bosnia report
New Series No. 9/10 April - July 1999
 
My father was killed because he was a teacher

Friday, 25 March 1999
We left our house at five o' clock in the morning. There were eight of us. After we left, at 6 o'clock the Serbs burned the house. We went to Kllodernica vil lage, to Sadik Abazi's, he is the husband of my father's auntie. They soon started shelling that village as well. We were forced to leave this house too and go to a safer one. Displaced people from all the Drenica villages were here. But the men had been forced to leave earlier. There were many victims in this village. These victims were women, children, old people, whom the grenades had decapitated or blown away other parts of their bodies. It had been a horrible massacre. All the young people had fled towards the mountains. My brother, Esat Spahiu, 18 years old, was with them.

Saturday, 26 March 1999
The Serbs began to shell Kllodernica from the early hours of the morning. Serb infantry entered Kllodernica at around seven. Their faces were painted. We were there, inside the house. We didn't dare leave, because they were constantly throwing grenades, so we remained inside. The Serbs fired at the windows of the house we were in, breaking them to pieces. Then they entered the garden. They wore masks. They threw a bomb into our room. There was a gas ring for making coffee, which my grandmother, Nana Raba, 85 years old, had been using. She told her son - my father, Riza - `Hurry, or we'll get burned.' My father said: `Don't talk, the Serbs are in the garden.' My father turned off the gas ring with his hand and got it burned. He took the bomb. Luckily it didn't explode. If it was n't for my dad, we would have been burned in there. The Serbs said in their lan guage: `They're gone, there's no one in.' They didn't realize we were inside. We remained silent. Had they realized we were in, they would have come in to massa cre and burn us. By 9 o' clock the whole of Kllodernica village was burned. The Serbs were singing and shouting that they would turn Drenica into ashes and dust. There were also Russians and Gypsies with the Serbs. The evening came. We stayed inside, without eating or drinking. The Serbs were inside the school.

Sunday, 27 March 1999
TheÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ Serbs came again. It was 8 o'clock in the morning. We were inside, silent. They left. The army came with painted faces, singing. They also left. They did n't realize we were in. It was 12 o'clock, midday. Others came with white shields. They looked like monkeys painted in different colors. These ones were called the Black Hand. They approached the window. We were down on the floor, we didn't even dare to breathe. They didn't spot us. These ones also left. Two hours later, others came. These ones must have been drugged. They were singing Chetnik songs and they were saying that they would cut all Albanians up with knives and make soup. One of them gave orders: `Anyone you find, kill them, cover them with petrol and burn them. The ones who help the KLA, strip their skin and burn them alive.'

Monday, 28 March 1999
Grenades had been being thrown since the early hours of the morning. We had been inside since Friday without anything to eat or drink and not daring to go out side. We didn't dare prepare any food. If we lit a fire, they would spot us and kill us. They came again to the garden and got something. They were singing, shouting and stealing as many things as they could. They approached the room we were in, but God made their eyes blind and their ears deaf so that they could not see or hear us. It was 2 o'clock in the afternoon. They began to load arma ments and send them to Runik. They were using vehicles stolen from the Albani ans. A hundred Chetniks came again to the garden, singing, stealing, and saying: `We didn't leave any living thing in Drenica, but Ibrahim Rugova still remains.' They said: `Drenica has now disappeared, and we'll make Ibrahim Rugova's soul part from his body slowly, slowly.' The Chetniks had knives, axes, sticks and hammers. If they had known we were in, they would have cut us to pieces. The Serbs left the village. It was 6 o'clock. I was looking out of the window and I saw men and women dressed in dimi [traditional Albanian female dress], with white scarves on their heads. I told my father that I thought they had left. I said: `It looks as if we're safe.' My father said: `My daughter, the Serbs would do anything. They conceal themselves to trick people.' After that I saw a Serb car. I told Daddy the Serbs had gone, but again he said that the Serbs would do anything. At around 8 o'clock I saw a man coming on his own. It seemed to me that he was a Serb. I told Daddy that the Serbs were coming. I thought it was my fault. Now they were going to kill us. I was very much afraid. Daddy said: `Don't be afraid, for in God's name we'll be safe and we'll win.' The man came to the door and said: `Don't be afraid. I'm from the KLA. Don't be afraid, the criminals have left.' It was an immediate relief. He said that the people who had been kept hostage at Tushila had been freed. Then it was a relief, comparing what we had been through with being like snakes under the stones. Hours seemed like months, and days like years. Then we began to prepare some food, as we had been without food or water. Many people, previously held hostage in Tushila, be gan to arrive. They were the first to get something to eat. Then we asked them where the young men were. They said that they had been taken by the Serb paramilitaries and sent to Skenderaj. These people had been walking, without bread and water, beaten and tortured. We gave them bread, tea and coffee. They looked better. They said they had seen people massacred on the roads. Some of them were just heads cut off, no bodies. As for the young men, they said they would come tonight because they were in Turicevc.

