Kosovo’s Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani has accused the Serbian government of implementing policies aimed at ethnically cleansing Albanians living in southern Serbia, in violation of human rights.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Osmani denounced the systematic policies of Serbian governments in the past ten years in the towns of Medvegja, Presevo and Bujanoc related to education and employment, violation of human rights to language and representation, constant oppression by the Serbian regime which have led to a reduced number of Albanians living there.
In the past four years in particular, Serbian authorities have deleted more than 4,000 Albanians from the civil registry of the municipality of Medvegja, which had less than 7500 inhabitants in total in the last census in 2011.
Osmani has voiced concerns also raised at Exit News by researchers like Dr. Flora Ferati-Sachsenmaier who have written on the recent alarming levels of depopulating Albanians from these regions through what is known as “passivation of residential addresses”.
The Serbian Ministry of Interior performs unannounced checks on whether a citizen lives at an officially given address as a permanent residence. If officers conclude upon their visit that the citizen is not found at home or no longer lives there, they automatically “passivize” that address. You can be on holidays, studying somewhere, hospitalized, or out for shopping – none of these would necessarily save your permanent address from being “passivized” if you are an Albanian.
Once your address is passivized, you cease to exist for the Serbian state. This means that Albanians with Serbian citizenship can no longer renew their ID cards and passports, access medical services or social assistance, buy or sell property, or vote in any kind of elections.
The government does not issue a written document for the passivation of the address, thus preventing citizens from taking legal action against Serbia for violating their rights and discriminating on ethnic grounds.
The process has been documented in all three municipalities inhabited by large numbers of Albanians – Medvegja, Presevo, Bujanoc – by various organizations working in Serbia and in other countries.
“The Republic of Kosovo can no longer remain silent! Addressing the issue of the freedoms and human rights of Albanians in the Presevo Valley must be done in all instances, at home and abroad. This is not simply an isolated problem: the actions of the Serbian state against the Albanians of the Valley involve fundamental violations of human rights. A country that is actively engaged in ethnic cleansing, although with ‘sophisticated’ methods such as address passivation, does not deserve EU membership,” Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani concluded in her full statement.
In a separate tweet, Osmani called on the international community to act urgently on the matter.
Serbia has been exercising a silent ethnic cleansing in Medvegja, Presheva and Bujanovc. A country using such methods does not deserve EU integration. Intl’ community needs to act urgently. My full statement: https://t.co/c3zDRLF3ki
— Vjosa Osmani #rriNshpi 🏠 (@VjosaOsmaniMP) May 11, 2020