NATO HAS INSTALLED A REIGN OF TERROR IN KOSOVO
MASSACRES OF CIVILIANS
While the World focuses on troop movements and war crimes, the massacres of civilians in the wake of the bombings have been casually dismissed as "justifiable acts of revenge". In occupied Kosovo, "double standards" prevail in assessing alleged war crimes. The massacres directed against Serbs, ethnic Albanians, Roma and other ethnic groups have been conducted on the instructions of the military command of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
Yet because NATO ostensibly denies KLA involvement, these so-called "unmotivated acts of violence and retaliation" are not categorized as "war crimes" and are therefore not included in the mandate of the numerous FBI and Interpol police investigators dispatched to Kosovo under the auspices of the Hague War Crime's Tribunal (ICTY). Moreover, whereas NATO has tacitly endorsed the self-proclaimed KLA provisional government, KFOR --the international security force in Kosovo-- has provided protection to the KLA military commanders responsible for the atrocities. In so doing both NATO and the UN Mission have acquiesced to the massacres of civilians.
In turn, public opinion has been blatantly misled. In portraying the massacres, the Western media has casually overlooked the role of the KLA, not to mention its pervasive links to organized crime. In the words of National Security Advisor Samuel Berger, "these people [ethnic Albanians] come back ... with broken hearts and with some of those hearts filled with anger" 1. While the massacres are seldom presented as the result of "deliberate decisions" by the KLA military command, the evidence (and history of the KLA) amply confirm that these atrocities are part of a policy of "ethnic cleansing" directed mainly against the Serb population but also against the Roma, Montenegrins, Goranis and Turks:
Serbian houses and business have been confiscated, looted, or burned, and Serbs have been beaten, raped, and killed.
In one of the more dramatic of incidents, KLA troops ransacked a monastery, terrorized the priest and a group of nuns with gunfire, and raped at least one of the nuns.
NATO's inability to control the situation and provide equal protection for all ethnic groups, and its apparent inability or unwillingness to fully disarm the KLA, has created a serious situation for NATO troops...2
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), confirms in this regard that:
"more than 164,000 Serbs have left Kosovo during the seven weeks since... the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) entered the province... A wave of arson and looting of Serb and Roma homes throughout Kosovo has ensued. Serbs and Roma remaining in Kosovo have been subject to repeated incidents of harassment and intimidation, including severe beatings. Most seriously, there has been a spate of murders and abductions of Serbs since mid-June, including the late July massacre of Serb farmers" 3.
Under NATO's regency, the KLA has also ordered assassinations directed against political opponents including "loyalist" ethnic Albanians and supporters of the Kosovo Democratic League (KDL).
These acts --ordered by the self-proclaimed Provisional Government of Kosovo (PGK)-- are being carried out in a totally permissive environment. The leaders of the KLA rather than being arrested for war crimes, have been granted KFOR protection.
According to a report of the Foreign Policy Institute (published during the bombings):
"...the KLA have [no] qualms about murdering Rugova's collaborators, whom it accused of the "crime" of moderation... [T]he KLA declared Rugova a "traitor" - yet another step toward eliminating any competitors for political power within Kosovo."4
Already in May, Fehmi Agani, one of Rugova's closest collaborators in the Kosovo Democratic League (KDL) was killed. The Serbs were blamed by NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea for having assassinated Agani. According to Skopje's paper Makedonija Danas, Agani had been executed on the orders of the KLA's self-appointed Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.5 "If Thaci actually considered Rugova a threat, he would not hesitate to have Rugova removed from the Kosovo political landscape."6
In turn, the KLA has abducted and killed numerous professionals and intellectuals:
"Private and State properties are threatened, home-and apartment-owners are evicted en masse by force and threats, houses and entire villages are burned, cultural and religious monuments are destroyed... A particularly heavy blow... has been the violence against the hospital centre in Pristina, the maltreatment and expulsion of its professional management, doctors and medical staff."7
Both NATO and the UN prefer to turn a blind eye. UN Interim Administrator Bernard Kouchner (a former French Minister of Health) and KFOR Commander Sir Mike Jackson have established a routine working relationship with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and KLA Chief of Staff Brigadier General Agim Ceku.
ATROCITIES COMMITTED AGAINST THE ROMA
Ethnic cleansing has also been directed against the Roma (which represented prior to the conflict a population group of 150,000 people). (According to figures provided by the Roma Community in New York). A large part of the Roma population has already escaped to Montenegro and Serbia. In turn, there are reports that Roma refugees --who had fled by boat to Southern Italy-- have been expelled by the Italian authorities.8 The KLA has also ordered the systematic looting and torching of Romani homes and settlements:
"All houses and settlements of Romani, like 2,500 homes in the residential area called 'Mahala" in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, have been looted and burnt down".9
With regard to KLA atrocities committed against the Roma, the same media distortions prevail. According to the BBC: "Gypsies are accused by [Kosovar] Albanians of collaborating in Serb brutalities, which is why they've also become victims of revenge attacks. And the truth is, some probably did." 10
INSTALLING A PARAMILITARY GOVERNMENT
As Western leaders trumpet their support for democracy, State terrorism in Kosovo has become an integral part of NATO's post-war design. The KLA's political role for the post-conflict period had been mapped out well in advance. Prior to the Rambouillet Conference, the KLA had been promised a central role in the formation of a post-conflict government. The "hidden agenda" consisted in converting the KLA paramilitary into a legitimate and accomplished civilian administration. According to US State Department spokesman James Foley (February 1999):
"We want to develop a good relationship with them [the KLA] as they transform themselves into a politically-oriented organization, ...[W]e believe that we have a lot of advice and a lot of help that we can provide to them if they become precisely the kind of political actor we would like to see them become.'"11
In other words, Washington had already slated the KLA "provisional government" (PGK) to run civilian State institutions. Under NATO's "Indirect Rule", the KLA has taken over municipal governments and public services including schools and hospitals. Rame Buja, the KLA "Minister for Local Administration" has appointed local prefects in 23 out of 25 municipalities.12
Under NATO's regency, the KLA has replaced the duly elected (by ethnic Albanians) provisional Kosovar government of President Ibrahim Rugova. The self-proclaimed KLA administration has branded Rugova as a traitor declaring the (parallel) Kosovar parliamentary elections held in March 1998 to be invalid. This position has largely been upheld by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) entrusted by UNMIK with the post-war task of "democracy _building" and "good governance". In turn, OSCE officials have already established a working rapport with KLA appointees.13
The KLA provisional government (PGK) is made up of the KLA's political wing together with the Democratic Union Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties opposed to Rugova's Democratic League (LDK). In addition to the position of prime minister, the KLA controls the ministries of finance, public order and defense. The KLA has a controlling voice on the UN sponsored Kosovo Transitional Council set up by Mr. Bernard Kouchner. The PGK has also established links with a number of Western governments.
Whereas the KLA has been spearheaded into running civilian institutions (under the guidance of the OSCE), members of the duly elected Kosovar (provisional) government of the Democratic League (DKL) have been blatantly excluded from acquiring a meaningful political voice.
ESTABLISHING A KLA POLICE FORCE TO "PROTECT CIVILIANS"
Under NATO occupation, the rule of law has visibly been turned up side down. Criminals and terrorists are to become law-enforcement officers. KLA troops --which have already taken over police stations-- will eventually form a 4,000 strong "civilian" police force (to be trained by foreign police officers under the authority of the United Nations) with a mandate to "protect civilians". Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has already pledged Canadian support to the formation of a civilian police force.14 The latter --which has been entrusted to the OSCE- will eventually operate under the jurisdiction of the KLA controlled "Ministry of Public Order".
US MILITARY AID
Despite NATO's commitment to disarming the KLA, the Kosovar paramilitary organisation is slated to be transformed into a modern military force. So-called "security assistance" has already been granted to the KLA by the US Congress under the `Kosovar Independence and Justice Act of 1999'. Start-up funds of 20 million dollars will largely be " used for training and support for their [KLA] established self-defense forces."15 In the words of KLA Chief of Staff Agrim Ceku:
"The KLA wants to be transformed into something like the US National Guard, ... we accept the assistance of KFOR and the international community to rebuild an army according to NATO standards. ...These professionally trained soldiers of the next generation of the KLA would seek only to defend Kosova. At this decisive moment, we [the KLA] do not hide our ambitions; we want the participation of international military structures to assist in the pacific and humanitarian efforts we are attempting here" 16.
While the KLA maintains its links to the Balkans narcotics trade which served to finance many of its terrorist activities, the paramilitary organisation has now been granted an official seal of approval as well as "legitimate" sources of funding. The pattern is similar to that followed in Croatia and in the Bosnian Muslim-Croatian Federation where so-called "equip and train" programs were put together by the Pentagon. In turn, Washington's military aid package to the KLA has been entrusted to Military Professional Resources Inc (MPRI) of Alexandria, Virginia, a private mercenary outfit run by high ranking former US military officers.
