IWPR (Institute of War & Peace Reporting )

Kosovo Serbs: Little Protection And Less Aid

Most Kosovo Serbs living in Kosovo today are preoccupied with their own fears, losses and fury, and cannot understand Albanian suffering. As the societies separate further, misery on both sides only grows.

By Gordana Igric in Kosovo
(Published on March 4, 1999)

"Be it Rugova, be it Milosevic, I don't care," insists 70-year-old Novica Vostic, a Serb from Kosovo. "I want my house back--and those of my brothers' too."

Compelled late last June to leave his native village of Jelovac, Novica now lives together with his wife and two sons as refugees in a rented room in Klina to the west of Pristina. From late April until the end of June last year, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) undertook a series of offensives and took control of nearly 40 per cent of Kosovo. Serbs who lived in the villages under KLA control left their homes--sometimes of their own free will and sometimes forcibly, after their closest kin had been abducted and their houses surrounded and attacked with small-arms fire.

Novica's two brothers, both of them elderly men, were abducted in the fields near his house. That evening, from the hills surrounding Jelovac, KLA solders launched an attack on a dozen Serbian families from the neighbourhood. By the next afternoon, the families had left Jelovac, fleeing on tractors and still under fire. A few days later their houses were burnt down.

Nearly two months later, Serbian police entered Jelovac and burned nearly all the Albanian-owned homes. Thus, this village, just like Opterusa near Orahovac or Pantina near Vucitirn, became a symbol of this war: abandoned-with plundered houses, burnt-out shells with only chimney stacks left standing.

Novica is a typical Serb from Kosovo. He is fluent in Albanian, has friends among his Albanian neighbours, and has no one in Serbia proper with whom he could seek shelter. Yet, he admits how uncomfortable he felt when his good neighbour, an Albanian, arrived after the Serb offensive in Jelovac and started to cry over the burnt remnants of his house.

The majority of Serbs living in Kosovo today are preoccupied with their own fears, losses and fury. This prevents them from having insight into the suffering of Albanians. The Serbs from the villages have faired the worst. They have found temporary shelter in rundown hotels and guesthouses. The Serbian regime will not publicly admit that it has failed to protect them; consequently it does not support them. They have been left to oblivion. An estimated 15,000 Serbs have fled villages for towns in Kosovo since the beginning of open conflict in spring 1998. They have received no state aid.

Serbs have been departing from Kosovo since World War II. Serbs who left Kosovo a couple of decades ago often claim that they did so under pressure from their Albanian neighbours. Probably closer to the truth is to say that they headed north to Serbia proper for economic reasons. Meantime, the high birth rate among the ethnic Albanian community has meant that those Serbs who stayed behind have made up an ever-shrinking minority within Kosovo.

It is within this context, that as Serbia's president in the late 1980s, Slobodan Milosevic exploited the Kosovo issue to whip up Serbian nationalism and establish his own reputation as Serbia's strongman. Speaking to the Serbian community in Kosovo Polje in 1987, he uttered his now infamous words: "No one is allowed to beat you."

Since Milosevic abolished Kosovo's autonomy in 1990, Serbs have continued to leave - and the authorities have largely ignored their departure. Belgrade seemed more concerned with "sorting out" the Albanians in Kosovo--through beats in prisons, searches of Albanian houses, expulsion of Albanian children from school buildings and the sacking of Albanians from their jobs. Serbs close to the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia took over all offices in the state institutions, leading to a kind of apartheid.

By the outbreak of fighting last spring, it is commonly assumed, there were some 180,000 Serbs in Kosovo, less than 10 per cent of the population of the province. Having taken all the places in the state institutions, they stole from influential Albanian businessmen and used the proceeds to build houses in Serbia in readiness for their eventual departure from Kosovo. Many of the more skilful co-nationals have already moved into the newly built houses across the border. Those Serbs who were left outside this "redistribution" of capital and political power now have nowhere to go. But they also do not feel they can stay in Kosovo.

Serbs in Kosovo fear the KLA if they stay. But they also fear that they will share the fate of those Serbs from Croatia, or Sarajevo, who found that Serbia proper offered them no welcome when they went "home"--as refugees. For the moment, they are thus relying on the Serbian police--who exercise terror over the Albanians and from whom they expect protection.

There is hardly a Serbian household in Kosovo that did not rush to send one of its members to join the ranks of the Serbian police. The police in turn armed Serb civilians in Kosovo. Their Albanian neighbours know this. They also know that some of these people have taken part in the plundering and burning of Albanian houses.

The longer Serbian police violence lasts, the more difficult it is for Albanians to have a Serb friend or to ask after the fate of any abducted Serb neighbour. The amount of misery, insofar as it can be measured at all, is disproportionately greater on the Albanian side. But the level of individual misery is the same.

Gordana Igric is a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

IWPR (Institute of War & Peace Reporting )

Minority At Risk

Most of Pristina's remaining Serbs are elderly women. Yet they are still targets for "revenge" attacks.

By Laura Rozen in Pristina
(Published on August 13, 1999)

My neighbour in Pristina is an elderly Serb widow named Miljka. Increasingly I see less of her. She lives in terror, barricaded behind her door with her wooden shutters closed, even in the stifling heat.

Miljka is one of an estimated 2,000 Serbs who have remained in Pristina, out of a pre-war population of about 27,000. Like Miljka, most of those remaining are elderly women. Yet they are being targeted for murder.

The UN refugee agency reports nine murders and seven serious assaults against Serbs in Pristina in the past week alone. Two weeks ago in a Pristina suburb, an 80-year-old Serb woman was drowned in a bath tub.

Murders like these have prompted British troops in Pristina to launch what they call a "granny patrol".

British troops now patrol the street several times a day on foot. KFOR tanks and jeeps from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) rattle by. Helicopters circle loudly overhead a few times at night. But it appears that all of this is not enough to prevent someone from breaking into an apartment and killing an old lady.

Though our building is two minutes' walk from the Pristina headquarters of KFOR, the OSCE, the UN, and the UN police, I have never seen anyone check on Miljka. Meanwhile, the UN is now reporting that Albanians are increasingly forcing Serbs to hand over their property rights.

Displaced Albanians broke into our ethnically mixed apartment building in broad daylight a few weeks ago. When confronted, the head of household, an aggressive, sweating man obviously scouting out the building with a screw driver, said: "What am I supposed to do? Our house in Djakovica is destroyed. We have nothing."

He then marched a dozen family members, men, women, children, up the stairs, slipped the screw driver between the door and the wall, and moved in. "Call the police, call the police," Miljka whispered. But no one came. The UN deployed its first 30 international police to patrol Pristina only this week and says it will soon be setting up 24-hour stations in a few areas they have identified as hot spots.

But more than two months after the end of the war, and following the exodus of more than 90 per cent of Pristina's Serbs, its seems more than a bit late for the UN to be coming up with ideas for how to quell revenge attacks.

For the first weeks of peace, Miljka invited guests for coffee, proudly showed photos of her children, grandchildren and late husband, and even brought over the odd piece of cake. She also made a point of leaving her apartment to lock the building's front door.

Now, she appears to have given up, too afraid even to venture out to buy bread. When she appears, she talks only in a whisper, one hand held to the side of her mouth, to block the sound of her speaking Serbian. Her remaining dream is that one of her two adult children will come back from Serbia and take her home with them.

Laura Rozen is journalist specialising in the Balkans.

IWPR (Institute of War & Peace Reporting )

Roma 'Martians' From Kosovo Unwanted Wherever They Go

Tens of thousands of Kosovo's Roma population are fleeing the province to escape the threat of retaliation from embittered returning Albanian refugees - only to find that they are not welcome in Serbia either.

By Vesna Stojanovic
(Published on July 28, 1999)

As he stood outside the offices of Belgrade's Roma Society, waiting to pick up a food parcel, Kosovo Roma refugee K.K. heard the news that his mother was dead, murdered, her throat cut and her body tossed down a well.

