Radio Station Director Vows to Revive Her News Operation

“During a visit to CPJ’s New York office on April 19, Kosovar Albanian journalist Aferdita Kelmendi described how Serbian paramilitaries forced her to leave Pristina on March 29 after she had hidden for five days in various places throughout the city. ÒWe knew that, as journalists, we would be a target,Ó said Kelmendi, who served as director of Pristina’s Radio 21, one of only three independent broadcast media outlets in Kosovo, all now shut down by Serbian authorities.

Kelmendi recounted watching from a concealed spot as Serbian police ransacked Radio 21’s studios; shortly afterward, she and her family were ordered to leave Pristina immediately and head to Macedonia. Kelmendi and six family members waited in their car at the border with thousands of other deportees for three days without any food, before they were allowed into Macedonia. Since that harrowing experience, Kelmendi has been trying to locate her colleagues and is deeply concerned for their safety. She has been unable to confirm a Deutsche Welle radio report that one of her correspondents, Gasmin Berisha, had been killed along with his father and brother in the Kosovo town of Suva Reka.

Kelmendi plans to resume Radio 21 broadcasts over the Internet from her new temporary base in Skopje, Macedonia, as a service to her former listeners now in exile, whom she said “desperately need information from their own newspaper or radio station, because they trust us.”