A Prison Without Walls

Letter From Kosovo

In the second half of February, I visited Kosovo and Metohija with a Russian humanitarian team that brought 12 tons of food, medicines, and school supplies to the surrounded Serbian enclaves of Lipljan, Batuse, and Priluzje, where the inhabitants have, over two months, had their electricity, heating, and water cut off by the newly elected local Albanian administration.  Among the supplies we brought were heaters for the schools.

Traveling through the remaining Serbian communities in Kosovo from Mitrovica southward is much like taking a journey through a huge prison: from the most humane correctional workshop (the Kosovska Mitrovica region) to solitary confinement (Lipljan).  Lipljan dwellers have been confined to a ghetto of two small streets.  Their children have been cast out of the 140-year-old local school and now meet in a hut that resembles a ruined stable and is heated with improvised ovens.  We did not visit Gorazdevac or Orahovac, so I can only take Lipljaners at their word when they call their village “paradise” compared to those places.

As in a prison, the notion of “freedom” was constantly on the lips of the inmates: “In Gracanica, the Serbs have real freedom, compared to Lipljan” said Boro, a Lipljan school official.  “In Mitrovica, it’s freedom, compared to Gracanica,” said Dr. Ljubisa Foljevic, professor of Pristina University,...

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