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The terrorists are destroying churches and monasteries in Kosovo-Metohija
January 17, 2000

More than 80 churches and monasteries destroyed since the arrival of peacekeeping forces

Pristina, January 16th - With yesterday's blowing up of St. Prophet Ilija's Church in the village of Cernica near Gnjilane, the terrorists have brought the separatist plan of destroying Christian culture in Kosovo-Metohija to an end. Since the arrival of KFOR, more than 80 churches and monasteries were blown up, burnt and finally leveled.

During the last autumn, the terrorists shelled the Pec Patriarchate four times, threw stones at it two times, although it was protected by Italian troops night and day.

At the end of last year, the creators of new Islamic culture based on the foundations of old Christian and Medieval heritage and the forgers of history blew up a series of churches and monasteries near Urosevac, as well as the cathedral in this town. At the foothill of Mt. Nerodimska Planina in the same village, in the area of the municipality of Urosevac, the terrorists blew up the oldest Serbian monuments and resorts of Emperors Dusan and Uros, and cut the pine tree planted by Emperor Dusan. St. Archangel's church built in the 14th century was also destroyed. According to historical data, King Milutin died in this churchyard in 1321 and his remains were later moved to Banjska Monastery.

The terrorists also targeted the Assumption Church in Sarenik hamlet near the village of Gornje Nerodimlje. According to written data, this church was erected by Empress Jelena, mother of Emperor Uros, on the location where he had died on December 2nd 1371. His biographer patriarch Pajsije wrote that Emperor Uros' remains were in the monastery's church. Later on, in 1705, they were moved to Jazak monastery on Mt. Fruska Gora.

The Albanian terrorists also destroyed a medieval town, dynasty Nemanjic's stronghold, Veliki Petric, 4 km away from Gornje Nerodimlje. Along with the churches in Nerodimlje, this town represented a unique monumental complex. Its ground was covered by mosaics of great artistic value dating from the 6th century, because Nemanjics built it on the foundations of a Byzantine monument.

The arsonists destroyed King Milutin's summer castle in the village of Belasica, on the slopes of Mt. Kopaonik in the municipality of Podujevo. Monumental remains of former stronghold Vrhlab, dominated by King Milutin's tower, were also devastated by the terrorists. King Milutin signed a treaty with Dubrovnik on September 14th 1302 in Vrhlab and issued a decree giving Dubrovnik back its old trade status. The terrorists in Podujevo blew up and severely damaged the church of St. Apostle Andrew, and in the village of Glavnik the remains of a Roman village Vindenis. In one of the chambers in the village, there was an extremely valuable and interesting mosaic showing an icon of Orpheus.

In late August last year, the terrorists targeted numerous medieval churches and monasteries in Metohija, among which there was a medieval monastery of Zociste in the village of Zociste near Orahovac. This monastery, dedicated to St. Healers Kozma and Damjan, containing the remains of St. Damjan, was first torched and later blown up. The location where the monastery complex with dormitories, guest rooms, treasury and farm once was, was, after the looting, leveled by bulldozers. The monastery was erected on the foundations of a Byzantine early Christian temple. Stefan Decanski passed a decree declaring it an integral part of Hilandar monastery. A raging fire destroyed the medieval church relics and works of fine art, as well as iconostasis and frescoes dating back to the 13th century, including the frescoes in the dome and apsis.

In late June last year, the monastery of St. Godmother in the village of Musutiste near Suva Reka was completely destroyed. The church belonging to the monastery was built in 1315. Ample treasury was, according to the local Albanian witnesses, looted, and the monastery with the dormitory was set ablaze and later blown up. The treasury included medieval books donated to the monastery, the church relics and numerous icons brought from Mount Sinai, Mt. Athos, Russia and the East by various monks. This monastery kept the famous icon of Christ and the Mother of God, painted by anonymous artist in 1602. The same destiny awaited the medieval church in Suva Reka.

Arsonists and devastators also destroyed the St. Archangels Monastery in the village of Binal near Kosovska Vitina. Before it was reconstructed in the 13th century, it served as a seat of the Byzantine eparchy during the reign of Vasilije II, according to the written sources.

The Albanian arsonists and devastators have, in Metohija, destroyed almost all churches, medieval cemeteries and towns, and nobody except Veton Suroi condemned these crimes in public. In fact, after the NATO bombing, thanks to the hospitality of the monks from the Visoki Decani monastery, in which, for more than two months, apart from numerous Serbs, some hundred Albanians also sought shelter, he said that entire Kosovo should look up to the Decani Monastery. To make it even worse, KFOR troops have on many occasions requested from the church officials the clearing of rubble and other building material from the sites where the destroyed churches and monasteries once were.

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