Serbs are real victims, priest says

Published November 1, 1999

The NATO bombing campaign destroyed bridges across the Danube. A Canadian priest says a professional Serb photographer took pictures such as these but the Western media wouldn’t accept them.

The media got the story all wrong in Kosovo, says an Anglican priest who spent eight days in Serbia in June.

Far from the Serbs forcing ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo, the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo began decades ago, contends Rev. Bill Hutton.

Kosovo was the birthplace of Serb culture and the Orthodox church and home primarily to Serbs until the Albanians began forcing them out in 1943, he said. The Albanians wish to make Kosovo an Albanian province, he added.

“The Serbs don’t know how to manipulate the media,” said Mr. Hutton, an honorary assistant at St. Michael and All Angels in Winnipeg. (The church’s Rev. Arthur Klassen says that Mr. Hutton speaks for himself, not the church.) Mr. Hutton is not a Serb but has Serb friends in Winnipeg.

He said the Albanians’ Kosovo Liberation Army was engaged in terrorist activities and that’s why the Serb army cracked down on them several months ago, he said. Mr. Hutton figures NATO sided with the Albanians because Yugoslavia is a socialist country.

During an interview at the Journal, Mr. Hutton talked passionately for well over an hour. He has worked with peace groups who opposed NATO’s bombing campaign and they raised the cash for him to visit Yugoslavia, he said.

Mr. Hutton railed against the West’s bombing campaign but praised Canadian church leaders for speaking out against it. He said he was asked to relay the Serbs’ gratitude to Canadian church people.

He returned with a number of photographs taken by a Serbian professional photographer. The photos show collapsed bridges, destroyed homes, plumes of smoke rising from oil refineries and dead bodies.

The international media were not interested in using the photos, he said, since they did not support the NATO version of events.

Much of Serbian industry and its transportation network has been destroyed, Mr. Hutton said. Central heating plants in many cities were blown up and food shortages loom.

“I can’t believe that we did it,” he said of the bombing campaign. “It was a vicious attack on private citizens ?The Serbs are in a desperate situation because of what we did.”

Mr. Hutton acknowledges he did not visit Kosovo himself nor interview ethnic Albanians during his time in the country. He said he didn’t need to hear the Albanian side, knowing “it’s exaggerated 10-times over.” Indeed, Mr. Hutton said he was there to get the other side of the story.

He wants Canadians to approach the federal government and convince it to take an interest in the Serbs who are suffering because of the bombing campaign.

“Canada should never participate in this kind of thing again,” Mr. Hutton said. “It was U.S.-directed. We should concentrate our efforts on peace.”


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