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Father Jeremija

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  • Vlasta
    http://www.mitropolijadabrobosanska.org/foto_dokumentacija.htm http://groups.yahoo.com/group/decani/message/81124 UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION The Information
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 12, 2004



      The Information Service
      of the Serbian Orthodox Church

      April 6, 2004


      Zvornik, April 6, 2004

      During the night between Wednesday, March 31 and Thursday, April 1,
      2004 at approximately 01,00 o'clock after midnight we were awoken by
      the ringing of the telephone, which frightened us, since no one calls
      us at that time of the night. Because our younger son was away on a
      trip, I immediately grew concerned that something might have happened
      to him and so I awoke my husband, who was sound asleep. He headed
      toward the telephone, which is located in the living room. I heard
      some kind of stirring about during those moments but I could not
      identify since I had just been awoken. Perhaps it was some noise from
      outside, perhaps the sound of helicopters or vehicles, I cannot say
      for sure. As Aco (diminutive of Aleksandar) and I stood in the
      hallway, we heard a powerful blast and there were lights all around us
      and some gunshots could also be heard. I told Aleksandar to take
      shelter. I heard Jeremija (Jeremiah) saying to someone from the
      kitchen: "We will open the door for you! Why are you doing this!" When
      I saw a soldier crossing Aleksandar's room toward us, I momentarily
      ducked into the bedroom. A soldier wearing a dark green uniform forced
      his way in after me, slammed the door and with a gun pointed at me
      said: "Sit down!" (in English). Immediately afterward terrible yelling
      and shouting by the soldiers could be heard and at almost the same
      time Jeremiah's loud cries. I did not hear my son. Jeremija's cries
      were painful and terrible and he said: "Let me go! What are you doing
      to me!" But they continued shouting at him. At times Jeremija sobbed
      softly and then his cries and screams would grow louder. And he begged
      them. I could not bear to listen to Jeremija's cries, they were
      tearing me apart and so I turned toward the soldier who once again
      shouted: "Sit down!" (in English) Another soldier wearing the same
      uniform half-opened the bedroom door and glanced toward me. As I was
      kneeling in front of the soldier begging him to allow me to see my
      husband, when I looked I saw next to his feet the motionless head of
      my son on the hall floor. I then begged and entreated through tears
      that they let me go or kill me. During this entire time Jeremija was
      weeping and screaming at them to let him go. At one point the soldier,
      having apparently grown tired, put his boot on the bed and,e keeping
      the gun pointed at me, stared at the ceiling, paying no attention at
      all to my entreaties. At one point I heard the sound of a device that
      reminded me of an electroshock device. First I heard a flat sound and
      then interrupted sounds on the basis of which I concluded that they
      were trying to renimate Aco. Then I heard the sound of a helicopter
      and I begged God that they would transfer them to the hospital as
      quickly as possible. Jeremija's cries did not stop. I could still hear
      him when they took him out. The alarm clock in the bedroom gave the
      time as 2,15.

      Father Jeremija Starovlah and his son Aleksandar are receiving
      treatment in Tuzla Hospital for injuries inflicted by SFOR

