Violent Protests in Kosovo – Protesters Call for Government Resignation

0

Large scale protests, organized by opposition and fueled by nationalism, have erupted in the last 15 days in Kosovo, culminating yesterday after the expiration of an ultimatum for Aleksandar Jablanović’s resignation. Several thousand citizens participated in protests yesterday.

Reports about the number of injured are contradictory, but at least 40 police officers and 50 demonstrators were injured in yesterday’s violent protests. Protesters are demanding from Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi to sack Jablanović, as well as nationalization of the Trepče mine that is owned by both Kosovo and Serbia.

10955555_10206232095862687_1900522917_o

10901590_10206232095782685_2095440173_o

Heavy clashes with police (Foto: AFP)

Latest episode of tensions in Kosovo erupted after a group of men didn’t allow displaced Serbian refugees to enter the church in the town of Đakovica on 6th of January – Orthodox Christmas.

Jablanović, Minister of local community and refugee issues of the Kosovo government that comes from Serbian minority in Kosovo, called those men “savages” and later said that he isn’t familiar with any massacres taking place in Kosovo, and that innocent victims in that area were killed by NATO bombing.

This statement ignited an already tense situation and protesters took to the streets asking for Jablanović’s resignation.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 17th of February 2008, and since than it has been formally recognized by 108 countries, including most of the major powers, except Russia. Tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, that have plagued the region for long, caused war in 1996 that was ended by NATO bombing campaign on Yugoslavia in 1999.

During the war in Kosovo more than 800.000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to ethnic cleansing and a large part of it was done by Yugoslav army and paramilitary forces (at the time Yugoslavia was made from two countries – Serbia and Montenegro). For independent readers, it is worth noting that war crimes were committed by the other side as well.

Since the independence, some crimes of hate were committed against Serbian minorities in the country, and ethnic tensions are ever present.

Another reason for protests is an issue with mine “Trepča” that is owned by both countries.

In recent weeks Kosovo government talked about nationalizing the mine, but has withdrawn proposition due to international pressure.

After withdrawal of proposition, opposition movement “Self-determination” has called for protests and resignation of countries leading politicians.

10955825_10206232095462677_1403786667_o

Police refused to remove fence placed to protect gouvernment building in Priština (Foto: AFP)

Protests have been going on for a few days, and four days ago a Serbian media crew was attacked by demonstrators.

Several thousand protester gathered today caring flags of Albania and calling for resignations of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi and his deputy Isa Mustafa, as well as Serbian minority Minister Aleksandar Jablanović. One of the arrested yesterday is Mayor of Kosovo capital Priština Shpend Ahmeti.

At around noon yesterday protesters started hurling bottles at police, after police refused to remove barricades posted around government building. Clashes lasted for several hours, and ended after police managed to suppress protesters out of city center in Priština.

About Author

Agan Uzunović is a journalist from Bosnia and Herzegovina writing for Revolution News and Bosnian media. Follow him on Twitter @AganU8.