JEWISH CURRENTS MAGAZINE
in the Balkans: Jews and the Kosovo Crisis
By Alvin Dorfman and Heather Cottin
the beautiful spring of 1999, while Jews were commemorating Shoah and
celebrating Passover, bombs rained down on the sovereign nation of
Yugoslavia. In the United States, major Jewish organizations defended
thousands of devastating NATO bombing sorties. Many Jews called for
groundtroops. Both the mainstream and Jewish press vilified the Serbs
characterized Yugoslavia as an aggressor nation. The holocaust analogy
replayed as it had been during the Bosnian War, when James Harff, of
public relations firm Ruder Finn, had boasted to a French interviewer
Jewish support for NATO in Bosnia was a prize. "By a single move,
able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would
thereafter play itself out." " We won," he said, "by
targeting the Jewish
audience." He admitted, "Our work is not to verify information,
. . . we are
not paid to be moral."
Jewry did nothing in 1995 when the Croatians, headed by Kosovo
Albanian Lieutenant General Agim Ceku, ethnically cleansed from the
Krajina 300,000 Serbs whose roots went back 300 years. American Jews
did not repudiate Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, despite his denial
Shoah, and his boast that his wife was neither a Serb nor a Jew. The
effectiveness of the Ruder Finn campaign was such that most Americans
accepted without question the right of Bosnian Moslems to break away
Yugoslavia. The US government and the media did not discuss Alia Izetbegovic
as a Moslem Fundamentalist, nor did they remind us that the Bosnian
President never renounced his Islamic Declaration, in which he said,
"There can be no peace between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic
Americans know much about Balkan history, and when the war in Kosovo
erupted on the front pages of US newspapers, Americans once again accepted
the "simple story of good guys and bad guys" that cast the
Serbs as the enemy and the Kosovo Albanians as the victims. Jewish acceptance
of this story is troubling. As with the Bosnian Moslems in the NATO
intervention in 1992-5 and the Croatian ethnic cleansing of the Krajina
in 1995, American Jews took sides against the Serbs who had been their
only friends in the Balkans during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945
the Croatian Ustache government, the Bosnian Moslems, and the Kosovar
Albanians, under the Italian Fascist Albanian government, had murdered
over 60,000 Jews and 1,000,000 Serbs.
support for NATO intervention was troubling for other reasons. American
Jewish organizations tacitly supported the Kosovo Liberation Army. The
KLA was funded in part by reactionary Islamic forces,
the United States, and Germany. In the "civil war" between
1997 and 1999,
Jews joined in the condemnation of the government of Slobodan Milosovic,
and urged NATO bombing of Belgrade and the rest of Yugoslavia.
the most disturbing aspect of Jewish support for the 78 days of NATO
bombing was the facile acceptance of claims such as "genocide"
"holocaust," terms used again and again to describe the experiences
Kosovo Albanians. A "simple story of good guys and bad guys"
into an outrageous comparison. 2000 people, one third of them Serbs,
Kosovo in the year before the bombing began. There had been fighting
betweenthe KLA and the Yugoslav Army, and civilians and armed forces
both perished. But the media claimed "genocide," and the comparison
to Shoah was quickly made. This was a monstrous misrepresentation of
the truth which simultaneously desecrated the experience of Jews in
the NATO bombing campaign Kosovo Albanians were placed on trains and
sent to Macedonia and Montenegro. They were sent to NATO and UN-run
refugee camps, not concentration camps. NATO bombardments decimated
Yugoslavia. The Serbs were bombed daily; most of the "Kosovars"
in Kosovo had been the first to try to rid the province of Serbs
and Roms in 1981 and 1982, and it was they who used the expression "ethnic
cleansing" to describe their purification campaign. The KLA is
secretive organization, but it is not a recent phenomenon. Kosovo Albanians
from Germany and Albania, whose family roots went back to the notorious
Skanderbeg division which slaughtered Jews, Serbs and Rom people in
World War II, comprised the leading faction of the KLA. In December
1998, the State Department wrote an alarming report, which clearly stated,
"the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the (Yugoslav) police."
The report continued, "KLA representatives had threatened to kill
villagers or burn their homes if they did not join the KLA." Yet
the United States supported the Kosovo Liberation Army.
reports abound linking the KLA to organized crime. In fact, the
Albanians and their KLA contacts "own" 40% of the heroin trade
Their drug lord allies in Turkey provide 75% of Europe's heroin. We
ask ourselves as Jews: why are we supporting such a force?
was clear to observers that Yugoslavia's "ethnic cleansing"
Albanians began only after NATO bombing began. But Jews here and in
Israel offered asylum and comfort to the Kosovo Albanians. Did the Jewish
press express compassion for the Serb or Rom victims of NATO bombing?
Where was the public anguish about the destruction of hospitals, schools,
factories, bridges, railway stations, religious edifices and tens of
thousands of homes in Yugoslavia? Which Jews spoke out against the Balkan
ecocide produced by NATO bombing of chemical factories and the use of
Depleted Uranium (DU) which causes cancer and birth defects?
Serbs and Roms have been, since the war ended, murdered or driven
out of Kosovo by the KLA forces. Agim Ceku has been head of the KLA
since February, so he knows the US will turn a blind eye to ethnic cleansing
spin doctors may have manipulated the sympathies of concerned citizens,
but NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia had, according to Le Monde Diplomatique,
"not the least international legitimacy." The United States
fought on the side of drug traffickers and Nazis. Germany, in violation
of its own laws, sent its armed forces and Luftwaffe out on military
missions against Yugoslavia. Have we, who pride ourselves on having
brought moral law into the world, abandoned our belief in the Rule of
Jews allowed our "moral authority" to be used in the interests
expansion of international capitalism against the last socialist nation
Europe? There is evidence for this analysis, but there are other
indications that also significant. The expansion of NATO was a Pandora's
Box that was locked until the dismemberment of Yugoslavia began. NATO
involvement in Yugoslavia was the key that opened Eastern Europe and
Central Asia to NATO expansion, and NATO expansion opened the door to
the expansion eastward of the new Global Economy. NATO's new role in
Europe is the police force for the New World Order. Kosovo sits atop
a five billion-dollar lead, zinc, silver, cadmium, and gold mine, "the
most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans." Kosovo has
seventeen billion tons of coal. The Danube flows through Yugoslavia
and is more important to trade in central and southern Europe than any
other river. The oil and natural gas pipelines of Europe criss-cross
Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia is proximate to the West's next oil and natural
gas bonanza: the Caspian region. The four trillion dollars worth of
petroleum there is the answer to the NATO nations' quest for more oil.
Germany is particularly concerned about this.
are issues for a Jewish Left that has been convinced that our
interests lie with US policy. All the President's men and Madeleine
support the premise clearly delineated by Richard Holbrooke. "The
States must lead in the creation of a security architecture that includes
and stabilizes all of Europe." Yugoslavia enabled the "expansion
of NATO." The expansion of NATO has more to do with markets than
US policy supports Israel. Israel could face the loss of US support.
us not forget; Yugoslavia once enjoyed a special relationship with the
United States just as Israel now does.
April of 1999 the Yugoslav ambassador to the United Nations wrote a
letter to several Jewish organizations, begging for support. NATO had
bombed the Bridge at Novi Sad and the adjacent Memorial Park. "The
Bridge and the Park had special significance to Jews and Serbs,"
wrote the ambassador, because, "a few thousand Jews and Serbs were
summarily executed by the Nazis and thrown into the Danube under that
bridge" on April 1, 1942. But there was silence; no Jewish organization
responded. That silence must be broken.
us ask ourselves why we are cooperating with politicians in league with
capitalists, militarists, arms makers, fascists and drug traffickers.
question how we participated in the demonizing of the Serbs, allowing
to become the world's pariahs. And let us as ourselves whether we betrayed
the friendship of those who fought and died with us in the Holocaust.
such betrayal of principle be "good for the Jews?"
