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Saraloni (
Sun, 28 Dec 1997 02:06:49 EST

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STUDENT PROTESTS IN KOSOVA=0D=0D To the rest of the world it may seem in=
comprehensible to be forced from your own school because you want to stud=
y in your mother tongue, but that's exactly what has happened to the Alba=
nian students in Kosova. =0D The University of Prishtine (UP) was founde=
d in 1970. Since then, more than 43,000 people have graduated (7,000 sin=
ce 1991). Yet in 1991, the Serbian policy of "ethnic cleansing" began i=
n Kosova's educational institutions. Some1,000 professors and 27,000 stu=
dents were forced out of the University of Prishtine alone. Hundreds of =
thousands of high school students were banned from entering school buildi=
ngs.=0D In some of the elementary schools, children were allowed into se=
gregated buildings -- with Serb children on one side, Albanians in the ot=
her. The University and high schools began to hold classes outside their =
school buildings, in private houses, in miserable conditions. This has b=
een going on for seven years now. The Serb police raids on these buildin=
gs are a common practice. Teachers are beaten in front of the children a=
s a way to promote fear. =0D In September, 1996, responding to internati=
onal pressure to ease tensions in Kosova, an "Educational Agreement" was =
signed between President Rugova and Milosevic. This agreement was never =
implemented.=0D In signing the agreement, Milosevic intended to gain po=
litical points in the eyes of the international community in the hopes of=
having Serbia's economic sanctions lifted.=0D Over one year later, th=
e empty school buildings continue to be guarded by heavy police forces t=
o prevent the Albanians from moving in. Some buildings are used as refug=
ee camps for Serbs from Croatia. Now the situation has become unbearable =
for the Albanian students as it appears no progress has been made towards=
opening the schools.=0D Therefore, the Independent Student Union of the=
University of Prishtine (SIUUP), the only student organization in the UP=
, initiated peaceful protests, with one clear aim: the unconditional retu=
rn of the university and high school buildings, so the Albanian students =
can attend normal classes in normal facilities, ironically built by Alban=
ians themselves. The Albanian students DO NOT WANT the Serb students to l=
eave; they just want to use the 80% of the facilities that have been empt=
y since 1991.=0D The University of Prishtine currently has 14 senior co=
lleges and 7 community colleges. 23,000 students attend classes. The "re=
gular" University buildings are only partially filled by Serb students, b=
ut the rest of the buildings remain empty.=0D Although the Serb governm=
ent has offered lucrative loans and housing, it has managed to attract le=
ss the 4,000 Serb students from Serbia and Montenegro to attend classes i=
n Kosova. They only occupy some 20 % of the University buildings.=0D =
SIUUP is an independent, non-political, non-partisan organization. The=
demand for the unconditional return of the school buildings is a non-pol=
itical demand, based on international law that guarantees education in a =
mother tongue as a fundamental human right. In September 10, 1997, SIUUP =
established the University Protests Council. This council has 9 members -=
- 5 students and 4 professors. In September 15 the council established t=
he platform for the principles for the non-violent and peaceful protests =
as listed below: =0D Whereas the Students Independent Union of the Unive=
rsity of Prishtine has undertaken the initiative to organize peaceful pro=
tests aimed at taking back the occupied buildings of the university; Wher=
eas the students had prior talks with the state institutions, politicians=
, and representatives of other associations, from whom they had formal su=
pport, and hope that they will follow by offering their concrete help; W=
hereas the University has offered support to the students' initiative for=
these protests and have expressed their readiness to organize peaceful a=
nd dignified protests; =0D The University Organization Council issues =
s' protests are organized for the purpose of retaking Prishtine Universit=
y buildings and other premises violently occupied by the Serbian regime i=
n 1991. =0D2. Students' protests will be peaceful and non-violent, us=
ing no arms or weapons of any kind, with no violence against any public o=
r private property, nor will we return violence if it is used against us.=
=0D3. Preparation and realization of peaceful protests will be don=
e by the Students Protest Council of the University and other sub-council=
s of faculties and high pedagogic schools (two year colleges), in close c=
ooperation with the University, faculties and high pedagogic schools. Th=
e public (in the country and abroad) will be appropriately notified about=
the slogans and placards which will be used by the students during the p=
rotests. The public will be notified in due time about other adequate act=
ions which will enable better organization and realization of peaceful pr=
otests. The media and other international bodies will be informed and inv=
ited as well. =0D4. The Students Council for the organization of prot=
ests is open and ready to cooperate and coordinate the work with institut=
ions and other relevant subjects and associations on the basis of their c=
oncrete declarations in support of THE MAIN PRINCIPLES AND RULES OF NON-=
he purpose of our protests is not political. Its intention is obvious: th=
e unconditional release of premises, buildings and the campus of the Univ=
ersity, now under police control. =0D6. We do not try to fight with our a=
dversary, but we are demanding the respect of human rights and civil free=
doms equally for all peoples. =0D7. Anyone who provokes the police will b=
e considered a police informer. =0D8. If the police use force against us,=
this does not mean that we ought to return violence. =0D9. We are not go=
ing either to yell slogans, whistle or make any other kind of gestures to=
offend or provoke anyone. =0D10. If anyone - a protester or a supporter-=
uses violence against the police or anybody else in general we shall do =
our utmost to stop and prevent such an incident. =0D11. We will distribut=
e instructions from the Organizing Council for Protests inside the Univer=
sity of Prishtine for the maintenance personel to inform them about the r=
ules of the protests.=0D In the meantime, the 1997-1998 academic year be=
