portion of this article may be reprinted without permission. Contact
Kajira for inquiries. This article is awaiting publication in
in Kosovo are having extremely hard times. In Prishtina (capital
of Kosovo-Serbia), 95% of the Romani population are without jobs.
Constantly we are hearing the news reports that in Kosovo, 90% of
the population consists of Ethnic Albanians and 10% are Ethnic Serbs.
That literally means Roma do not exist! Only in Prishtina are 35-40,000
of Romany population, that is almost 15% of population in Prishtina.
Kosovo has population of 2,000,000 people. Of that total 200-250,000
- and maybe even more, are Roma. I do not have an accurate statistic
because many Roma escaped from Kosovo into western European countries
to seek exile. Almost all of Roma that have sought political asylum
present themselves as Albanian because if they say that they are
Roma, nobody would accept them in exile. In the meantime, all Roma
that are in Europe have to pay 3-4% fees for Albanians each month
to support (Kosovo Liberation Army - KLA).
are coming every month with their guns into Romani houses to collect
the money. In spite of the fact that European authorities know about
it - does anybody takes any measures? Hell no. So the KLA is supported
from that and many other sources via the Albanian Mafia (back in
the '80s they were one of the most organized Mafia groups in Europe).
Every Albanian shop owner also has to pay monthly fees to support
the Albanian Revolution.
course, our government is also supporting Albanian terrorists by
selling them weapons. Now, of all the organizations giving humanitarian
aid in Kosovo, all of the help is going to Albanians and Serbs,
even though Roma and other minorities are often the poorest and
most desperate for aid. Among the Albanians who are getting help
are ones that have three story houses, cars like BMWs or Mercedes,
and of course a nice suit and - most importantly - have learned
English over night. It did not take them too long to learn how to
get money and from whom. At this time in Prishtina are more than
20 Non Governmental Organizations - (NGO). Does anybody know how
many Roma are getting help???? Less than zero, even though Roma
make up more than 10% of the population in Kosovo. In the meantime,
all the money that Albanians save by not having to buy food is ending
up being used to buy arms from western European countries and particularly
from a world police: U.S. Excellent job.
last year in early spring when severe fights started in between
Ethnic Albanians and Serbs, 25 Roma have been killed. I can't provide
all of their names but I did manage to get the names of those who
are missing or have been kidnapped by the KLA. Here's the list of
Gurim Bejta-born in v. Dolac -disappeared on 05/20/98 in v. Grabanica(Klina-Kosovo).
2. Agron Berisha-born in v. Dolac disappeared on 05/20/98 in v.Grabanica
3. and 4. Hadja Neshat born in 1955 in Kosovska, Mitrovica and his
son, Hadja Suad, born in K. Mitrovica, disappeared on 07/21/98 in
Kosovska, Mitrovica. These two disappeared while they were selling
in the market in Kosovska, Mitrovica. An Albanian who was buying
at the same market didn't have money for the things he bought and
he told them to come with him to his house to get the money. They
got into the Hadja's van and have not been seen since then.
5. Vesar Isaku- born in Orahovac , disappeared in Orahovac, Kosovo.
6. Azem Isaku- born in Orahovac , disappeared in Orahovac, Kosovo.
7. Agron Hamza- born in Orahovac , disappeared in Orahovac, Kosovo.
8. Muharem Damijani - born in Gjakovica, disappeared on the road
Gjakovica-Krajljan. He was a taxi driver.
9. Tahir Krajljan - born in the v. Krajljan , disappeared in the
same village during his travel by taxi. We must say that Tahir was
released from custody because, as he said, ""I am very old."
10. Halil Krasnini - born in the v.Bajgora, disappeared on 09/05/98
in Glogovac. Glogovac is the coal mine and there was heavy fighting
last spring and summer. He managed to escape.
these people that are listed were kidnapped by UK-KLA. UK are now
going around towns and villages openly threatening Roma and harassing
them wherever they may be, whether at the schools (Roma are now
going to Serbian Education, but in the past Albanian, because Albanians
ruled from 1969 'til 1987 in Kosovo region), or in the streets,
markets, etc. The reason is that Roma have to come and fight with
their Muslim brothers against the Serbian regime.
Serbians are the ruling minority in Kosovo. They are also committing
some terrible atrocities against the Romani people. Being Rom in
Kosovo is like nowhere, as my mother says: "Amen o Roma sijam ni
andi havaja ni andi phuv" ("We, the Roma, are neither in the sky,
nor on the earth.")
we wanted to do something about this. This winter of 1998, my wife
Carol, son Benjamin and I were there three weeks. We had two years
in a row benefit events, some workshops in coffee shops and bookstores.
We converted $ 8,500 into German marks, as that's the currency that
goes the best in Kosovo. We smuggled them in to help my neighbourhood
where I grew up. We had also 7 big suitcases of warm winter clothes,
mostly for children. We managed to help 200 families with 50 kg.
of flour, and from those families 50 of the neediest got one sq.
meter of firewood; some people we helped with medicine. While we
were delivering the flour and the firewood quite often we were asked,
"when are you going to run for election, we'll vote for you immediately!"
After that, we found out that Arkan and Slobodan Miloshevir (people
who ran for office) brought 25 kg. of flour as bribes to each Romani
family. Of course Roma are in such a desperate situation they circled
in number 2 or 3 on the ballot, or however they dictated, in order
to get the flour. One of the biggest absurdities was that Helsinki
Watch monitored this and declared it a fair election! Oops - I almost
forgot to write: Democratic Elections - according to them.
my old neighbourhood are living some Serbs, Albanians and Turks,
we also helped them. Many Romani kids we saw in the big garbage
containers, a big number of them are sorting cardboard, plastic
and aluminium cans in order to buy a piece of bread. Every 4-5 minutes
we saw 4WD cars UNHCR, UNPROFOR, RED CROSS Geneva, Caritas-Zurich,
World Vision GB, Doctors Without Borders and you just name it -
and does anybody help Roma? Hell no!!! We got to help them and a
lot of beggars on the streets. It was a very successful mission.
had somewhere around $1,000 and some winter clothes for children
left after distributing everything in my neighbourhood, so Carol
and I went to UNHCR and told them that we were interested to go
with their vehicles into towns where actual fighting had happened
and help people there directly. The guy who worked in reception
was Albanian and said it wouldn't be a problem. Then we asked him
do they keep track of Romani people that they are helping? We told
him that we would help also other people that are in need but, our
main focus is on the Roma. He seemed surprised. He indicated that
the UNHCR didn't keep any separate records of Roma in Kosovo, either
as victims or as folks receiving aid. It seemed like he couldn't
simply believe why someone from the U.S. should come and help Roma.
We also wanted to speak with some international officials working
there. He said that nobody was there and our conversation ended
without much hope of getting this stuff to Roma in other towns.
experience, and more throughout my life, have led me to ask:
Are Roma Really INVISIBLE ??????????????
and his wife Carol continue to fight for the rights of Roma and
oppressed people throughout the world. Together they have founded
the Kosovo Romani Project in order to continue this goal.
Sani has recently appeared on the History Channel's documentary,
"The Curse on the Gypsies", and is an active spokesperson
for his people at lectures and events across this nation. He believes
education is the best tool to combat ignorance, and strives to get
the word out on what is happening to his people worldwide, and especially
in Kosovo, so that others may be alerted to the situation. Together
we can make a difference.