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Kosovo bishop tells IWP of threats to religious freedom

Thu, Feb 5, 2004, 5:00pm - 6:15pm

The Christian bishop in Kosovo visited IWP on February 5, warning of new ethnic cleansing in the stricken province under the noses of NATO and United Nations peacekeepers.

Bishop Artemije, Bishop of Raska and Prizren in Kosovo, Serbia, noted how he can walk without fear while visiting the United States but said, “I can’t exercise any of those rights in my own country.”

“We can’t get to our churches from our ghettos,” he said, referring to Kosovo Christians The threats against him personally are so great, he told students and faculty, “I ride around in armored personnel carriers and tanks to get to my church.”

The bishop said that Albanian authorities have not arrested any of the perpetrators in five years since the Kosovo war ended. NATO and the U.N., in his words, “lack political will to stop the atrocities.”

Bishop Artemije first visited IWP in February 1998 when he delivered prescient remarks predicting an imminent renewal of conflict in Kosovo. He is a strong supporter of the peaceful coexistence of different ethnic and religious communities in a democratic society.

Citing the destruction of Christian property and churches, the bishop said that despite five years of U.N. and NATO protection, “all human rights and rights of religion and freedom do not exist in Kosovo.”