MPRI's training concepts --which had already been tested in Croatia and Bosnia- are based on imparting "offensive tactics... as the best form of defence".17 In the Kosovar context, this so-called "defensive doctrine" transforms the KLA paramilitary into a modern army without however eliminating its terrorist makeup.18 The objective is to ultimately transform an insurgent army into a modern military and police force which serves the Alliance's future strategic objectives in the Balkans. MPRI has currently "ninety-one highly experienced, former military professionals working in Bosnia & Herzegovina".19 The number of military officers working on contract with the KLA has not been disclosed.
FORMER CROATIAN GENERAL APPOINTED KLA CHIEF OF STAFF
The massacres of civilians in Kosovo are not disconnected acts of revenge by civilians or by so-called "rogue elements" within the KLA as claimed by NATO and the United Nations. They are part of a consistent and coherent pattern. The intent (and result) of the KLA sponsored atrocities have been to trigger the "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs, Roma and other minorities in Kosovo.
KLA Commander Agim Ceku referring to the killings of 14 villagers at Gracko on July 24, claimed that: "We [the KLA] do not know who did it, but I sincerely believe these people have nothing to do with the KLA."20 In turn, KFOR Lieutenant General Sir Mike Jackson has commended his KLA counterpart, Commander Agim Ceku for "efforts undertaken" to disarm the KLA. In fact, very few KLA weapons have been handed in. Moreover, the deadline for turning in KLA weaponry has been extended. "I do not regard this as noncompliance" said Commander Jackson in a press conference, "but rather as an indication of the seriousness with which General Ceku is taking this important issue." 21
Yet what Sir Mike Jackson failed to mention is that KLA Chief of Staff Commander Agim Ceku (although never indicted as a war criminal) was (according to Jane Defence Weekly June 10 1999) "one of the key planners of the successful `Operation Storm'" led by the Croatian Armed Forces against Krajina Serbs in 1995.
General Jackson --who had served in former Yugoslavia under the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR)-- was fully cognizant of the activities of the Croatian High Command during that period including the responsibilities imparted to Brigadier General Agim Ceku. In February 1999, barely a month prior to the NATO bombings, Ceku left his position as Brigadier General with the Croatian Armed Forces to join the KLA as Commander in Chief.
FROM KRAJINA TO KOSOVO: SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
According to the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Operation Storm resulted in the massacre of at least 410 civilians in the course of a three day operation (4 to 7 August 1995). 22 An internal report of The Hague War Crimes Tribunal (leaked to the New York Times), confirmed that the Croatian Army had been responsible for carrying out
"summary executions, indiscriminate shelling of civilian populations and "ethnic cleansing" in the Krajina region of Croatia...."23
In a section of the report entitled "The Indictment. Operation Storm, A Prima Facie Case.", the ICTY report confirms that:
"During the course of the military offensive, the Croatian armed forces and special police committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, including but not limited to, shelling of Knin and other cities... During, and in the 100 days following the military offensive, at least 150 Serb civilians were summarily executed, and many hundreds disappeared....In a widespread and systematic manner, Croatian troops committed murder and other inhumane acts upon and against Croatian Serbs" 24.
US "GENERALS FOR HIRE"
The internal 150 page report concluded that it has "sufficient material to establish that the three [Croatian] generals who commanded the military operation" could be held accountable under international law.
25 The individuals named had been directly involved in the military operation "in theatre". Those involved in "the planning of Operation Storm" were not mentioned:
"The identity of the "American general" referred to by Fenrick [a Tribunal staff member] is not known. The tribunal would not allow Williamson or Fenrick to be interviewed. But Ms. Arbour, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, suggested in a telephone interview last week that Fenrick's comment had been 'a joking observation'. Ms. Arbour had not been present during the meeting, and that is not how it was viewed by some who were there. Several people who were at the meeting assumed that Fenrick was referring to one of the retired U.S. generals who worked for Military Professional Resources Inc.... Questions remain about the full extent of U.S. involvement. In the course of the three-year investigation into the assault, the United States has failed to provide critical evidence requested by the tribunal, according to tribunal documents and officials, adding to suspicion among some there that Washington is uneasy about the investigation... The Pentagon, however, has argued through U.S. lawyers at the tribunal that the shelling was a legitimate military activity, according to tribunal documents and officials.26.
The Tribunal was attempting to hide what had already been revealed in several press reports published in the wake of Operation Storm.
According to a US State Department spokesman, MPRI had been helping the Croatians "avoid excesses or atrocities in military operations."27 . Fifteen senior US military advisers headed by retired two star General Richard Griffitts had been dispatched to Croatia barely seven months before Operation Storm. 28 According to one report, MPRI executive director General Carl E. Vuono: "held a secret top-level meeting at Brioni Island, off the coast of Croatia, with Gen. Varimar Cervenko, the architect of the Krajina campaign. In the five days preceding the attack, at least ten meetings were held between General Vuono and officers involved in the campaign..."29
According to Ed Soyster a senior MPRI executive and former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) (interviewed by Time Magazine in early 1996):
"MPRI's role in Croatia is limited to classroom instruction on military-civil relations and doesn't involve training in tactics or weapons. Other U.S. military men say whatever MPRI did for the Croats--and many suspect more than classroom instruction was involved--it was worth every penny. "Carl Vuono and Butch [Crosbie] Saint are hired guns and in it for the money," says Charles Boyd, a recently retired four-star Air Force general who was the Pentagon's No. 2 man in Europe until July . "They did a very good job for the Croats, and I have no doubt they'll do a good job in Bosnia. " 30.
THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL'S COVER UP
The untimely leaking of the ICTY's internal report on the Krajina massacres barely a few days before the onslaught of NATO's air raids on Yugoslavia was the source of some embarrassment to the Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour. The Tribunal (ICTY) attempted to cover up the matter and trivialize the report's findings (including the alleged role of the US military officers on contract with the Croatian Armed Forces). Several Tribunal officials including American Lawyer Clint Williamson sought to discredit the Canadian Peace-keeping officers' testimony who witnessed the Krajina massacres in 1995.31
Williamson, who described the shelling of Knin as a "minor incident," said that the Pentagon had told him that Knin was a legitimate military target... The [Tribunal's] review concluded by voting not to include the shelling of Knin in any indictment, a conclusion that stunned and angered many at the tribunal"...32
The findings of the Tribunal contained in the leaked ICTY documents were downplayed, their relevance was casually dismissed as "expressions of opinion, arguments and hypotheses from various staff members of the OTP during the investigative process".33 According to the Tribunal's spokesperson "the documents do not represent in any way the concluded decisions of the Prosecutor." 34
The internal 150 page report has not been released. The staff member who had leaked the documents is (according to a Croatian TV report) no longer working for the Tribunal. During the press Conference, the Tribunal's spokesman was asked: "about the consequences for the person who leaked the information", Blewitt [the ICTY spokesman] replied that he did not want to go into that. He said that the OTP would strengthen the existing procedures to prevent this from happening again, however he added that you could not stop people from talking". 35
THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN CROATIA
The massacres conducted under Operation Storm "set the stage" for the "ethnic cleansing" of at least 180,000 Krajina Serbs (according to estimates of the Croatian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International). According to other sources, the number of victims of ethnic cleansing in Krajina was much larger.
Moreover, there is evidence that chemical weapons had been used in the Yugoslav civil war (1991-95).36 Although there is no firm evidence of the use of chemical weapons against Croatian Serbs, an ongoing enquiry by the Canadian Minister of Defence (launched in July 1999) points to the possibility of toxic poisoning of Canadian Peace-keepers while on service in Croatia between 1993 and 1995:
"There was a smell of blood in the air during the past week as the media sensed they had a major scandal unfolding within the Department of National Defense over the medical files of those Canadians who served in Croatia in 1993.
Allegations of destroyed documents, a cover-up, and a defensive minister and senior officers..." 37.
The official release of the Department of National Defence (DND) refers to the possibility of toxic "soil contamination" in Medak Pocket in 1993 (see below). Was it "soil contamination" or something far more serious? The criminal investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) refers to the shredding of medical files of former Canadian peace-keepers by the DND. In other words, did the DND have something to hide? The issue remains as to what types of shells and ammunitions were used by the Croatian Armed Forces -- i.e. were chemical weapons used against Serb civilians?
OPERATION STORM: THE ACCOUNT OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN REGIMENT
Prior to the onslaught, Croatian radio had previously broadcasted a message by president Franjo Tudjman, calling upon "Croatian citizens of Serbian ethnicity... to remain in their homes and not to fear the Croatian authorities, which will respect their minority rights". 38.
Canadian peace-keepers of the Second Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment witnessed the atrocities committed by Croatian troops in the Krajina offensive in September 1995:
"Any Serb who had failed to evacuate their property were systematically "cleansed" by roving death squads. Every abandoned animal was slaughtered and any Serb household was ransacked and torched". 39.