Ten days earlier he had been forced to leave Kosovo, fearful of Albanian retribution following the Serbian withdrawal from the province. "The Albanians beat me up and attempted to kidnap my daughter," he claimed. "The next day they set my house on fire. I went, but my mother Arifa refused to leave."

Kosovo's Roma population have been blamed, along with the Serbs, for the brutality, robbery, rape and mass murder endured by the province's Albanian community before NATO led KFOR troops entered Kosovo. Though KFOR officials say that the incidence of reprisal attacks is coming down, tens of thousands of Serbs and Roma have fled the province in fear of the violence.

"An acquaintance told me that Albanians had driven through our neighbourhood shouting that we gypsies had to leave because we support (Yugoslav president Slobodan) Milosevic. Then they went inside my mother's house, they slit her throat and threw her body in the well of our neighbour Aisa Kamberi..."

K.K. was racked with guilt. "I had intended to go and bring her here (to Belgrade). Had I have gone to get her, she would still be alive."

Times have rarely been harder for the poor, jobless, homeless Roma. By habit of recent years., they have been forced to seek aid from the authorities, regardless of which authority rules the land they happen to stand on.

But this means they also have to prudently side with the powers-that-be. In Kosovo, that meant the Serbs. When the war came they were called up for the army and found themselves fighting the Albanians in their own province. Others, whether poor or merely criminal, took advantage of the chaos of conflict to rob or do worse.

Now the Albanians are back and the Serb authorities gone. The returnees are finding it hard to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. Neither do they much want to separate collective and individual responsibility for the crimes inflicted on the Kosovars.

The 1991 census reported approximately 49,000 Roma in Kosovo, though other estimates put the true figure as high as 150,000, taking account of irregular birth registration and the high birth rates among the community. According to best guesses, only about 10,000 Roma still remain in Kosovo, many too old or infirm to move. Nevertheless, all appear keen to leave.

As soon as the Serbian army and paramilitary police left Kosovo, most of the Roma started leaving: 7,000 from Prizren, 35,000 from Djakovica, around 13,000 from Pec, an estimated unofficial total of 120,000 from all over Kosovo. They left in a hurry, however they could, by car, of foot or by bus, even though unscrupulous drivers were charging 100 German marks for a seat.

Most have squeezed into existing Roma neighbourhoods in Serbia's towns between 15-20,000 in Belgrade alone. Another 20,000 crossed into Macedonia. Wherever they are they are mainly living rough with their children in parks and under bridges and generally going hungry.

Dz.I. from Pec in Kosovo reported that Serb police had set up a checkpoint at Rudare in southern Serbia, where Roma refugees are being forced to pay 200 to 300 marks or the equivalent in gold jewellery before they are allowed through.

"I did not have any money so I managed to get across through the forest," Dz.I said. "I came to Belgrade and I personally saw 30 Roma coming off the back of a lorry. They said that they had to pay around 200 German marks each to take the illegal trip to Serbia." There are reports that other police are manning posts at the Belgrade city limits and turning Roma refugees back as they arrive.

They feel that they have been abused and abandoned by both sides. "Since we cannot survive in Kosovo because of the Albanians, I ask why the Serbs were pushing us to quarrel and fight against Albanians in the first place?" asked Halil Ibrahim, a Roma from Kosovska Mitrovica.

"We had to be on the side of the SPS (Milosevic's ruling Socialist party). You had no other choice in Kosovo. Serbs had an easier time, though even they had to be a SPS member if they wanted to work." Dragan Stankovic, president of the Roma Society in Belgrade said the discrimination predates the present crisis. "We, the Roma people are wanted by the authorities only during time of war." He says that 6,000 Roma refugees from Kosovo have turned up at his offices in Belgrade since the bombing ended and NATO moved into the province.

He claims that the local state sponsored Red Cross society has failed to help and the government refuses aid. "We are not seen as human to them. We are second class citizens, Martians."

Wealthy Roma working abroad would like to send aid, he claimed, but will not because they cannot guarantee that the Serbs will not get it instead.

The international community, led by the US and British government, insist that no aid will go to Serbia until Milosevic resigns power.

"Why should we Gypsies suffer because of Milosevic?" snapped Stankovic. "He is the President of Serbs and not of Gypsies."
Between two and three hundred Roma refugees converge outside the Roma Society offices in Belgrade each day. Queues for aid start at five in the morning, waiting for food parcels provided by the Belgrade NGOs Bread and Life and Women Centre. There are often fights and angry words in Romany, Serb and Albanian, as Roma from Serbia argue with Roma from Kosovo.

Meanwhile state propagandists say all is well. "The Belgrade authorities are telling Roma - and many Serbs - that the situation in Kosovo is 'completely safe' and they should go home," said Ibrahim.

He said the authorities in Nis, an industrial town in Southern Serbia, even organised what he wryly called a 'virtual' return of Roma to Kosovo. "They loaded two buses full of people," he said, "and state television cameras filmed them 'leaving' (for Kosovo). Then the bus drove once around Nis before coming back, unloading the passengers and telling them to go away."

Serbia is feeling the effect of economic collapse, war and lingering sanctions. It has no resources to feed its own citizens, and sees the Roma as just another burden.

There is not enough to go around for us who live here," said Jovica Jovanovic, a Roma from Belgrade. "Even the Serbs are impoverished. They do not throw bread as they used to. Containers are empty.

"How are we going to live?" she asked. "'We do not need you, Roma from Kosovo' (the Serbs say). You voted for Milosevic, so go to Dedinje'."
Newly arrived Roma from Kosovo have to ask where Dedinje is. After a while they discover that it is the exclusive Belgrade neighbourhood where Slobodan Milosevic and the rest of the elite lives.

They will not be welcome there.

Vesna Stojanovic is a human rights activist and expert on the situation of the Roma in Serbia.

13. The Sunday Times May 16 1999

John Follain in Rome and Edin Hamzic report on the vice trail from Kosovo

Mafia smuggles refugee women into sex slavery

After her husband and young son were murdered by Serbian paramilitaries, Alina fled Kosovo in terror. Nothing, she thought, could be worse than staying in her war-torn homeland. But danger lurked on the other side of the border. Alina, 27, escaped the Serbs only to become a prisoner in Italy, forced into prostitution by her Albanian captors.

Criminal investigators fear Alina's experience could be repeated thousands of times as the exodus of refugees from Kosovo into Albania continues. The United Nations has warned that vulnerable Kosovan women are being forced into prostitution in the European Union by ruthless criminal gangs with long experience of smuggling women and children across borders into EU states.

"Human traffickers are a serious threat, especially in Albania," said Sadako Ogata, the UN high commissioner for refugees. The situation is now so bad that it needs to be "forcefully addressed" by the international community, she believes.

Alina, who lived in Pristina until her husband and son were killed in front of her by masked members of a Serbian militia within days of the Nato airstrikes starting, is one of the first known Kosovan refugees forced into prostitution by Albanian mafia gangs. In early April she was approached by a man in Kukes, at an Albanian refugee camp she had fled to. He said he would find work and a home for her in Italy.

The Albanian drove her to the coast, from where she was smuggled in a speedboat across the Adriatic at night, with other illegal immigrants. She landed somewhere on the coast of southern Italy, to be met by four Albanian men.

They took her to Triggiano, a village south of the port of Bari. There, she later told Italian police, she was confined to a 16 sq metre airless room in a decrepit house with three other young women - Shpresa, 25, from Drenica in Kosovo, and two Albanians. The women had to share two torn mattresses and were fed only tinned food and bread.

Her four guards, who shared the bedroom next door, let her out under escort only at night. "I was already mourning the loss of my husband and my son, and now I was forced to sell my body," Alina said. "The Albanians told me, 'Do this or we will beat you; do this or we will kill you.' "

"This" meant dressing in a miniskirt, fishnet stockings and high heels, packing a few condoms into her handbag and parading the seafront motorway south of Bari, or plying her enforced trade in small towns nearby. The four captives earned 1.5m lire (about ?500) each a night - none of which they were allowed to keep.