      When the sound of the helicopter grew more distant, an armed soldier
      in a camouflage uniform stepped in. I do not remember what he said to
      me but I concluded that he was speaking in a language like Serbian. I
      begged him to tell me why they had tortured my husband and killed my
      son. I also asked him whether he had a mother and what did he think
      her reaction would be if she saw her motionless son lying on the floor
      while a foreign soldier refused to allow her to see him. He did not
      respond; he just shrugged his shoulders and said something like: "We
      no shoot" (in Serbian). I answered: "What did you use to kill them,
      then?" He then asked me who was living in my house and he told me to
      write down all the names and ages. Although my hands were shaking I
      quickly did as he asked, thinking that it was something they urgently
      needed to take care of them. He asked something like: "Who this to
      you?" (in Serbian) and, pointing to the names, "Who this, and who
      this?" I answered that these were my husband and son and I pointed to
      my name, too. I asked him where they had taken them and if they were
      alive. He answered that they had been taken to Sarajevo Hospital and
      that they were alive, and that in two hours he would come to get me so
      I could go and see them for myself. Then the soldier left with the
      others and a woman came in in a camouflage uniform with a man who
      introduced himself as the translator. I was still kneeling in the
      bedroom at the foot of the bed and, clutching a cross and a prayer
      book, I was praying to God. The translator asked me how I was. I cried
      and said: "My son is dead! Why did they kill him when he wouldn't hurt
      a fly!" I don't know why but I did not ask about my husband at that
      point. Probably because I had heard his cries and thus I hoped that he
      would still be alive. This girl kept repeating: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry"
      (in English) and it seemed to me that she really was sorry. Kneeling
      beside me, she took her own prayer book from her back pack and some
      sort of talisman, a small icon or a cross - I'm not sure what it was -
      and she prayed with me. Shortly afterward I hurried to the iconostasis
      in the living room. She followed me. I tried to light the icon lamp
      but my hands were shaking so much it was impossible to do so. Then she
      took a match and lit the icon lamp. Then I censed the icons in the
      house and prayed in front of the icon of Our Lord, the icon of the
      Most Holy Mother of God, in front of the icon of St. Nicholas, our
      patron saint and in front of St. Sava. The girl stood in front of the
      icons with me for a time, then she asked if she should stay with me
      some more or if I wished to call any friends. I answered that I did
      not need anyone right now and that I wanted to be alone with God in
      prayer for my son and husband. She left but first the translator told
      me that "my" police would be coming soon to prepare a report. After
      that I was alone and, with a cross in my hand, I headed down the hall.
      In the corner on the left side between a small lavatory and the
      kitchen, I found a pool of blood. I bent over and saw there were also
      tufts of hair. I knew that Jeremija had been slammed into that corner.
      The walls were splattered with blood all around. Between the wall and
      the wardrobe in the hall next to Aco's room one could see he had been
      crushed there. I also saw some sort of masks and some tubes. All
      covered in blood. The surrounding walls were the same. The house was
      destroyed. With a feeling of despair and helplessness I heard the
      hysterical laughter of some soldiers who were still standing in the
      hallway of the building. When I heard them I began to despise them.
      But I quickly recovered and begged God to expel all the hate from my
      heart lest He withhold His mercy toward Jeremija and Aco. I said, may
      God forgive them for they know not what they are doing. Then I
      telephoned my younger son who was abroad on a business trip. I told
      him that something terrible had happened and that he had to return
      right away. I explained what had happened and he asked several times:
      "But why, mother?" I answered that I did not know. Shortly afterwards
      I no longer could hear the soldiers but two men entered the house,
      that is, the bedroom, one of them in a police uniform and the other in
      plain clothes. It was between 4,30 and 5,00. The one in plain clothes
      introduced himself but I cannot remember how. He asked me if we had
      offered any resistance. Shocked by his question, I replied: "What
      resistance? We were awoken from our sleep, in our pajamas." They told
      me the police would now come to secure the location and prepare a
      report. At about 5,00 o'clock I called the monastery of Dobrun. Father
      Mihajlo answered the phone; I explained what had happened to him and I
      asked the brotherhood to pray. I was looking at the clock and waiting
      for the soldier to come back and take me to see Jeremija and
      Aleksandar. He did not appear; at about 6,30 the telephone rang. It
      was a man by the name of Mithat or something like that - I am not sure
      - who also told me the name of the news agency he worked for. The call
      was from Sarajevo. I concluded that from the fact that even on the
      fixed phone the caller's number was displayed. He asked me if I had
      been contacted by SFOR and whether I knew where my son and husband
      were. I answered that I did not know but that a soldier had told me
      that they had been transferred to Sarajevo and that I was waiting for
      him to take me there. Then the man told me that he had called SFOR and
      that he had asked them whether they had informed the family; the
      response that he got from the other side was: "Sure, sure, we'll
      inform them." And he also told me that he had found out that they were
      in Tuzla Hospital, that they were alive and he gave me the telephone
      number of the hospital. I was grateful to him for that. He asked me
      whether I also had a daughter. I answered: "No, I have another son."
      "It's good that he wasn't there," the man said. "He could have gone
      through the same thing." I called the hospital and introduced myself.
      Then one of the physicians told me they had received some seriously
      injured persons in critical condition but that they had no idea who
      they were. He told me that SFOR forces had brought them at about 3,00
      o'clock and dumped them in the hospital like sacks. When asked by the
      physician who the two men were, the soldiers replied: "John Doe 1" and
      "John Doe 2". He also told me that they had thought that there had
      been a serious traffic accident and that the information I gave them
      was the first they had heard about them.

      Father Jeremija Starovlah in Tuzla Hospital because of SFOR's

      Aleksandar Starovlah, Father Jeremija's son, presently in Tuzla
      Hospital next to his father because of SFOR's brutality

      I was informed that their admission had been video taped and that the
      tapes are stored in the office for public relations of the University
      Clinical Center in Tuzla.

      Our Metropolitan Nikolai had arrived in the courtyard of our church by
      about 5,00 but he was not allowed to enter our home because of the
      police investigation.

      Vitorka Starovlah
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