April 3, 2000
Alomerovic: Concentration camps for Serbs in Kosovo do exist
We have been to five concentration camps!
commotion surrounding the existence of concentration camps in which
Serbs are imprisoned in the region of Kosovo and Metohija demonstrates
that we have hit the bull's eye. The concentration camps exist and KFOR
cannot continue to hide it," Sefko Alomerovic, the president of
Committee in Sandzak, tells "Danas".
again reconfirms that the many authoritative KFOR officials as
well as officials of international humanitarian organizations who have
everything to deny this claim are wrong. The head of the office of the
International Red Cross in Pristina has even threatened Sefko Alomerovic
again, I publicly claim that concentration camps for Serbs in Kosovo
exist. When I say I claim this, I am completely conscious of what it
Our activists have been to no less than five concentration camps, illegally,
of course, entered the camps, seen the imprisoned Serbs and spoken with
them. I claim that at this moment, or more precisely, as of March 14,
existed at least five such concentration camps in which at least 142
of non-Albanian nationality were imprisoned, the great majority of them
Serbs. Since the number of kidnapped Serbs according to reports filed
their families is at least 1,000, I assume that many more such concentration
concentration camps were established immediately following the
departure of the Serbian police and army from Kosovo. The first of the
camps was discovered as early as June, then in July and in August. There
are not large collective centers such as those which formerly existed
in Bosnia but enclosed facilities, usually basements or garages in city
districts in which between 10 and 50 people are imprisoned. The existence
of the concentration camps was "an publicly known secret";
everything happened in front of the eyes of KFOR and it would be strange
in deed if it turned out that KFOR did not know and does not know of
locations in reserve
reminds that the activists of the Helsinki Committee discovered
one such concentration camp last year in Kosovska Mitrovica in the garage
and boiler room in the building of the former Social Insurance
Administration. There were approximately 50 Serbs there who were kidnapped
within the city limits. Imprisoned Serbs were also discovered in the
basement of a building near the beltway and the Automobile Association.
The basement of the "Afrodita" restaurant was also a concentration
camp for imprisoned Serbs; it was headed by the waiters in the restaurant.
the relatives of one of the prisoners we reporter the existence of
the concentration camp in the former Social Insurance Administration
to KFOR in Kosovska Mitrovica. KFOR carried out a raid, surrounding
the building with a large number of troops, and it looked like they
meant business. When the went to the door of the concentration camp
and knocked, two Albanians came out and said that there was no concentration
camp or prisoners there. Can you imagine, the two Albanians refused
to allow a large number of armed KFOR troops to carry out a search of
the building. They permitted this only the next day. At that time the
KFOR patrol found approximately 50 KLA soldiers in the building."
the relatives of the prisoners, KFOR was advised immediately
regarding the existence of every one of these places but KFOR did not
single one of them because every one would be moved to a rural area,
private house or abandoned buildings of agricultural cooperatives
immediately after KFOR was notified. The Helsinki Committee in Sandzak
claims that it is aware of the existence of a large number of concentration
camps between Klina, Pec and Djakovica. It also has knowledge of a
concentration camp in Studenica near Istok, and the concentration camp
Drenovac which was established by the 113th Brigade of the KLA. It also
knows the name of the man who headed these concentration camps. It is
assumed that the Albanians in Kosovo have at least a hundred locations
concentration camps to which they relocate the imprisoned Serbs as needed.
says that the existence of secret concentration camps can be
proven indirectly. If the Association of Relatives of Kidnapped Citizens
reported approximately 1,000 kidnapped persons, and there is no proof
they have been killed, then where are these people? There are no bodies,
mass graves and they are not in public prisons. A thousand people is
small number, and Kosovo is not a black hole. If they were killed, some
evidence of them would have been discovered. There is no evidence because
they are in secret prisons which we are calling concentration camps.
as an accomplice?
these concentration camps began to be established there was no clear
idea of what was to be done with these people," says Alomerovic.
"I have no way of knowing the motives behind every kidnapping or
arrest but I assume that there were many factors. Perhaps they were
imprisoned for ransom or for revenge, I cannot say. However, when the
authority of KFOR was consolidated and when the civil and military authority
of the Kosovo Albanians was consolidated, I think that the motive of
these kidnappings and imprisonment in the concentration camps became
to prepare for exchange for Albanians imprisoned in Serbian prisons.
That is probably the reason why the treatment of these people is now
better. The number of Albanians imprisoned in Serbian prisons is also
unknown. Numbers between 800 and as many as two or three thousand have
been cited. I support the exchange of the imprisoned but only on the
principle of 'everyone for everyone'."
members of kidnapped Serbs seriously accuse KFOR of either being
incompetent or lacking the desire to address the issue of concentration
can they say there are no concentration camps when they refused to
investigate even the five addresses which we gave them? I am publicly
asking KFOR why it does not investigate the addresses which we have
given them. Their reaction most resembles that of accomplices. I cannot
reaction of these authorities. They are not naive peasants. These are
armed authorities who represent the international community in Kosovo.
understand that they are in a difficult position, that they cannot figure
out our complication relations but if we report a crime to the police
it is responsible for investigating, and the police refuses to investigate
it, then it is an accomplice to the crime. If the members of a family
a kidnapping, if they say who, when, where and how their family member
kidnapped, if they say who kidnapped him, and KFOR does nothing, then
that is direct encouragement of the kidnappers," emphasizes Alomerovic.
the goal of officials in Kosovo, regardless of the organization or nation
to which they belong, is to deny or cover up the existence of concentration
camps, that is even understandable to some extent. However, it is extremely
difficult to understand why humanitarian organizations active in Serbia
doing the same thing. The statements of the spokespersons of KFOR, UNMIK,
the president of the Helsinki Committee in Kosovo and the president
of the regional Human Rights Commission in Kosovo are directly or indirectly
disputing the information provided by the Helsinki Committee in Sandzak
which has been published in both the national and foreign press.
none of these statements is phrased so as to bring into doubt any
of the facts which Sefko Alomerovic provided the International Red Cross
Committee and other international organizations, a bitter impression
because this is not an academic debate and human lives are at stake.
is strange but indicative in itself that only now has a widespread
campaign been launched to deny something which nine months ago was 'a
publicly known secret' while nothing has been done to verify the facts
I gave directly to delegates of the International Red Cross Committee
on January 20, 2000," concludes Sefko Alomerovic.
by Snezana Lazovic (April 3, 2000)
Fears in Kosovo, NATO Raids Saudi House
Apr 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) NATO forces imposed unprecedented security
around the alliance headquarters and U.S. diplomatic offices in Pristina
on Sunday amid fears that a guerrilla attack had been planned.
armed Italian carabinieri and other troops closed off streets,
searched cars and questioned civilians after raiding a house in the
occupied until last week by a Saudi Arabian relief organization.
in the house had obviously been observing our (NATO) facilities and
U.S. facilities," a NATO source told Reuters. "And they had
obviously left in a hurry."
of the Saudi charity reacted with incredulity to news of the search
of the house and poured scorn on U.S. media reports linking its staff
Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, wanted by U.S. authorities for his alleged
in bomb attacks on U.S. embassies.
don't understand this," said Faisal Alshami, assistant director
Pristina of the Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo, one of the
international aid organizations based in the Kosovo capital.
chose that house eight months ago before NATO or anyone else moved into
the area," he said, speaking at the charity's offices a couple
(kilometers) away across Pristina.
from leaving Kosovo in a hurry in the face of NATO investigations, the
charity workers who had lived there had simply moved to cheaper apartments
not far away to save money, he said.
said he had heard nothing about the affair until told about it by
one has approached us officially about this at all. We cooperate on
relief projects with KFOR (the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo)
and UNMIK (the UN administration in Kosovo)."
SOUGHT KFOR PROTECTION
charity did not even have armed guards to protect itself from repeated
burglaries in lawless Kosovo and had asked KFOR and UNMIK to provide
it with protection, without success, Alshami said.
Stars and Stripes, a newspaper run by and for the U.S. military, said
a report on the security scare that the Joint Relief Committee was suspected
on having links to Bin Laden. It said former members of the ethnic Albanian
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had staked out the charity for months and
had reported the movements of its staff to U.S. officials.
