The weekly Koha (The Times) was published in Prishtina (Kosovo) between 1994 and 1997. Edited by VetonSurroi, a young Kosovar journalist and one of the pioneers of democratisation in former Yugoslavia, Kohasoon became a symbol of quality among the region's media. In 1997 it started to be published daily under thename of Koha Ditorë. With the kind permission of Mr. Surroi, Koha digests were originally posted onhttp://koha.estudiosbalcanicos.org.
- 1 -Koha Digest # 155Front Page: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE FLAGDate: 15 July 1997MACEDONIATHE STRUGGLE FOR THE FLAG by ARBËR VLLAHIU / Gostivar A highway that leads to the west of Macedonia, and a terrifying silence. Moreover, if therewere no stopped cars and trucks passed beside by the wandering "blue helmets", everyonewould think that "the towns on its right, Tetovë and Gostivar", are in "eternity". Both towns,that in the late hours of 9 July had lived through the "golgotha", now were "sleeping insilence". Tens of thousands of people, that were protecting their flag, waving on the buildingof the municipal assembly, for hours faced the Macedonian police and tear-gas.After all this, perhaps the only way to enter the towns at the west of Shkup, was to travel by bus. Due to the strict police control, the buses were almost empty.In the "scary" silence of the town, the traces of Gostivar's "golgotha" could be seen at the veryentrance of the town. In the first crossroad - the garbage containers, were turned upside down,and someone, in a hurry, "forgot" to turn them back. In Gostivar, after ours, "authority was practiced by the police forces", and the silence was disturbed only by the heels of a woman,that looked as "a traveller late to somewhere". The curtain of the big scene was dropped. But,the question still remains... what happened, and why? "After midnight, in the evening between 8 and 9 July, first the telephone lines were cut, and thirty minutes later, theelectricity was also cut. Police forces, in groups, rushed through the town, taking all mainstreets", this how one of the witnesses of the terrible day in Gostivar begins his story. Early inthe morning, people in groups started to gather around the Municipal Assembly, to protect theflag and to show support to the president of the Assembly, Rufi Osmani. According to someinformation, the President of the Municipal Assembly, Rufi Osmani, was taken hostage andnegotiations with him were under way. Still, according to the same sources, nobody knows of his whereabouts."We confronted the police forces. Around 10,000 people on our side, and around 4,000 armedman on the other. At one stage, children started throwing rocks at them. I don’t know whathappened, we heard shots, bullets over our heads and we could feel teargas", whispers ayoung man, scared and with a terrified glance, that asked for his name not to be mentioned."The first shot in Gostivar dispersed the people from the square. It looked as if in this mess,someone could get hurt. While running away, some Macedonian civilians fired at the crowd. Isaw a policeman climbing the roof of the building where the Macedonian civilians were. I