Alina's ordeal finally ended 10 days ago, when police raided the house. Two of the Albanians escaped arrest by fleeing over the rooftops. The two others, who turned out to be from the Albanian port of Durres, were caught and charged with abetting illegal immigration and prostitution, kidnapping and enslavement, and face several years in jail.

The next day, with a magistrate's approval, Alina headed back to Albania by ferry. Others, however, are sure to take her place. Italian relief workers at refugee camps in Vlore on the Albanian coast have reported visits by men who then leave the camp with young women. In one case, a 16-year-old was taken away from a camp set up by volunteers from Italy's Piemonte region.

The man who took her had a Kalashnikov slung across his back and told relief workers he was a policeman. "There are 2,000 Kosovan refugees in our camp," said Father Giovanni Mercurio, who manages the Rezervat E Shteti centre in Vlore. "For a month now police have been taking girls away and we are not told their destination. But we can't do anything about it."

Relief agencies have reported their concerns to the Italian interior ministry, but a government spokesman said there was little the authorities could do. "The girls are free, the refugee camps are not prisons. They are at liberty to do what they want and that can include being hired by Albanian criminals. The best way to stop that happening," he said, "is to have European countries take in refugees and care for them."

Last year, however, a Sunday Times investigation revealed that girls as young as 14 were being kidnapped or bought from their families in Albania to be sold for ?800 each into the white slave trade in Britain. Thousands of women like Alina have been smuggled into Italy by sea and then transported overland to London, Hamburg and other western European cities.

In Durres, The Sunday Times was told that the price had since risen to ?1,300. "Albanian mafia gangs are very vicious," a recent Home Office report emphasised. "They make the Italian mafia look like crowd-control officers at a local whist drive."

The National Conservative Weekly
Vol.55 No.9
March 5, 1999

Jane's Says Muslim Guerrillas Wage War of Terror Against Serbs


If, like most Americans, you know absolutely nothing about the Balkan backwater of Kosovo, you will learn all of you need to know in the next few paragraphs to understand that President Clinton's policy there is violently at odds with all good sense and U.S. national interests.

Last July along the Serbian-Albanian frontier, the Yugoslavian Army encountered a group of Muslim guerrillas trying to sneak across the mountains into the Serbian province of Kosovo.

The Yugoslavians killed a guerrilla named Alija Rabie. He was a citizen of Albania, but also a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army that is fighting to wrest control of Kosovo from Serbia. Documents found on Rabie's body showed he was escorting into Serbia a 50-man contingent of foreign fighters intent on waging jihad against Kosovo's minority population of Orthodox Christians, usually referred to in the press as "Serbs."

"The group included one Yemeni and 16 Saudis, six of whom bore passports with Macedonian Albanian names," reported Jane's International Defense Review.

Jane's is no partisan pro-Serbian publisher. It is the highly reputable, pro-NATO, century-old, British-based firm that over the years has developed a remarkable reputation for scooping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency on important news about rogue regimes and insurgencies around the world.

Ethnic Cleansing of Christians

The clash last July between Yugoslavian Army troops guarding the Serbian-Albanian border and Muslim insurgents trying to sneak weapons and foreign mujahideen into the Serbian province of Kosovo was not a unique incident. It was routine.

Indeed, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA, but known in their native tongue as the Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves, or UCK) is suffering a large portion of its casualties in exactly these sort of clashes. "This total of UCK loses incurred during frontier crossings (136 dead since January 1998)," reports Jane's, "is quite significant when compared to the 180 UCK soldiers who were killed during the fighting in mid-1998. (During this period 112 Serb police and 51 Serb army personnel were killed with 395 police officers wounded."

"The UCK's tactical mistake," says Jane's, "has been to concentrate its horse-borne arms trains on two frontier crossing areas... instead of dispersing its arms caravans the length of the frontier."

"The UCK has compounded this tactical errors," adds Jane's, "by trying to push ever larger guerrilla groups along these same infiltration routes in the mistaken belief that they can smash their way through Belgrade's border defense."

"The UCK favors these extremely dangerous routes," explains Jane's, "because topographically they are the easiest and shortest conduits for the pack horse arms caravans to guerrilla- controlled areas of Kosovo. Furthermore, the UCK is in a hurry to get arms to its host of ready recruits and proceed with its third winter objective, expansion of guerrilla control in Kosovo."

"UCK expansion on the ground in Kosovo is gradual, insidious process containing three elements," says Jane's.

What are those three elements?

1) Assassination of Muslims who don't cooperate. "First is the elimination of opposition to their authority among the Kosovo Albanians," says Jane's. "This usually means targeting those few Albanians with connections to the Serb police."

2) Assassination of Serbian police. "Secondly," says Jane's, "there are occasional attacks on the Serb police patrols and the few remaining Serb police checkpoints. In one case a single RPG was fired at a Serb police car by a group that escaped in a car via the network of country lanes which the UCK has prepared as a parallel transport system in case Serb police return to their tactics of saturating main roads with checkpoints to prevent UCK vehicle movement."

3) A reign of terror against Orthodox Christians of Kosovo. "The third and most important element this winter has so far been the harassment and assassination of Serb officials and civilians from Kosovo's Serb minority," reports Jane's. "This has included sniper attacks, Serbs dragged from their vehicles and beaten, together with pressure on them to leave their homes.... This UCK tactic has the double benefit of forcing Serbs to quit the province and provoking police into retaliation and subsequent censure by OSCE [NATO-backed Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe] observers."

When Serbian Christian forces do this to Albanian Muslims, the Western press usually, and rightly,, refers to it as "ethnic cleansing."

So, what is President Clinton's policy toward this war of national secession being waged by acts of terror by Arab- backed Muslim guerrillas within the historical boundaries of a European nation? It is, first, to threaten Serbia with bombing raids if the Serbs don't agree to remove their troops from their own national territory and, second, to grant "autonomy" to a region that would then be run by the KLA, with U.S. troops standing guard on the ground, protecting the KLA guerrillas from Serbian Christian forces.

This policy hit a snag last week when the KLA itself refused to sign off on the deal when it was offered them by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. KLA forces believe they can win their independence outright from the Serbs without the aid of bombing raids delivered courtesy of Uncle Sam. They fear that American troops will needlessly yoke them to the historically Christian nation they believe they can defeat on their way to establishing an Islamic republic in what Winston Churchill once called the soft underbelly of Europe.

The Serbs for their part say they will never let go of Kosovo because it is the cradle of their indigenous Orthodox religious tradition. It is for them what Mecca is to the Muslims.

As has been much reported in the liberal press, the Serbs, too, have committed outrageous acts of terror to keep Kosovo in Christian hands.

But the United States has no business intervening in this religious civil war - on either side. It is high time the Republicans in Congress raised their voice to tell President Clinton clearly and unequivocally, No Go on Kosovo.

[Plese send all editorial correspondence to

1 Massachusetts Avenue, WW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel.: (202) 216-0600

BBC Sunday, August 2, 1998 Published at 01:01 GMT 02:01 UK

BBC: World: Europe

Circassians flee Kosovo conflict

Photo: The Circassians arrive in southern Russia from Kosovo

Seventy-six members of an ancient ethnic minority group have fled the Kosovo conflict and arrived in southern Russia.

The Adygs, better known as Circassians, flew in from the Kosovo region of Yugoslavia to their historic homeland in southern Russia on Saturday.

Forty-two families whose ancestors settled in Kosovo during the 19th century, when it was part of the Ottoman Empire, had been living in two villages outside the Kosovar capital, Pristina.

Ethnic Albanians who are in the majority in Kosovo consider the Circassians, although fellow Muslims, too supportive of the Serbs.

