CEOL
Kosovo's Muslim and Serbian Orthodox leaders form joint council

PRISTINA, Apr 14, 2000 -- (AFP) - Kosovo's Muslim and Serbian Orthodox leaders Thursday founded an inter-religious council, using the occasion to condemn all human rights abuses in the strife-torn province and pledging greater cooperation.

Led by Bishop Aretmije, head of the province's Serb National Council, and Mufti Rexhep Boja, president of the Islamic Community in Kosovo, the new Inter-religious Council of Kosovo also pledged to rebuild religious buildings in the devastated province.

The move was announced at the end of a visit by religious leaders from Bosnia, who shared their experiences of post-war confidence-building among religious communities.

"With one voice we once again strongly condemn all acts of violence and all violations of basic human rights," the new council said in a statement.

"The acts that have happened and continue to happen against innocent persons are evil and cannot be condoned in any way by any of our respective religions traditions," it added.

The UN-administered province has been rocked by revenge attacks on Serbs and other minority groups since NATO-led peacekeepers replaced Yugoslav forces responsible for massive repression of the ethnic Albanian majority.

The council also called on the international community to "work harder on finding and resolving the situation of all prisoners, missing and abducted persons whose unknown fate remains one of the deepest wounds of our recent tragic events."

Ethnic Albanians say there are thousands of their fellows still missing in Serb jails, while many Serb leaders have accused former ethnic Albanian rebels of kidnapping or killing hundreds of Serbs since the war ended last June.



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