Also confirmed by Canadian peace-keepers was the participation of German mercenaries in Operation Storm:
Immediately behind the front-line Croatian combat troops and German mercenaries, a large number of hard-line extremists had pushed into the Krajina.... Many of these atrocities were carried out within the Canadian Sector, but as the peacekeepers were soon informed by the Croat authorities, the UN no longer had any formal authority in the region.40.
How the Germans mercenaries were recruited was never officially revealed. An investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) confirmed that foreign mercenaries in Croatia had in some cases "been paid [and presumably recruited] outside Croatia and by third parties"41
THE 1993 MEDAK POCKET MASSACRE
According to Jane Defence Weekly (10 June 1999), Brigadier General Agim Ceku (now in charge of the KLA) also "masterminded the successful HV [Croatian Army] offensive at Medak" in September 1993. In Medak, the combat operation was entitled "Scorched Earth" resulting in the total destruction of the Serbian villages of Divoselo, Pocitelj and Citluk, and the massacre of over 100 civilians.42
These massacres were also witnessed by Canadian peace-keepers under UN mandate:
"As the sun rose over the horizon. It revealed a Medak Valley engulfed in smoke and flames. As the frustrated soldiers of 2PPCLI waited for the order to move forward into the pocket, shots and screams still rang out as the ethnic cleansing continued.... About 20 members of the international press had tagged along, anxious to see the Medak battleground. Calvin [a Canadian officer] called an informal press conference at the head of the column and loudly accused the Croats of trying to hide war crimes against the Serb inhabitants. The Croats started withdrawing back to their old lines, taking with them whatever loot they hadn't destroyed. All livestock had been killed and houses torched. French reconnaissance troops and the Canadian command element pushed up the valley and soon began to find bodies of Serb civilians, some already decomposing, others freshly slaughtered.... Finally, on the drizzly morning of Sept. 17, teams of UN civilian police arrived to probe the smouldering ruins for murder victims. Rotting corpses lying out in the open were catalogued, then turned over to the peacekeepers for burial. 43.
The massacres were reported to the Canadian Minister of Defence and to the United Nations:
Senior defence bureaucrats back in Ottawa had no way of predicting the outcome of the engagement in terms of political fallout. To them, there was no point in calling media attention to a situation that might easily backfire....
So Medak was relegated to the memory hole - no publicity, no recriminations, no official record. Except for those soldiers involved, Canada's most lively military action since the Korean War simply never happened. 44
NATO'S POST-CONFLICT AGENDA IN KOSOVO
Both the Medak Pocket massacre and Operation Storm bear a direct relationship to the ongoing security situation in Kosovo and the massacres and ethnic cleansing committed by KLA troops. While the circumstances are markedly different, several of today's actors in Kosovo were involved (under the auspices of the Croatian Armed Forces) in the planning of both these operations. Moreover, the US mercenary outfit MPRI which collaborated with the Croatian Armed Forces in 1995 is currently on contract with the KLA. NATO's casual response to the appointment of Brigadier General Agim Ceku as KLA Chief of Staff was communicated by Mr. Jamie Shea in a Press Briefing in May:
"I have always made it clear, and you have heard me say this, that NATO has no direct contacts with the KLA. Who they appoint as their leaders, that is entirely their own affair. I don't have any comment on that whatever.45
While NATO says it "has no direct contacts with the KLA", the evidence confirms the opposite. Amply documented, KLA terrorism has been installed with NATO's tacit approval. The KLA had (according to several reports) been receiving "covert support" and training from the CIA and Germany's Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) since the mid-nineties. Moreover, MPRI collaboration with the KLA predates the onslaught of the bombing campaign.46
The building up of KLA forces was part of NATO planning. Already by mid-1998, "covert support" had been replaced by official ("overt") support by the military Alliance in violation of UN Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1160 of 31 March 1998 which condemned: "...all acts of terrorism by the Kosovo Liberation Army or any other group or individual and all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training."
NATO officials, Western heads of State and heads of government, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan not to mention ICTY chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour, were fully cognizant of General Brigadier Agim Ceku's involvement in the planning of Operation Storm and Operation Scorched Earth. Canadian Major General Lewis McKenzie who served under the United Nations confirmed that "the same officer who masterminded the 1993 Medak offensive in Croatia that saw Canadian soldiers using deadly force to stop horrendous atrocities against Serb civilians [had also] ordered the overrunning of lightly armed UN outposts, in blatant contravention of international law.
His influence within the KLA does not augur well for its trustworthiness during Kosovo's political evolution". 47 Surely, some questions should have been asked....
Yet visibly what is shaping up in the wake of the bombings in Kosovo is the continuity of NATO's operation in the Balkans. Military personnel and UN bureaucrats previously stationed in Croatia and Bosnia have been routinely reassigned to Kosovo. KFOR Commander Mike Jackson had previously been responsible --as IFOR Commander for organizing the return of Serbs "to lands taken by Croatian HVO forces in the Krajina offensive".48 And in this capacity General Mike Jackson had "urged that the resettlement [of Krajina Serbs] not [be] rushed to avoid tension [with the Croatians]" while also warning returning Serbs "of the extent of the [land] mine threat "49. In retrospect, recalling the events of early 1996, very few Krajina Serbs were allowed to return to their homes under the protection of the United Nations. According to "Veritas" (a Belgrade based organization of Serbian refugees from Croatia), some 10-15,000 Serbs were able to resettle in Croatia.
And a similar process is unfolding in Kosovo, --i.e. the conduct of senior military officers conforms to a consistent pattern, the same key individuals are now involved in Kosovo. While token efforts are displayed to protect Serb and Roma civilians, those who have fled Kosovo are not encouraged to return under UN protection... In post-war Kosovo, "ethnic cleansing" implemented by the KLA has been accepted by the "international community" as a "fait accompli"...
Moreover, while calling for democracy and "good governance" in the Balkans, the US and its allies have installed in Kosovo a paramilitary government with links to organized crime. The foreseeable outcome is the outright "criminalisation" of civilian State institutions and the establishment of what is best described as a "Mafia State". The complicity of NATO and the Alliance governments (namely their relentless support to the KLA) points to the de facto "criminalisation" of KFOR and of the UN peace-keeping apparatus in Kosovo. The donor agencies and governments (e.g. the funds approved by the US Congress in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions) providing financial support to the KLA are, in this regard, also "accessories" to the de facto criminalisation of State institutions.
Through the intermediation of a paramilitary group (created and financed by Washington and Bonn), NATO ultimately bears the burden of responsibility for the massacres and ethnic cleansing of civilians in Kosovo.
STATE TERROR AND THE "FREE MARKET"
State terror and the "free market" seem to go hand in hand. The concurrent "criminalisation" of State institutions in Kosovo is not incompatible with the West's economic and strategic objectives in the Balkans. Notwithstanding the massacres of civilians, the self-proclaimed KLA administration has committed itself to establishing a "secure and stable environment" for foreign investors and international financial institutions. The Minister of Finance Adem Grobozci and other representatives of the provisional government invited to the various donor conferences are all KLA appointees. In contrast, members of the KDL of Ibrahim Rugova (duly elected in parliamentary elections) were not even invited to attend the Stabilisation Summit in Sarajevo in late July.
"Free market reforms" are envisaged for Kosovo under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions largely replicating the structures of the Rambouillet agreement. Article I (Chapter 4a) of the Rambouillet Agreement stipulated that: "The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles". The KLA government will largely be responsible for implementing these reforms and ensuring that loan conditionalities are met.
In close liaison with NATO, the Bretton Woods institutions had already analyzed the consequences of an eventual military intervention leading to the military occupation of Kosovo: almost a year prior to the beginning of the War, the World Bank conducted "simulations" which "anticipated the possibility of an emergency scenario arising out of the tensions in Kosovo". 50.
The eventual "reconstruction" of Kosovo financed by international debt largely purports to transfer Kosovo's extensive wealth in mineral resources and coal to multinational capital. In this regard, the KLA has already occupied (pending their privatization) the largest coal mine at Belacevac in Dobro Selo northwest of Pristina. In turn, foreign capital has its eyes riveted on the massive Trepca mining complex which constitutes "the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, worth at least $5 billion." 51. The Trebca complex not only includes copper and large reserves of zinc but also cadmium, gold, and silver.
It has several smelting plants, 17 metal treatment sites, a power plant and Yugoslavia's largest battery plant. Northern Kosovo also has estimated reserves of 17 billion tons of coal and lignite.
In the wake of the bombings, the management of many of the State owned enterprises and public utilities were taken over by KLA appointees. In turn, the leaders of Provisional Government of Kosovo (PGK) have become "the brokers" of multinational capital committed to handing over the Kosovar economy at bargain prices to foreign investors. The IMF's lethal "economic therapy" will be imposed, the provincial economy will be dismantled, agriculture will be deregulated, local industrial enterprises which have not been totally destroyed will be driven into bankruptcy.
