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Report on the Visit of group of women and men from the Serb Enclaves to Prizren and Decani on June 21st 2009


On June 21, 2009 in the organization of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Pristina outreach office, an excursion was carried out with participating members of the Serbian community from the enclave Staro Gracko, Lipljan municipality.

The excursion started at 7 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.

A total of 50 citizens, mostly women and young people, have visited the cities of Prizren and Pec, as well as the monastery Decani.

In Prizren, they toured the city center, visited the Orthodox Seminary, the seat of the Rasko-Prizrenska eparchy, the Church of Wholy Salvation and the Church of Godmother Ljeviska. They freely walked throughout the city center. They visited the mall Ben-Af, where they purchased various items for personal use. The citizens of Serbian nationality had a warm welcome by the inhabitants of Prizren.

The participants of this excursion were amongst the first Serbs in Kosovo to visit objects of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Prizren, only a few days after the objects were renovated and accepted by the bishop of Prizren Artemije.

In Prizren, the vice president of Kosovo's Parliament Presidium joined the Serbian citizens in touring the city streets.

In Decani, the group visited the monastery Visoki Decani. They were greeted by the head of the monastery and lunch for the guests was appropriated.

In Pec, the participants of the excursion toured the city and the Patriarchate of Pec. The participants in the excursion in the Pec Patriarchate were welcomed by Mother Dobrila, who then told them a brief history of the monastery.

The participants were pleased and have publicly thanked the Helsinki Committee for organizing this excursion.

Explanation: due to an epidemic at the elementary school in Staro Gracko, this excursion had to be slightly altered because the number of children applying had drastically decreased. This is why the age structure of the excursion participants underwent certain changes. Namely, this time, it was a mixed group in terms of gender and age.

A bus of "Barileva Tourist" from Pristina was used for the excursion. Participants in the excursion were not escorted by members of the Kosovo Police Force and KFOR. The whole trip and visits unfolded in the best possible way. All participants either in groups or individually moved freely and communicated in Serb language between themselves and with locals and sales persons in the shops they visited. It was an accident - and provocation-free excursion. All the participants in the excursion were very pleased with it, and thanked and praised the Helsinki Committee for having organized this trip and visit to the aforementioned places. They were all eager to take part in similar, future excursions and visits.

Helsinki Committee deems such visits as highly useful for they help dispel fear of some members of the Serb community. In parallel they help make members of the Serb community more visible in some urbane milieus.

This project was realized with the financial help of Academy for Educational Development (AED).



















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