gan on time. The University will be working without interruption all the =
time. The teaching process will be adapted to the peaceful protests and t=
heir duration, in accordance with the decision of competent authorities a=
nd pursuant to the regulation in effect, the purpose of which should be i=
mplementation of students' requests.=0D=0DPrishtina, 15.09.1997=0DThe Org=
anizing Council=0D=0D=0D=0D=0D In addition, the Individual Colleges and =
Community Colleges' organizing sub-committees were established. Each of t=
he sub-committees has 5 members (3 students and 2 professors). There are=
four committees within the Senior Colleges and Community Colleges. Thre=
e of them are to make sure the protests remain peaceful and the fourth on=
e is in charge of medical help, in case the police uses force to crush th=
e protest. =0D During the last two protests, held in October 1 and Octob=
er 29, every plan, strategy and detail was legal and it was publicly anno=
unced beforehand.=0D The slogans were published in the papers. The medi=
a, the public, the students and the Serb regime were notified properly be=
forhand. This was done to clearly avoid any provocation from anyone.=0D =
In addition to Prishtine, protests took place in 5 other towns of Kosova=
, where units of the university are located. Despite the fact that the p=
rotests were peaceful, non-violent and were strictly attended by UP stude=
nts, the Serb police forces intervened without warning, using batons and =
teargas. More than 600 students were injured. Since the political parti=
es were not welcome by the organizing board, there were no other people b=
eside students and teachers participating in the protest. However, there=
was a large number of poeple who came out in solidarity, but who stood o=
n the side walk and did not mix in the protest.=0D The students of the=
UP stand firm with their demands and will not stop the protests until th=
e demands in question are met. However, if the peaceful protests are eve=
ntually proven to be fruitless and concrete steps are not taken to meet t=
he student demands, there is real danger that the students will lose the =
belief that the peaceful mean to achieve our goals. We ask everyone of yo=
u to help us achieve our fundamental right -- the right to study in our =
mother tongue. =0D=0DBACKGROUND=0D=0D Kosova is a region of the former =
Yugoslavia, inhabited by 2.1 million people, 90% of which are Albanians, =
8% Serbs and 2% others. Kosova is an area of 4,201 square miles (10,877 =
square kilometers), located in the south of what used to be Yugoslavia. I=
n the former Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, Kosova was a constitutive=
autonomous province of the federation.=0D However, in 1989, two years a=
fter Slobodan Milosevic came at the helm of Serbian politics with his dic=
tatorship policies, he violently and unconstitutionally dissolved the Kos=
ova parliament and practically occupied Kosova, stripping its autonomy. =
He did this with the help from the Yugoslav Army and police. The illegal=
suspension of the autonomous status of Kosova led to wide scale protests=
in Kosova, with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets.=
=0D Even though these protests were peaceful, the Serb military regime v=
iolently crushed them. From March 1989 until February 1990, more than 70=
Albanians were killed and hundreds were injured and tortured in Serb pri=
sons. The members of the Kosova (unconstitutionally resolved) parliament,=
after a few sessions, in July 2, 1990, unanimously voted and declared Ko=
sova a Republic within the Yugoslav Federation. In September 7 of the sa=
me year, the Kosova Constitution was approved. Following these two event=
s the Serb police became increasingly brutal in punishing Albanians. The=
Serb Government shut down the Prishtine Radio and Television (RTP). The=
Albanian daily newspaper "Rilindja" was banned. Hundreds of thousands o=
f Albanians were fired from their jobs when they refused to sign "loyalty=
oaths" to Serbia. Those fired included doctors and other hospital staff=
. In September 1991, a popular referendum where 99 percent of the voters =
(89 percent of Kosova's eligible voters) declared the independence of Ko=
sova.=0D In May 24 of the following year (1992), the first parliamentar=
y elections were held. After the elections, Kosova formed its parallel i=
nstitutions. Even though all the actions in the last few years were peac=
eful, the Serb authorities have killed more than 200 Albanian people sinc=
e 1991. Kosova Albanians continue to pursue a non- violent resistance, d=
espite Serb repression they have to deal with on daily basis.=0D=0DAPPEAL=
FOR SUPPORT=0DThe following are some of the ways you can help the Univer=
sity Students:=0D=0D1. Write petitions and support messages for the non-v=
iolent, peaceful protests of the students of the University of Prishtine =
in achieving their fundamental right of education.=0D2. Write letters of =
protest to the Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic.=0D3. Write letters to th=
e U.S. government and President Bill Clinton and to other western capital=
s explaining the situation in UP.=0D4. Send books and other professional =
materials (university textbooks) in English language to the students of U=
P.=0D5. Send different books for non-violent movements around the world s=
ince there is a lack of this kind of material in UP.=0D6. Give access to =
our system operators to your educational FTP, WWW sites, FAQ's, =0DHypert=
ext PDF and Postscript books and literature, technical documentation and =
educational software etc. to advance the studies in the UP and all other =
ways of exchanging electronic data.=0D7. Organize protests in the schools=
you attend/teach.=0D8. Exchange students with UP.=0D9. Send student dele=
gations to monitor the protests and/or see the conditions in which the UP=
functions.=0D10. Write in your local papers about UP and about the educa=
tion in the Albanian language in Kosova in general. =0D11. Write to the U=
.S. and other Western media centers and ask them to monitor the protests =
in Kosova. =0D12. Have lectures and discussion panels in your school/univ=
ersity about education in Kosova.=0D=0D=0D-------------------------------=
---------------------------------------------=0DSIUUP - STUDENTS INDEPEND=
Tel&Fax: ++381 38 33 843=0D ******************=
*********************************************=0D * >> Students' Pro=
tests in Kosova: << *=0D * >> Live photoes =
from protests of 29-th: << *=0D ******************=