The most profitable State assets will eventually be transferred into the hands of foreign capital under the World Bank sponsored privatization program. "Strong economic medicine" imposed by external creditors will contribute to further boosting a criminal economy (already firmly implanted in Albania) which feeds on poverty and economic dislocation.
"The Allies will work with the rest of the international community to help rebuild Kosovo once the crisis is over: The International Monetary Fund and Group of Seven industrialized countries are among those who stand ready to offer financial help to the countries of the region. We want to ensure proper co-ordination of aid and help countries to respond to the effects of the crisis. This should go hand in hand with the necessary structural reforms in the countries affected -- helped by budget support from the international community.52
Moreover, the so-called "reconstruction" of the Balkans by foreign capital will signify multi-billion contracts to foreign firms to rebuild Kosovo's infrastructure. More generally, the proposed "Marshall Plan" for the Balkans financed by the World Bank and the European Development Bank (EBRD) as well as private creditors will largely benefit Western mining, petroleum and construction companies while fuelling the region's external debt well into the third millennium.
And Kosovo is slated to reimburse this debt through the laundering of dirty money. Yugoslav banks in Kosovo will be closed down, the banking system will be deregulated under the supervision of Western financial institutions. Narco-dollars from the multi-billion dollar Balkans drug trade will be recycled towards servicing the external debt as well as "financing" the costs of "reconstruction". The lucrative flow of narco-dollars thus ensures that foreign investors involved in the "reconstruction" program will be able reap substantial returns. In turn, the existence of a Kosovar "narco-State" ensures the orderly reimbursement of international donors and creditors. The latter are prepared to turn blind eye. They have a tacit vested interest in installing a government which facilitates the laundering of drug money.
The pattern in Kosovo is, in this regard, similar to that observed in neighboring Albania. Since the early 1990s (culminating with the collapse of the financial pyramids in 1996-97), the IMF's reforms have impoverished the Albanian population while spearheading the national economy into bankruptcy. The IMF's deadly economic therapy transforms countries into open territories. In Albania and to a lesser extent Macedonia, it has also contributed to fostering the growth of illicit trade and the criminalisation of State institutions.
(Prepared for and presented at the New York hearing of the Independent Commission of Inquiry to Investigate U.S./NATO War Crimes Against The People of Yugoslavia, called by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, July 31, 1999)
1. Jim Lehrer News Maker Interview, PBS, 26 July 1999.
2. Stratfor Commentary, "Growing Threat of Serbian Paramilitary Action in Kosovo", 29 July 1999 3. Human Rights Watch, 3 August 1999.
4. See Michael Radu, "Don't Arm the KLA", CNS Commentary from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, 7 April, 1999). 5. Tanjug Press Dispatch, 14 May 1999 6. Stratfor Comment, "Rugova Faced with a Choice of Two Losses", Stratfor, 29 July 1999.
7. Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Yugoslav Daily Survey, Belgrade, 29 June 1999.
8. Hina Press Dispatch, Zagreb, 26 July 1999 9. Ibid.
10. BBC Report, London, 5 July 1999.
11. New York Times, 2 February 1999 12. Financial Times, London, 4 August 1999.
13. See Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Mission in Kosovo, Decision 305, Permanent Council, 237th Plenary Meeting, PC Journal No. 237, Agenda item 2, Vienna, 1 July 1999 .
14 Statement at the Sarajevo Summit, 31 July 1999.
15. 106th Congress, April 15, HR 1425. 16. Interview with KLA Chief of Staff Commander Agim Ceku, Kosovapress, 31 July 1999 17.See Tammy Arbucki, Building a Bosnian Army", Jane International Defence Review, August 1997.
19. Military Professional Resources, Inc, "Personnel Needs", http://www.mpri.com/current/personnel.htm 20. Associated Press Report 21. Ibid.
22. The actual number of civilians killed or missing was much larger.
23. Quoted in Raymond Bonner, War Crimes Panel Finds Croat Troops Cleansed the Serbs, New York Times, 21 March 1999). 24. Ibid.
26 Raymond Bonner, op cit. 27. Ken Silverstein, "Privatizing War", The Nation, New York, 27 July 1997.
28. See Mark Thompson et al, "Generals for Hire", Time Magazine, 15 January 1996, p. 34. 29. Quoted in Silverstein, op cit.
30. Mark Thompson et al, op cit. 31. Raymond Bonner, op cit: 32. Ibid. 33. ICTY Weekly Press Briefing, 24 March 1999).
35. Ibid 36. See inter alia Reuters dispatch, 21 October 1993 on the use of chemical grenades, a New York Times report on 31 October 1992 on the use of poisoned gas).
37. Lewis MacKenzie, "Giving our soldiers the benefit of the doubt", National Post, 2 August 1999 38. Slobodna Dalmacija, Split, Croatia, August 5 1996.
39. Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan, The Sunday Sun, Toronto, 2 November 1998.
41. United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-first session, Item 9 of the provisional agenda, Geneva, 21 December 1994).
42. (See Memorandum on the Violation of the Human and Civil Rights of the Serbian People in the Republic of Croatia, http://serbianlinks.freehosting.net/memorandum.htm)
43. Excerpts from the book of Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan published in the Toronto Sun, 1 November 1998.
45. NATO Press Briefing, 14 May 1999.
46. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo `Freedom Fighters' Financed by Organized Crime, CAQ, Spring-Summer 1999.
47.Lewis McKenzie, "Soldier's View Nato Should Disarm the KLA Before It's Too Late', The Vancouver Sun, June 12, 1999.
48. Jane's Defence Weekly, Vol 25, No. 7, 14 February 1996.
50. World Bank Development News, Washington, 27 April 1999. 51. New York Times, July 8, 1998, report by Chris Hedges.
Statement by Javier Solano, Secretary General of NATO, published in The
National Post, Toronto May 1999.
REPORT ON THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION BY THE YUGOSLAV RED CROSS
On 8/5/99 the Yugoslav Red Cross reported that since the bombing started on 24th March more than 700 civilians have been killed and 6400 have been injured. Obviously, this does not take into account what has happened since including the dreadful casualities that resulted from the NATO bombing at Korisha on 13th May.
The largest number killed or wounded are from Aleksinac. Surdulica, Dakovica-Prizren, Orahovac, Cacak, Grdelica gorge, Kragujevac, Koris, Valjevo, Nis, Kragujevac and Belgrade. Many of the wounded will be invalids for the rest of their lives. An inevitable consequence of the bombing is that a large number of people have lost their homes.
The largest number of private apartments destroyed are in Aleksinac, Surdulica, Nis, Novi Sad, Cacak, Cuprija, Prokuplje, Kursumlija, Kraljevo and Belgrade
The destruction of factories and places of work has left 500,000 people without jobs. If their families are included, this means that c.2m people will be affected by this economic catastrophe for the forseeable future.
In Novi Sad more than 90,000 people are without running water as pipes were destroyed when the bridges were bombed. Added to this are the difficulties of transport and communication. The destruction of the heating plant in Novi Belgrade will leave that part of the city without heat in the winter if it cannot be repaired (or reconstructed) before then.
Hospitals have been hit and patients killed; health clinics are destroyed in the bombing.
The clinic in Aleksinac, for example, which served over 60,000 people was wiped out.
Disruption of electricity means that high-tech. equipment (scanners etc.) in hospitals are unusable. Medicines are in short supply.
Children gave not gone to school since the war began and many schools have been bombed. Children are also among the victims some dying in horrific circumstances.
500,000 live below the subsistence level, mostly pensioners. The Red Cross fears that their means to operate soup kitchens will not stretch to the numbers they fear will be in need of them, particularly when winter comes. Pensions are paid late.
There are large numbers of internally displaced people both in Serbia proper and Kosovo _ the Red Cross says there are c. 1.2m. Fear of bombing has caused over one million people to relocate to the country or to be with friends. Added to which are the existing 500,000 refugees from Krajina some of whom (11,500) went to Kosovo and have endured displacement twice now. Within Kosovo itself the Red Cross estimates that 250,000 people are internally displaced.
Yet, politicans and NATO spokesmen repeatedly deny that the war is directed at civilians. The opposite is true: this is a war directed largely at civilians. State and military facilities that were bombed had long been emptied and their destruction made no difference whatsoever to Serb military capabilities. At least some NATO representatives admit the truth. Lieutenant General Michael Short, NATO's top air-war commander, told the New York Times (reported in The International Herald Tribune, 14/5/99) of his desire to hit civilians: "I think no power to your refrigerator, no gas to your stove, you can't get to work because the bridge is down- the bridge on which you hold your rock concerts and you all stood with targets on your heads. That needs to disappear at three o'clock in the morning".
The thinking behind such brutal bellicosity is that the citizens of Serbia will bend under such attacks and throw out the Milosevic regime. This appears unlikely to happen.
