UK/KOSOVO: Kosov@ conscientious objector threatened with deportation from Britain


Agron Kurhasj, a refugee from Kosov@ currently in detention at Gatwick airport, his wife Alma and their two children Arber (born 01/06/98) and Kledis (born 03/09/01) are presently at imminent risk of forced removal from Britain.

They are Albanian speaking Kosovars who supported the nonviolent resistance to Serbian oppression of their culture and land. Agron and his father were strong supporters of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) lead by Ibrahim Rugova. His father was head of the LDK in Gjakova municipality where they lived. He was arrested by the Serbian authorities on 12th December 1996 and probably killed by them.

Agron's sister-in-law was raped. His uncle and cousin were killed.

He took refuge in the mountains. He was only able to go back to his village, erkovc, for brief occasional visits. This involved risking the same fate as his father. He wanted however to keep contact with his community and in particular to marry Alma, to whom he had been engaged since he was an adolescent. This he succeeded in doing in October 1997.

He also supported nonviolent resistance to Serb oppression when he could, for example, by attending a demonstration in November 1997 demanding independence.

Agron had evaded military service in the Serb forces in 1990. In 1998 he refused to join the violent Kosova Liberation Army three times because he supported the nonviolent democratic way of his father and the LDK. A member of the KLA told him: "One day we are going to win and you will be a deserter and our enemy."

In March 1999 when the attacks by Serb forces in Gjakova became intolerable Agron fled to Macedonia with his wife Alma. They stayed there with friends. There were many supporters of the KLA in Tetova. They did not know his address. However people came to a café near his home and said that "around here lives a deserter". He came to realise Macedonia was also not safe for them. Their first child was nearly two and his wife was pregnant.

They fled to England paying an agent to help them. They arrived in Dover in a lorry on 3rd March 2000.The KLA was formally disbanded in September 1999 but the same people are still armed and still remember people they call traitors. Several LDK supporters have been killed including the secretary to Ibrahim Rugova. KFoR provides some protection particularly from the Serbs, but much less from armed Kosova Albanians. There have been numerous murders. Most international and media attention has been focused on persecution of Serbs and Roma. If KFoR cannot provide protection for recognised minorities, how much less can they protect Kosova Albanians from other Kosova Albanians.

Agron has no relatives in Kosova now and he does not know if there is a home to return to. The family are quite traumatised by their experiences. They would be ill equipped to cope with both the threat of attack by the KLA and the problems of rebuilding the means of survival from nothing.

War Resisters' International calls nonviolent protest against their forced removal from Britain. Please write letters, demanding Agron's immediate release from detention at Gatwick airport, to: Rt. Hon. David Blunkett MP Home Office 50 Queens Anne's Gate London SW1 Fax: +44-20-7273 3965

Agron and his family can be contacted via: Newham Churches Immigration Support Group c/o 170 Harold Road Plaistow London E13 OSE tel.: +44-20-8472 2785 Fax: +44-20-8472 2805