Bjeshka Guri (interviewer)
Acronyms: BG=Bjeshka Guri, ND= Nexhmedin Duraku
BG: Can you introduce yourself please?
ND: I am Nexhmedin Duraku.
Like any other citizen of Krusha, in this case, with the confrontations that were imposed on us during the war, we first moved with our families from our homes to a nearby creek. Sometime in the early morning, then while crossing from the houses to that creek where the complete neighbourhood, close family and extended family were staying. Mostly they were residents who belonged to that geographical part of the people who had their houses nearby, unable to find a safer place.
However, when it was night, just before nightfall we moved.
Initially, we of young age separated, we left our families. The aim was at the initiative of the uncle, the deceased who was killed in the war. At least he went for that procedure that away from the eyes of the family for anything that could happen to you guys, at least the family will not see what could happen to you.
We wandered back and forth, initially in our logic came as information that it is a safer place to move towards the village of Mamusha. The inhabitants there were Turks (introduced as Turks) and had a more relaxed relationship with the then government.
However, during the trip at midnight, somewhere around the village of Reti e Ulët, there was some plain, we encountered a tank and returned again.
During the night then we accidentally came to a stream where the villagers of Nagavc village were sheltered and Hoqë e Vogel which makes the triangle Radbrava-Krusha-Nagavc and we stayed there all night. It was pretty cold, I know very well because when the cold caught us we went to a house we got straw, we laid underneath to sleep. Because all the time on the run for 24 hours a day, fatigue comes to effect.
BG: How many people have you been?
ND: Were 18 or 19 people. All young boys, the age ranged with the oldest being 33 years old to youngest being 15 years old. And we spent the night there, then in the morning, we met other people who were from the surrounding villages, mainly Nagavc, Hoqë and who could possibly have been from Krusha.
Then from there, we passed to a house where all those residents are gathered in Nagavc. I am generally saying that the worst of all was that we as a group did not have anyone in the family, we had lost contact with family.
In the village of Nagavc is Himë Krasniqi family, who was the owner of the house. The deceased is dead. There were about 200-300 refugees sheltered there.
When he realized which family we are in and what position we are in, we do not forget him he is in a long life we are in a short life now, he went he brought us blankets and quilts and he brought us almost everything 100% new only we stayed in a garage because we had no relatives to mingle with other families.
We slept in a car garage, but he brought us enough cover.
And during that time, the great worry and concern for family members we have moved, I along with two cousins: Bekimin and Ismajli we moved from Nagavc and we started house to house.
I remember we got in here somewhere and went in the direction from house to house.
When we went to the village mosque, because we had our houses in that neighbourhood, there we heard from an elderly man who was traumatized that he told us that everything could be in the mosque. The first day we went to the door, we did not have the strength and courage to go in and see what was in the mosque, we retreated.
We went to our families, in every yard we entered we saw people killed, we identified them by name and surname during that time, then we came back again.
Before we returned, on the first day we met a family which due to two elderly people were trapped in a house very close to Adem Destani (Adem Krasniqi), the owner of the house had his father and mother trapped and because of them, they have not left the house. There were 6 or 7 family members and we met.
When we met, the boys told us to be careful because during the period from 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock they are coming to visit, they know that the Serbian forces are here and you be careful that you can meet them and you can suffer badly. But the next day we saw the uncle, some friends, some cousins killed and we decided, we were 10-12 friends and we went to bury them.
We buried them, we were 5 people, this tape that has been made about which lately is being talked about a lot by Milaim Bellanica is the Krusha Massacre, the first information that appears on BBC lasting 2 minutes, they are recordings which were made by our group, some of us had a pair of binoculars, we entered a position that followed the main road, because at the entrance of the village there was a tank, and also on the other side of Krusha e Vogël. And we buried people in the stream, but we could not bury more than 5 people.
They all have names, I myself wrote them in plastic bottles, names and surnames and sealed them, I put them in their bodies when we buried them, at least to know after any time when they can be reburied to know who the persons identified are.
I remember we were left with 2 open graves.
Among those we buried is Habib Duraku – uncle, Bajram Duraku – the son of my father’s cousin, Xhevxhet Duraku – was a mentally sick cousin, because they did not spare such people, Ilaz Duraku, then I remember Hasaf Hoti being a friend of the generation, he was our classmate, then Fahri Hoti and so on.
There were many around, but it was impossible, because after a while the gunfire and great uncertainty started and we left them.
From there we were very young, I think a group when we travelled after the Serbian forces shelled Nagavc, early in the morning we just set off for travelling
towards Kukës, but in the impossibility to use any means to go there, 2 uncle’s sons went, there was a tractor above, one tractor was at home, we went and got them.
And simply, the uncle’s sons are the nephews of Xhemali Shama of Krusha, we also gave the tractor, the old man is now 76 years old, he drove the tractor, we got mixed with their families, we are divided not to be all in one place and we moved in the direction of Kukes.
He wore a white hat and while driving, in Landovica when we went I remember very well that he lost the feeling of being afraid of something from the pressure or from the premeditation of some very big consequence that he had as a load on that tractor with youngsters.
And the Serb shouts at me very loudly in Serbian, “Why did you put on that hat?”, while he did not even think to remove it from his head until he removed it from his head by the automatic rifle knife. And we went to Vërmicë.