The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia, is thought to have threatened the Adygs.

The Adygs say they have been "sitting on their suitcases" since the Kosovo conflict began in 1997.

A second group of Adygs is due to arrive in Russia later this month having travelled through Bulgaria and across the Black Sea.

Aslan Karashev, a minister in the tiny Adyg republic in the north Caucasus, says: "Adygeya is ready to receive its compatriots from Kosovo."

The Adygs are being brought over by Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations and will be housed in a former kindergarten. Mr Karashev said they would eventually be given land to cultivate.

Circassians hail from the north Caucasus, but during the 19th century they were displaced by Russia's imperial conquests and were scattered around Europe and the Middle East.

Serbia Info News (Tanjug)

Samodreza village without Serbs

March 01, 1999

After repeated ethnic Albanian extremists threats, Danica Milincic, the last Serbian woman in the village, left Samodrez, the Municipal authorities in Vucitrn informed Tanjug today.

Danica Milincic moved in with her son in Vucitrn, and three Serbian households of Milic and Slavkovic left Samodrez in the end of the last year, after repeated ethnic Albanian extremists' threats.

A four-class elementary school is closed in Samodrez last year due to pupils and parents fear of the ethnic Albanian extremists. Now six pupils of this school attend the curriculum in a Serbian house in Lazici village, which is situated 2,5 kilometers from Samodrez. Samodrez is 10 kilometers away from Vucitrn.

In the 60s there were 40 Serbian and 40 Albanian households in Samodrez. Today there are three times as many Albanian houses - 150, while Samodrez is left without Serbian people.

According to a folk tale and to the epic "Uros and the Mrnjavcevici", in the dawn of the Battle in Kosovo in 1389 there stood a church described as "the white church of Samodrez". In this church [Prince] Knight Lazar blessed his army. The same tale says that Milos Obilic was buried in this church after the battle. On the hill above the church there was an old town with the castle of Vuk Brankovic, where Knight [Prince] Lazar dined with his army leaders and uttered the famous appeal from the epic: "He, who shall not come to the battle in Kosovo…"

The present church was constructed on the foundations of the old one in 1932.

In 1981 ethnic Albanians committed a sacrilege in the church, and in 1982 they brutally murdered Danilo Milincic, son of Danica Milincic, the last Serbian woman whom left the village yesterday. Ferat Mujo, the murderer of Danilo Milincic, was sentenced to capital punishment.


KLA Said Behind Serb Killings
By Tom Cohen
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, August 3, 1999; 10:09 a.m. EDT

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Serbs and Gypsies are being beaten and killed by revenge-seeking ethnic Albanians, and efforts by NATO-led peacekeepers are often inadequate to stop the violence, two human rights groups said today.

The allegations were contained in a report published today by Human Rights Watch and in excerpts of testimony by Gypsies -- or Roma -- made available to The Associated Press by the European Roma Rights Center. Both groups blamed the Kosovo Liberation Army for most of the abuses.

Together, they provided fresh evidence that violence stoked by ethnic hatred persists in Kosovo despite the June pullout of the Yugoslav army and Serb police after President Slobodan Milosevic accepted a Kosovo peace plan in exchange for an end to NATO bombing.

In outlining abuses, Human Rights watch said that ``well over 164,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo,'' along with ``significant'' numbers of Gypsies, accused by many Kosovo Albanians of siding with the Serbs and against the province's Albanians.

The report said there had been a ``rash of killings against Serbs since mid-June,'' including ``many ... innocent civilians.'' It said that Serbs and Gypsies are also abducted and ``in most cases, the men are detained, questioned, and beaten, often very badly.''

``While most are subsequently released, some of those abducted remain missing and are presumed dead,'' the report said.

In a separate development, French police on U.N. duty in Kosovo briefly arrested a man thought to be a war crimes suspect, only to release him several hours later after determining that he was the wrong man.

French peacekeepers said that the man, Dragan Jovanovic, was released after an identity check revealed that the sought suspect was someone else with the same name.

One beating victim quoted by the Budapest, Hungary-based European Roma Rights Center related being taken into a room in the village of Drenovce, near the Albanian border to see a fellow-Gypsy who had been severely beaten.

``He lifted up his shirt and showed me his ribs,'' said the man, identified only by his initials. ``His chest was all black.''

Then the men, some in KLA uniforms, turned their attention to him.

``They kicked me all over my body, including my genitals,'' he said. ``I couldn't see, because my eyes were full of blood.''

Eight other men quoted by the Roma Rights Center related similar tales of beatings, threats and intimidation by people in KLA uniforms who accused them of spying for the Serbs, directly participating in the persecution of ethnic Albanians, or stealing. One of the men said his wife, sister and mother were raped by men in KLA uniform.

Both rights groups described international efforts to stop the revenge crimes as inadequate, with NATO-led peacekeepers -- formally known as KFOR -- an inefficient alternative to thousands of police the groups said are needed to keep violence in check.

``The current ad hoc arrangements for policing are woefully inadequate,'' said the Human Rights Watch report. ``KFOR's concern about protecting its own forces, differing interpretations of the mandate ... and lack of experience in civil policing result in an uneven response to attacks and threats against minorities.''

The reports were made public against the backdrop of a string of reported revenge killings of Serbs, including an elderly woman found strangled in her bathtub.

The 90-year-old Serb woman was found dead Monday in Pristina, Yugoslavia's state-run Tanjug news agency reported. Three other slayings, including that of a Serb killed in the Vitina area southeast of Pristina and two others in Prizren in southwestern Kosovo, were reported by the private Beta news agency.

KFOR said two ethnic Albanians were detained in connection with the killing of the woman. In a statement, it also said four attackers ``alleged to be ethnic Albanians'' killed a Serb man in the provincial capital.

The KFOR statement also said 15 Serbs were detained in Mitrovica for attempting to prevent ethnic Albanians from returning home.

Associated Press

Wednesday August 4, 5:28 AM ET

Groups Decry Attacks on Serbs

By TOM COHEN Associated Press Writer

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) - Kosovo's former rebels are denying any role in attacks against Serbs and Gypsies and have asked NATO-led peacekeepers for help in putting a stop to atrocities against non-Albanian ethnic groups.

Lirak Celaj, a spokesman for the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army, said that rebel forces had nothing to do with recent atrocities committed against minorities in Kosovo, including the massacre of 14 Serb farmers.

Celaj was responding to a report released Tuesday by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which charged that Serbs and Gypsies are being harassed, beaten and murdered in what looks like a systematic effort to force them out of Kosovo.

``It is not true that KLA is doing it,'' Celaj said Tuesday. ``That is why we are asking for more close cooperation with KFOR,'' referring to the NATO-led peacekeepers by their official name. ``We would like to find out who are those people who are shaming the KLA.''

Celaj noted that KLA uniforms are easily obtained at shops across the border in Albania.

Nonetheless, the allegations raised by Human Rights Watch are echoed in excerpts of testimony from Gypsies, or Roma, made available to The Associated Press by the European Roma Rights Center.

One person quoted by the Roma center, headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, told of being taken into a room in the village of Drenovce, near the Albanian border, to see a fellow Gypsy who had been severely beaten.

``He lifted up his shirt and showed me his ribs,'' said the man, identified only by his initials. ``His chest was all black.''

Others related similar tales of beatings, threats and intimidation by people in KLA uniforms who accused them of spying or helping Serbs persecute ethnic Albanians.

Although Human Rights Watch stopped short of accusing the KLA of specific atrocities, the organization said the ``frequency and severity of such abuses make it incumbent upon the KLA leadership to take swift and decisive action to prevent them.''

The reports have troubling implications for Western leaders, who justified their 11-week NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia by asserting that the goal was a peaceful, multiethnic Kosovo.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are among those pleading with ethnic Albanians to end the violence.

Human Rights Watch cited the gunning down of 14 Serb farmers in a wheat field July 23 as an example of Serbs being targeted for no other apparent reason than their decision to stay in Kosovo.

