Time To Go

The random shooting in the town increases, and so do the expulsions and burnings. Then the knock finally does come, and our correspondent is ordered to leave.

Time To Go

The random shooting in the town increases, and so do the expulsions and burnings. Then the knock finally does come, and our correspondent is ordered to leave.

Tuesday, 17 May, 2005

Monday, the neighbourhoods of Dragodan and Taslixhe, entirely Albanian, were emptied. Now they have broken into almost every house in Dragodan and destroyed them. And they are doing the same thing in Taslixhe. Vrenjvc, the last neighbourhood on the outskirts of the road to Belgrade, was emptied yesterday. I have no information about looting, it's simply destroying.

The streets are different. We used to have heavy firing at night but not so much during the day. Now there is shooting all of the time, day and night. It's not fighting, just shooting in all directions. Everyone is shooting outside. It is going on now. I also saw a few jeeps on the streets taken from the UNHCR warehouse.

Only women dare go out. The men are too vulnerable. But there were no shops open and nothing to buy. Already we started using the food that we had set aside as reserves. Yesterday the people from Dragodan came, and now we have four families living in a three-bedroom flat, fifteen people. So we have more mouths to feed.

I speak to a journalist friend abroad, many times a day. We laugh and tell jokes. I ask him to tell me about anything. But my editor is crazy. I tell him about events and tragedies, and all he speak about it writing: "That's interesting." But no one else will write. No one else is around. Everyone is in hiding and I have no information about where or how they are. We have no leaders now. It is just us.

I spoke with doctors over the telephone who told me that they could not confirm how many bullets were in the body of the lawyer Bayram Klimendi. That's because, as they said, there were "bad and deep signs of maltreatment." That's what frightens me. I am not afraid that someone will come and kill me if it will be a quick death. Nowadays, only living started scaring me to death.

My friends from Belgrade and elsewhere are calling me, telling me to leave. God, I want to get out of here. I can't stand it. But I won't leave until I have rock solid guarantees, a document that I am allowed to pass or something and that we can get through. There was a big convoy that left yesterday from the city for the Macedonian border. But we hear that they haven't been allowed through yet.

At noon, the family is told to leave. The dispatch cannot be finished. There is only time to write one more email to London:

"Subject line: "NO STORY - sorry".

"We have been ordered to leave the apartment. We're going NOW, I don't know where...."Pray for me, and I'll call you when or as soon as I can, but as for now, it seems that I will have the status of the people that came some days ago in my house. Goodbye."

Shortly after the family departs, IWPR from London calls: "Is A---- there?"

"He had to go."

"When do you expect him to come back?"

"I don't think he's ever coming back."

Later the correspondent finds a telephone. The family has been moved, but it is not possible to say where or how. Plans are made to risk the journey to the Macedonian border. Connections with the Skopje government will be called on to try to ensure that they can cross the border.

There are reports of "concentration camps," including the football stadium in Pristina. But an Albanian journalist on the outside reports that "they won't kill you if you are leaving Pristina, they just want you to leave." It seems that the sister of a friend has a car, and if we can link up, and find some money for bribes along the way, we can make it.

It is time to go.

The author's name is withheld to protect against reprisal.

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