By RAFAELA PRIFTI-Fatos and Ilir Bytyqi are aware of the long road to justice for their three brothers, US citizens who were murdered in the Republic of Serbia in July 1999. Last year,their Representative Lee Zeldin authored House Resolution 32 in partnership with Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The measure was reintroduced byCongressmen Eliot Engel and Lee Zeldin to push the Serbian government and Serbian war crimes prosecutor tocarry out justice and hold the perpetrators accountable.As part of a panel, Ilir Bytyqi testified at a hearing on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in April 2019. On a phone conversation, Fatos Bytyqi told me that he and hisbrother, Ilir have been meeting with Representative Zeldin in New York and Washington DC from the time he entered Congress.Mr. Bytyqi said that “Serbian authorities are aware and in possession of evidence of the crimes in this case, yet they employ maneuvers and spread disinformation to not bring the murderers to justice.” In his view, the Resolution is a strong measure that pressures Serbia’s government to carry out properinvestigations instead of continuing with the pattern of not prosecuting Serbian war criminals responsible for crimes against the people of Kosova. Fatos Bytyqi recalled Representative Engel’s statement delivered on the House flooras Resolution was introduced last year:”Approaching three years ago, the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center released a dossier detailing the murder of nearly 1,000 Kosovars, killed by Serbs in Kosovo, then transported to Serbia and dumped in a mass grave. The US government has raised this atrocity with the Serbian war crimes prosecutor, but – once again – no one has been held accountable.”
On the 20th anniversary of the murders,Representatives Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and Eliot Engel (D, NY-16), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reintroduced legislation calling for justice in the executions of Congressional District 1 residents, Ylli, Agron and Mehmet Bytyqi, who resided in Hampton Bays, New York, having passed legislation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last year.Both representatives have strongly supported the measure and its significance in the relations between United States and Serbia. In a statement, Chairman Engel has said: “The United States’ relationship with Serbia depends on Serbia’s adherence to the rule of law and human rights, and commitment to prosecute horrendous criminal cases such as this.”
Ilir Bytyqi, whois actively demandingjustice in this case and advocating for the victims, attended the reception for Ranking Member Zeldin held in midtown Manhattan. Representative Zeldin reaffirmed his commitment that “the Bytyqi brothers gave their lives to fight injustice; now, we must secure justice for them.” He reiterated the position expressed by the US State Department through the Embassythat “Obtaining justice for the Bytyqi brothers remains a priority in our bilateral relationship with Serbia.”In a statement issued by US Embassy in Belgrade, in July 2018, it said: The United States government again calls on Serbian authorities, who have promised to assist in this case over the years, for a resolution to this case. Both brothers expressed gratitude to the representatives of Albanian community and organizations that have rallied demanding justice.
Dielli is publishing the remarks of Ilir Bytyqi at the fundraising reception in honor of Congressman Lee Zeldin hosted by Evi Kokalari at 3 West Club in Manhattan on August 18.
Evi Kokolari friends and family,
I would like to take this moment to thank each and every one for attending this event to support our elected official to be our voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless. As you all know, tragedy struck my family at the hands of Serbian government 21 years ago. It has devastated my family all these years. The battle for justice hasn’t been easy, though the support has been there.
Thanks to friends and family the American-Albanian community organizations many of you are here present today and members of Congress as representative in Washington DC Lee Zeldin we have achieved a great deal of progress
Congressman Lee Zeldin and his amazing staff have supported my family on each and every aspect. He never knows how to say NO! He is always on the go and will continue to do so not only for my family but the Suffolk County. I believe that Lee Zeldin is the right Representative to represent Suffolk in Congress.
PS. Dielli received no response to requests for interview with Congressman Lee Zeldin by the time the paper went to print.