Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK


World: Europe

Saved by the monks of Decani

The brothers will now be praying for the fleeing local Serbs

By Mark Urban in Kosovo

Ethnic Albanians in the Kosovan village of Decani say they owe their lives to the humanity and courage of the local Serb Orthodox monks.


The BBC's Mark Urban meets the monks who acted out of faith
Their near escape from the hands of the Serbs came 10 days ago when gangs of paramilitaries descended on the villages near Pec, demanding money and threatening to kill those that had nothing.

Kosovo: Special Report
The monks, foreseeing tragic consequences, provided the villagers with sanctuary in the local church - an act which saved their lives. For the 21 monks, it was a religious obligation.

"We helped them in the best way we could. We gave them food, medicine, moral support," said the abbot.

Now there are only 300 ethnic Albanians left in the village, a third of the total pre-war population.

Those that have remained only came out of hiding on Wednesday after months in hiding.

Saving grace

For Agim Morani, the abbott's presence was a saving grace in a village where the Serb nationalist slogans daubed on the buildings testify to the level of ethnic hatred.


[ image: The Abbott believes they acted out of religious obligation]
The Abbott believes they acted out of religious obligation
"Three paras came, put guns to our heads and came looking for money," said Mr Morani.

"The abbot came because he knew the Serbs would start killing people. He took us to the church and then came back for the others. If he hadn't come it is 100 per cent certain that we would be dead," he added.

But the bruises that still remain on Mr Morani's wife are a painful reminder of how she was beaten up and robbed of all her jewellery.


[ image: Bruised and robbed by Serb paramilitaries]
Bruised and robbed by Serb paramilitaries
The Abbott believes there has never been a worse time here but feels that faith will ensure that the monks remain.

He feels that the Serb slogans are just a mask, a disguise to do what they wanted. "It has nothing to do with Serb nationalism," maintains the abbott.

But the danger is not over. With the Serbs fleeing from the area, and the continued tension of ethnic hatred hanging heavy in the air, the monastery is now being guarded by armed K-For soldiers.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

15 Jun 99 | Europe
Orthodox church tells Milosevic to go

26 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Net shows Kosovo emotions





Internet Links





The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift