29 november 1999 Pristina
Serb professor killed by ethnic Albanian mob
By William Brand
"KOSOVO CONFLICT'S TRAGIC TIE TO UC"
December 16, 1999
Morale among UN mission members in Kosovo is at an all-time low. Comments on the mission from its own employees include "desperate", "a joke" and "directionless".
For fair use only
Published under the provision of
U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.
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BERKELEY Dragoslav Basic was a university professor specializing in earthquake engineering - a discipline he learned at the University of California, Berkeley, on a Fulbright scholarship.
But Basic was born a Serb and he chose to leave a career in Berkeley and return to his native Kosovo in 1990 with a dream of working for harmony between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
On Nov. 29 he died at the hands of an ethnic Albanian mob in Kosovo as he attempted to drive his wife and her mother to their home in suburban Pristina. All three were beaten savagely. Then Basic was shot. He was 63. He had been fired from the university where he chose to stay, his homeland was in chaos. The mob ruled.
His wife and her mother remain hospitalized and Basic's friends are mourning. The man is dead, but his dream will not die, his Serbian friends in the East Bay said Wednesday. They plan a memorial service on Jan. 16 at the Serbian Orthodox Church in Moraga.
His death is a history lesson about the troubled region that Americans need to learn, they said. It is not a simple place, there are no simple answers. NATO bombs could not clear away the debris of history.
"He was a noble soul," said Nick Tomasevic, who met the Basic family days after they moved to University Village in Albany in 1988.
"It was a terrible tragic end in a tragedy that never ends," said Tomasevic, who was pilot in the former Yugoslavia before coming to the United States.
"He didn't believe that anybody would ever hurt him, because he wouldn't bother anybody. To him - nationality and ethnic background, they were like family names. 'We are all human beings - part of the same hand,' he would say."
"But what does a mob know? A few people or thousands - the mentality is the same. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Tomasevic said.
He died as hundreds of people looked on and did nothing.
Basic was a poet, an educated renaissance man and he believed he could help Kosovo, Tomasevic's sister, Desa Wakeman of Berkeley, said. "I knew his children." His daughter, Nikoleta, graduated from Albany High in 1989, and son Tomislav attended grade school in Albany. Both now live in Kosovo.
Basic spoke Serbian and Albanian and had friends everywhere in Kosovo, Wakeman said. His family had lived in Kosovo for hundreds of years. Basic (pronounced BASH-ich) is a historic name in Kosovo.
As a student at the University of Mississippi in the late 1970s, Basic saw the blossoming of the movement for racial equality in the American South and he was inspired, Wakeman said.
Another friend, Snezana Landau of El Cerrito, said the family debated the issue with great passion before they decided to return. "He believed in his country. But they had a nice life here," she said. "But his wife Dragica's father had just died and she was very upset that she could not return for his funeral.
"Ten years ago - they could not imagine it would ever get this bad," Landau said. "We owe it to him to remember him, to see that he doesn't just go like that — killed in the streets by a mob."
UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Professor Jasmina Vujic, a native of Belgrade, came to Berkeley after Basic returned to Kosovo. But as a leader in the East Bay Serbian community, she has spoken to his children since his death.
Nikoleta said her father could have stayed at Berkeley, but he wanted to go back. He knew the history of the region, but he was a very gentle man, an educator. He wanted to work in Pristina University...
"It is very sad - this region has seen many wars. This is the fifth in this century. Anyone who knew that should have known not to interfere" [Vujic said.]
Tomasevic, who visited and kept in touch with Basic during the last nine years, said his final conversation with his friend came hours before the NATO bombing began last spring.
"He wanted 20,000 United Nations peacekeepers," Tomasevic said. "He expected them. But all he got was bombs."
(((((The Picture: Mrs. Borka Jovanovic, age 75, injured by the gang of Muslim Albanians in Pristina, November 29, 1999. In this same accident, her son in law, Professor Dragoslav Basic, was murdered, while his wife was injured. Grandma Borka died as a consequence of this injury, a few days latter.))))
SERB NATIONAL COUNCIL PROTESTS
OVER THE LYNCHING OF A SERB PROFESSOR
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KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, November 30, 1999 (Tanjug) - The Serb National Council expressed on Tuesday its protest and indignation over the lynching of Pristina University professor Dragoslav Basic and members of his family by ethnic Albanians in the center of Pristina on Sunday evening.
At a press conference attended also by spokeswoman of the UN civilian mission for Serbia's Kosovo and Metohija province (UNMIK) Beatrice Lacoste, Council spokesman Nikola Kabasic said the killing of Basic was another proof of fascism and totalitarianism of ethnic Albanian separatists that the few ethnic Albanian democratic parties do not dare to oppose.
The crime committed in central Pristina in front of thousands of witnesses and the absence of any reaction by UNMIK or international KFOR peacekeepers are the last warning to UNMIK chief Bernard Kouchner and KFOR Commander General Klaus Reinhardt to finally do something to prevent the genocide against Serbs and other non ethnic Albanians, Kabasic said.
Ethnic cleansing against Serbs has been underway in the province for five months in KFOR's and UNMIK's presence, and the international community continues showing understanding and finding excuses for ethnic Albanian terrorism, he said.
Answering a question, Lacoste said she believed Kouchner was aware of the serious situation in Pristina, where residents are even being prohibited from speaking Serbian.
ODALOVIC: INSANE US POLICY
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KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, November 30, 1999 (Tanjug) - President of the Kosovo and Metohija Serb National Assembly Executive Committee Veljko Odalovic said on Tuesday that the world would have to open its eyes and see the insane policy being followed by the US at present.
Odalovic told Tanjug's correspondent in Pristina, capital of Serbia's southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, that it was high time to say "No" to a dictator of the 20th century - US President Bill Clinton.
Clinton's recent Balkan tour was welcomed only by ethnic Albanian terrorists in Kosovo and Metohija, Odalovic said.
If the US president had any dignity or morals, he would not have come to bow to ethnic Albanian terrorists and to express support to international KFOR peacekeepers and UN civilian mission UNMIK acting as they are in Kosovo and Metohija, Odalovic said.
Clinton was the principal advocate of the bombing of Yugoslavia, sanctions and isolation, Odalovic said.
The aggressive separatist policy of ethnic Albanian leader Hashim Thaqi, the policy of terrorists who claim to have fought for freedom, prevails now in Kosovo and Metohija, Odalovic said.
This is a very dangerous policy directed against Serbs, Montenegrins and other ethnic communities, as well as against ethnic Albanians who oppose this policy, Odalovic said.
That policy is directly supported by the US. Without its support, ethnic Albanian separatists would be less aggressive and there would be more powers opposing the policy. Ethnic Albanians have a choice of accepting this policy or facing death, Odalovic said.