British bomb disposal team on Sunday investigated a car bearing stickers
of the Saudi charity which was parked near the Pristina offices of the
Kosovo Protection Corps, the successor organization to the KLA, witnesses
of the Saudi organization in Pristina laughed out loud at suggestions
of links to Bin Laden. "We are a group of well-known charities
the Saudi Arabian government," said one. "But people react
strangely to Saudi Arabians."
Kosovo Albanian owners of the large Pristina house searched by Italian
forces on Saturday - still flying tattered Saudi national flags - and
neighbors described the Saudi tenants as polite and unremarkable.
has been identified in the past as a possible safe haven for
anti-American guerrilla groups and has a barely-policed border with
Laden is wanted for alleged connections with the bombings of the U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 in which more than 200
people were killed.
April 4 10:19 AM SGT
Serbs live in fear and boredom in enclaves
April 4 (AFP) -
Slavica Vasic has not seen her mother for a year and
does not even know if she is still alive, although she
lives only 15 minutes from her house.
Her mother lives
outside the Serb enclave of
Plementina, where Slavica lives with her husband
Slobodan, a former shopkeeper who before the war was
"very rich", and even owned a summer house.
Now, however, the
shelves of his store are empty and
Slobodan has to fetch provisions by slipping out with
a convoy of KFOR peacekeeping troops when it leaves
from the neighbouring enclave of Priluzje and heads
north to the mining town of Kosovska Mitrovica.
"There is everything
in Mitrovica, but it's tricky
getting there," said Slobodan, who last did the
supplies run a month ago, four months after his
Slavica, 45, never
goes out. "I don't go anywhere, I
live like a prisoner. Nobody dares go out."
does not work after the line was cut a
month ago because, according to the Albanian-run post
office in nearby Obilic, they hadn't paid their phone
But the Vasics have
been too afraid to go to Obilic,
where only a handful of Serbs live, since the end of
the war last June.
Cut off from the
everyday life of Kosovo, the
thousands of Serbs living in enclaves across the
UN-administered Yugoslav province look to Serbia for
their day-to-day needs.
Pensions, as well
as the meagre salaries for doctors
and teachers, are all paid by Belgrade. The money is
normally sent to one of the province's Serbian towns,
such as the north of Mitrovica, before being
distributed to the enclaves.
The goods in the
shops come from Serbia and are priced
in dinars, the only currency used in the enclaves. The
monetary difference between the Serbs and the ethnic
Albanians, who all use German marks, makes any trade
outside the de facto ghettoes impossible.
"It would be
very difficult to get by without Serbia,"
Like hundreds of
other men in Plementina and Priluzje,
Slobodan held down a second job in the electric power
station at Obilic.
Now the ethnic Albanians
who were forced by Belgrade
from their jobs in the 1990s have returned to take up
their former posts, in their turn kicking out the
Serbs who are forced to live off subsidies paid by
"But the ethnic
Albanians don't know how to make the
power station work," said Slobodan with disdain. "We
know how to avoid fogging the place up with this smoke
that drifts all over the place."
A stone's throw
away through the smog, in Priluzje,
19-year-old Ceca Bojkovic works as a nurse in a small
She does not take
care the very sick, who are taken
under KFOR escort to the run-down hospital in northern
She hands over all
her pay of 1,000 dinars, less than
100 dollars/euros a month, to her father, a former
"He uses it
to buy the first seeds of the year for his
field," she said.
He has not worked
his land for a year, stopped by war,
winter and above all the fear of armed ethnic
But the land is
the only hope for the Serbs in the
enclaves, whose delapidated houses still have
vegetable gardens, chickens, pigs and the odd warter
Ceca is bored in
the dispensary. Before the war she
studied in Pristina and "lived like all young people
of my age." For more than a year since, she has not
left her village.
Three KFOR convoys
leave the village a week for
Mitrovica. A hundred people in five trucks, leaving at
8:00 a.m. and returning at 5:00 p.m.
the good of going to Mitrovica in these
trucks to see people who live in the same way I do?"
Sunday, 2 April,
2000, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
Kosovo gripped by racketeers
By Nicholas Wood in Kosovo
Since the end of
the war in Kosovo last year, the economy has
become increasingly black.
to cigarettes and the food, most of it involves
Police in the province
believe much of it is being controlled
by the successors of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
[ There's no doubt
some of the people we are
working with have relations with the former KLA
- Shaun Going, businessman ]
The Kukri is one
of the most successful bars in Pristina,
packed from morning to night with Albanians, members of the
international community, and even Serbs.
But its success
is proving a problem.
According to John
Foreman, the bar's British owner, some people
now want a share of its profits.
They include, he
says, members of the Kosovo Protection Corp
(KPC), the civilian force that replaced the KLA.
stopped by KPC officers, asked to pay the protection
money, and I've refused point blank," Mr Foreman says.
"I think I'm
one of the few bar owners that don't pay any
protection at all. But my staff have been intimidated and
money has been taken from my waiters. Every which way they
can they have been trying to close my business down."
According to the
United Nations police force in Kosovo,
Mr Foreman's business is just one among hundreds across
Kosovo that are being targeted by protection rackets.
Some may be the
work of random criminals. But investigators
suspect that the self-appointed government set up by the
political leader of the KLA, Hashim Thaci, after the war may
behind much of it.
More concrete evidence
of money-raising can be found in the town of
Gjilan in southeastern Kosovo.
Shops were approached
last year by so-called 'tax inspectors'
raising money for Mr Thaci's administration.
Three shop owners,
who spoke to me on condition of anonymity,
said they were all asked to make "contributions" depending
the size of their business.
the UN can collect taxes in Kosovo, work which
has only just started.
Mr Thaci's self-appointed administration has
been collecting money are strongly denied by the local mayor,
Ismail Kurteshi, who was appointed by the Thaci administration.
told you they are paying taxes, are probably lying,"
Mr Kurteshi, who shares a post with a UN administrator, says.
But, according to
UN police in Gjilan, more than $50,000 a week
is being raised and taken to Mr Thaci's ministry of finance, a
body that should have been dissolved at the end of January under
an agreement reached with the UN.
Permission to prosecute
the case has yet to be given by the UN's
There have been
cases of protection rackets run by former members
of the KLA, but this would be the first case directly linking
such activities to Mr Thaci's party.
This so-called "taxation"
is not the only way Mr Thaci's
administration are alleged to have been raising money.
At the end of the
war, the KLA and its political wing seized
control of most of the municipal authorities in Kosovo.
They then took control
of all state-controlled enterprises,
a fact Gjilan's mayor admits.
He said the reason
was to protect the buildings from being
looted by Serbs.
Nine months later,
those businesses in Gjilan and many others
throughout Kosovo remain in control of Mr Thaci's administration.
The UN administration
is currently drafting laws that will review
the ownership of companies seized by Mr Thaci's government and others.
One of the major
concerns is the petrol industry.
Every week hundreds
of tonnes of petrol and diesel are being
smuggled across Kosovo's borders.
has collected tax on some 130 million
litres of diesel and petrol, destined for Kosovo, yet the UN
administration has collected taxes on only a small proportion
Ian Fletcher a civil
servant seconded by the British Government
to the UN in Kosovo is trying make up the gap.
He is also investigating
just who controls the business.
these are much more than just entrepreneurs," Mr
"It is clear
they have access to significant working funds and
can afford to be building a very large number of petrol stations
at the moment."
In January, the
UN's Director of Economic Affairs and Natural
Resources in Kosovo, Gerard Fisher, authorised the company to
take control of 61 state-owned petrol stations in the province.
Many of these stations were already being run by other companies.
by the BBC, Mr Fisher said the decision was a
"mistake, and had been taken under pressure." He was reluctant
to give any further explanation.
The order to hand
over the petrol stations has now been rescinded.
The UN is expected
to set up a new anti-organised-crime unit in
Kosovo by the summer.
