women will stay awake all night, watching the Sarma as it
cooks, to insure that no one else comes to steal it.**
When the guests come the next day, to eat the meal, the woman that cooked
the Sarma ‘sells’ it to the guests. ‘How much does it cost?’ the guest
will ask the cook. She’ll name a price. ‘It’s too high,’ the guest will
say. ‘Can I pay you in the summer?’ The cook will agree to this, and
everyone will eat. We sing many special songs on this day.
you know the songs?
Yes, there is one special one sung on this day;
on Djurdjevdan? What customs do you follow on this day?
On the 5th of May we have already cleaned up our homes for our guests
and visitors. We buy sheep for the sacrifice; the more money you have, the more
sheep you can sacrifice.
is a place in the hills, on the way to Sušica, where we walk to drink the water
and collect Kukureg and Dren. So that our children may be as healthy as the Dren
we find. We mix the Kukureg and Dren in water and bathe in it; our women bake
special bread, in the shape of sheep.
also collect Debeljica for the children who are very
weak, that they can become strong.
we sacrifice the sheep we’ve bought, and have a roast. On the first day of
Djurdjevdan we have no guests; everyone celebrates in their own home. On the
following day many visitors come.
you celebrate Christmas?
Yes, but we don’t pay as much attention to Christmas as the Serbs. We buy
fruit for our children.
remember when I was a child; my father brought home hay on Christmas that we
would sleep on. The main reason why we celebrate Christmas is because of our
children; we don’t want to divide them from the Serbian people. There is not
any really special reason why we celebrate.
Arangel*, on the 26th of June, can you
tell us something about that?
celebrate this firstly because we live in a Serbian area. And also, because on
the 26th of June* once something terrible happened to my ancestor,
but they recovered. This same holiday is also celebrated in the wintertime- on
refers to, on November 21st, the day of Saint Michael Archangel. This
is a Serbian patron saint’s day, or slava.)
June 26th we simply invite our relatives and friends over, to have
finished high school in Lipljan. What about primary school?
Four years in Livadje and the rest in Donja Gušterica*.
Gušterica lies several kilometers south of Livadje.)
school) did you have friends of different ethnicities? Albanian, Serbian,
In secondary school we only had Serbs and Croat from Janjevo.* Albanian children
had their own, separate schools.
Janjevo is a predominantly Catholic town in Lipljan/ Lipjan municipality.
Janjevo’s population is Croatian, Roma, Ashkalija and Albanian; the few Serbs
there fled after 1999.)
was the relationship between (Kosovo’s) ethnicities before?
When I was in Belgrade, I worked in different
places. I met many different nationalities, and I didn’t have problems with
any of them.
you have any dreams for the future, after you finished high school?
After I finished high school, I went straight to university. I completed the
first year. My family and parents were then evicted from their home; we
couldn’t find another place to live, so we moved away. I had to leave
University. It was wintertime; I couldn’t stay. My father had no work then, so
it was very hard to continue.
time later, I had the opportunity to continue my education, but my father
could not afford it. That was my last chance.mp3After everything passed, I served my time in the army. After the army I
old were you when you were married?
I was married in 1980. I was 21 years old.
did you complete your military service?
In Macedonia. I was a driver.
married and I have three children; one daughter and two sons. My eldest son is
married and he has a baby boy. My daughter is in the third year of medical
secondary school, and my other son is in primary school- the 8th
their future- I want my children to finish school and continue with their
All my brothers attended school; some of them even finished University.
Education is of the utmost importance; the conditions are good for it.
one problem that really scares me is the (economic) situation. People have no
work. My son finished electrotechnical secondary school, and he cannot find a
educated Kosovar Roma parents do not
send their children to school for precisely this reason. They believe that
education did not help them, and is therefore a waste of time for their
was the situation in this village during the 1999 war?
A bomb came down one KM from Livadje. There was a Yugoslav Army encampment
nearby; NATO bombed that place all the time.
did you think during the bombing? Did you leave Kosovo?
