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Yugoslavia: Ethnic Albanian Students Demonstrate

Pristina, Yugoslavia; 29 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Between 10,00 and 15,000 ethnic Albanian students staged a peaceful, one hour demonstration in Kosovo's capital Pristina today to demand education in their own language.

Kosovo Albanian political leaders claim their students and teachers were expelled from Pristina University in 1991. Serb authorities say the Albanians left as part of a boycott of the state-imposed curriculum.

In contrast to the last such protest four weeks ago when Serbian police used force to disperse the students, injuring and arresting dozens of protesters, riot police today refrained from violence.

Some 200 riot police, backed by two water cannon, watched a performance put on by and for the demonstrators. Shortly before the performance ended, the police gave the students an ultimatum to disperse within 20 minutes. The rally finished before the deadline.

In a speech to the protesters by the president of the independent students' union of Pristina University, Bujar Dugolli, said today's demonstration was for the unconditional release of the buildings and other premises of the University, occupied by the Belgrade regime since 1991. He reiterated that the students have chosen the peaceful route of protest.