However, the confusion
over control of the petrol industry has
put a question mark over the UN's determination to deal with
industries that Mr Thaci's administration took control of last
Members of UN trade
and industry department fear their proposals
to review ownership of these companies may be significantly watered
This would leave
the Thaci family and former members of the
KLA with a significant hold over Kosovo's economy.
Serb Woman Beaten, Dragged Through Street
March 31 (AFP) - A 70-year-old Serbian woman
was dragged out of her house after being savagely beaten by unidentified
assailants, the UNs refugee agency in Kosovo said Friday.
The agency seized
on the attack as an example of the "horrific lack of
community initiative" demonstrated by the overwhelmingly ethnic
community in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren when it came to dealing
with hate crimes.
The woman was attacked
in her Prizren home before her assailants dragged
her outside and left her in the street, said Peter Kessler, spokesman
UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The woman has been taken to hospital
in Pristina where her condition is described as serious, Kessler added.
is the lack of interest from medical personnel to attend
non-Albanian patients," he said, recalling how Prizren doctors
respond to a call to help an elderly Croat man dying of a heart attack
March 22. He said that on March 21 the towns local authorities refused
remove the body of a Serb man who died of natural causes in his own
At least one vacant Serb house has been torched by arsonists every week
since the end of 1999, Kessler said, adding that Bosnian homes had also
are destroying the fabric of the Prizren region, its community
and architectural heritage," he said.
Prizren, some 50
kilometres (30 miles) south of the provincial capital
Pristina, is one of the rare historical towns left intact after the
between Kosovos ethnic Albanian majority and Serbs.
against non-Serbs in Kosovo have been commonplace
since NATO bombed Belgrade s forces out of Kosovo last June in a bid
to halt massive oppression of ethnic Albanians.
Some 240,000 non-Albanians
have fled the UN-administered Yugoslav province since then, according
to the UNHCR.
Banja Luka, Republika Srpska
Issue 102, April 5, 2000
camps in Kosovo
claims that Aljos Malja, the head of the KLA secret police, is running
concentration camps for Serbs in Kosovo. Foreigners ask who is Alomerovic
By VANJA MEKTEROVIC
AND VLADIMIR RADOMIROVIC
The question whether
anything else can possibly be sensational in increasingly chaotic Kosovo
was answered at the beginning of last week. The news that Kosovo Albanians
are keeping Serbs in concentration camps is even more sensational because
it is not coming from pro-Belgrade sources but from independent ones.
This claim was first made by the well-known human rights activist from
Novi Pazar Sefko Alomerovic, the president of the Helsinki Committee
there, a man who says of himself that he has been fighting with
the Serbian government for 12 years regarding the issue of human
Reporter that the story about the concentration camps for
Serbs is not new: As far back as September we talked about this
at a forum in Sarajevo organized by the council of Bosniac intellectuals.
We sent all the documentation to all the Helsinki Committee, I gave
an endless number of interviews on the topic and no one reacted. Now
all of a sudden everyone is denying our claims, says Alomerovic.
Documents: The president
of the Helsinki Committee of Sandzak says that the kidnapped Serbs are
located in six places in Kosovo, most frequently in boiler rooms, garages
and basements of public buildings and private houses which, immediately
following the arrival of KFOR in Kosovo, were transformed into concentration
camps. These concentration camps, which usually hold up to 50 people
are mobile and are transferred to a different location when needed.
All the concentration camps, claims Alomerovic, are run by Aljos Malja,
the head of the KLA secret police.
spoke on January 20 at 2:00 p.m. in Novi Pazar with two representatives
of the International Red Cross, Nils Melzer and Joan Verhonig (sp?).
When we asked them about concentration camps, they became excited and
stepped out of the office. Fifteen minutes later they returned and insisted
that we tell them where we got our information, says Alomerovic.
In the Belgrade office of the International Red Cross Committee, Reporter
confirmed that Melzer and Verhonig are employees of this organization
but it was not possible to obtain their statements.
that KFOR and UNMIK were advised of the discoveries of the Sandzak Helsinki
Committee, which, according to him, has people working for both
KFOR and UNMIK. He says that through the mediation of these people
it was confirmed that KFOR offices in Pristina, Pec and Kosovska Mitrovica
received materials from the Committee. These are our people. People
whom we trust, says Alomerovic. For example, they work for
security and were able to deliver the documents. They are confirmation
enough that KFOR was advised of the existence of the concentration camps.
Suzanne Manuel (sp?),
the press representative of the UN mission in Pristina, told Reporter
that no documentation from the Helsinki Committee of Sandzak came to
her: I checked with all representatives
of UNMIK and KFOR but no one has heard of such documentation.
There were reports regarding the existence of concentration camps
or prisons for Serbs and other non-Albanians in June or July of 1999
but there is no evidence of this now, says Manuel, adding that
she spoke with the command of the Italian sector which also claims
that there are no locations where Serbs are imprisoned.
Albania: In proving
the stories about the concentration camps, Alomerovic states with disappointment
that the Committee has problems on four fronts. We have problems
proving everything we claim to KFOR, UNMIK, the Serbian authorities
and the Albanians. But when the Albanians and KFOR say that this is
all Serbian propaganda, I personally dont buy it, he says
and adds: I dont know how KFOR imagines its role in Kosovo
if that is their strongest argument.
KFOR officials deny
the existence of concentration camps claiming that they control all
territory in Kosovo and that it is impossible for concentration camps
to exist somewhere without them knowing about them. Alomerovics
claims and the denials of KFOR may be reconciled by the fact that in
the northern parts of Albania there exist concentration camps for Serbs
which KFOR does not control.
With regard to this
Alomerovic says: There is information but the only fact which
we have is the statement of an Albanian who told an activist of Amnesty
International that he saw a large number of imprisoned people in Kukes
and Tropoja but that he did not know their nationality. In addition
to this, it is good to keep in mind that uncontrolled groups are constantly
crossing the border and thus territory which is controlled by KFOR.
According to the
data of the newly founded Association of Families of the Kidnapped in
Kosovo and Metohija in the territory of the province since 1998
1,200 people have been kidnapped. The president of the association,
Ranko Djinovic, said on Wednesday at a press conference in Belgrade
that 75 percent of the kidnappings occurred after the arrival of KFOR
and UNMIK. He, too, claims that kidnapped people are being kept in mobile
concentration camps located in the regions of Klina, Pec and Djakovica.
was unable to get more precise information from the government committee
for war crimes in Belgrade. As explained by judge Ilija Simic, one of
the reasons is the great fear of relatives for their kidnapped loved
ones. It is a very sensitive subject, said Simic, affirming
that the committee does have some data but not complete insight
into the documentation.
At this moment
we still cannot make a public statement of any sort. We have very bad
and serious experiences from Bosnia. As far as the kidnapped are concerned,
they are generally kept in houses, and as soon as they are found out,
they are moved. The same thing was done by Muslims in Bosnia. We have
very little information and are having a difficult time collecting more,
Jovanovic, the well-informed owner of the private detective agency Ozna
in Kragujevac, which took part in an exchange of imprisoned Serbs from
Kosovo with Albanians from prisons in Serbia, also shared his knowledge
with Reporter. He, too, believes that the majority of kidnapped
Serbs are located in concentration camps in the north of Albania which
are run by the KLA. A somewhat smaller number is located in regions
bordering with Albania and in Drenica, said Jovanovic, expressing
the fear that a negligible number of the kidnapped are still alive.
The Albanians are tired of constantly moving them from one place
to another, he said and added that some people are still
located in private jails because the Albanians are hoping that they
will be able to exchange them for their relatives who received heavy
prison sentences. However, he also cited five or six recent
cases of fraud where Serbs paid from ten to fifteen thousand marks to
free their relatives. One father paid 30,000 marks ransom for his soldier
son but he has not seen his son.
in the story of the concentration camps the two extremes are irreconcilable.
Alomerovic refuses to accept that the issue is a matter of opinion,
claiming that many foreign reporters said that everyone knew about the
existence of concentration camps in Kosovo. The concentration
camps are a secret known to all, says Alomerovic categorically.