``The intent behind many of the killings and abductions that have occurred in the province since early June appears to be the expulsion of Kosovo's Serb and Roma population rather than a desire for revenge alone,'' the report said.

It also said concerns by the KFOR peacekeeping force for the safety of its troops, their inexperience in police functions and personnel shortages ``result in an uneven response to attacks and threats against minorities.''

The report said more than 164,000 Serbs and many Gypsies, often accused by Albanians of siding with Serbian forces, have fled the province since the Serb-led Yugoslav army left and NATO moved in last month.

NATO acknowledged difficulties, but defended its work.

``We have filled the security void. The entire society is getting a jump start,'' said KFOR spokesman Roland Lavoie, noting that more than 700,000 refugees had returned under NATO protection.

Underscoring the problem were reports of more killings, including Monday's death of a 90-year-old woman in Pristina. Yugoslavia's state-run Tanjug news agency said she was found strangled to death in the bathtub of her apartment.

KFOR said two ethnic Albanians were detained in the case.


Attacks on elderly being condemned in Kosovo

PRISTINA, 28 October 1999 -- Human rights teams of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which responsible for the human rights mandate within United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), have investigated an increasing number of murders, attacks and harassment. Elderly Serbs, in particular, are the victims. A pattern is emerging against those elderly who provide needed food and supplies to their housebound friends and against elderly people who have been singled out for property evictions.

The OSCE and UNMIK strongly condemn this deplorable pattern of violence and harassment. They call on political and community leaders to use their influence and to step up their efforts to actively discourage, stop and prevent this shameful behaviour.

An example of the violence is an attack in Zupa, where a 96-year-old Serb male was found bound and gagged with a gunshot wound to the head. The victim had been gathering food for a small isolated village of Serbs, many of whom were too afraid to travel to closest food shop run by Kosovo Albanians. In Kamenica, the remains of an 82-year-old Serb woman were found in her burnt house. She previously had been threatened and told to move out of the house.

Threats of eviction are not limited to Serbs. Elderly Kosovo Albanians report that young men and sometimes children bang on their doors and tell them to leave. These victims believe they are being evicted so that larger Kosovo Albanian families whose houses have been destroyed may move into their property. Many elderly Serbs tell human rights teams they are too afraid to leave their homes for fear of being attacked or evicted while they are out. Others told the OSCE that local Albanian food shops are refusing to sell food unless customers speak Albanian.

These attacks and intimidations are particularly deplorable in a society that traditionally respects and protects the elderly. Equally disturbing is the reluctance of witnesses, again because of fear, to assist in the investigation of these crimes by UNMIK Police and KFOR. OSCE human rights officers will continue to investigate violations of the human rights of the elderly and others in Kosovo. The OSCE urges all citizens to co-operate with the policing and security efforts of UNMIK Police and KFOR in solving and preventing such harassment and crime.

Building democratic institutions is the primary responsibility of the OSCE, within United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The OSCE Mission in Kosovo has specific responsibilities in the areas of police training, media affairs, rule of law and human rights, democratization and elections. More information is available by visiting the website at http://www.osce.org/kosovo

IWPR, June 99

Serb Refugees Rejected By Belgrade

Serb refugees on the move out of Kosovo are being directed away from Belgrade, for fear that their presence might upset the state's preferred image of victory over the 'NATO aggressors'

By Milenko Vasovic in Gornji Milanovac

Two tractors pulled into the courtyard of Radoslav Otovic, close by the Meridijan fruit processing plant in the Serbian town of Gornji Milanovac which lies two dozen kilometres south of Belgrade. Both vehicles were loaded with pieces of furniture, blankets and clothing - and four Serb families from the Kosovo village of Prekale.

All are tired from the journey. The eldest among them, Bogic Kozic, who is over seventy-five, is crying. Everything he owns is left behind in Kosovo. He has a thirty-five-year old daughter, who is mentally retarded, with him. "I don't know what's happening to us," says Bogic. "What have we done wrong?"

Of his five children, one son lives in Belgrade. The old man is hoping to reach him. Hoping, he says, because it is not so easy to reach Belgrade these days. While some have made it and are staying with families or sleeping rough in the city's parks, most

Kosovo Serb refugees found their road to the capital blocked by the police who ordered them elsewhere. It seems the refugees are not desirable in Belgrade - where they might spoil the celebratory mood of the "victors against the NATO aggressors." The refugees had planned to gather in front of the building of the Yugoslav Parliament to protest what they see as the government's calculated decision to ignore their plight.

In Belgrade today, you can not see or read anything in the official media about the suffering of the Serbs and Montenegrins and others who have left Kosovo - just as previously, we have been unable to read anything about the Albanians forced out of the province earlier.

But a picture of sorts is now being presented to viewers of the Belgrade television station Studio B which is controlled by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). Zivan Zivkovic from the village of Musotiste, in the Suva Reka municipality of kosovo.netplained to viewers how he was ordered by the Yugoslav Army, just like other Serbs from the village, to leave, and that they had only three hours to pack up.

He told the station how he and his family had been travelling north for three days. "When we were coming no one paid attention to us, helped us, or gave food for the children or offered us a roof over our heads. We even had to pay two German Marks per litre for the fuel to bring us here. I don't know where I'm going. My sister lives in Belgrade, but people get fed up with guests quickly. I left a lot of things behind including three houses, property, cows, pigs - all worth over a million German Marks... only four of five Serbs stayed in the village, no one knows what happened to them."

Practically the entire Serbian state structure has been moved out of Kosovo. The municipal functionaries, who by rule are all members of the ruling party, were the first to leave, says Marko Jaksic, the president of the Regional Board of the Democratic Party of Serbia. One president of the municipality was even trying to sell his flat to the municipality at the last minute.

The entire police, judiciary, even prisoners were moved, as well as the municipal registrars and archives, so that one cannot now obtain even the simplest document. There is no record as to whether some factories have been moved, but there are rumours that this may have indeed happened. Ontop of this, many of the cars and vehicles in the columns heading out of Kosovo have been striped of their license plates - a sure indication that they were stolen.

The police in Serbia are conducting detailed searches of the refugees and their vehicles, looking for and confiscating arms. Nearly everybody, women and children included, now have their own guns-a legacy of the war in Kosovo. A middle-aged man in the column complained to the Belgrade weekly Vreme: "When we reached Serbia, some gentlemen ordered that our weapons should be confiscated. I did not give them to the UCK (Kosovo Liberation Army), I did not give them to NATO, nor will I give them to these people."

The exact number of Serbs who have fled Kosovo is unknown. The number is growing by the day, and it is estimated to be between 30,000 and 80,000. The majority of them have relatives in Serbia and Montenegro, but many are still out in the open. In some places, like in Kragujevac for example, these people have a problem with food. That is the reason why many are now thinking of returning so long as their security can be guaranteed."

The Serbian authorities have changed their tune in recent days and have begun a somewhat panicky appeal for the refugees to return home. The appeals are aimed at keeping those yet to leave in place as much as they are initiating the return of refugees, who after all do not have much access to television these days.

On the state run channels therefore, one can already see reports from Serb enclaves in Pristina or in Kosovo Polje, in which the interviewed Serbs are filmed saying somewhat unconvincingly: "This is our land, we are staying here, we are safe here..."

Milenko Vasovic is a journalist based in Belgrade.

Jane's Intelligence Review
February 1, 1995

SECTION: EUROPE; Vol. 7; No. 2; Pg. 68
The 'Balkan Medellin'*

(Medellin - city in Columbia)
BYLINE: Marko Milivojevic


The Albanian-dominated region of western Macedonia accounts for a disproportionate share of the 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.

