From: Alice Taylor
Helsinki Committee: Serbia Engages in Administrative Ethnic Cleansing in Presovo Valley

The Serbian Helsinki Committee has called the removal of ethnic Albanians from the Presevo Valley “ethnic cleansing through administrative means.”

Its report “Albanian Minority on Hold- Presevo, Bujanoc, and Medvegj as hostages of Kosovo-Serbia relations” clarifies that Serbia is conducting an extensive wipe out of addresses belonging to Albanians.

The report said, “To reduce as much as possible the number of Albanians living in the South, the state is conducting the so-called passivization of residential addresses belonging to Albanians’ working abroad…The measure is in its essence a form of ethnic cleansing through administrative means.”

In 2011, Serbia adopted the Law on the Residence of Citizens, which gives the authorities the right to inspect the houses where people live physically. According to the law, police must verify that people are living at the address they declared. If they are not, then the individual is de-registered.

Once a citizen has been de-registered, they lose their right to renew documents, access healthcare, education, or vote.

Some 70,000 ethnic Albanians live in this part of Serbia. According to Flora Ferati-Sachesenmaier, a Research Fellow at the Max plant Institution for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, more than 4,000 ethnic Albanians have been de-registered in the last few years. She revealed this information exclusively for Exit News.

This has left them in poverty, and many have been forced to leave their homes and move to Kosovo or North Macedonia.

Presevo is located on the border with Kosovo and comprises two Municipalities, Presevo and Bujanoc, where most of the population is Albanian.

Ferati-Sachesenmaier said the Serbian government wants to establish “ethnic homogeneity within their borders.” Shea added they are stripping citizens of their basic rights and turning them into stateless people.

The European Parliament recently called for an independent investigation into the citation.

“[The European Parliament] Is deeply worried about the allegations that the Serbian authorities are abusing the law on the residence of citizens and the ‘passivization’ of residential addresses of citizens of Albanian ethnicity living in southern Serbia in a systematic and discriminatory manner; calls for independent and thorough investigations into these allegations and on the Serbian authorities to cease all discriminatory practices and targeting,” reads the resolution adopted on March 25.