Tuesday, 29 March 1999
We were very worried for all the people taken by the Serbs paramilitaries. Everybody was crying. At 12 o'clock my father Riza handed that bomb thrown by the Serbs who had taken drugs to the KLA commander. The KLA commander thanked him and said: `Teacher Riza, good thing you didn't throw it. It is wise that you kept it and gave it to me. And, tÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ hank God, you and your family are safe. Don't worry, even your son will come back, they won't beat him.' Daddy said: `It's O.K, even if they beat him or kill him, but I pray to God they don't deceive him.'

Wednesday, 30 March 1999
Esat, my brother, came at about 11 o'clock at night. Others came too. Esat told us how people had been beaten up and their fingerprints taken. He told us that Hashim Dervishi and Zenel Dervishi from the village of Kastriot had been there. Those two were Serbian agents. But they were also in the KLA. `They were eating meat and drinking beer and other drinks', he said, `but we were not hungry at all. The paramilitaries put the heavy guns on one side and the tanks on the other and we were in the middle. The paramilitaries were on the heavy guns and tanks and they were beating us with sticks and guns, while those two were having meat and beer and they were laughing as the Serbs were beating us. Some of the paramilitaries', my brother said, `were making signs with their knives suggest ing that they would cut off our heads or bury us alive.' My brother Esat had suffered a lot, without having anything to eat or drink, but I was not worried, as at least he was alive. I was upset for the other ones who had been beaten, killed, massacred and burned. They burned up old men and women on the roads. They made their bodies black through beating. But here, there were also the two agents.

Monday, 12 April 1999
The Serb police got Esat. It was 6 o'clock in the morning when they began to shell and the infantry came from all sides. They separated young men, girls, young women, all separated. The young men were sent to Skenderaj, the others to Albania. We remained here. Then at 11 o'clock those drugged Serbs came and got us. They got a lot of others too. They took our fingerprints. They were shooting close to our heads. They checked us first and then told us to go to the school, so we went. There were other displaced people there. There were bread and clothes there, and we stayed until 6 p.m. Then we went back to Aunt Shaha's house, Daddy's aunt.

