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The Valley

The Valley


There is nothing more disheartening than the images of war. Especially when that war is sparked by nations feuding over ancestral claim to lands. Whether a man believes in God, a higher power or not, one would like to think that as we have ventured into more modern times there would be a universal understanding that the earth belongs to all its inhabitants. No one nation, religion, race, gender or species has more or less right than any other to inhabit this earth.

As Christians we must give reverence to the covenant that God made with Abraham in the book of Genesis. —

18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:

“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

Genesis 15:18-21 New King James Version (NKJV) – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+15%3A18-21&version=NKJV

This is the land of Israel. In my heart I believe that no matter where we as people, God’s creation, may live on this earth God has blessed us all to inhabit this earth.

Nonetheless, these wars are real and one in particular will be etched in the hearts, minds and history of the people of Kosovo. There is a disputed border territory between Serbia and Albania that is known as Kosovo. Of the two million people that live in Kosovo, an estimated 90% are Kosovo Albanians also known as Kosovars. The Albanians are believed to be descendents of the ancient Dardanians or Illyrians. History suggests that these ancient peoples inhabited the western Balkans quite some time before Slavs settled there in the 6th to 8th centuries A.D. After the medieval Serbian Orthodox Church had established in Kosovo in 1297 the medieval kingdom of Serbia proclaimed itself. In the minds of Serbian Nationalists Kosovo’s many Orthodox monasteries, the blood and the relics of those who died defending them have ‘eternally sanctified’ Serbian claims to Kosovo. Serbs even go so far as to dispute Albanian’s direct descending from ancient Dardanians. I personally don’t care who came from who or who, in ancient times, was there first. Nothing can justify or excuse the atrocities that the Kosovars experienced under Serbian rule. – http://www.historytoday.com/robert-bideleux/kosovos-conflict

I am mortified by the events and opinions in relation to Serbian Nationalists. One of the most difficult things was watching the video below, “The Valley – hate and death during the Kosovo conflict.” The more disturbing part is that this is what day to day life was like for the Kosovars. Watching these men bury their family and friends who were senselessly murdered, shot and then burned in their homes by Serbian troops in 1998, was horrific. My heart aches as a Kosovar man says, “Our people are homeless.”, “Everything we’ve worked for has been destroyed.” I could feel nothing but anger and deep sympathy as I watched video of burning houses in the Drenica Valley, Central Kosovo. The chilling sounds of gunshots and explosives coming from somewhere in the distance. It is honestly hard to understand what motivates people to harbor such an intense hatred. In Bajcina, an Albanian village recently visited by Serb troops, there is footage of the ruins of a burned house. A man says, “There is blood, so he was shot.”, “He was shot before he burned.” Men sift through the rubble and bring caskets to collect the bodies of the dead. One man who found a button to a pair of jeans says, “I think it’s Mohammed’s.” Another man helping to sift through the rubble says, “It’s his foot.”, “This is his foot.” Someone says, “I reckon we’ve found a fourth body.”, “Another rib.” Another says, “I recognize his jumper.” Other men watch as they do this. Everyone appears to be very sad about what they are seeing. One man stands next to a young boy and holds him close with one arm over his shoulder. The boy is extremely saddened. They all watch as two men with scarves tied around their nose and mouth wearing long gloves for protection lift the distorted burned remains of a body into a casket. Someone believes he has identified the name of one of the corpses and says, “It’s Rahim.” Rahim was only 16 years old.

Fortunately, February 17, 2008 the Kosovo Assembly adopted the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration acknowledges years of strife and violence in Kosovo as well as deep gratitude for the 1999 world intervention’s removal of Belgrade’s governance placing Kosovo under UN interim administration. In today’s society the United States, for example, is constantly under scrutiny for choosing to become politically and militarily involved in international conflict. I can definitely appreciate the basic concerns expressed by those, including Americans, who feel that US intervention is intrusive and an infringement on the independence of nations where the US has no jurisdiction. However, I feel that the US puts a great effort into recognizing international and independent government. When people like the Kosovars are being subjugated and slaughtered it is everyone’s responsibility to take action if it is in their power to do so. The brutality and oppression that I discovered would have continued if no one had interjected. Even as recent as 2008, the Republic of Serbia insisted Kosovo remained a southern province. Serbian President Boris Tadic addressed the Security Council on February 18, 2008 and made this statement:

“The Republic of Serbia will not accept the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Government of Serbia and the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia have declared the decision of the Pristina authorities (Declaration of Independence) null and void. Likewise, we are taking all diplomatic and political measures to prevent the secession of a part of our territory.” – Kosovo Article

This statement made just one day after the Kosovo Declaration of Independence. The Assembly of Kosovo convened on February 17, 2008, in Pristine, the capital of Kosovo. – http://www.assembly-kosova.org/?cid=2,128,1635

It is fortunate that organizations like NATO and the United Nations as well as others like them continue to work toward abolishing governments like the Serbians, the Saddam Husseins and the Muammar Gaddafis. The Kosovars have found freedom and peace. Thus, I am at peace with the images of horror that was once Kosovo, the Drenica Valley.

Uploaded on Feb 19, 2011

Kosovo 1999, The Valley shows us the face of civil war seen – uniquely – from both sides of the same front line. Filmed in the epicentre of the uprising, the Drenica Valley, over the bloodiest summer of the war, it achieves a level of intimacy with its subjects rarely seen in conflict documentaries.

In it we meet the inhabitants of a Muslim village destroyed by Serbs, a Christian Convent surrounded by hostile forces, the elite Black Tiger units of the KLA and the men of a Serbian village who have taken up arms to protect their lands from the surrounding Albanians. In these situations, grief is never far away.

The Kosovo Liberation Army contained many angry Albanians, sick and tired of a loss of rights, which had been revoked by their Serbian masters. Fighting to reclaim the land they believed to be historically theirs, they ran up against Serb forces with full of righteous indignation.

The Valley is now widely considered as the definitive Balkan war documentary. At a time when the question of Kosovo’s political status hangs in the balance The Valley is a harrowing reminder of how and where it all began.

The hate and death during the Kosovo conflict.

Award-winning documentary that focuses specifically on the conflict ( war ) in the Drenica Valley of Kosovo during the late 1990s.

Directed and Produced by: Dan Reed
Length: 70 mins
Produced by Mentorn and Suspect Device

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