No, we didn’t leave. Of course we were afraid, but we didn’t leave this
Education. When Roma children wanted to go to school, they couldn’t. This was
because of Albanians; they were the majority, and they didn’t want Roma to be
This is a heated and partially untrue comment. RI’s statement does not take
into account that Roma faced as much discrimination in Serbian schools-
including Gracanica’s own Kralj Milutin school- as they did in Albanian
here celebrate Djurdjevdan and Vasilica. Have they always celebrated these
Those are their days; they’ve
celebrated them for a long time. On those holidays we visit them and drink with
them; they drink and dance and so on.
was no traffic; there were many soldiers, and they were drunk all the time. I
was with my friend, and a soldier aimed his gun at us. We were lucky; his friend
disarmed him. Otherwise he’d have shot us."
Osmani is a born journalist. When the bombs started falling near Gracanica in
March of 1999, Adem grabbed the family camcorder- a gift from his father, who
worked abroad- and he headed into the outdoors, against his mother's wishes.
Adem waited inside until he heard planes overhead; then he ran out. This is the
opposite of what most people do during bombings, I told Adem; he shrugged.
showed me the footage he shot four years ago. A Yugoslav arms depot, on the
winery hill overlooking the Kralj Milutin School. He caught the first missile
when it was still smoking and the second one when it impacted, blowing dirt and
concrete and other such items 70 feet into the air. The video is jerked and
ragged; it makes one queasy to watch.
like that because my mother kept trying to pull me into the house," Adem
September of 2001, my office was burgled; two laptops were stolen. As two
Filipino technicians dusted the windowsill for fingerprints, I provided the
names of my office staff to the Swedish investigating official, so that their
fingerprints would not bring them under the suspicion of the police. I provided
my fingerprints as well.
local police immediately fixated on the two Roma on my payroll.
got Gypsy suspects,” one of them said.
was one of my summer camp counselors. He was too intelligent and driven to stay
in that position for long. He was a Roma activist; he was about to encounter the
state racism he’d only heard others speak of.
police picked him up without my knowledge. They held him for 10 hours. They told
him that if he didn’t talk, they’d go to his school and tell his classmates
and teachers that he was a thief. The new lead investigator- a Romanian woman
who told me that Roma were responsible for all of Romania’s crimes- acquiesced
to this detention.
found out about Adem’s detention after he was released. I went to visit him.
He was in shock- a secondary medical school student who’d never even thought
of stealing anything in his life. He was embarrassed, and angry at me. His
mother looked as though she wanted to kill me.
days later the Romanian ordered Adem to be picked up again. His thumbprint had
shown up on my desk. No matter that he sat at that desk for hours every day. The
fact that he worked in my office meant nothing to them. They wanted to bust a
gypsy, and they had one, and that was that.
colleagues and I secured his release. ‘We don’t give a shit who
did this,’ we said. ‘Leave this kid alone.’
didn’t know what to say to him. I’d assured him, after the first detention,
that it wouldn’t happen again. And it did. ‘If something happens to my son,
I’ll die,’ Adem’s mother told me. I didn’t doubt her. It took awhile for
Adem to calm down. He got nervous whenever a car stopped in front of his home.
Adem’s a respected young man- respected by all. The soldiers and teachers and
internationals that know him sing his praises. In a village with no work, he’s
worked since the age of 12, helping his older brothers and his father repair
their home. He worked for NGOs when he was still in high school. He talks about
studying theology in Sarajevo,
and he will, one day. He will leave this place on the strength of his will,
passion and intelligence.
to the police, and the lead international investigator, he was nothing but a
number, a gypsy, a suspect.
am 21 years old.
you tell us about the last days before the bombing?
In the days before the bombing, I sat and watched television. I didn’t watch
the news, but my older brother, my uncle and other older people watched. We
listened to the radio, to try and figure out what would happen, or if there
would be a solution. There were negotiations between the nationalities here,mp3
but it didn’t work in Rambouillet, and no solution came.
about Roma? What was their reaction?
Some Roma would say, ‘Well, we’ll have a war then.’ They didn’t
understand politics, but they saw the situation in Kosovo. Other Roma said,
‘There are Russian soldiers* (near) here, so we won’t have problems. Let’s
talk about May 24th; the radio stations issued warnings. I remember
it like it happened today. People started to prepare themselves.
opened their windows wide and prepared clothes, soap, and towels, in case
something happened quickly, and they needed to flee.
may be referring to the presence of Russian troops in Bijeljina, NE Bosnia- roughly 280 KM from Pristina.
