Serbian refugees attack displaced Kosovo Roma in Belgrade
05 December 2000
Serbian refugees from Croatia and Bosnia have repeatedly threatened and physically attacked members of a group of displaced Roma from Kosovo, according to information gathered by the ERRC and the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), since the Roma settled in the same refugee settlement in Block 28 of Novi Belgrade, in June 1999. Ms Zainija Meftari, a 34-year-old Romani woman from Kosovo, stated that on September 12, 2000, at about 4:00 PM, her son, Elvid Meftari, told her that one of the Serbian refugees, a man named Sreten, had threatened to lock him in a room and call the police. Ms Meftari and her friend confronted Sreten who told them to stop fetching water from the drinking fountain. Then, according to Ms Meftari, several Serbs came out of their shacks and threw stones at her and her friend, and shouted racial insults.
Mr Besim Plavci, a 28-year old Romani man from Priština, Kosovo, stated that the shacks occupied by the Roma had no electricity or running water, while those occupied by the Serbs did. He confirmed that the Serbs would not allow the Roma to fetch water from their shacks. On September 9, 2000, the Serbian man named Sreten reportedly threatened to shoot Mr Plavci if he took water, telling him that there was no water for the "Gypsies". Later that day, Mr Plavci and another Romani man went to fetch water. Sreten reportedly saw them and repeated that they could not take water, hit the second Romani man with a piece of cable, and swore at Mr Plavci's wife. Sreten called the police, but the two police officers who came reportedly refused to listen to the Roma, and threatened to throw them out of their homes. Two months earlier, according to another Romani woman, 26-year-old Ms Bajramija Beljazi, her son had gone to fetch water from the fountain near the shacks of the Serbs. One of the Serbian refugees allegedly threatened to cut off the child's hands if he ever saw him near the fountain again.