September 12, 2013 Gorazdevac, Kosovo
Murder of Serbian children in Kosovo: the story of surviving Bogdan Bukumirić
Not so horrible to die as it is to be buried alive - reads the inscription on the monument to the victims of Albanian terrorists and NATO aggression in the small village Goraždevac, oasis and at the same time ghetto for the Serbian population in Metohija.
The monument and the portrait of two children - Panto Dakic and Ivan Jovović. They were killed August 13, 2003. on the bank of the river Bistrica, when unknown gunmen opened fire on people who were resting. Four other teenagers were injured then, one of them, 15-year-old Bogdan Bukumirić , doctors gave the following forecasts: 96% probability that he will die, 4% to survive. He survived. Now he is 24 (2012), lives in Belgrade and having read recently on the website of Voice of Russia about the recent outbursts of vandalism in Kosovo (they were even shooting at the monument in Goraždevac), has agreed to present our reporter his memories of a terrible crime for which to date no one is punished for.
Bogdan was born in Goraždevac, where, he says, the people in 1999 were immune to the sound of gunfire. After the war and the NATO aggression and the withdrawal of the Serbian army, life is hard. The village with a population of 1,000 people, surrounded by Albanian districts, the closest big city is Pec, where shopping needs has to be accompanied by KFOR patrols. Provocations by the Albanians never stopped. Bogdan aunt Milica Bukumirić, died on the doorway of her own home, they threw a grenade in the yard. Also the youth were isolated - no entertainment, you can not go out from the village, there is just hanging out in the school and its boundaries. We did not have a swimming-pool and maybe it was its absence that played a fateful role.
August 13 ... Since my house is closest to the river, anyone who wanted to go to the river had to pass right by my house. Friends as they go, they call me. "Bogdan, come on, do you want to go? We are waiting for you. " I'm at that point asking my father if I could go. It's like he had a bad feeling, he said, "Son, wait a little more, the water is cold." I waited there a few minutes. I asked him again, he allowed me, and I went with my friends. I reached the shore where there were a lot of kids, a lot of young people and parents. I got into the water, and the water was so cold that I immediately went out and went to the fire prepared by my friends to warm us up, or more specifically, to roast corn.
In lesss then ten minutes - machine-gun fire. I was closest to the terrorists who were shooting at me and my small group. At the time the gun fire started I was hit by three bullets left in the side. The hits moved me half a meter or so. I know the ground behind me, that is behind us, the forest where they were shooting, if they got out in front of a bush in front of the forest, I would be able to see them. I spun around in the direction where they were shooting. As I turned, I got hit by two shots over the chest, stomach, and I guess I couldn’t stand on my feet anymore. And when I fell I was hit by a shot in the head. And the eighth bullet graze my left side on my left leg.
Bogdan started calling for help, still trying and failed to get up. Neighbors drove the boy to the hospital in the KFOR base, but the doctor was not in place. First aid was given in the ambulance where they primarily tried to stop his bleeding. Bogdan was conscious and asked to have his brother removed from the ambulance, because he did not want to be seen in this condition. Local residents asked KFOR to transfer the boy to the hospital in Pec, but they found a million excuses for not doing so. In the end Bogdanov's brother and his neighbor at their own risk drove their car all the way with no escort to the town of Pec. Bogdan, hold on, you're a strong, you'll live, they said. I am not giving up - said Bogdan.
Unfortunately, in front of the market, our car stopped. The license plates were of our Serbian town of Zrenjanin. And the Albanians emmediatelly attacked us. They saw that we are Serbs. They demolished the whole car, all the windows were smashed, they tried to kick us out of the car. The neighbor who was trying to turn on the ignition was punched on the head, then hit by a large stone on his left hand. And the neighbor who was next to me, who was trying to protected me, and he was beaten and they had no mercy and no pity of my condition, meaning bloody all over the place, and I was beaten, kicked from all sides. They're trying to kick us out of the car. However, we are not giving in, we struggle to not let them pull us out. If they would manage to pull us out, we would not have survived. Luckily , whether accidentally or intentionally, two KFOR patrols were approaching and they fired warning shots. The group ran away from our car. At this time I was aware of everything. And as I had been told, I've been in a coma ever since.
Bogdan Bukumirić was first placed in a local hospital. There was another wounded boy, Panto Dakić.
I was placed next to Panto . They were happy. "You want Kosovo - there you have Kosovo." everyone in the hospital, patients and doctors, they all cheered. They said: "Whoever did that - God bless him." Father of killed Panta held him in one arm and held me with the other. A doctor, Albanian approached to give first aid. However, the father of Panto did not allow it, because he felt that something can be injected to end the life of his son. Unfortunately, that’s when Panto he died. A doctor, who was from my village was present there. She first required a transfer to the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica. However, the doctors of the hospital thought I was dead. “My” doctor in the meantime seen me give signs of life on the right thumb of the right leg. She tried to convince the KFOR that I was alive, asked and required to transfer me with a helicopter to the northern part of Mitrovica. But the explanation KFOR was in that moment, was that we can not make that, we need to ask the command in Pec, and the command in Pec has to ask the command in Pristina, if they allow it ... Three hours she tried to convince KFOR to provide helicopter. And finally, after so many procedures on their side, they got a helicopter. In the helicopter was me, the hardest of all injured patients, and wounded Marko Bogićević. However, it did not go to Mitrovica, instead they went to Prizren, where Marko was left in the German KFOR base hospital, and me as more critically wounded they transferred to the southern part of Mitrovica, not in the northern, to the French KFOR base.