However, many are afraid that such a clumsy and ill-thought strategy will only strengthen the hands of extreme nationalist politicians, like Vojislav Seselj, when the war ends. Even journalists on the pro-government newspaper Politika voiced these concerns. No doubt, the (rich) NATO actors in this conflict sit back and think that they can buy whatever political dispensation they want in the long run with their usual techniques: offering bribes and other inducements to prospective 'democrats'.
such a policy works in the future remains to be seen. Both Nis and Cacak
have opposition mayors. NATO's bombardment of these cities - some of
the most intense in the war - cannot have been particularly helpful
to their future political fortunes.
KLA And Heroin Trade
Kosovo Liberation Army and Albanian Sponsors Have Well-Documented Roots in The Heroin Trade
An exceptional record of respected media sources from the U.S. and Europe have documented that the Kosovo Liberation Army and their Albanian sponsors are heroin financed organized crime groups struggling to dominate the flow of middle eastern heroin into Europe and even the Eastern United States.
The Christian Science Monitor reported on Oct. 20, 1994: "For example, just 14 pounds of hard drugs were seized by Hungarian police in 1990, but by August this year  the figure had risen to 1,304 pounds." "From their base in Velki Trnovac in southern Serbia, dubbed the 'Medellin of the Balkans,' Albanian mafia chiefs oversee their European drug operation and are suspected of masterminding the new Balkan route."
Colombia in the Balkans
The highly respected Jane's Intelligence Review from Great Britain went much deeper in predicting the coming crisis in a February 1, 1995 article entitled The Balkan Medellin. Three paragraphs from that article are so compelling we reprint them here in their entirety.
"The Albanian-dominated region of western Macedonia accounts for a disproportionate share of Macedonia's (FYROM) shrinking GDP. This situation has strengthened Albanophobic sentiments among the ethnic Macedonian majority, especially as a great deal of revenue is thought to derive from Albanian narco-terrorism as well as associated gun-running and cross-border smuggling to and from Albania, Bulgaria and the Kosovo province of Serbia.
Although its extent and forms remain in dispute, this rising Albanian economic power is helping to turn the Balkans into a hub of criminality.
"Previously transported to Western Europe through former Yugoslavia, heroin from Turkey, the Transcaucus and points further east is now being increasingly routed to Italy via the Black Sea, Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia. This is a development that has strengthened the Albanian mafia which is now thought to control 70% of the illegal heroin market in Germany and Switzerland. Closely allied to the powerful Sicilian mafia, the Albanian associates have also greatly benefited from the presence of large numbers of mainly Kosovar Albanians in a number of western European countries; Switzerland alone now has over 100,000 ethnic Albanian residents. As well as providing a perfect cover for Albanian criminals, this diaspora is also a useful source of income for racketeers...
"If left unchecked, this growing Albanian narco-terrorism could lead to a Colombian syndrome in the Southern Balkans, or the emergence of a situation in which the Albanian mafia becomes powerful enough to control one or more states in the region. In practical terms, this will involve either Albania or Macedonia, or both. Politically, this is now being done by channeling growing foreign exchange (forex) profits from narco-terrorism into local governments and political parties. In Albania, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) led by President Sali Berisha is now widely suspected of tacitly tolerating and even directly profiting from drug-trafficking for wider politico-economic reasons, namely the financing of secessionist political parties and other groupings in Kosovo and Macedonia."
These four-year-old evaluations, along with an abundance of other evidence of Albanian-Kosovar mafia expansion paint a whole new picture of what is really happening in Kosovo. Clearly Serbia is legitimately defending itself from an organized crime syndicate taking control of one of its provinces.
How powerful is the Albanian mafia? Well, as far back as 1985 it was powerful enough to frighten New York U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani who, according to a Wall Street Journal story dated September 9, was receiving special personal protection after prosecuting a heroin case in New York City connected to a ring of powerful Albanian traffickers.
Journal wrote, "But it is drug trafficking that has gained Albanian
organized crime the most notoriety. Some Albanians, according to federal
Drug Enforcement Agency officials, are key traders in the 'Balkan connection'
the Istanbul-to-Belgrade heroin route. While less well known than the
so-called Sicilian and French connections, the Balkan route in some
years may move 24% to 40% of the U.S. heroin supply, officials say."
If the Albanians were moving 24 to 40% fourteen years ago then, given
their growing control over the traffic through the region, their access
to Western Europe and mobility throughout the world, they may well control
more than half of the heroin now entering the United States and law
enforcement sources indicate that they control 75% of the heroin entering
REFUGEES FROM KOSOVO: KRALJEVO
Already during the NATO bombing, there was an influx of refugees (technically "internally displaced people") into Serbia and Montenegro from Kosovo as well as a retreat into the countryside from big towns by many thousands of city dwellers. Since the signing of the military-technical agreement and the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police in mid-June as many as 140,000 but at least 75,000 people have fled from Kosovo (even if several hundred thousands have returned to it from Albania and Macedonia) adding to the scores of thousands who had already fled the province under NATO bombardment after March.
BHHRG visited refugees from Kosovo in Kraljevo in the south of Serbia and Liposovac in the north of Kosovo. Figures given by Miroslava Tenjovic, Secretary of the local Red Cross in Kraljevo estimate that, by week ending 9th July 1999, c.71,000 people had left Kosovo. This includes Serbs but also large numbers of gypsies and Slav Muslims from Kosovo including those from the specific Gorani minority.
In Kraljevo itself about 11,000 refugees were dispersed in families in the town while 2000 were in collective centres. The town has a population of 60,000 and the borough 120,000. It had long been used to receiving Serb and gypsy refugees from Kosovo and one quarter of the town was known as "little Albania".
Ms. Tenjovic said refugees were arriving at approximately 500 per day. Of them, between 30 and 40 had visible injuries. She said that no help was forthcoming from the government which was reluctant to admit the existence of the refugees.
The Vuk Karadic school is used as a distribution centre for basic supplies to refugees. BHHRG spoke to some of them who described how they had been despoiled of their homes and goods by armed men from the KLA. Kfor troops made no attempt, according to them, to intervene. Some attribute their betrayal by Albanian neighbours to their desire to appear patriotic and loyal to the KLA and in one case it was alleged that an elderly couple had been murdered because they were too old to move. It was also alleged that Italian soldiers had actually assisted in the removal of Serb residents from Kosovo. The reason given for this behaviour by the refugees was that the Italians felt it better if there were no Serbs to protect as it was too difficult for them to do so. One witness described how British soldiers had watched as Serbs were stoned by Albanians and when an officer was asked why he was doing nothing to protect the Serbs he replied that he had "no mandate" to arrest offenders. The use of technical vocabulary like the word "mandate" in the testimony of the refugees has a ring of authenticity.
In the Dobradovic Beranovac school we talked to the mayor of Klina and several refugees from that town. 360 people were housed in the school in very overcrowded conditions. The Serbs there had departed en masse taking 4 days to reach Kraljevo. They had fled for their lives and reported much the same experiences as the other refugees described already.
The stories told by these refugees were strikingly similar to those related by Albanian refugees to BHHRG in camps in Macedonia in May. They differed in one respect however. Many of the Serbian refugees claimed to have tried to defend their Albanian neighbours during the war. When asked from whom and from what, they said paramilitary bands - both Serb and Albanian (of the KLA). Albanian refugees in Macedonia always claimed to have fled exclusively from Serb paramilitaries. Many of these refugees felt abandoned by the Serbian government and several expressed a desire neither to return to Kosovo nor to remain in Serbia, but to emigrate.
However, they were not afraid to talk (and complain) and no impediment was put in the way of our observers during the visit. This contrasts sharply with the experiences of an American journalist writing in USA Today who described scenes in Kraljevo refugee centres in lurid terms: people locked up and prevented from meeting foreign reporters. No such things were seen during the day's visit (filmed by the BHHRG). Many such articles making exaggerated claims about the Serb authorities appear in the Western press .
As members of the Group drove south to Kosovo they passed cars loaded with possessions leaving the province. At dusk in the bus station in the small town of Raska there were groups of Serbs huddled around their luggage. But there were many more gypsies - around 50 - who had been expelled that day among them a girl whose eye was a running sore the result, she claimed, of having been beaten by Albanians.
Of all the tragedies that have befallen the people of Kosovo during this war the fate of the gypsies is perhaps the most dramatic. There were officially only 43,000 Gypsies in the province at the last census in 1991 but experts suggest that this figure seriously under-counted the real number since many Gypsies preferred to classify themselves as Albanians or Serbs, or under another designation less likely to be viewed derogatorily by others in the local population. [See Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History (London, 1998), 209.]. In terms of ethnic cleansing the Gypsies of Kosovo have suffered most but very little noise has been made by international NGOs usually so vociferous in their support for Roma rights.
