The Rasak massacre of January 15, 1999, one of the largest massacres of the Kosovo war, is considered by NATO to be a turning point for international intervention in the country.
45 Kosovo Albanians were brutally murdered by Serb Army and paramilitary units in Reçak village in Štimle municipality, on the grounds that they were “helping the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK)”. Of these, 24 men were shot dead at point-blank range at the site known collectively as “Gruppa e Pepochet”.
Aziz al-Baqiri, 71, who lost his nephew and 4 relatives in the massacre, told AA reporters about his experience.
Al-Baqiri indicated that the massacre took place on the Night of Power in Ramadan, and said that he could not sleep for two nights because of the intense emotional state he experienced after seeing the victims.
Al-Baqiri stated that they were arrested at home with their children, and that they escaped from the siege and went to the mountain to follow up on the events.
Al-Baqiri made the following statements, expressing his feeling of devastation when he saw the victims whose bodies and limbs were shattered:
Among the dead were children, the elderly and women. There was a woman in the yard, and her husband and two brothers were killed. While she was chasing her husband and in-laws, they were ambushed by the enemies and killed her as well. He was old, not young. We took notes on everything.”
Al-Baqiri stated that they collected the bodies with a group of volunteers and that they were a target for the Serb forces who wanted to take them by force.
The book “Rishak massacre”
The then head of the OSCE Kosovo Mission, William Walker, described what he saw as “the saddest event of my life” when he visited the village with several media representatives the day after the massacre. I used words.
The remarks made by Walker in Reçak had wide repercussions in the world press, and in March 1999, about two months after the massacre, NATO air and ground interventions against Serb forces in Serbia and Kosovo began.
A witness to the Rasak massacre, Walker is currently preparing a book about what he saw in the massacre, in his words “before he went to the other world” with the support of the Kosovo government.
Although it has been 24 years since the massacre, only Serbian police officer Zoran Stojanović has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by the judges of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic describes the Rešak massacre as “fictional”.
During the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, more than 10 thousand Kosovo residents, mostly Albanians, were killed, and more than 1 million Kosovars of various ethnic groups were forced to leave their homes.
While Kosovo, which declared its independence on February 17, 2008, is recognized as an “independent country” by about 100 countries. Serbia still sees Kosovo as its territory.
The dialogue process initiated by the European Union in order to normalize relations between the two countries has not yet yielded tangible results due to the repeated crises.
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