Albanian Narco-Terrorism

Previously transported to Western Europe through former Yugoslavia, heroin from Turkey, the Transcaucasus 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 per cent of the illegal heroin market in Germany and Switzerland. Closely allied to the powerful Sicilian mafia, the Albanian associates have also greatly benefitted from the presence of large numbers of mainly Kosovar Albanians in a number of West European countries; Switzerland alone now has over 100000 ethnic Albanian residents. As well as providing a perfect cover for Albanian criminals, this diaspora is also a useful source of income for racketeers.

Socially organized in extended families bound together in clan alliances, Kosovar Albanians dominate the Albanian mafia in the southern Balkans. Other than Kosovo, the Albanian mafia is also active in northern Albania and western Macedonia. In this context, the so-called 'Balkan Medellin' is made up of a number of geographically connected border towns, namely Veliki Trnovac and Blastica in Serbia, Vratnica in Macedonia, and Gostivar in Albania. Further afield, the Albanian mafia also has a strong presence in: Pristina, the capital of Kosovo; Skopje, the capital of Macedonia; Shkoder, the second largest city in Albania and its northern provincial capital; and Durres, Albania's main port and maritime link to nearby Italy across the Adriatic Sea.

As for heroin processing locally, the Albanian mafia now reportedly runs at least two secret facilities in Macedonia, which is also the key regional transportation crossroads for the trans-shipment of heroin from Bulgaria to Albania. Heroin shipments are thought to be mostly moved overland by a number of seemingly legitimate international trucking and freight-forwarding companies in Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia.

High-level corruption, widespread local poverty, a tradition of cross-border smuggling and poor policing throughout the region have all aided the recent rise of the Albanian mafia. In Macedonia, local drug-trafficking is now out of control, a fact which no doubt explains why the Macedonian police have recently turned to Italy for assistance in this area of law enforcement. In this context, the Italian national police mounted a major 10-month joint operation with their Macedonian counterparts in Skopje in 1993-94. Codenamed 'Macedonia', this operation reportedly involved intensive surveillance of known Kosovar Albanian drug-traffickers in the Macedonian capital. Here, a joint Italian-Macedonian police swoop resulted in the seizure of 42 kg of pure heroin in May 1994. In terms of the quantity of heroin now routinely transiting Macedonia, however, the Skopje seizure was insignificant. Operationally, larger seizures of such controlled substances are ultimately dependent on co-operation from the police in nearby Serbia and Albania. To date, they have proved remarkably unhelpful.

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 channelling 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.

In Macedonia, the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) and other ethnic Albanian political parties, such as the ultra-nationalistic National Democratic Party (NDP), are almost certainly in receipt of laundered Albanian forex profits from narco-terrorism. These have also been reportedly used for the bribing of corrupt Macedonian government officials and police. More generally, Kosovo and western Macedonia are both suspiciously well endowed in forex. This can only realistically have come from criminal enterprises, given the widespread poverty of these two connected areas in the Yugoslav period.

A similar state of affairs exists in nearby Albania, which is not as poor in forex as its government likes to pretend. In all three cases, this criminally generated forex is often disguised as emigree remittances; these totalled over US$500 million in Albania alone in 1993. If Kosovo and Macedonia are included, then total Albanian forex from narco-terrorism going into the southern Balkans in 1993 could have been as high as US$1 billion. Other than buying the Albanian mafia political protection and influence, and a certain spurious popular legitimacy for its alleged patriotism, this laundered drug money is now being increasingly used in an associated activity, namely gun-running among the region's ethnic Albanians.

Balkan Arms Bazaar

Bizarre even by the murky standards of the Balkans, the recent trial in Skopje of 10 ethnic Albanians charged with 'conspiracy to form military formations' revealed the extent of illegal gun-running at the highest levels in Macedonia. Politically, what made this trial significant was the public standing of some of its defendants. In this context, the then Macedonian interior minister, Ljubomir Frckovski, ordered the arrest in late 1993 of two leading members of the PDP, which was in government in Skopje. The two alleged high-level gun-runners were Midhat Emini, the then president of the PDP, and Husein Haskaj, the then deputy defence minister in the government of Premier Branko Crvenkovski. Given the immense political implications of these arrests and the trial that followed on from them in 1994, Frckovski could only have acted in the way that he did

for the most compelling of reasons.

All of this meant that top PDP leaders were then involved in the illegal importation of armaments purchased in Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia and the West. These activities must have involved the local Albanian mafia, which is itself heavily armed with sophisticated weaponry purchased with the profits from narco-terrorism. This may have indicated that the PDP and the NDP were tiring of parliamentary politics in Skopje and preparing other options to advance their cause, namely an armed uprising of some sort. In the case of the main ethnic Albanian political party in Macedonia, the PDP, this interpretation was later given added credence when its formally relatively moderate leadership was ousted by a radical ultra-nationalist faction in a palace revolution orchestrated by the DP government in Albania. Significantly, this development took place just after the public trial of the two top PDP leaders charged with illegal gun-running.

Currently led by two noted ultra-nationalists, Abdurahman Haliti and Medhuh Thaci, the PDP can thus no longer be regarded as a purely constitutional party. In practice, it is also a secret party-militia, tainted with Albanian narco-terrorist connections. This is even more true of the NDP which is now close to becoming a terrorist organization. In addition, both these parties are now also directly controlled by nearby Albania where the SHIK secret police is known to be heavily implicated in both working with the Albanian mafia and cross-border gun-running into Macedonia and Kosovo. For all these reasons, the PDP and the NDP may eventually be formally proscribed by the Skopje government.

Despite its recent poor performance in the October 1994 elections (see article on pp 64-67), the VMRO-DPMNE aims to profit from such worsening inter-ethnic tensions in the future. Already, it is openly advocating the use of repressive and violent options against the ethnic Albanian minority. In this context, the VMRO-DPMNE is itself suspected of secretly arming its ultra-nationalistic membership with the assistance of influential VMRO irredentist forces in nearby Bulgaria. Sofia has a notorious reputation for selling armaments to anybody who can pay for them, including virtually all the parties in the ongoing civil war in the former Yugoslavia.

Regional Sanctions Breaking

Effectively trapped between two stronger anti-Macedonian states, namely Serbia and Greece, Macedonia has effectively been compelled to break the trade embargo imposed by the UN against rump Yugoslavia in 1992. In the case of Serbia, Macedonia was closely bound to it economically during the Yugoslav period. Breaking all these economic links, as demanded by the UN Security Council, has proved impossible in practice.

Initially tolerated by the international community, the Macedonian sanctions-breaking has recently reached significant levels, particularly after the UN lifted some of its non-economic sanctions

against rump Yugoslavia in 1994. For all practical purposes, there is no longer even the pretence of Macedonian compliance with the UN's sanctions regime against rump Yugoslavia. Other than Greece, Albania and Bulgaria also reportedly make extensive use of Macedonia for their own sanctions-breaking activities in relation to rump Yugoslavia. Economically, it is now an open secret in Skopje that Macedonia would have completely collapsed long ago had it attempted to avoid such regional sanctions-busting.

In this context, matters became critical for Macedonia when Greece, in a move clearly closely co-ordinated with Serbia, imposed an economic blockade against the country in March 1994. This immediately cut off Macedonia from the Greek port of Thessaloniki, thereby increasing its economic dependence on Serbia. The only alternative link to the outside world, via nearby Albania and Bulgaria, was also uncertain. In the case of Albania, this was mainly due to a worsening of relations between Skopje and Tirane over the issue of the ethnic Albanians in western Macedonia.

As regards Bulgaria, there were also political problems, notably those pertaining to Sofia's ambivalent recognition of Macedonia as a separate Macedonian state but not as the homeland of a separate Macedonian nation distinct from Bulgaria. In addition, the main east-west communications routes to Albania and Bulgaria are very poorly developed, thereby limiting the amount of freight traffic they can handle.