(Northern Mitrovica is Serb population and Southern is Albanian)
Major role in rescuing Bogdan played a doctor in the northern part of Mitrovica, Milenka Cvetkovic. Finding out what happened, she ignoring the dangers went to the southern, Albanian part of town, where French from KFOR operated Bogdan (bullet passed two millimeters from the left kidney). But when it turned out that a neurosurgeon is late, doctor Milenka insisted that the boy be taken to Belgrade. Of course, the Serbian helicopter was not allowed to land on the territory of Kosovo, so they transferred Bogdan by car to central Serbia, and there he was picked up by helicopter to the military hospital in the capital. Bogdan`s pressure dropped to 40, but doctor Milenka has taken all the necessary measures, and Bogdan returned to normal. The entire route is because of endless administrative delays by KFOR lasting 11 hours.
And when they realized that I have less than 2 liter of blood out of a possible five to five and a half liters, they were not allowed at that time to perform the operation. That evening I received a blood transfusion so that in the morning I would be ready for surgery. When I arrived and when they checked, their assessment that I woulld survive were ninety-six percent mortality. I had a four percent chance to survive. The doctors could not promise that I will wake up, my family was comforted. They had hoped, but even my neurosurgeon told me later, "I never believed that you woulld wake up. I've done my job , and everything else depended on you and of your body. " August 19 on our Orthodox holiday - I woke up from the coma.
But that was only the beginning: The temperature of Bogdan raised to 40 degrees, turned out to be pieces of bone injury to the brain. Bogdan had 4 surgeries, suffered from meningitis four months of immobility – He was only functioning in the right side of the body. But thanks to exercise and, of course, persistence, he was able to get on his feet.
Many senior officials came to see him, including former UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri. I could see that he was in a rush. He asked me, "Son, how are you?" There were, cameras, television journalists. He says: "I want you to recover quickly and return to your hometown. There is now calm, all is well. Everything is under control. " Well, I understand all that. And in the end, he was in a rush to catch the plane. I said, "Excuse me, Mr. Holkeri, can I ask you a question?" He said, "Sure, go ahead." I said, "Did you arrest the criminals who are shooting at innocent children?" I guess he was surprised and did not expect from a fifteen year old and all that happened to me that such a question is asked. And he says to me, "Well, we are doing everything we can, but we dont have enough evidence yet." We shook hands and off he went.
For many years Bogdan corresponded with international authorities in Kosovo, which promised to leave no stone unturned and find the killer: Between 2003 and 2007 nothing was done. Then a new group launched an investigation, and wrote to him that if new evidence emerges, the investigation will continue. But in the end everything was fruitless. Nothing says Bogdan, justice is slow but attainable.
I think that whoever did it are monsters. Because shooting at children who were on the beach in shorts ... , that day on the river, on the banks the youngest child was five years old. I think they are monsters, Its their plan to frighten us, because they could not expel us from our village, and they hit where it hurts the most.
Bogdan has passed a multitude of rehabilitation courses, and still he can not quite manage with his left hand. Maybe in Russia there are doctors who could help me, because after all I've gone through, I think I deserve a full recovery, he says. Yet fate had prepared Bukumirić another "surprise." 2003 he was given a flat in the Serbian capital on long-term use of option rights to buy. Then the terms changed - every year they bring to sign a contract to extend the lease. Bogdan is afraid that they will just come one day and ask him to leave the apartment as they can do according to the terms in the contract if he doesn’t own it by then.
At the suggestion of Vecernje Novosti (Evening News) an action was launched for the purchase of the apartment. it was their proposal to initiate action. They estimated the apartment where I am currently at 59,000 euros. I do not have the money and the campaign was started to help in some way, since in the government at that moment there was no sense for my case. 6 thousand Euros has been collected and paid. What to do with the remaining 53,000 I simply don’t know. I do not know what to do next. Will there be a decision to move out, will there be some other process? I don’t know!
Bogdan lives with his brother and father, two sisters are long married, and the mother died when the boy was five years old. Now he does not work, even though he finished school for electrical engineering – trapped by health problems. Bogdan Bukumirić can not return to Goraždevac, because he needs to be under the control of Belgrade's best doctors all the time. The rest of the wounded in the attack August 13, 2003. continue to live in Goraždevac. Also the families of the dead - Panto and Ivan still lives there.
The village has a cemetery. There is a wooden church which is the oldest in the Balkans. It was built without a single nail, that is, only with boards. It is over eight centuries. I think it safeguards my village. Because neither the First World War or the Second World War did they manage to expel the population and burn down Gorazdevac . And also now from the 1999 war village has survived.
Irina Antanasijević, professor of Russian language and literature lived number of years in Kosovo, in her memoirs of 2000, she wrote: Disarming Kosovo is disarming the Kosovo Serbian peasant, whose shooting has turned into a kind of sport. To the extremists , no worries, no danger. Go ... Shoot ... run ... Then appear the soldiers, evacuate bodies and "roll stones"