When we went to Vërmicë, various things were spoken and rumoured again, there rumours that “whoever has marks to give at the border can cross the border, whoever does not have marks is being separated on the other side”. In those thoughts, we constantly try to find whoever we know in that column to at least distribute, some in a group some in another group, so that we do not all remain in one tractor. And quite by chance, I saw my grandfather, meaning the father of my mother of the village Samadraxhë, municipality of Suhareka. I saw them in the column. Then I sent the two brothers to the uncles, who were only women because the boys were in foreign countries, one was a KLA soldier and was only the grandfather, then we saw someone from Medvec, a family friend, we also sent 3-4 young boys there, mainly the division was because we were a family of 40 members, a father with 3 brothers living together, and we shared a brother of mine, a brother of another person because we always had a bad feeling that something was going to happen to us, that we had only seen things like this that had happened, that at least if it happens in a group let someone stay, not spare 3 brothers, or 4 brothers in a place to avoid the worst happening to that family of 4 brothers. However we went as we went to the border, they did not ask us for such things except the documentation.
Then after 7 or 8 days we met and we had information from the family who might be alive, except the uncle we saw killed, who had been in Kukës, we met there. In addition, I forgot to mention that while we were in Nagavc, a KLA soldier came, Asllan Berisha, the uncle of my uncle’s son who was a mechanical engineer, and was a generation older than us, we were students then, but from Rugova e Hasit he often crossed Drini and came to play chess after dinner when he was upset at midnight, being armed he played until morning, we played chess until morning and again he went back to his business.
And when the observers were at the time of verification mission, they gave him the radio or personal telephone and the only person who entered during the time we were in Nagavc and gave information from the scene is the late martyr Asllan Berisha. He called his uncle’s sons in Austria and at least told them that from the oldest to the youngest the boys were in a safe place, he told you. He did not specify the location, or other things and the uncle’s sons received the information, the information had gone to father, to Uncle, to the family in Kukës, but we had no information about them.
This has been a story that I summarized in a few short points, a story that may have lasted 8-9 days, but all of these may be from the time that has passed but the worst is that we in those times, even after 20 years, did not do anything to substantiate these events or these actions, these crimes committed by the Serbian government. And henceforth we are only accustomed to society perhaps, and it is the shortcomings of society that we are accustomed more just to say words rather than even substantiating, to document everything that is said, then a documentation, a photograph in the future but even now, but also whenever we are given the opportunity to have an argument not just empty words, only word of mouth and nothing else.
That is why these arrests are taking place, these labels of people of high structures of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and that these may be a little more political issues of Europe with Serbo-Russian influence.
And that each of us has not gone anywhere to someone else’s house or to someone else’s place to do anything, except that we have tried to protect ourselves, our family, our home, therefore it is a matter of lack of documentation, of reasoning, therefore it happened what it happened, and which is happening to this day that for 20 years apart from the photographs that are placed in the museums of the village or that we do anniversaries, go to the monuments, we have not made any argument as a society, we have not done it until now.
From now on I do not know what to do, but so far it is a huge shortcoming.
Therefore, we should be more vigilant in every action, even worse when yesterday I saw on portals that a criminal who has killed more than 100 men, women and children in Krusha i Vogel has his sentence reduced that last year he was sentenced to 22 years, his sentence is reduced by 50% to 11 years in prison. A criminal who killed, burned from children in the 4th grade of elementary school to the old man who was probably even immobile.
It means that in the absence of arguments, documentation for the event which happened mainly for the Serbian crimes that were committed in these lands, that not only in this country but in these lands, in general, we have defects today and we have the consequences that we are suffering as a society.
BG: What do you think were the effects of the war in personal terms?
ND: First of all, the effects of the war are actions that have happened to us and that I would not want to happen to anyone, regardless of nationality or any other society, because it was a completely unequal war. Because the government that was in action was not the government that pursued the Kosovo Liberation Army or those people who fought it by their rifles but unable to pursue them then it committed organized crimes in families when encountering them.
It did not spare, as I pointed out, neither the mentally sick persons, nor the child who had the bottle in his hand while drinking milk, nor the old man who walked on 4 legs.
I mean it was a completely unequal war, personally, I think the war should have educated more us.
To be a little more careful, to analyze things differently not in that euphoria, but to stop analyzing them simply and in relation to the criminals who committed the crime and who belong mainly to Serbia and Russia, the war should have added logic to our memory. Let us know who the occupier was, who Serbia was.
For hundreds of years we have even been able to hear humorous jokes when it happens that at the moment when during all this time since the fall of Yugoslavia since they made “Kumari” (have good relations) as they said before, or the company of a Serb who a physical house, geographically he was a neighbour, but when it was recently discovered, the Serb always had the axe in the absence of a weapon, the axe close to him. As much as you have considered it because we are more generous as a people, it means that when we accept someone in society or the family we do not think of other things, and Serbs, in general, have done the opposite, on the one hand, they have accepted you as a neighbour in the family, on the other hand, they thought in every moment, in every aspect of how to physically eliminate you from this life.
BG: Do you have anything else to add?
ND: No, you just made me speak for Qerim’s sake because we worked together for a year.