To claim there are no concentration camps is to claim that these
people were killed. If someone accepts that a thousand people were killed,
and claims to control all territory in Kosovo, then he is claiming that
he is a possible accomplice in their murder.
* * * * * *
Rewriting of reports
I cannot either
claim nor deny that concentration camps exist because I know nothing
about it, Sonja Biserko, the president of the Helsinki Committee
of Serbia, tells Reporter. We have experience with
such information because it appeared very frequently during the war
and after the war in Bosnia. Just remember Srebrenica, said Biserko.
When asked why the
Helsinki Committee in Serbia does not know whether concentration camps
exist, Alomerovic responded that first they have to find Kosovo
on the map. Every year they rewrite their reports. Unlike our Committee,
they work in offices and organize round table discussions. This is not
a good way of keeping up with what is happening out in the field.
that her committee performed numerous interviews with Serbs and Romanies
in Kosovo and that in them there was no mention made of concentration
* * * * * *
In the office of
the International Red Cross Committee in Belgrade Reporter
was told that between January 1, 1998 to February 1, 2000 the disappearance
of 4,434 people from Kosovo was reported. The fate of 2,987 people remains
unknown. Of that number, according to the data of the International
Red Cross Committee, 346 people were kidnapped by armed Albanians.
Translated by S.
Lazovic (April 5, 2000)
April 2000 / Reuters
Cling to their "Vatican" in Western Kosovo
(Reuters) - The scene could be a medieval painting
depicting the idealized religious life. Nuns and monks tend lush,
manicured gardens beside ancient cloisters in spring sunshine at the
foot of serene mountains.
Then, beyond the
monastery garden wall, an engine roars and a shout
of abuse rings out. For the 800-year-old shrine, such interruptions
passing motorists are routine. Sometimes the shouts are accompanied
by rocks hurled over the wall.
The Monastery of
the Pec Patriarchate, holiest center of the Serb
Orthodox faith, lies at the edge of western Kosovo in one of the most
bloodstained areas of the province. Almost all of the 20,000 Serbs of
Pec have fled, fearing revenge by local Albanians in retaliation for
massacres committed in the area by Serb forces before and during the
NATO bombing last year.
If it were not for
Italian NATO troops zealously guarding the
monastery gates, the clergy and a dozen mostly elderly Serbs who have
taken refuge there might not live long.
"This is the
center of our faith but no Serb now dares come here. I ask
the Italian soldiers: How would you feel if you Italians were the only
people in the world who could not go to the Vatican?" asked the
Petar Ulemek, a resident.
Across Kosovo, Serb
Orthodox churches have borne the brunt of
vengeance by ethnic Albanians, mostly Muslims. Several were reduced
to rubble by explosives and dozens vandalized or gutted by fire in the
first months after the occupation of Kosovo by NATO-led
peacekeepers last summer, when the protection of remote rural
churches was low on the list of priorities in the reconstruction of
Serb clergy say
more than 70 churches have been attacked, and
priceless icons and frescoes dating from the golden age of the medieval
Serb Orthodox church destroyed. Saying graffiti on vandalized walls
proves the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army is involved, they allege
there is a concerted attempt to wipe out all trace of the Serbs' cultural
history in Kosovo.
Such churches, especially
in the west of Kosovo, seem unlikely to
return to religious activity in the near future, if ever. Those that
are, like the Pec monastery, under siege and intact only because they
are protected by peacekeeping troops. The historic Orthodox church at
Gracanica near Pristina, attacked repeatedly last year, has its own
military watchtowers, sandbags and barbed wire fortifications.
In the troubled
north Kosovo city of Mitrovica, divided between Serb
and Albanian areas, the main Orthodox church is in the Albanian
section. Serbs dare not travel there so priests climb into a French
armored vehicle each Sunday to be taken under guard to a smaller
church where they hold services.
The priests spend
the rest of the week confined to the church
compound, guarded by peacekeepers.
The Mitrovica and
Gracanica areas still have enclaves that shelter tens
of thousands of Serbs, but western Kosovo, which saw some of the
most brutal attacks on ethnic Albanians, is now almost entirely cleared
Most of the Serbs
have fled elsewhere in Serbia or to neighboring
Montenegro, while a handful have taken refuge in surviving churches
in towns like Pec and Prizren in Kosovo.
Some who remain
are elderly people unwilling to leave Kosovo after a
lifetime there, but others ironically are among the most recent arrivals
in the province.
71, said he had been living in the Pec monastery
since June, when he and his wife fled there after returning Albanians
threatened their lives. They and five other Serbs in the monastery come
from the Krajina region of Croatia, cleared of Serbs when it was
recaptured by Croatians in 1995.
Anxious to bolster
the dwindling Serb minority in Kosovo in the
1990s, Serbian authorities sent thousands of refugees like Matejevic
from other war zones in former Yugoslavia. "I didn't ask to come
the police just said go," said Matejevic.
Nearly a decade
after they left their home town in Croatia, he and his
wife are preparing to return with the help of the U.N. refugee agency
after a political thaw in Zagreb that has encouraged ethnic
NO SIGN OF FORGIVENESS
Any such thaw seems
a long way off in western Kosovo.
"I cannot imagine
how Serbs can think of coming back here," said
Hezir Jahmurataj, village leader in Ljubenic, near the Pec monastery.
Some 80 ethnic Albanian villagers were lined up and shot by Serb
forces there a year ago, one week after NATO launched its bombing,
according to witnesses.
more Albanians killed in the massacre than there were
ever Serbs living here," he said. "I don't think anybody in
could allow these people back."
the grief and anger of local Albanians. "The
crimes committed by the Serb army, paramilitaries and police have led
Albanians to destroy Orthodox churches," the priest said.
recall how the area around the monastery was a camp
for Yugoslav special forces blamed for killings of Albanian civilians
1998. "But no church people were involved in these atrocities,"
"A big effort
should be made by clearheaded Albanians and Serbs to
distinguish between the guilty and the innocent."
The government of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has few
supporters among Kosovo's Orthodox clergy, many of whom trace the
plight of the church to the takeover of power after World War II by
Milosevic's Communist predecessors.
The Communists both
persecuted the church and played off ethnic
groups against one another, intensifying the eventual explosion of
ethnic hatred in Kosovo, they say. "The current situation is just
continuation of this," Ulemek said.
He said local Serb
clergy, ethnic Albanian leaders and officials from
the U.N. and the NATO-led peacekeeping force held regular meetings.
There is growing international pressure to bring back some of the tens
of thousands of Serbs who fled in order to keep Kosovo from
becoming an Albanians-only zone after a war fought to protect ethnic
But even a round-the-clock
watch by Italian sentries on the Pec
monastery cannot stop rocks from coming over the wall of the Serb
"Vatican" and the peacekeeping forces insist they cannot act
bodyguards for the entire Serb minority population of Kosovo,
believed now to number no more than 100,000 out of a population of
less than 2 million.
"We are continually
talking about the return of Serbs," Ulemek said.
"But if people came back now they would not be safe."
Kosovo Daily News
are Targeted by Albanians in New Kosovo
April 5 2000
On Monday, as on
every other day, Metodije Halauska showed up in the morning at the Center
for Peace and Tolerance in Pristina. Mr. Halauska is 86 years old, but
still very strong and mobile for his age. He came to pick up newspapers
and fresh food as humanitarian assistance from the CPT. He chatted with
his friends and left the Center's office a bit after 10am. The very
same day, in the afternoon, his corpse was found in Grmija, a park and
excursion site near Pristina. He was shot in the back of the head.
Previously, he had
been beaten and had internal bleeding. He was dragged out of an apartment
in the center of Pristina, barefoot and probably wrapped in two blankets,
unconscious, by 5-6 persons who carried him to Grmija where he was murdered.
His body was identified earlier today, Wednesday.
is of Czech nationality. He is not a Serb, to be killed,
nor an Albanian to be spared. Yes, he spoke Serbian and above all felt
Yugoslav. Whom did grandpa Metodije harm? Did he kill or attack someone?