The reason given for their harsh treatment by returning Albanians and the KLA is that they were perceived to be collaborators during the war doing the Serbs' dirty work by, for example, helping to bury people murdered by the Serbs. It is true that Gypsies told the Group that they considered themselves to be loyal Yugoslavs but whether or not all (including women and children) should take the blame for the perceived wrongdoing of the few is, to put it mildly, debatable.
In any case, as noted above, other non-Albanian minorities seem equally fearful and at risk. The Group's rapporteurs met Turks and Egyptians from Kosovo who had fled into Serbia as well as Slav Muslims, Gypsies and Serbs. Whatever crimes may have been committed before the handover of Kosovo to UN/Kfor (in effect in most of the province is under KLA control) it is clear that it is not only Serbs who are victimised as a result. In fact, Gypsies seem to be taking the brunt of violence.
When the Group's rapporteurs visited the Stenkovac refugee camp in Macedonia during the conflict they did not find any refugees among the tens of thousands who had visible signs of beating (including facial injuries).
Gypsies comprise the largest group in the Leposavic camp a few miles from the Kosovo/Serbia 'border'. The camp was established hastily on 18th June and comprises three large hangers that were once a food storage depot for the JNA. At the time of our visit (7th July) it contained 400 people. One hanger has been made habitable and was filled with gypsies, mainly women and children. We saw people there with injuries including a young girl with a bruised and swollen face and an elderly lady whose feet had been badly burned. They all claimed these injuries had been inflicted by Albanian neighbours. Some of the men had tried to return to their homes to retrieve their possessions but had been chased away again. Marko Pujic a Red Cross worker at the camp says that the numbers arriving vary each day. Sometimes it can be 5 - 10 sometimes as many as 200 - they usually arrive on the evening train from nearby Kosovoska Mitrovica.
The camp is only intended for transit purposes and Mr. Pujic says many people who come through, Serbs in particular hope to return one day. But gypsies show no sign of wanting to go back to Kosovo saying that they want to emigrate from Yugoslavia altogether.
A consignment of aid from the UNHCR arrived during our visit and another, from Medecins sans Frontiers, with baby food was scheduled for later in the day. Many humanitarian agencies have visited them, including independent groups from Greece and France but they had received little more than promises. Mr. Pujic also said that fuel was running out and there was only a day or so's supply - enough for Red Cross vehicles and the ambulance from the local hospital. Help from the Serbian government as such seems to be non-existent - the Yugoslav and Serbian Red Cross have to bear the burden of finding the money and the aid requirements. However, it is noticeable how little is being done for these people compared with the largesse distributed by the international community and its humanitarian agencies to Kosovo Albanian refugees in Macedonia during the war - including imported drinking water.
SERBS SUFFER UNDER WESTERN EYES
The families of 14 serb farmers murdered in Kosovo must take comfort in National Security Adviser Sandy Berger's response to the massacre: "It is profoundly wrong and unacceptable" -- harsh words, indeed.
The bodies were found grouped around farm equipment in the village of Gracko. Victims' faces had been mutilated beyond recognition.
Gracko is surrounded by Albanian villages. Serbs there live in a state of siege, never venturing outside except in a convoy.
Are Berger and his boss Bill Clinton shocked by this turn of events? Opponents of NATO's crusade predicted that if the West won the war, returning Albanians would purge the province of Serbs and Gypsies.
Each day brings new reports of atrocities against Serbs -- the murder of a professor at the University of Pristina, the killing of a married couple near the town of Gnijlane, Orthodox monasteries destroyed, 15 houses a day torched in Prizren, kidnappings, torture, beatings and evictions.
NATO commanders shrug. Kosovo Force Lt. Cmdr. Louis Garneau discloses, "We don't keep statistics on civilian deaths" under NATO's watch. How convenient.
Maj. Jan Joosten brushes aside suggestions that NATO's 35,000 troops do more (how about something?) to protect the Serb population. "Prevention means you have to protect every person here. That is an impossibility," the major maintains.
Recall that during the bombing, Clinton assured us that when NATO's peacekeepers ran the show, the rights of all ethnic groups would be protected. To put it mildly, that was a crock.
Meanwhile, the cadres of the Kosovo Liberation Army are having a high old time, celebrating in cafes confiscated from Serbs, parading with weapons they're not supposed to have.
An article in Friday's New York Times reports that the KLA "has taken sweeping political control of the province ... seizing businesses and apartments, and collecting taxes." KLA leader Hashim Thaci has appointed himself "prime minister" (for life?).
The rebels are governing the way Al Capone ran Chicago. Not just Serbs, but Albanian shopkeepers are looted. The owner of a furniture store said KLA goons arrived to requisition his Audi. "They told me that if I did not comply immediately they knew a cellar I might like to visit."
Baton Haxhui, the editor of an Albanian newspaper, charges, "Each day it is becoming more dangerous to think and speak independently."
To no one's surprise, the guerrillas missed their first disarmament deadline (for turning in heavy weapons). On July 23, German soldiers stumbled on a cache of 10 tons of ammunition -- probably a fraction of what the terrorists possess.
KFOR Commander, Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, says he doesn't consider missing the deadline a "noncompliance" but an "indication of the seriousness with which the KLA takes its commitments. How a breach of faith can be taken as a sign of diligence, Sir General did not explain.
Terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden running around with AK-47s and anti-tank weapons is bad enough. Worse, Thaci's boys aren't just killers and kleptos, but mafioso who are neck-deep in the drug trade. (During the war, The Washington Times quoted an unnamed U.S. drug-enforcement official commenting on the KLA, "They were drug-dealers in 1998 and now, because of politics, they're freedom fighters.")
More than 40 percent of the heroin reaching Western Europe moves through the province, which sits astride the major distribution route from Turkey to the West.
Effectively, there are no borders between Kosovo and Albania or Macedonia.
Belgrade had contained the problem. But under KLA management, Kosovo has become a drug lord's paradise.
Warns Marko Nicovic, a former Belgrade police chief who for years worked with anti-drug agencies in the West, "As each day passes, the Albanian mafia (KLA) becomes richer and more powerful."
Is it for this that we rained death and devastation on Yugoslavia for 11 weeks -- not for democracy or human rights or to end ethnic cleansing, but so Kosovo could be cleansed of non-Albanians and turned into a narcotics superstore under the benevolent direction of Hashim (aka, "Snake") Thaci?
You'll say that
before and during the war atrocities were committed against Albanians.
But the United States and NATO weren't accomplices to those crimes.
We weren't the guarantors of life, liberty and property in Kosovo. Unlike
the persecution of Serbs, what happened to the Albanians wasn't done
under Western eyes.
ROMA AND ASHKALI DRIVEN OUT OF KOSOVO EN MASSE
Since the end of the war in Kosovo and the deployment of the KFOR troops, murder and terror against minority populations has not stopped. Serbs were driven out of their houses, threatened with death and often killed. In addition, all other non-Albanian sections of the population, such as the Roma and Ashkali (a minority of Indian descent), have suffered substantial terror.
These two minorities have lived for centuries in Kosovo. Before the NATO bombardment there were about 35,000 Roma and Ashkali residents in the province. In the few months since the KFOR troops entered, however, at least three-quarters have been driven out and now live in refugee camps and slum areas in the neighbouring countries; those who have remained live in constant fear.
Those responsible are extremely nationalistic sections of the Albanian population and the KLA, who have been able to create this terrible state of affairs unhindered by the KFOR troops.
"Anyone with a dark skin who today dares to move around openly in Kosovo is jostled, insulted, reviled, and abused," writes Tilman Zulch, president of the International Society for Endangered Peoples. He visited Kosovo in August and spoke with Roma and Ashkali refugees. His report uncovers a shocking situation.
"Extremist sections of the Albanian population have carried out a policy of 'ethnically cleansing' the two long-established Roma and Ashkali minorities. This has obviously been done with the support or tolerance of a wide section of the KLA," he said.
Regarding the behaviour of the KFOR troops, he writes: "In many cases KFOR has insufficiently protected members of ethnic minorities. They have not shown any continuous military presence in their settlements; only infrequently have they intervened to stop the persecution of Roma and Ashkali, or have done so only to stop 'arguments', but without upholding the rights to housing and health of those being threatened. Often they have escorted them into neighbouring countries, and so encouraged such expulsions." Zulch said further: "After the NATO intervention, Albanian extremists, returning Albanian refugees, and uniformed and armed KLA members have acted against the Roma and Ashkali minorities throughout Kosovo.
They have threatened children, women and men, often with death, intimidated them and demanded-not infrequently with weapons-that they leave their homes. Often they set a period of just a few minutes or hours. Many only escaped with the clothes they were wearing at the time.
"Usually, the houses were plundered and many items stolen including furnishings, televisions and video recorders, cars and, in some cases, tractors. Ironically, Ashkali families who were the only ones still remaining in some quarters said the Albanian type of plundering was more thorough than the Serbian, because they even took away house bricks and roofing tiles.
