In addition to detail accounts on violence and crimes committed against Kosovo Serbs, the Report on ethnic Violence bz Belgrade/based Humanitarian Law Center also contains numerous examples of solidarity, help and assistance provided to the victims by local Albanians who often risked their own safety in doing so.  A Serbian woman R.T. from Kosovo Polje/Fushë Kosovë, who lived in residential building Lepa Brena (in Priština?) told to the FHP interviewer what was going on in this building during the March violence, The interview was conducted on 26th Aprila 2004:

In the Lepa Brena building, an Albanian (neighbour) gave his own metal door to the KPS to replace the door of a Serb neighbor’s apartment which had been broken down on 17 March. Two young Albanian women tried to stop the attackers from setting fire to the ground-floor apartments. From their windows, they shouted at them to leave the apartments alone. The hooligans shouted insults back at them. Two other neighbors, Bedrija Trnava and Ganija Krasnići, also tried to stop the burning.

A Serbian woman R.A. from Lipljan/Lipjan mentions particularly her neighbour Albanian Burhan who had prevented rioters to approach Serbian houses in her street. The interview was conducted by FHP on 28th March 2004: 

The violence in our street broke out in the evening of 17 March. We let down the window shutters and peered out to see what was happening. The demonstrators headed for our street, but our neighbor two doors away, Burhan, stopped them from coming to our houses. We have never had any problems with our Albanian neighbors in the street. Three houses are Serb and all the others Albanian. I always said I felt safer when I saw Burhan taking his walks. Our street was left alone even after the evening of 17 March.

A Serb from Vitina/Viti, B.S. mentioned in the interview given on 17th May 2004 to FHP that in his street there was no empathy nor help provided by Albanians while Serbian property was destroyed.  However, he mentions that such case took place at least on two localities in Vitina, The case of Svetosavska Street was particularly impressive since there local Albanians with all members of their families entered the street in order to protect their Serbian neighbours and stop the violence provoked by rioters: 

There were cases of Albanians helping, but not in our neighborhood. One was in Svetosavska Street where the Albanians and their families went out in the street and didn’t let the mob near the Serb houses. The same happened near the yellow building.

A Serbian woman from Prizren, O.F.  who lived with her daughter in premises of Orthodox Seminary in Prizren mentioned help provided to her and members of her family by local Albanians during the March violence. The interview was conducted by FHP on 27th April 2004: 

At some point an Albanian approached me and told me to look for shelter. I told him that an old woman and a woman who had been with me had got lost. He told me not to worry because they had been taken to a safe place. I did not know that man. At that moment my daughter Tanja turned up and immediately after her the ambulance arrived (…) They started to dress my wound and took us to the hospital. (…) As for grandma Natalija and aunt Draga, some Albanians had taken them to a cellar of a house, gave them food and dressed their wounds. Then those people took them to the village of Sredska where Serbs live and turned them over to KFOR.

A Serb from Prizren, Lj. P. (returnee to Prizren) who resided in Orthodox Seminary mentioned that an unknown Albanian provided him with crucial help while he was trying to escape with his children from the rioters. The interview was conducted by FHP on 30th April 2004: 

The demonstrators tried to open the door with some blunt objects. They gave up probably because the fire was spreading (…) I succeeded after several blows and made it to the terrace of the next-door house before the whole building went up in flames (…) The owner of that house accepted us as friends. He offered us tea, told us not to worry (…) To spare him trouble he might run into for having taken us in, I took the children and we went to the Theranda Hotel (…) We didn’t stay there long as I was afraid that we might have been seen. I broke the window and we came out near the building of Tekke where there were two large dustbins. We got into them. My son started crying and I covered his mouth so that he couldn’t be heard. My daughter (…) was quiet although she was terrified. We were barefoot, with no clothes, hungry. Some time around 3 o’clock in the morning the situation calmed down but I was still not sure if it would be safe to leave that place (…) It was only around 5 o’clock that we decided to come out and headed for the building of the UNMIK regional centre.

A Serb woman M.Š. from Prizren mentioned help and refuge provided by local Albanians to her and few other women who were trying to escape from the violent rioters. The interview was conducted by FHP on 27th Aprila 2004:

First they stoned us and then threw a Molotov cocktail into the yard. Fortunately we were not hurt. We did not suffer any major damage except material (…) The hooligans were breaking everything around them. All four of us entered an outhouse behind the house and barricaded ourselves in with boards. It was getting dark and that gave us hope that we wouldn’t be discovered. The front door of the house was broken in no time. We heard loud banging but they did not find us. We stayed there until eight o’clock that evening. As we could not hear the noise any more, we decided to flee to the forest. When we came out, we saw that everything was broken and that some things had been plundered. We 65took blankets and some tins and set off. We stayed in the forest until one o’clock in the morning (…) Then we decided to go down towards Šadrvan come what may. (…) And so we reached the musical school and came across four men there. We thought that was the end of us but we were in luck, they happened to be our Albanian neighbours. (…) They took us to their house and there we stayed until the morning (…) The daughter of one of the Albanians knew somebody in KFOR and let that person know that we needed help. It was only as late as half past eight that evening, when all the Serb houses in Potkaljaja were on fire, that two KFOR vehicles with four soldiers came and brought us here to the barracks.

A Serb from Kosovo Polja/Fushë Kosovë, M.I., mentioned in interview that his Albanian neighbors tried to protect his property from the rioters during the March violence. The interview was conducted by FHP in March 2004:

I worked as a car body repairman for 35 years. I lived in Germany. I wanted to provide for my children. I never even had a cup of coffee in a cafe. I never took my wife out. All I wanted was to save up. I had a three-story house. I have nothing now, and nor do my children. I used to get several thousand marks from renting out part of the house to foreigners and from my work. Albanians often came to me at night, in secret, so I could fix their machines. They all knew me as a honest man. I didn’t allow the burning of Albanian houses in my street during the war. The owners were all honest people, just like me. It’s the politicians who are to blame for everything that’s happening to us. There are good people and bad people everywhere (…) Thirty-seven and a half thousand Euros went up in flames in my house. When it started to burn, my three daughters, wife and granddaughter began screaming. I grabbed my granddaughter and ran outside with her. Never mind the money. What would I do without my granddaughter? When we were outside, I had to put my hand over my granddaughter’s mouth so that she wouldn’t give us away with her crying (…) We had to hide as if we were beasts. We fled to the Albanian alleys, hid in the dark so they wouldn’t get us. Somewhere around 11.30 p.m. I saw an Albanian who works as an interpreter for the OSCE and asked him to take my daughters and granddaughter to safety. He agreed and drove them to Ugljare. I stayed, hiding in the alleys. When a group of Albanians came to our house and started to set it on fire, I hid in the cesspool. I heard two of my Albanian neighbors telling them I was a good man, that I never did anybody any harm, but it was no use. An Albanian who works at the mosque came and drove the two of them away. Then they set fire to the house. They had a bottle of gasoline.

Image courtesy of aleksandarmiletic | MALI VELIKI LJUDI

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