War Diary

by Zekeria Cana

Saturday, June 12 [1999]

6:30 AM. British troops stepped onto Kosovo land at 4:00 AM. Naim and his friend drove to the city center and quickly came back. Serbs are leaving with trucks, tractors and cars. Now, the first does not wait for the last. A few days ago, a foreign television network publicly announced Milosević’s plan for the colonization of Kosovo with Bosnia’s Serbs.

Adem was emotional. Last night around midnight a criminal group killed Nazmi Gojani and wounded Rifat Ymeri’s wife and son. The poor man was asked for money. He gave them all he had. In the end he was killed. They took his car too. His dead body is at the morgue. We agree with Adem to send word to the family to not rush to pick it up and bury it, but to wait for two days. 

My friend has passed on the word through an acquaintance. Now he doesn’t even want to see Demaçi’s face, nor hear his name because in one public statement he has criticized NATO and in another he has argued in favor of negotiations with Milosević, emphasizing that Serbs should stay in Kosovo. That is why Demaçi roams around freely in Pristina – says Adem in revolt. 

Sania found out that Arkan was in Pristina last night and this proves that his criminal group was here. His and other groups have been attacking, robbing and killing people in their homes – especially rich ones. But everyone is in danger – those few intellectuals and well-known people. These wild beasts can capture us in our sleep. Tonight, I will sleep in the basement. Longar [Zekeria’s son] will stay up as usual. In case of danger he will run away with his mother through the garden towards Fazli Kajtazi’s home, where we will hide at the end of his and our Serb neighbor’s yard – in the bushes. This is our only way out. Danger is at our doorstep and it will be there until KFOR troops come. 

4:00 PM. KFOR troops have arrived in Veternik. The shootings fifteen minutes ago are related to their arrival. 

4:20 PM. Again, shootings nearby, two streets below my house.

5:30 PM. International troops which have stopped in Veternik will enter Pristina any minute, immediately after that General Jackson will hold a press conference. 

Ivanov explains that the entering of Russian soldiers in Pristina was an unfortunate mistake, therefore, they were ordered to leave the city. In the speech that Clinton held at the air base in Missouri, he emphasizes that Albanians who have been deported shall return to their homes. He commits to rebuilding destroyed and burned houses and at the same time he considers it necessary to ask from Albanians to not seek revenge against Serbs. Certainly, the American President is not aware that Albanians take revenge only on each other, but not against Serbs. Though Serbs have killed and massacred them, they will never seek revenge.

American forces will enter through Kukes today or tomorrow. General Clark does not allow Russian forces in Kosovo if they are not under the same chain of command. The Serbian Movement of Renewal declared that the entering of Russian soldiers in Pristina was a disservice to the Serbian people. 

Since yesterday evening the wave of exodus of Serb-Montenegrins of Gjakova, Peja and Istog has increased. While withdrawing from Kaçanik, Ferizaj, Shtimje and Lipjan, the Serb army and police have robbed and burned down [houses]. Even the Podgorica television has announced the entering of the KFOR forces in Pristina. 

Today, in the afternoon Longar had a phone call with the Koha Ditore journalist in Skopje, Nebi Qena. They agreed to place some American journalists in our house. They will arrive at 8:00 PM together with Nebi. He placed a small American flag in his mother’s room. I learn that the journalists are from the ABC Television Network with Ted Koppel at the helm. 

Zekeria Cana, Ditari i Luftës [War Diary], published by Rilindja, Pristina, 1999