Before the war, the Serbs believed that that Russians would intervene- at first,
diplomatically, and later, if needed, militarily- to ‘save’ them. The
Russians did do both of these things; in the beginning they actively opposed the
coming campaign through the few diplomatic means at their disposal, and later,
near the end of the NATO campaign, the Russian contingent in Bijeljina
disappeared and only turned up again when they seized Pristina’s Slatina
Airport and paraded themselves through Pristina, where they were greeted as
heroes by the Serbs who remained behind. These were symbolic gestures at best,
and not what the Serbs had fervently wished for.)
was your opinion of all this?
attitude was common- only because of what may pass if the bombing came. What
would happen to people here? I didn’t consider that the bombing would happen. I
thought that it was impossible, but my uncle and my family told me that the
bombing would come- either that evening or the next day.mp3
On that day I was going out- walking around town. This was exactly four years
was the reaction of the youth?
Everything was normal. We spent a lot of time playing football. We made jokes
about the coming bombing- “yea, they’ll blow up this and that-“ but we
didn’t think about the consequences, how it was going to be when the bombs
came. We didn’t take it seriously.
day (the first day of the NATO campaign) everything was normal. People talked
all the time about the bombing, but everything was the same. Shops were open,
other institutions (schools, government offices) as well. The traffic was
normal, and people went to work. At that evening I saw on the
news that the (NATO) planes were waiting and armed. They had targets; they were
warming up. Then I realized it was really going to happen. Soon the windows in
my home shattered.
heard some large explosions far away from Gracanica- probably some military
installation. We couldn’t hear it very well. The morning after we heard
air-raid sirens; my family decided not to sleep at home that night, and we went
to the shelters. It was full of people. On the first night there were 4 families
there. On the second night- March 25th- my family made the decision
to flee to the Vojvodina*
is an ethnic Hungarian section of Northern Serbia, roughly 320 KM from
did your family think it would be better in the Vojvodina?
Because NATO wasn’t dropping so many bombs there. It would be safer, because
it wasn’t a real war, like in Kosovo. Albanians fought Serbs here from 1995
onward; a guerilla war, like the Partisans. We took the train to Belgrade, and then ended up in
a small village 50 kilometers from Belgrade.)
was the situation there?
was fine. I only remember one night of bombing, and that was very far away from
Vladimirovac. The place was full of Serbs, and it was nice, but we couldn’t
stay longer. We missed our home. It was really difficult for me to leave my
home. I thought we would never come back, and I’d never see my friends again
in my life.
the start of the war, many Roma families went to Serbia; some went to Italy. We couldn’t leave the
country; we stayed in Vladimirovac for 17 days.
returned to Gracanica on the 24th of April. It was a disaster. My
home had been looted. Everything- all the valuables- were gone. I didn’t know
what to do; I went to say hello to my friends. That was it. We saw many
soldiers that we’d never seen before; some were from Kosovo, but many were
from Serbia. There were a lot of army
trucks, and a lot of guns. mp3
the shops were closed. Everything was expensive; one kilo of rice was 200
There was no traffic; there were many soldiers, and they were drunk all the
I was with my friend, and a soldier aimed his gun at us. We were lucky; his
friend disarmed him. Otherwise he’d have shot us.
did he do that?
Because he was drunk. He didn’t care about anything; it was all a joke to him.
The bombing went on for 78 days.
you read us an excerpt from the diary you kept then?
they (the Serbs) have signed the agreement. People (in Gracanica) are
celebrating, shooting guns into the air. The television says the war is over; we
can’t talk about the end of war, because everyone that was in this war has
bombing stopped in a few hours.
The Serbian army has pulled back to its prewar positions. On the 10th
of June, at , NATO came into Kosovo; the
Russians took Slatina (the airport). The next day others arrived- Germans,
Americans and French.
did you write this down?
it happened- when NATO took over Kosovo. On June 21st Albanians began
to return to their prewar homes. They returned to Pristina- and the Roma there
fled. Some of them came to Gracanica, and others headed to Serbia proper.
June 21st, those Pristina Roma fled to Gracanica- because they were
told, if you don’t leave, you’ll have problems.
Yes. They had to leave if they wanted to avoid problems with the (returning)
Albanians. Too many Albanian homes were burned and destroyed.
emptied immediately .We’d left during the bombing, but after it ended, we
didn’t want to go anywhere. People were leaving, and Gracanica had only five
or six Roma families left. My friends were gone; I was alone.mp3
Albanians provoked us; Pristina was cut off from us.
any incidents take place in Gracanica?
Albanians kidnapped one man here, but two days later he escaped; he had to walk
from Pristina to Čaglavica. He was lucky. Two other men were kidnapped
in Preoce; they were killed. A few years later their bodies were found.* Three
or four months after (the Preoce kidnappings) a bomb was detonated at the market
in Gracanica. After that the Serbs stopped Albanian cars*. We just played
his brother F.G., IsmetCelovic
and his brother C.A. were hired by a Serb trucker, SlavkoZdravkovic, to move an elderly Serb woman from her
apartment in Priština (entrance 11, seventh floor, green building, Kicma
(Kurriz) district)) on 3 July. F.G. and C.A. recounted that Zdravkovic
came to Preoce at and drove them to the
building. The elevator was out of order so they carried the furniture and
belongings down the stairs. A group of Albanians gathered on the steps outside
the building and threatened and insulted them. Zdravkovic,
who was upstairs, called KFOR. A patrol arrived shortly and dispersed the
Albanians, and they continued loading the truck. Half an hour later, the same
Albanians came back, resumed abusing them and said the belongings they were
taking out of the apartment had been stolen by the elderly Serb woman. The Serb
woman called KFOR and the Albanians were again dispersed.
loading was finished at 3.30 p.m. Zdravkovic told
the Roma he could not drive them back to Preoce as he had promised, and they
walked to the bus stop near the market in the Ulpijana
district. They noticed that they were being followed by four men, three of whom
were about 23 or 24 and the fourth about 30. The older man was tall, of strong
build and going bald. The younger men were shorter and thinner, two had streaked
hair, and one curly hair. The witnesses recognized them as being in the group of
Albanians who had abused them while they were loading the truck. At the post
office, the men separated, two turning to the left at the market and two going
in the opposite direction.
they neared the bus stop, a white Zastava 101 with four men inside stopped in
front of them. One of these men was the curly-haired man who had been following
them. Then a blue Lada car drove up, with the remaining three men in it. The
Roma started running: F.G. and C.A. toward the market and Fazljija
and Celovic down Vidovdanska to the ring road. Two
men got out of the Zastava and chased after F.G. and C.A. When they reached the Kontra
Restaurant, F.G. and C.A looked back and saw that no one was following them any
more. A KFOR patrol with a young Albanian woman interpreter came by and they
tried to report the incident. The woman at first refused to translate what they
were saying but then said something to the KFOR members. The witnesses believe
that she did not translate their words as a KFOR member merely gave them a piece
of paper with a telephone number to call if they needed an escort. The woman
told F.G. and C.A. that they were safe and would
not be harmed.
and C.A. walked on and then sat on a
bench where they were approached by two young women who had overheard them
talking about the incident. They said they were Serb and offered to take F.G.
and C.A. to the apartment of a friend
who spoke English and could help them report to KFOR what had happened. They
agreed, went to fetch the young man who spoke English and went with him to a
KFOR post. The KFOR members there heard them out, said they could not leave
their post and gave them the address and telephone number of the KFOR
headquarters in Priština. Afraid of being caught in the streets, they returned
to the young man's apartment and tried to call the KFOR headquarters but the
line was constantly busy.
Serb neighbor of the young man offered to drive them to their village, for which
they paid him Ten Deutschmarks. They never learned what happened to Fazljija
Serbs block the main road between Pristina and Gnjilane/ Gjilan after major
security incidents or attacks against them. The reason is partly their own
security, and partly to draw attention to their current plight.)
Roma fought with Albanians on that day; there were Roma in the market the
Albanians had bombed. Some Albanians were injured.
is the situation now?
situation is different. Everyone is looking for work. Many organizations* came
to Kosovo; if we want money, we have to work with them. In Gracanica now we can
speak in any language,* but everyone still hates one another, and that’s that.
refers to International Non-Governmental Organizations, KFOR and the United
Nations, who offer the highest wages. Drivers and security guards for these
organizations make more than university professors and judges.)
primary language is Albanian; his father is Ashkalija.)