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Thursday, July 1, 1999 Published at 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK


World: Europe

Throwing out the Serbs

Now it is the Serbs who are being burned out of their homes

By the BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Pec


Watch Jeremy Bowen's report
In the Kosovo town Pec, it's the time for arson and revenge.

Steadily, everything that Serbs owned is being destroyed. Albanians were burned out of their homes. Now they're doing the same to the Serbs.

Their houses were burnt, the Albanian looters said, "because they burnt our hearts".

Kosovo: Special Report
An Italian tank guards the Serbian monastery. Inside, the weakest Serbs - almost the only Serbs left in Pec - are waiting to be evacuated.

These are the weakest of the weak. One woman is dying of cancer. Zivko, her husband of 30 years, has been blind since childhood.

They were thrown out of their flat by Albanians who threatened to kill them. "We didn't have much, but I'll never have the money to replace what they took," he says.

"I hope I'll die soon, so I don't suffer anything else" his wife adds.

'No room for Serbs'

They lived in the centre of Pec. Their flat still has Zivko Aleksic's name on it. The new occupant is Albanian.


[ image: Refugees tend to take their photos with them]
Refugees tend to take their photos with them
He said he was watching the flat for his brother whose place had been destroyed. Mr Aleksic said the flat had been bought with money he earned in a sheltered workshop for the blind. His dark glasses are still here.

They left this flat so quickly they didn't even take their photo albums, which is something refugees being kicked out of their homes tend to grab.

They show ordinary lives - playing the accordian at a party with some friends and family; Mr Aleksic on the telephone years ago when he was quite a young man.

These are fragments of one couple's existence in a community that probably has gone forever.

"I feel sorry for them, but I never met them," the man said, "and my brother needs somewhere to live. There is no room for Serbs here now. It's their fault."

No winners


[ image: Everything that Serbs owned is being steadily destroyed]
Everything that Serbs owned is being steadily destroyed
On the landing stood a woman whose family's house was burnt down by Serbs. They'd occupied a flat here, too.

"I feel bad, really terrible about this, but we have nowhere to go, " she said.

Outside, other Albanians were dumping clothes they found in the old Serb flats.

Mrs Aleksic got her photos back. They've been promised evacuation to Montenegro.

Decent people on both sides have suffered terrible wrongs. There are no winners in this town.



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