The Freedom, Democracy and Justice Initiative, whose founder was the assassinated Kosovo politician Oliver Ivanovic, has recalled that exactly 17 years ago, on March 17, 2004, “Albanian extremists, supported by the Kosovo Liberation Army structures, carried out a horrible pogrom, destroying everything that was Serb.”
The party stated that back then 28 people were killed, 900 beaten and seriously injured, and that 19 cultural monuments of the highest category along with dozens of Serbian Orthodox churches were razed.
“Numerous valuable frescoes, icons and church objects were destroyed. Some 4,000 people were forced out of their homes across Kosovo and Metohija. More than 950 homes belonging to Serbs, Roma and Ashkali were set on fire. Serbs were ethnically cleansed from six towns and nine villages,” the Initiative added in its press release on March 17.
What triggered the pogrom was an accident in which on March 16, 2004, three Albanian boys drowned in the Ibar river in the village of Cabra, in the Ibarski Kolasin area, for which Albanians accused the Serbs.
Although the pogrom enfolded in the presence of 38,000 KFOR soldiers and 8,000 UNMIK police charged with ensuring safety for all people in Kosovo, the organizers of the violence were not punished, while the direct perpetrators were sentenced to minimum prison terms.