Tuesday, 13 April 1999
Paramilitaries came to Kllodernica, where we were staying in Aunt Shaha's house with her and her husband, Sadik Abazi. The first patrol came at 11 o'clock. We came out. They threatened to kill us and cut our heads off. `Go to NATO', they said, `it guarantees you freedom and it will give you immediate independence.' This patrol left, saying: `Get inside the house and don't leave it. If anyone comes out, we'll cut off your heads and burn you.' We went inside and talked. Daddy said he was ready to die and that he would do something. `I pray to God that you have a long life, and that nothing bad happens to you and all of the Albanian nation.' As soon as Daddy said those words, the Serb paramilitaries came. It was 12 o'clock, and Ganimete Dervishi, Hashim Dervishi's daughter from Kastriot village, was with them. They told us to come out. We went outside. All of us. Even my grandfather Baba Lumi, born the same year our great poet Migjeni was born. I gave Daddy his shoes and he put them on immediately. He told me to go out, I said: `No, you first and then me.' Daddy went out. As soon as he got outside, they separated him to kill him. I went in front of my Daddy. I saw that collaborator, she was smoking with the Serbs and laughing. My eyes closed, I thought I was about to witness my daddy being massacred. I screamed once: `Oh Daddy!' and I fell down unconscious. When I opened my eyes I saw Daddy, he was beside me with a bucket of water. `Don't be afraid, daughter, they won't kill me.' Then a Serb policeman who spoke Albanian said: `Don't worry, sister, I'm not going to kill your father. You're worrying too much', he said. `Why did you separate him from us, then?', I asked. That woman agent was just laughing. They took Daddy again, but not the others. My sister and I both fainted. Our family was crying, but the others were not. We wenÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ t over there with the other families, and the Serbs didn't want to take Daddy. But that agent, Ganimete Dervishi, told them to take my father. They asked her: `Do you know him?' She said: `Yes.' They asked her: `Is his mother a Serb?' This was their code to mean that my father was a teacher. `Yes,' she said, `she is.' Then they asked Daddy: `Who are these girls?' `My daughters,' Daddy said. That woman agent was just laughing and smok ing. A young man from Leqina village was also there. He too was from Drenica. He was in Serb police uniform. He was only shouting and insulting us. His name is Agim, but I don't know his surname. Those two agents were together. A Serb who was on drugs was also there. He kept looking at my father. The Serb who spoke Albanian didn't want to take my daddy, but the two agents made him a sign mean ing: `Take him.' The Serb who spoke Albanian said: `I swear to God that I'll bring him back in five minutes.' But those two said again: `Take him.' They got Daddy and my grandmother went after them. That agent from Leqina (Agim) yelled at her. He wanted to kill her. Grandma turned back. They got Daddy and they took him to the school. Then another patrol came. They were on drugs and they had black markings on their faces. They had sticks and knives in their hands and they were waving their guns, saying: `Hands up!' They pointed their guns at us and said: `Go to NATO, go to Hashim Thaci.' A bullet just missed our legs. One of them shouted: `Don't kill them!' Then they approached. They told my grandfa ther, Baba Lumi: `Go inside, and stay there. If we come, we'll cut you up and burn you. Then we headed for the door. They were shooting at us. They were ap proaching with knives, saying: `We're going to cut you up.' Then they shouted again: `Go inside!' It was 4 p.m. The Serb paramilitaries left. My brother Kas triot and I went to the school. We met Fazli on our way. He said: `Don't go, be cause you won't find him.' But I told my brother Kastriot that I wanted to go there, just to see. When we went to the old school, Daddy was lying there. `Daddy isn't dead,' I told Kastriot. His eyes were open. His right hand was reaching out, as if he wanted to say something. We looked at him. Daddy had been beaten and later shot with a bullet in his heart. The bullet had gone all the way through. Fazli said: `Leave him where he is.' I said I was not going to leave him there, even though he was dead. We went together with Kastriot to the new school. We got a cart and put Daddy into it. Fazli pulled it, then I took it and pulled it to the garden. Baba Lumi, Nana Raba, my mother, Blerta and Aunt Shaha came out. They were screaming and crying. Then they told us to take him to the field. I said: `No, I'm not going to leave him.' `Dig a grave,' I said. `I'll give you 1,000 DM to have the grave here.' I said I'd dig the grave my self, just to have his grave there. `If tomorrow things are better, I'll take him back to our place.' When I said that, they started to dig the grave immedi ately. Daddy was buried at 5 p.m. I wrote on his grave: `Riza Spahiu, born 1942 in Kastriot village, Skenderaj. Killed here on 13 April 1999.'

Saturday, 17 April 1999
They moved us out towards Albania. Serb paramilitaries stopped us time after time. They threatened us, they said they would cut our heads off and massacre us. `Where is the KLA?', they asked. `This is NATO. You wanted independence.' We suffered a lot on the way to Kukes. We got to Kukes at 6 p.m. We were on the tractor of Kajtaz from Kllodernica. He had lost his family. He said, `I'm sorry to leave you, but there's nothing I can do, I don't know where to go myself.' He told us to get onto Sadik's tractor. Then Nana Raba, Baba Lumi, my mother and Kastriot went to Sadik's tractor. We had four bags and a blanket. Blerta went with them. When I got on, Fazli asked me for 300 DM and insulted me. I got down again. He said that he had kept us alive with bread. I told him that he was not able to look after himself. Aunt SÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ haha told us off: `We don't have Daddy and you think you can do whatever you want, but it won't be like that.' Blerta, Kastriot and I all burst into tears. A reporter came and asked what had happened to us. I told him that my father had been killed by the Serbs, and that my brother had been held by the Serbs for a week. Meanwhile, Sherif Shehu from Shtiqen came and asked what was going on. I explained that there were six of us and that Grandfa ther and Grandmother could not walk. He said: `I'll bring the car, and you can stay in my house till you get in touch with your brother.'

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