"In the majority of cases the houses were then set on fire or destroyed by other means. In not a few cases, the houses were occupied by neighbours or by returning Albanian refugees, whose own houses had been destroyed by Serbian troops. According to our rough estimates, two thirds of the houses belonging to Roma and Ashkali minorities could have been destroyed." Abuse, abductions, torture, rapes and murder accompanied the expulsions. Right up to the present there are still innumerable missing persons. The exact numbers of the dead and missing cannot be determined, since the majority of the Roma and the Ashkali are no longer in the country, and testimony from the Albanian population can only be obtained with difficulty.
In a number of places the Albanian population stood on the side of the Roma and Ashkali and together were able to prevent them being driven out. Zulch writes the following about their living conditions: "Of those Roma or Ashkali communities still remaining, they must nevertheless count on suffering discrimination and violations of their human rights if they leave their settlements or the city. In Podujeva/Podujevo members of the Ashkali minority complain that they cannot go outside the city to their work and encounter massive threats. A 16-strong Ashkali family, which saved the life of an Albanian family during the war, cannot leave their tiny yard any longer. Any attempt to go shopping means they are intimidated and even attacked."
WITH FEW POLICE TO STOP IT,CRIME FLOURISHES IN KOSOVO
A silver truck with two large trailers pulled up to this border crossing with Macedonia recently, and Hasan Koshtanjevci leaned out the window to tell customs officials that he was carrying clothing meant for destitute ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
But when the two U.N. policemen who patrol the crossing peeked beneath a canvas tarp at the rear of the truck, they found a Volkswagen Golf and a Mercedes-Benz, both headed north into the chaotic and crime-ridden environment of post-war Kosovo. The U.N. police ordered the truck back to Macedonia.
It was one small victory for the nascent police presence at Kosovo's southern border with Albania and Macedonia, one of the most porous border crossings in Europe.
U.N. and Western officials say that since NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia ended in June, criminals have passed without difficulty into Kosovo from Albania and Macedonia, smuggling cars, cigarettes, fuel, narcotics and other goods, much of it bound for Western Europe.
U.N. officials worry that this is fueling an economic crime wave in the Serbian province. Arrests and detentions by U.N. policemen and NATO peacekeeping troops for robberies, looting, auto thefts and other crimes are increasing.
"This is a perfect environment for criminals . . . [and] the level of crimes is at a totally unacceptable level," said Sven Frederiksen, a Danish policeman who worked on the international police force in Bosnia and recently became the U.N. police commissioner in Kosovo. "I'm absolutely sure that drugs are flowing into the province . . . and going on into Europe. I'm quite sure that the big Audis and Mercedes you see are not all legal."
U.N. officials here have called for doubling the proposed size of the Kosovo police force to 6,000 officers. They also have requested that the troops in the NATO peacekeeping force take on more police duties, though senior NATO officers here have spurned that idea.
In the meantime, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have dispatched specialists on organized crime and narcotics trafficking to Kosovo.
"The chaos makes it a ripe and attractive target for smugglers" who were active in the region well before the war, said a senior U.S. official who visited Kosovo recently to discuss narcotics and police matters. "The police have not been setting up good border controls; they've had other things to do."
Small amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methadone have been confiscated at the border, and two weeks ago U.N. police in Pristina, the Kosovo capital, for the first time arrested several men with heroin, marijuana and needles in their possession. The men said they had obtained the drugs in Skopje, the Macedonian capital.
"The border is a veritable sieve," said Lt. Col. Edward Donnelly, chief of operations for the U.S.-led military brigade responsible for the southeast sector of Kosovo, which borders Macedonia. "We know there's organized crime in Gnijilane," the sector's largest city. But U.S. troops have not seized any drugs, he said, because "we're not looking for it. We're trained to fight wars," not patrol borders.
Police statistics suggest that the probability of being caught depends heavily on where in Kosovo a crime is committed, because the U.N. police force has only been deployed in Pristina and some NATO forces are more willing than others to tackle crime.
Within the U.S. sector, for example, 73 ethnic Albanians and 14 Serbs have been imprisoned for crimes from murder and arson to larceny, looting and reckless driving, more than in any other Kosovo sector. That compares with 52 people detained by British forces, 32 by the German and 13 by the Italians.
None of those arrested in Kosovo since the war ended has been brought to trial, because U.N. officials determined that the criminal laws of Yugoslavia violated human rights and have yet to draft new ones or create a broader judicial and prison system. As a result, a group of five ethnic Albanians appointed to an ad hoc supreme court orders detentions only in the most serious cases. It releases other suspected criminals pending court appearances that are yet unscheduled.
"We are undermanned, underpowered and underequipped," said Michele Lefebvre, a veteran Canadian police officer handling homicides in Pristina.
"I've seen more weapons since coming here than in my entire career. You have bread and butter at home? Well, they have a machine gun."
Lefebvre said that crime investigators "lack any forensic support, and have to use our own cameras and film--we got nothing from the United Nations.
Even getting decent autopsies is hard--there are no photos taken and no X-rays." Auto theft investigations are nearly impossible because no car registration and licensing system exists, although one will be established in mid-December.
Frederiksen said he needs a forensic laboratory, fingerprint equipment, criminal intelligence experts and the assistance of as many as 1,000 peacekeeping troops and a handful of military helicopters assigned to help monitor the borders.
Crime is "getting
worse at the moment," said Tom Koenygs, the director of civil administration
for the United Nations. "We need more quick reaction police and
investigative police. And we are just at the beginning."
OPPOSITION TO KLA GROWS IN
The regime imposed by the Kosovo Liberation Army under the auspices of NATO is meeting growing opposition, even amongst the Albanian majority of Kosovo.
The Party for the Democratic Progress of Kosovo, formed by KLA leader Hashim Thaqi, is suffering a sharp decline in popular support according to a number of voter surveys. The reasons cited are anger over the KLA's heavy-handed monopoly of power and disgust at its promotion of violence against Serbs, Roma gypsies and political opponents within the Albanian population.
Some surveys predict that the KLA would be crushed in provincial elections at all levels and, if presidential elections were held, Thaqi would be easily defeated by Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosovo. Rugova is Thaqi's main rival within the Kosovan nationalist movement. He led a 10-year, non-violent resistance campaign against the Serbian government, but was shunted to the side when the US decided to promote the KLA in the months leading up to last spring's air war against Serbia.
One opinion poll found 4-to-1 support for Rugova over Thaqi. Another survey of 2,500 voters found that Rugova would win 92 percent of the vote in a two-way race with Thaqi. Support for the KLA, even in its former strongholds such as Thaqi's home base in the Drenica area of central Kosovo, is in single percentage figures, according to the polls.
On April 2, during the second week of NATO bombing, the interim or Provisional Government of Kosovo was formed as a front for the KLA.
By late July its control had been extended to all localities and city authorities. The United Nations governs the country under a Security Council resolution and formally does not recognise Thaqi's government.
But neither it nor NATO does anything to challenge it, and the UN has organised the KLA forces into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), which has official policing powers.
The KLA's so-called Interior Ministry has presided over a wave of anti-Serb violence carried out by the KPC and other less formal KLA units. In mid-October, for example, an ethnic Albanian march in Mitrovice ended in anti-Serb rioting organised by the KLA. Earlier that same month Valentin Krumov, a Bulgarian UN worker, was accosted by a group of Albanian youths who asked him the time. When he answered in Serbian, he was kicked and punched and then shot in the head in front of a large and supportive crowd. The KLA has posted lists of suspected Serb war criminals to be targeted for vigilante action.
Attacks on Serbs and Roma Gypsies are regularly used to seize control of housing for KLA supporters, many of whom are gangster elements involved in drugs, prostitution and black marketing. At least two UN police officers are also under investigation for pressuring Serbs to sell their homes to ethnic Albanians. Newspaper reports cite young KLA soldiers with wads of German marks and expensive cars taking control of municipal buildings and Serbian housing and lording it over the local residents.
The situation facing ethnic Roma is no better. Once numbering 40,000, they have been reduced to around 800 in one refugee camp outside the provincial capital of Pristina. All Roma Gypsies were driven from their homes by Kosovar Albanians and face a harsh winter in tents.
There are repeated threats of violence against everyone-from supporters of Rugova to Albanian women who date foreign UN personnel and aid workers. The KLA has unofficially warned that it is compiling a register of those parties it deems fit to take part in any future election.
Winter will exacerbate tensions amongst the Albanian population. While KLA officers enrich themselves, the reconstruction of 100,000 homes destroyed or heavily damaged during the war-65 percent of the homes in Kosovo-will not begin until spring. Hundreds of thousands face bitter cold in temporary shelter.
A local charity worker estimates that 500,000 people still don't know where they will spend the winter. Since the end of the war on June 12, the population of Pristina has doubled to 200,000. Electricity and water systems frequently break down. This, together with a lack of food and shelter, could provoke unrest-particularly if rural residents continue to flood into the overcrowded cities.