Politically, this illegal Greco-Serbian economic pressure against Macedonia has resulted in a more conciliatory stance by the Skopje government towards Athens and Belgrade. Officials in these capitals would like to see Macedonia reincorporated into a third and Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Domestically, such a scenario is now being made more probable by local socio-economic collapse and the worsening conflict between the ethnic Macedonian majority and the ethnic Albanian minority population in western Macedonia. Longer term, this could conceivably lead to local participation in a proposed regional anti-Albanian and anti-Muslim 'Orthodox Alliance' between Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Already openly advocated by VMRO-DPMNE, such a scenario would become more probable if Macedonia descends into an inter-ethnic civil war or outright partition furthered by its stronger and hostile neighbours.

Marko Milivojevic is member of the Research Unit in South East European Studies at the University of Bradford, UK.

UCK at the heart of radicalisation

Within a year, the Kosovo Liberation Army has became impossible to ignore

by Marc Semo -- Liberation

Thursday January 21, 1999

With its combatants dressed in flamboyant new uniforms, decorated with an eagle, the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK, for Ushtrija Clirimtare e Kosoves) is from now on a reality impossible to ignore. However, just a year ago, it consisted only of a small group claiming a few assaults on police headquarters, murders of Serb policemen and executions of "collaborators".

The first public appearance of the Kosovar guerrillas dates back to November 1997: armed and hidden behind ski-masks, they escorted the coffin of a teacher killed by the Serbs in the village of Drenica, the plateau in the centre of Kosovo and ancient bastion of the struggle for independence of this province of southern Serbia with its 90% Albanian population. There, a few months later, in February 1998, the Belgrade special forces launched a vast operation in order to eliminate Adem Jashari and his comrades, considered to be the hard core of the UCK. The entire family clan, including the children, were killed (85 died). The war in Kosovo had begun.


The writer Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the moderate Kosovars, denounce the UCK at the time as "a creation of the Serb security services". Then it have recognised that they himself be of "a group of citizen defend their hearth ". Tired of the scant results of the strategy of peaceful mass resistance that the " president " of Kosovo embodied and of indifference of the international community, more and more of Kosovars, especially the young, opted for the armed struggle "because it is the only language the Serbs understand ".

Today, in spite of the military setbacks it suffered last summer, the UCK, which claims to command some 30,000 combatants, once again controls most of the countryside outside the main roads. Last spring, the writer Adem Demaci, the "Mandela of Kosovo" who lingered for twenty-eight years in a Serb gaol, became its political representative in Pristina.


Nonetheless the organisation remains in many ways an enigma. Opaque in its structures, easily totalitarian in its methods, prohibiting in its strongholds all the Albanian parties which it denounces as "a useless luxury", its commanders with their unreconstructed wooden language at the start used to greet one another with raised fists. The UCK remained largely true to the Maoist origins of its founders, even if all Albanian ultranationalists now feel represented by it.

The original core was made up of militants who were fascinated by the unadulterated Marxism of Enver Hoxha in nearby Albania. They took part in the students’ protest of Pristina of 1981 in favour of the creation of a republic of Kosovo, and were imprisoned by the local communist authorities consisting of Albanians of origin. The statute of autonomy was undone by Slobodan Milosevic in 1989, after which they departed into exile in Switzerland, Germany or Sweden.

There, as Yugoslavia fell apart, they created the military organisation that grew thanks to the financial assistance of the diaspora. Weapons as well as volunteers arrived and continue to arrive through northern Albania, where the UCK has its rear bases in the mountains around Tropoja, stronghold of the former Albanian president, nationalist Sali Berisha.


"We want more than independence: the reunification of all the Albanians on the Balkans," affirmed Jakup Krasniqi, spokesman of the organisation, last July. Since the, they are clearly mincing their words, but their radicalism frightens the West. And it balks at the idea of military strikes, which would only help the UCK on the ground. The movement on the other hand knows that even now that it is better armed and organised that last summer, it cannot hold its ground against the Serb military machine. Consequently, its aim is to shock public opinion as this is the only force deemed capable of sweeping aside the reticence in Western capitals. For several months, the Kosovar guerrilla has been pushing the Serbs across the fault line by multiplying its attacks against individual police officers. Thus, it tries to provoke a massive reaction by the forces of Milosevic. This strategy is classical: it doesn’t necessarily mean that the UCK is capable of any sinister set-up.

August 3, 1999
Kosovo Rebels Said to Allow Violence Against the Serbs


PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- The murders, abductions, threats and beatings of Serbs and Gypsies in Kosovo have largely been the work of members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, says Human Rights Watch in a report, asserting that neither the guerrilla army's leaders nor the international force are doing enough to stop the violence.

The report, a copy of which was shown to The New York Times by an author before its official release on Tuesday, details cases in which Kosovo Albanians are believed to have intimidated, beaten or killed members of ethnic minorities.

In many cases the perpetrators were wearing the liberation army uniforms or identified themselves as members, the report says, adding that the security forces have said that not everyone arrested in a liberation army uniform is a member.

The report does not accuse the rebel leadership of directing the violence, but condemns the inability to stop it.

"We do not have any evidence of a policy or of official sanctioning, but it is clear it is widespread, and in some cases local K.L.A. units are involved," said Ben Ward, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who contributed to the report.

The report includes 40 documented killings of Serbs and two of Gypsies, as well as recounting 30 documented cases of beatings or abductions.

"The most serious incidents of violence have been carried out by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army," the report states.

It includes testimony by a young Gypsy who said liberation army members had interrogated and abused him. It also details slayings of elderly Serbian civilians by men described as uniformed liberation army members.

"The frequency and severity of such abuses make it incumbent upon the K.L.A. leadership to take swift and decisive action to prevent them," the study contends.

Human Rights Watch suggests that the motivation is largely revenge for violence by Serbs and that the goal is to drive the Serbs out of Kosovo. Some 100,000 non-Albanians have fled Kosovo in the six weeks since NATO forces arrived, and there has been widespread looting and arson of their houses.

The report does not try to cover the spectrum of the violence that has erupted since the conflict ended and ethnic Albanians began returning. The security forces reported 198 murders in the period that ended on July 26.

Security forces and foreign observers here said that although they were sure guerrilla leaders did not condone the violence, they did tolerate it.

"There is tolerance for this rather than deliberate coordination," said a military observer who works for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The rebel army has denied that its members are responsible for most of the killings. A senior commander and the chief of the military police, Fatmir Limaj, said that criminals were responsible for the murders and intimidation and that some of them might have posed as guerrillas.

"The K.L.A. had every possibility during the war to attack Serb civilians, but we never did," Limaj, now deputy defense minister of Kosovo's self-appointed government, said in an interview Monday. "We have won our freedom and we want to build the future of our people, but not at the expense of other people. That has always been the political-military philosophy of the K.L.A."

Ward said the response by the NATO force and the United Nations administration had been "belated and insufficient."

"There is little evidence of a firm commitment to a new and tolerant Kosovo," in which minorities can live without discrimination, the report concludes.

According to the report, the southern town of Prizren, once renowned for its ethnically mixed population, was the scene of particularly brutal murders of two elderly Serbs, Marica Stamenkovic, 77, and Panta Filipovic, 63, on June 21. Mrs. Stamenkovic's husband, Trifun, and Filipovic's wife, Marica, returned from shopping in midmorning to find their spouses' throats cut. Security forces arrived soon after.

The Filipovics' neighbors said they had seen rebel soldiers enter the house. The killings occurred after days of intimidation from guerrillas who had demanded money and threatened the couples, who had decided to stay on in Prizren, although most Serbs had left.

Although some cases in the report detail the deaths of Serbs who had been accused of atrocities against Albanians, many appear to have been innocent civilians. Some have been caught up in what Human Rights Watch describes as an "on going conflict" between armed Serbian civilians and rebel units in eastern Kosovo.

Gypsies have also experienced severe violence at the hands of returning Albanians. Widely accused of collaborating with the Serbian police and military forces, they have been subjected to beatings, abductions and threats that have forced most to flee or seek protection in a tented camp outside Pristina.

