LETTER OF PATRIARCH PAVLE TO SFOR COMMANDER
His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Kyr Pavle sent a letter today to U.S. Major General Virgil L. Pickett, the SFOR commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina, stating the following:
Several times already we have asked the SFOR command, the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and even the Secretary-General of the United Nations to put a halt to the completely needless and improper mistreatment of Orthodox residents of the small town of Pale on Mt. Romanija, and the destruction of their property by military forces, which arrived in this part of Europe to help in keeping the peace and establishing understanding and tolerance. We last wrote you regarding this issue only in February of this year after forces under your command, in full battle gear, with the justification that they were seeking persons suspected of war crimes, broke into a church and apartments of Orthodox priests in Pale at the end of the Christmas holidays, where they carried out searches and frightened the household members and their small children.
However, as our letter failed to convince you that our priests and the members of their families take no part in the activities of which you obviously suspect them, you, Sir, ordered that nothing short of a military campaign be launched against their homes on April 1, 2004, on the very eve of the Easter holidays. In the dead of night, your soldiers, using the most lethal explosive devices, broke in through the roof, the door and the windows of their home, completely destroying it in the process. The strong explosions wounded Archpriest Stavrophor Jeremijah (Jeremiah) Starovlah and his son, Catechist Aleksandar. But this was not enough for your soldiers, called "peacekeepers" by our people. They proceeded to tie up Father Jeremija and his son and, while thus tied, they savagely beat them using rifle butts, boots and whatever else they had on hand. In short: they beat them to death. The entire time this was occurring, the presbytera (the priest's wife) had a gun pointed at her, with a finger on the trigger, so she could not help her son or her husband. These facts, sir, are well known to you. At the time of the writing of this letter, physicians are still fighting for the lives of these two Christians, who are suffering for the same reason the martyrs suffered under the Romans - for the name of Christ.
If it was not clear to you until that day, Sir, that Serbian priests are not hiding those whom you have indicted for committing war crimes, we hope you are now so convinced. Or perhaps you are not, and we should expect to see once again those whom we wished to see as men of goodwill heading with bombs, guns and boots against our holy shrines, the lives of our priests and their families.
At this time we wish to advise you that we will inform the global community in the broadest sense with the contents of this letter.
The Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac and Serbian Patriarch + Pavle