The NATO powers are becoming increasingly concerned at the deteriorating situation. On his first visit to Kosovo last Friday, NATO's new ecretary-general George Robertson warned that "vigilante justice is no justice, but a return to random violence. NATO will not stand by and see the creation of a single-ethnic Kosovo."
Perhaps the most telling statement was made earlier by the secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. He warned of the "built-in tension" between the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who want independence and the United Nations, which is administering the territory as part of Yugoslavia.
The KLA is committed to independence and future unification with Albania. Annan warned that holding elections too quickly may strengthen separatist demands: "We have a mandate to administer the territory as part of sovereign Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but those we are administering want independence. This ambiguity is going to bring problems down the line." Albanians could end up seeing the UN as an "occupation force", he said, with all that this implies.
Against UN and NATO opposition, Serb leaders have responded to routine ethnic Albanian attacks by announcing their intention to create secure enclaves and a protection force to prevent the remaining 20,000 to 100,000 Serbs-out of a pre-war population of 200,000-from fleeing the province. This was denounced by Bernard Kouchner, the UN administrator of Kosovo, who said, "It is against the regulation of the UN mission and it is unnecessary."
Throughout the war against Serbia, the KLA was portrayed as a liberation movement fighting to free ethnic Albanians from Serbian dominance. Its real program for the driving out of all minorities and the creation of an ethnically pure Greater Albania was concealed, as well as its well-known terrorist and criminal activities since its formation in 1993.
UN MISSION IN KOSOVO "AN INCOMPETENT LAUGHING STOCK"
The United Nations mission in Kosovo, responsible for setting up and running the civil administration in the war-ravaged province, has become bogged down by bureaucracy and incompetence and almost all its major projects are far behind schedule.
Morale among mission members is at an all-time low, huge amounts of money are being wasted and ethnic Albanians and Serbs, infuriated by the incompetence of the administration, have largely taken the governing of the province into their own hands.
Five months after Mr Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav President, pulled his troops and police out of Kosovo, there is still no effective postal service or telephone network.
Hundreds of criminals have been arrested but not a single case has been brought to court.
The registration of civilians, cars and property, considered essential to establishing a governable state, has not yet begun. Organised crime is rampant. The murder rate is rising and elections scheduled for next spring have been postponed until the autumn.
Power and heating are off for at least half of the day and most of the streets are unlit. Multi-racial police teams patrolling in new red and four-wheel drives are derided as ''Coca-Cola patrols'' by locals.
The inefficiencies of the UN mission - dismissed as a joke even by its own employees - have been emphasised by the relative success of KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo, which is widely praised.
''KFOR works, the UN doesn't,'' one Western analyst said. Other comments on the UN mission from its own employees include ''desperate'', ''a joke'' and ''directionless''. One added: ''It seems there are whole cadres in the organisation who are devoted to doing internal paperwork.''
The UN was not originally considered for overseeing the reconstruction of Kosovo after its force performed badly in Bosnia, failing to prevent the massacre at Srebrenica.
The European security body, the OSCE, would probably have been given the mission had the Serbs agreed to a peace plan tabled at Rambouillet in France in February but the UN was called in after the Russians intervened.
Five months on, the UN mission is a laughing stock.
One employee said: ''Everything it touches goes wrong. The 'cover-my-arse' mentality rules. The thinking goes, 'this is not for the greater good of the organisation but at least I won't get fired'.
Despite the inefficiency, salaries are high - ranging from ?28,000 to ?56,000 ($72,000 to $144,000) a year. On top of that, officials collect ?45 a day expenses and ?20 a day danger money.
These salaries not only incur the jealousy of locals but also of aid workers and NATO soldiers, who receive a fraction of the amount. Insiders say they also act as a magnet for sub-standard officials looking for easy money.
Of the money available, the UN mission in Kosovo spends more than two-thirds of it, or ?280 million a year, running itself.
Humanitarian workers, some of whom worked in Kosovo long before the war with NATO, say UN staff act dictatorially. One aid worker with a medical charity near Pec in western Kosovo said: ''We had this area all shipshape. Then the UN turned up and started organising right over our heads. The Albanians hate them.''
The unwieldy decision-making process in New York is also blamed. And Mr Bernard Kouchner, the French head of mission, has been criticised for being disorganised and unpredictable.
THE WAR IN KOSOVO IS NOT OVER
The war in Kosovo is not over. Since June 18th the KLA and their Albanian supporters have terrorizing the Kosovar Rom in an ethnic cleansing operation that has destroyed more than 20,000 Rom homes.
In many villages and towns, all Roma homes have been destroyed. Families whose Roma ancestors arrived here as early as 1320, or Hashkalija whose oral traditions recount an even older history, have not only been made homeless, but over 150,000 have had to flee to other countries.
In order to justify these attacks, the KLA and their supports have labeled "all" Rom and Hashkalija as having collaborated with the Serbs. Yet the evidence on the ground does not support this allegation. Although KFOR and the UN police have received many requests to detain Serbs suspected of atrocities during the war, no Roma or Hashkalija has been mentioned in reports.
The ethnic Albanians dislike of Rom/Hashkalija goes back many years before the war. When the Albanians first started to demonstrate back in 1969 against Serb rule in Kosovo, the Rom/Hashkalija refused to join this demonstration. While the Albanians wanted independence, the Rom/Hashkalija were still too far down the economic scale to think of that luxury. All they wanted were jobs and education. When they finally achieved those two things under Tito, they were so grateful they thought they were being patriotic Yugoslavians by not taking to the street. The Albanians have resented the Roma/Hashkalija ever since.
Although over 70% of Roma/Hashkalija had high educational degrees and most of them held good jobs during the years preceding the war, the Albanians today try to drag up the old stereotypes: lazy, dirty, worthless, homeless.
Today about 40,000 Roma/Hashkalija are homeless, but only because they're home has been burned since the arrival of KFOR.
The typical operation for cleansing a neighborhood of Roma has been for a couple of local KLA soldiers to accompany several Albanians to a Roma home and then threaten the occupants with death if they were still living there the next day. Usually the Roma occupants didn't wait, but left immediately, many wearing only their pajamas. Their homes were then burned. If the home was in a good area, the rubble was soon bulldozed away and a new home built on the site for a local high-ranking Albanian official.
Ironically, Roma who refused to give in to these threats and who did not leave their homes usually were not attacked, and their home was not burned----until now.
Now, today, with the disbanding of the KLA, a new wave of attacks is taking place and Roma homes not destroyed in the first wave are being burned.
The attacks are against all Roma and Hashkalija. No one is spared. Not the retired, not the invalids, not the blind who of course could not be labeled collaborators.
Although over 150,000 Roma and Hashkalija have fled Kosovo, their ancestral homeland for the past seven hundred years, there are still 40,000 trying desperately to stay. But despite the UN's declaration of preparing a multi-ethnic society and the claim of NATO and KFOR to protect everyone, the results only point to a policy of genocide---- genocide of the Roma and Hashkaija today in Kosovo.
Roma today in Kosovo can not venture outside their own village without being kidnapped or killed. Roma today in Kosovo are always turned down by Albanian hospitals. Roma today in Kosovo can not attend Albanian schools. Roma today in Kosovo have lost their jobs.
But perhaps worst of all, Rom today in Kosovo are being discriminated against by the major aid agencies that are mainly run by local Albanians. Since the war, over 90% of all Rom/Hashkalija communities have been refused aid by agencies such as Mother Teresa, and ironically by Islamic Relief, although all Roma and Hashkalija remaining in Kosovo today are Muslim. Even an international aid agency with a renowned reputation such as Oxfam has not escaped this discrimination being practiced by its own local Albanians in Pristine.
But perhaps the worst offender of all is UNHCR. Their policy towards the Roma they should be looking after can best be described by an incident that happened a few weeks ago when UNHCR was asked how they were preparing one of their displaced persons camps for the winter. At a meeting attended by KFOR and Oxfam, the UNHCR director of the Rom camp in question said: "We have no plans for them this winter. We just hope they will disappear."
And disappearing they were until Macedonia closed their borders to Roma and Hashkalija seeking to survive the draconian measures of UNHCR in Kosovo.
At the main UNHCR displaced person's camp in Kosovo, just outside Pristine, there have been four recorded deaths in the past few weeks only because the UN police and the camp management refused to take sick Roma children to hospital at night. In one incident, at 1:30 in the morning, a UN policemen refused to take a pregnant woman to hospital although her water had already broke and she was having contractions every two minutes. He told the aid agency worker who was on night duty that; "the gypsies have a tractor in camp. They can take her on the tractor."
When local Albanians see the discrimination perpetrated by international aid agencies and the UN organizations, why should the Roma be respected those who won the war.
The war in Kosovo is supposedly over. But this winter more Roma and Hashkalija may die than all the Serbs and Albanians during the war.
That is the situation today in Kosovo.
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Theodor W. Fuendt for RNN
RomNews is published by the Roma National Congress on a Non- commercial basis