Perhaps, he was a war criminal???
But grandpa Metodije
owned a large apartment. He refused to move out the
apartment even after numerous threats, attacks, break-ins and robberies.
No one has moved into his apartment so far. They did not steal his dinars,
because they are worthless in Pristina. But they did kill him because
they did not like the language he used.
The killing of innocent
and really innocent people goes on. Can anyone hear how people in Pristina,
Kosovo, live? Especially Serbs who celebrate every new day. Does anyone
want to hear and see the suffering of a people which has been assisted
by the whole world?
We were bombed because
we violated human rights, they say. Those who bombed apparently did
that out of their respect for human rights. Where are they now? Please,
send us at least one of those human rights activists, so that we can
treat him with the murder of our grandpa Metodije!
I am a Serb and
they want to disconnect my e-mail account because I write in
Serbian in Kosovo! We are forced to use all sorts of languages, apart
Serbian. We do not dare leave our apartments and houses without escort,
while KFOR and the Police check on us periodically. No one can go to
a store, restaurant, café, let alone to a church or cemetery.
We are not allowed to pray for the living, nor to mourn our dead.
If someone gets
this message, the remaining Serbs in Kosovo beg you to forward it. Let
the world know that out of 20,972 Serbs in Pristina before the war,
about 300 remain, and that grandpa Metodije is gone.
The author of the letter is one of the staffers at the CPT office in
His or her name is withheld for obvious reasons.
Serbs divided in defeat
By Andrew Roche
GRACANICA MONASTERY, Yugoslavia, April 9
(Reuters) - NATO
sentries guard this cradle of the Serb Orthodox faith,
fearing attacks on the monastery not by vengeful Kosovo Albanians but
Serbs who call their fellow-Serbs inside traitors.
Many of the 100,000
or so Serbs who hung on in Kosovo rather than flee after last year's
war live in besieged enclaves surrounded by bitter enemies.
Behind the barbed wire, they are bitterly divided among themselves.
The deepening rift
in the Serbs' ranks is between those bent on obstinate
defiance of NATO and U.N. rule in Kosovo and those who insist it is
begin cooperating with the international community and the ethnic Albanian
When the compromisers
based at Gracanica Monastery opted last week to end their boycott of
the U.N. interim administrative council (IAC) for Kosovo and send observers
to meetings for a trial period, simmering rivalries boiled
troops, used to guarding the edge of the Serb enclave of Gracanica against
Albanian attacks, were needed instead in the centre of town after demonstrations
and even threats by some Serbs to burn the 14th century shrine.
A Swedish patrol
shot a supporter of the hardline faction in the leg on
Thursday after warning shots failed to disperse a crowd brandishing
tools near the monastery.
NATO troops patrolled
the town in force on the weekend and announced
demonstrations were banned unless permission was obtained 72 hours in
Parked in the back
yard of the historic Serb monastery were armoured vehicles of the alliance
which bombed the Serbs into submission a year ago. ``This is an embarrassing
thing,'' admitted Father Sava Janjic, an Orthodox priest and one of
the compromisers advocating Serb cooperation with the U.N.
``But it is important
to have protection, not from the Serbian people but
from people who may inflict damage on the monastery and the dignity
According to the
moderate faction, the rallies by hardliners in Gracanica and
other Serb areas are orchestrated by the regime of Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic, able to manipulate and provoke conflict in Kosovo
``He presses the
button and they shout,'' Janjic said. As for the hardliners'
accusation that Janjic and other members of Kosovo's Serb National Council
are ``traitors'' to the Serb cause, he said: ``That is the word they
use for people who oppose Milosevic.''
The moderates insist
the dwindling Serb communities in Kosovo can only
survive if they work with international authorities and moderate Albanians.
But the trial participation in the IAC, to begin on Tuesday, will end
three months unless progress is made on satisfying key Serb demands.
They include measures
to ease the isolation of Serbs living in ethnic islands
surrounded by a sea of Albanian hostility. The Serbs want more NATO
watchtowers to guard their homes, more escorted convoys between Serb
settlements and even new roads built to bypass Albanian areas, in which
Serb travellers currently risk being spontaneously lynched.
MANY SERBS DEFIANT
Serbs quit multi-ethnic
bodies last September, complaining international
authorities were failing to protect them.
on NATO troops and U.N. police for protection from what
without them would be an orgy of violent revenge for past Serb atrocities,
many Serbs talk of the international authorities as no more than an
``How can we cooperate
with people who dropped bombs on our homes and killed our people?''
asked one middle-aged farmer at a hardliners' gathering in Gracanica.
of the strife-torn city of Mitrovica and surrounding areas of
northern Kosovo have voted to continue their boycott of the IAC.
Rioting and gunbattles
have flared several times in Mitrovica over the past
couple of months, partly over attempts by peacekeeping troops to break
down the separation of the city into Serb and Albanian-dominated areas.
the northern Kosovo Serbs can afford to ignore international authorities.
Their areas are adjacent to Serbia proper and so they can travel relatively
freely, spared the claustrophobic imprisonment of communities like Gracanica.
Mitrovica Serb leader
Oliver Ivanovic attacked Janjic and other moderates for moving closer
to the U.N. administration.
``History will condemn
them for this move,'' the Yugoslav state news agency
Tanjug quoted Ivanovic as saying. ``Over 90 percent of the Serb population
does not agree with them. They are doing what the international community
is asking them to do, rather than what the Serb community requires of
activist, Zdravko Trajkovic, called the moderates' move a
``moral degradation and treacherous decision.''
The hardliners argue
that the moderates are collaborating in a process that
will lead ultimately to independence for Kosovo and no future there
last of its Serbs. Serb groups say some 200,000 have left postwar Kosovo.
Janjic said the
best hope for Serbs lay in the rule of law and democratic
institutions envisaged by the international administration. ``If the
obstruct the political process then an independent Kosovo is inevitable.
won't be be possible for Serbs to live here if they are at war with
entire world,'' he said.
Serbs Decry Extremists
By Alison Mutler
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, April 8, 2000; 5:00 p.m. EDT
-- Promising not to give in to extremist
factions, moderate Serbs said Saturday they would stick by their decision
to participate in the U.N.-led administration - despite tensions over
shooting of a Serb outside a monastery.
allow extremists to dictate the way the political process will
go," said Father Sava Janjic, a spokesman for the group. He said
dwindling Serb population in the province was being manipulated by
factions loyal to President Slobodan Milosevic in the Yugoslav capital,
desire of the international community to have
Western-minded Serb moderates in the U.N. administrative council, Gen.
Klaus Reinhardt, the commander of the NATO-led peacekeeping force,
met with Janjic and other Serb moderates at the monastery, five miles
from the provincial capital of Pristina.
Patrols of the centuries-old
Orthodox monastery grounds were stepped
up before the visit, but a planned rally by local Serb radicals failed
"We need to
concentrate on building democratic institutes in Kosovo,"
Janjic said, adding that the radical Serbs in the province "had
no vision ...
and are not ready to take any kind of responsibility."
Moderate Serbs will
join ethnic Albanians and the top U.N. official,
Bernard Kouchner, on Wednesday as observers to the council. After
three months, they will decide whether to be full members of the council.
the Serb factions mounted Thursday after clashes
broke out near the monastery. Serb farmers, wielding axes and pitchforks,
tried to storm the monastery to protest the moderate Serbs' decision
take part in the U.N administration.
A 60-year-old farmer
who lunged toward soldiers with an ax was shot in
the leg by a Swedish peacekeeper.
The dwindling Serb
community - an estimated 100,000 - fears attacks by
ethnic Albanians seeking revenge for Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic's decade-long campaign of repression and an 18-month
crackdown on militants. The campaign ended after NATO troops swept
into the province after a 78-day air war.
The conflict over
whether to work with U.N. officials and ethnic Albanians
in administering the province has exposed deep rifts between Serbs willing
to cooperate with the West and those who see their future with
Milosevic's government in Belgrade.