One account in the report is from a Gypsy identified as F. F., 23, who said he was abducted near his house in Pristina by uniformed rebels on June 21 and taken to a base in the Dragodan district.

"They beat me until I fainted," he is quoted. "Then they put water on my face, and when I woke up, they beat me again.

"Then they asked me who was in uniform and which ones did some killing. They asked me if I was in uniform. After that, they brought photos with names on a piece of paper. They would show me a picture and say, 'Do you recognize this man?' All the time beating me."

He said a man who identified himself as the commander for Dragodan and Pristina, joined by others, "took me to another room."

"He had a pair of scissors," F. F. recounted the interviewers, "and told me, 'We're going to cut your fingers and ears off. "

The report urges the immediate deployment of the promised 3,000-member international police force. Kosovo now has 35 foreign officers, and the burden of policing is left to the military police in the NATO-led force.

Human Rights Watch called for guerrilla leaders to investigate and prosecute members who have been involved in abuses of human rights and to curtail further abuses.

Limaj countered accusations that the rebels were not doing anything to stop the violence, saying movements and activities were restricted by the demilitarization agreement that confines its members to base.

"But we will try," he said, "to create conditions for all people to stay. It is our duty to do that."


U.N. investigator says Kosovo Serbs now targeted
07:38 p.m Nov 04, 1999 Eastern
By Anthony Goodman

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 4 (Reuters) - The ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo last spring has been replaced by the ethnic cleansing of Serbs in the fall, but now in the presence of the United Nations and NATO, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Thursday.

In a report on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Yugoslavia, Jiri Dienstbier leveled criticism at various aspects of the human rights situation in all three countries. But he was particularly scathing about Yugoslavia's mainly ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo, now under U.N. administration.

``The situation in Kosovo can be summarized as follow: the spring ethnic cleansing of Albanians accompanied by murders, torture, looting and burning of houses has been replaced by the fall ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Romas, Bosniaks and other non-Albanians accompanied by the same atrocities,'' he said.

Dienstbier, a Czech, continued: ``'Death to Serbs!' is the most common wall inscription now. Our problem is that this is now happening in the presence of UNMIK, KFOR and OSCE,'' he said.

He was referring to the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, the NATO-led international force in Kosovo, and representatives of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

They were dispatched to Kosovo in June after the Yugoslav army withdrew from the Serb province following an 11-week NATO air campaign aimed at halting the repression of its mainly ethnic Albanian population.

Dienstbier said the leadership of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which battled for independence from Yugoslavia, was creating ``accomplished facts without regard to UNMIK's legal authority and the values which were the proclaimed basis of both NATO operation and the U.N. mission.''


The KLA created a de facto government, appointed mayors, directors of enterprises and other officials, pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing in jobs, and supported the confiscation of property of non-Albanians and even some Albanians, he said.

He called for the postponement of elections for all levels of administration ``until stability has been achieved, people have returned home to live next to one another without fear, and a pluralistic multiethnic political structure has been developed.''

Regarding the rest of Yugoslavia, he said that, ``to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming winter and to support the democratic forces, ``all sanctions and embargoes (except for the arms embargo) should be terminated and humanitarian aid should be promptly delivered, especially heating oil and medical supplies.''

Concerning Bosnia, Dienstbier said there was ``a near-total absence of rule of law in the area of property rights,'' leading to the return of very few refugees from the 1992-1995 conflict that ended with the U.S.-negotiated Dayton accords.

``There is, furthermore, insufficient progress on eliminating discriminatory practices in relation to social and economic rights,'' he added.


``We can limit ourselves to the statement that the Dayton Agreement and individual decisions affecting property must be fully implemented if basic human rights are to be respected.

``It is alarming that four years after Dayton its mandate has still not been effectively utilized,'' Dienstbier said.

On Croatia, he expressed concern that President Franjo Tudjman recently said that ``Bosnia and Herzegovina should be split into three separate entities.''

This was a reference to a statement by the president last month that Bosnia-Herzegovina, now comprising a Serb republic and a Moslem-Croat federation, should have a separate Bosnian Croat entity.

Dienstbier said the president was one of the signatories of the Dayton accord, adding that ``any attempt at undermining the agreement can only worsen ethnic tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and may result in further violations of human rights and possible humanitarian catastrophes.''

Regarding parliamentary elections in Croatia next month, he said the fairness of the results ``will be evaluated, among other factors, by the equality of access of all competing parties to the media, in particular television.''

THE TIMES (London)
February 5 2000

Sex slave trade thrives among Kosovo troops


THE presence of Nato-led troops in Kosovo is supporting a new
and sinister white slave trade trade, in which women from
impoverished parts of Eastern Europe are being bought and sold
into prostitution.

The women, some as young as 16, are held captive by gangsters,
often Albanian, and sell sexual favours to troops and
businessmen in the seedy nightclubs springing up around

Others smuggled into the region from Moldova, Ukraine,
Bulgaria, Romania and beyond are moved further on, into
Albania, across the Adriatic into Italy and from there to brothels
in Western Europe, all the time under the "ownership" of
organised crime. Even children are following similar routes, sold
for adoption or, some say, for body parts.

International agencies trying to combat the trade say that it is
expanding rapidly, despite efforts to rescue women from the
clutches of the loosely organised, mafia-style gangs. They say
the numbers are becoming too great for agencies to manage.

Kosovo was not, in the past, a destination for the East European
sex trade, which began with the collapse of communism in 1991,
but the lure of a 45,000-strong army and a large international
component has proved an irresistible draw and bars and
nightclubs are springing up across the province in places such as
Gnjilane and Urosevac.

One at Slatina, just outside Pristina and near the HQ of Russian
forces, is the Nightclub International, from which Italian
Carabinieri rescued 12 young women last week. Their duties
involved dispensing sexual favours, at about £30 for half an hour,
to Russian and American Kfor troops and other foreign clients.

"These girls who were rescued are terrified and don't understand
what has happened to them," Pasquale Lupoli, chief of mission of
the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in Pristina,
said. "But they are now in a protected area where security is

The IOM, a little-known Geneva-based governmental agency,
was originally set up to provide travel documents and an
assistant network to migrants; instead, it is engaged increasingly
in trying to help the thousands of girls who are now prisoners in
the European sex trade.

Signor Lupoli said that the number of such girls was rising so
quickly that the agency was finding it very difficult to cope. The
IOM had also had difficulties locating a non-government
organisation (NGO) to agree to take care of them. One problem is
that the girls are not refugees so do not come under, say, the

There was, Signor Lupoli said, also some danger. Albanian
gangsters are searching for their "property" and IOM staff have
received threats. In Kosovo, British troops are subject to a strict
"no walking out" policy, but other nationalities' forces, such as
the Russians, Americans and Italians, are less closely monitored.
"None of our soldiers goes into these bars unless on an official
mission," one British officer said. "If they did, they would find
themselves on a military charge."

Of the dozen women rescued by the Carabinieri in Slatina, one
had been raped at 14 and all had been maltreated. Like hundreds
of similar victims, they had been sold several times as they were
spirited across Balkan borders from owner to owner.

Greece, too, is a destination for the sex traders. Mirela Stan, 24, of
Romania, and Hitara Antilsova, 29, from Ukraine, were found dead
from the cold on a mountainside near the Greek-Bulgarian border
in January. They perished in an effort to reach their "promised
land", a Greek nightclub.

In Kosovo, the streets were empty recently after dark after a panic
that teenage girls were being kidnapped by the Albanian mafia to
be sold into prostitution. Indeed, some have disappeared.

These days, a young East European woman costs from £1,000 to
£1,400 to buy. She first has to pay back her cost, then ostensibly
she gets half of what she makes from prostitution, while the boss
retains 50 per cent. Additionally, the girl has then to pay 10 per
cent of her earnings for board. "Often she ends up with very little
or nothing," an IOM official said. If she is lucky.