Kosovo students protest for Albanian-language education
October 29, 1997
Web posted at: 2:02 p.m. EST (1902 GMT)
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Several thousand ethnic
Albanian students took to the streets Wednesday, accusing
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of repression and
demanding the restoration of Albanian-language education in
the Serbian-dominated Kosovo province.
The protesters, who reports estimated numbered between 3,000
and 15,000, dispersed peacefully after student leaders read
aloud a letter calling on the international community to
support their demands.
"We call on the international community to seriously examine
our claims and to take the necessary measures to satisfy
them, failing which our discontent could blow up beyond our
control," the letter said.
"We will never renounce our just claims. The Serbian regime
which exercises permanent repression must take account of
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, who form about 90 percent of the
province's population, set up parallel government and
education structures after Milosevic revoked the province's
autonomy within Yugoslavia in 1989 and imposed a
Serbian-language education system.
Milosevic accused the Albanians of wanting to secede and join
neighboring Albania. Kosovo's underground ethnic Albanian
leadership responded by claiming independence from Serbia in
Western countries have supported the Kosovo Albanian's
campaign for autonomy but also warned them that they cannot
expect full independence for a territory that historically
has belonged to Serbia.
Nevertheless, Washington has linked progress on the Kosovo
issue to the full lifting of international sanctions imposed
on Yugoslavia for its non-compliance with the Balkan peace
accord that ended years of conflict and tore apart the former
Wednesday's protests ended peacefully, but police using
batons charged a similar protest at the beginning of the
month in the provincial capital of Pristina.
Over recent months, Kosovo has seen a series of murders and
bombings that the authorities blamed on militant underground
Tension has been rising in Pristina, where 19 ethnic
Albanians are on trial on charges of forming a "terrorist
association" allegedly fighting for Kosovo's secession.
Correspondent Brent Sadler
and Reuters contributed to this report.