10, 1:08 PM
Kosovo murder rate jumps, minorities targeted
(Reuters) - Kosovo's
international administration has noted an increase in
violent killings, with most of the victims members of
been a surge in violence in the past
several days," Susan Manuel, a spokeswoman for the
United Nations-led administration, said. "We've had
five murders since Thursday and this makes ten
altogether for the past week."
Four Serbs and four
Roma Gypsies were among the ten
murder victims, Manuel told a news briefing in
Pristina. The latest total compared with three murders
reported the previous week.
Since the U.N. and
NATO-led peacekeepers took over
responsibility for Kosovo last June, the Yugoslav
province has been plagued by violence against minority
who account for more than 90 percent
of Kosovo's 1.5 million adult population, have
attacked Serbs and members of other minorities whom
they view as collaborators during years of Serb
have been keen to stress
progress made in cutting the murder total which was
running at more than 50 per week at the start of the
Kosovo peacekeeping operation.
Some have also expressed
the fear, however, that
violence would rise again with the end of winter.
Manuel said the
province now had 2,886 international
police officers. Administration officials regularly
complain U.N. member states have still not supplied
enough officers to bring the force even close to its
authorised size of more than 4,700.
BLIC, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
April 11, 2000
UN mission spokesman
said that ten persons were killed last week; victims were not Albanians
The new wave of violence
Susan Manuel, and the UN mission spokesman said that ten persons were
killed in Kosovo during last week. She added that the victims of violence
were not Albanians. According to the
UNMIK police, four Serbs were killed, four Gypsies, one Albanian, and
one more person, whose indentity is still unknown.
Susan Manuel said
that 18 persons were arrested in that period, four of whom are suspected
She said that the
UNMIK police identified the person found murdered on the road leading
to Grmija, a settlement in Pristina, on 3rd April. It was Metodije Haleuska,
an inhabitant of Pristina. The
investigation discovered that he had been beaten first, then killed
by a bullet fired from a gun. His hands had been tied behind the back.
the KFOR spokesman, said that yesterday in Pec, a group of men beat
a 70 years old woman believing that she was a Serb. The beaten woman
is a Moslem, Philip added.
According to his
words, two days ago two bombs were discovered in a deserted house in
the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica, while a pistol and some ammunition
were confiscated in Podujevo.
Philip said that
a person was wounded in a firing in Mitrovica, two days ago. The wounded
man, whose nationality the KFOR spokesman did not mention, was taken
to the military hospital of Morocco
KFOR soldiers, in the southern part of the town. He added that concerning
this case, five Albanians were arrested and given to the UNMIK police.
Susan Manuel said
that 29 anti-tank mines were stolen after a non-govrnment organizztion
for mine removing had discovered a minefield.
Reporter, Banja Luka, Republika Srpska
Issue 103, April 12, 2000
camps in Kosovo (2)
Testimony of relatives of missing persons
What little hope
By VELIBORKA STALETOVIC
claim that Kosovo Albanians are maintaining
concentration camps for Serbs which was first launched by Sefko
Alomerovic, the well-know fighter for human rights from Novi Pazar
and the president of the Helsinki Committee there, is also
supported by the families and friends of the kidnapped organized
by the Association of Families of Kidnapped Persons in Kosovo and
Metohija. According to their data, in the period from 1998 to this
year, in the territory which is today controlled by members of
KFOR, 1,200 civilians have disappeared. Of the total number of
kidnapped persons, 20 percent were kidnapped prior to the NATO
aggression against FRY, five percent during the aggression, and 25
percent after the deployment of international forces in Kosovo
(KFOR). In this issue of "Reporter", we feature testimony
witnesses of kidnappings in Kosovska Vitina, Dragas, Orahovac and
hospital: Dragan Jacic from Kosovska Vitina,
the son of the missing Kosta: "Last year, on July 17, someone
opened fire from our neighbor's house onto our house and my father
was wounded literally on the threshold of the house. He was in the
house with my mother. He received first aid from the American
contingent of KFOR. He was laying on the bed, in a conscious
state, and he knew who shot at him. Approximately ten minutes
after he was wounded, a KFOR helicopter arrived and transported my
father into a field hospital in the American base 'Bondsteel'. The
next day my mother asked to visit him to see how he was doing. We
knew he wasn't in critical condition, even though he had been shot
in the stomach. He was a strong man and he was never ill. After
three days, the only opportunity to see him was offered to us by a
doctor working in that hospital. He saw him and talked with him.
My father asked him whether his wife was still alive and what had
happened to the house. That is the last information we received
because after that my father went missing. Last year on August 28
I went to Pristina to the International Committee of the Red Cross
to see about my father. At that time I was advised that KFOR
soldiers never received such a person. How he disappeared from the
hospital, where he was transferred, only they can know. No one
else. Only the KFOR troops. Later we received information that he
was buried in Kosovo Polje but that is not correct because another
person was buried there. The Shiptars who live in Vitina
telephoned me and asked me about my father. They know he is alive,
too, but no one knows where he is. As of today we know nothing
about him. We have gone to ICRC and to all the government and
non-government organizations. We received no help from them in
shedding light on this case. People are simply amazed that a man
could disappear from a hospital. Do you understand? I am prepared
to accept anything, even that he is deceased, but we must have the
Slaughter and packing:
Sadula Fatmir, a Gorani from Dragas, the
son of the missing Faridin: "For almost nine months I have no news
about my father. He was kidnapped last year, on July 15, at 9:00
a.m. He was 69 years old. We lived for 30 years in Decani, in a
small community of 25 houses, and we did everything we could for
the Shiptars. When they returned, their fury was most felt by the
Goranis and especially by the Romanies: they set our community on
fire, they kidnapped my father and set my house on fire. My father
was kidnapped by Naser Ljimani and Sacir Smaljaj. They came with
semi-automatic rifles and said to my father: 'In Pec, we slaughter
the Bosniacs, pack them into sacks and toss them.' My mother went
to file a report with KFOR troops regarding the disappearance of
my father but they told her: 'What are you doing here if you are
not an Albanian?' After they set our house on fire, I and my
family took refuge in the monastery of High Decani [Visoki
Decani]. We were there for approximately twenty days; during the
NATO bombing, Albanians took refuge there as well, 159 of them.
They were the well-known Albanians of Decani: professors,
teachers, directors. One of them was Jusuf Demukaj, a professor of
Albanian language, and also Bajram Januzi, a professor at the
University of Pristina, and his wife. These people, too,
threatened my father and all of us who were in that monastery."
confirmation: Jelica Grkovic from Orahovac, the
wife of the kidnapped Svetislav:
We lived in Svetosavska
Street number 28, in the Albanian part of
Orahovac. Stevislav was kidnapped on June 16, 1999. Two of them
came to the door, armed, bearing the insignia of the KLA, and they
told me to call my husband. So I called Sveto [short form of
Svetislav]. 'They say to give up your firearms,' I told him. Sveto
went right away and gave them all of our firearms, what he and my
son were given by the state authorities. He said to them: 'Give me
a receipt so that I am covered when someone else comes, so that
they do not ask for arms again.' They told him that they do give
receipts, to get in the car and that they would give him one
later. When I went to the door, I saw two more of them from our
street. I never dreamed that they would be capable of doing this
to my husband. They crowded them into the car and drove them away.
I know two of them; one of them is called Muhamed Uksini, and the
second is our neighbor Afrim Balju, who was the driver. In the
Shiptar language they said that Sveta was the father of Dr. Zvonko
and that no harm would befall him. My son Zvonko, who is deceased,
was a physician in Pristina and he helped all the Albanians."
"'You go home,'
they told me. I returned home alone. My husband
never returned. I told the KFOR troops that he did not return,
that he was kidnapped. On St. Vitus Day [Vidovdan], June 28, they
looted and set on fire both houses. I left in the clothes on my
back and in my slippers. I left behind everything my husband and I
worked for. My daughter-in-law, grandchild and myself are left.
Even today I wonder if my husband is dead or alive. I never saw my
husband dead and I did not have the chance to bury him."
