Solidarity Without Discrimination

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) is strongly supporting the state authorities’ involvement in repairing the consequences of the recent natural disasters and providing support for the endangered citizens in these areas. At the same time, the HLC would like these institutions, the Republic of Serbia Government in particular, to express the same level of solidarity with the Bosniak citizens of Serbia, who live at the territory of the Priboj Municipality. In late 1992 and early 1993 they were victims of persecution carried out by the then Yugoslav Army (VJ), and because of this, they are still forced to live away from their homes.

As a reminder, we would like to say that the villages located at the border between Serbia, BiH, and Montenegro (Kukurovići, Živinice, Zaostro, Milanovići, Slavotići, Sjeverin, etc.) were mostly inhabited by Muslim citizens. During the armed conflict in BiH, many VJ reserve units were stationed along the border with this republic. According to the statements given by the residents of this village, on 8 May 1992, the VJ Užice Corps was situated in this area. At that time, there were many cases of unauthorised searches of houses, physical mistreatment, and shootings at the residents’ houses for no reason. At the same time, the Republic of Srpska Army units had unrestricted access to this area where they intimidated local population.

The events in the village of Kukurevići give the best description of the persecuted Bosniaks’ fate. Three Yugoslav Army camps were located around this village: at the Mustafin grob Hill, in the Kukurovići Elementary School, and Montenegrin village of Poblaće. According to one Kukurovići resident’s statement, in the afternoon of 18 February 1993, the village was attacked with the infantry weaponry from the direction of these three military camps. The residents of this village were forced, because of this attack, to leave the village and head to Pljevlja. When they were leaving the village, they could see that several houses were already set on fire. Two days after the attack, some of the residents returned to the village. Then, they saw that all houses were set on fire (a total of 37 houses). One of the people who returned was Džafer Kaltak who entered his neighbour Mušan Husović’s house and found his corps in the house, along with the corps of his unwedded wife, Fatima Sarač. After that, Džafer found Uzeir Bulut’s corps in his house.

We are underlining that the destruction of these villages and the persecution of the citizens could not be considered a consequence of war because it is well known that VJ was never in the armed conflict with the Republic of Srpska Army, which was situated in BiH, along the border with the FRY. Old people, who were mostly the residents of the aforementioned villages, today live in Prijepolje, Priboj, and Pljevlja beyond every level of human dignity and without any support of the state – which even refused to give them a status of displaced persons.

The HLC is demanding that relevant institutions in the Republic of Serbia express solidarity with these people, who have been living for 13 years away from their homes, and enable them to return home. The HLC is completely supporting the recent Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica’s statement that “every person who lost a home, shall be provided with another one”, but this should be applied to all citizens of Serbia, regardless of their ethnic background and the fact who is responsible because they lost their homes.