Dusko Blagojevic, the father of five
children and the son of the kidnapped Srecko: "That night, at
midnight, July 2, the commander of the KLA headquarters Sami
Vehapi, who lives in the village of Ljubizda, came with three
others in uniform. They were armed with semi-automatic rifles.
They entered the house and asked for my father to take him to
headquarters for examination. They took him away but at about 2:00
a.m. they were pounding on the door again. We thought they were
returning my father but they broke in to take me away, as well. It
was the same group, that Sami Vehapi. I ran away and hid. They
turned everything upside down: the bed, the wardrobes, room by
room, the bedroom where my children slept, all five of them. The
children were crying. "Shut up, you Serbian bastards, we will kill
you all,' they said. They looked for me until 5:00 a.m. but they
did not find me."
they began to mistreat my mother and wife. My mother
hid something in her brassiere: they took 3,000 German marks from
her, they took some money from my wife, as well, they asked for an
automobile. Until July 9 we hoped that we would stay. My mother
sought help to free my father but none of our neighbors wanted to
help. The next day, July 10, KFOR troops took us to Bogoslavija in
Prizren. I found out that my father was alive. They sent me a
message that they would not release him if the others were not
released, as well. They don't want my father to testify about the
concentration camps. I am waiting and hoping, what else can I do."
* * * * *
Guards with skull
"We spent eight
months in Bogoslovija. It was a real "Auschwitz".
Bogoslovija was surrounded by barbed wire. We did not go outside.
There were thirty of us, Muslims, Romanies, Serbs. The high
commissioner for refugees of the UN (UNHCR) supplied food but
nothing else that is necessary to live. Whoever wanted to could
enter Bogoslovija, including the Shiptars," Dusko Blagojevic tells
would come, take off their caps, hang them in a tree
and enter. They would note who was inside. I was afraid until the
end that I would be kidnapped myself because there were many cases
of false representation where they would allegedly claim to
represent some organization or other. People were disappearing
even though KFOR was securing the area around Bogoslovija. In
October of last month, when KFOR troops were rotated, when the
German troops were leaving, we went to say goodbye to those who
had protected us, suddenly all of these people who were entering
were putting white caps on their head. I crossed myself, thinking,
dear God, is it possible that we were protected by the Shiptars?
They could have killed us all."
Translated by Snezana
Lazovic (April 12, 2000)
Muslim and Serbian Orthodox leaders form joint council
April 13 (AFP) - Kosovo's Muslim and Serbian
Orthodox leaders Thursday founded an inter-religious council, using
occasion to condemn all human rights abuses in the strife-torn province
and pledging greater cooperation.
Led by Bishop Artemije, head of the province's Serb National
Council, and Mufti Rexhep Boja, president of the Islamic Community in
Kosovo, the new Inter-religious Council of Kosovo also pledged to
rebuild religious buildings in the devatsted province.
The move was announced at the end of a visit by religious leaders
from Bosnia, who shared their experiences of post-war confidence-building
among religious communities.
"With one voice we once again strongly condemn all acts of violence
and all violations of basic human rights," the new council said
"The acts that have happened and continue to happen against
innocent persons are evil and cannot be condoned in any way by any of
our repsective religions traditions," it added.
The UN-administered province has been rocked by revenge attacks on
Serbs and other minority groups since NATO-led peacekeepers replaced
Yugoslav forces responsible for massive repression of the ethnic
The council also called on the international community to "work
harder on finding and resolving the situation of all prisoners, missing
and abducted persons whose unknown fate remains one of the deepest
wounds of our recent tragic events."
Ethnic Albanians say there are thousands of their fellows still
missing in Serb jails, while many Serb leaders have accused former
ethnic Albanian rebels of kidnapping or killing hundreds of Serbs since
the war ended last June.
Story from AFP
Copyright 2000 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)
April 14, 2000
LANGUISH IN KOSOVO JAILS
Human rights activists
accuse KFOR of being a silent accomplice to the
imprisonment of scores of Kosovo Serb civilians
By Miroslav Filipovic.
Scores of Kosovo
Serb civilians abducted by local Albanians are being held
in a number of small prisons across the province, a local branch of
international human rights organization, the Helsinki Committee has
The prisons, the
exact number of which is unknown, are run by the Kosovo
Protection Force, according to Committee officials. Captives, they say,
been badly treated - some are known to have died after being tortured.
Members of a branch
of the Helsinki Committee in the predominantly Muslim Sandzak region,
straddling the border between Montenegro and Serbia, recently visited
five such prisons - in Dobra Voda, Peja, Djackovica,
Studenica and Drenovac - where around 142 Serbs were being held.
"At the beginning
the treatment of the prisoners was terrible - now
conditions are much better because captives are being prepared for exchanges
with the Albanians in Serbian prison, " said the president of the
Sandzak Helsinki Committee President, Sefko Alomerovic.
There are also reports
of Serbs and Albanians being held in prisons in
northern Albania. "There were two camps. One in Kukes and the other
Tropoja. While I was there I saw many people who were not Albanians.
weren't allowed to make contact with them, but they could only be Serbs,"
one former Albanian detainee told Amnesty International.
The Helsinki Committee
has passed on its research to KFOR, but its apparent failure to launch
a full investigation into the findings has prompted
Alomerovic to accuse the alliance of being a silent accomplice to Serb
imprisonment. He claims that immediately after KFOR was notified of
camp locations, the prisoners were moved to other sites.
The Helsinki Committee's
discovery follows growing concern over the
whereabouts of hundreds of local Serbs who have been kidnapped by Kosovo
Liberation Army, UCK, fighters.
In January, a Belgrade-based
association representing the families of
abducted Serbs gave Alomerovic a file containing a list of nearly 500
kidnapped Serbs with comprehensive details of their abductions. The
association says it is also looking into the disappearance of a further
The kidnapping of
Kosovo Serbs began almost two years ago, coinciding with
the increase in UCK guerrillas activity in the province.
According to the
independent Belgrade-based human rights group, the
Humanitarian Law Centre, UCK fighters set up checkpoints in areas they
controlled, stopping buses in search of Serb security officials - around
people were seized. Most of them, however, were civilians.
The Albanian militants
also employed kidnapping as an instrument of terror,
abducting Serb villagers and threatening their neighbours with a similar
fate unless they abandoned their homes.
Law Centre says many of the kidnap victims were held in UCK run prisons,
and interviews with former detainees revealed that inmates were regularly
Following the arrival
of NATO, kidnapping continued to be used to terrorise
Serbs into leaving their homes but increasingly abductions have been
out with a view to exchanging capitives for Albanians held in Serbia
Estimates of the
number of Kosovo Albanians imprisoned by the Serbs range
from 2,000 to 3,000. They include combatants and many civilians, including
some reportedly snatched as Serb forces left the province a year ago.
Many of the inmates
are maltreated, have no idea what charges they face and are denied access
Under the terms
of the Geneva Convention, all prisoners of war should have
been released once the Kosovo war came to an end. The Yugoslav authorities
argue that the treaty does not apply because the conflict was internal
rather than international.
The West challenges
this, yet when the NATO signed the Kumanovo agreement with the Yugoslav
Army prior to its departure from Kosovo, they left the issue of prisoner
releases off the document.
As a result, international
agencies find themselves operating in a grey
area. The ICRC, for example, argues that even though it visits Albanians
detained in Serb jails, it cannot advocate their release because Kosovo
still technically part of Yugoslavia, not a foreign state.
There have been
some prisoner exchanges since the end of the conflict, but
the vast majority of detainees appear to have little hope of early release.
As a result, some
families of detained Serbs and Albanians have tried to
arrange exchanges privately through well-connected friends or by bribing
officials. Some have even employed a Serbian detective agency. (See
BCR No. 118 - Detective Offers Kosovo PoW Hope)
there are cases of Serbian lawyers ransoming their
clients to their families back in Kosovo. And in Podujevo, close to
provincial border with Serbia, and unofficial "prisoner market"
is said to
is a regular IWPR contributor based in Kraljevo.