December 12, 1999
by Diana Johnstone
TOLD AND THINGS SEEN
recent Report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) on Kosovo is subtitled: "As Seen, as Told". The part
of the report covering the mayhem that went on during the NATO bombing,
between March 24 and June 10, is "as told" -- to be specific,
"as told" by ethnic Albanians refugees.
second part deals with events in Kosovo since NATO occupied the province.
This part is not simply "as told" but "as seen"
by the many Western observers who flooded back into Kosovo with the
occupation armies of KFOR.
difference between things "told" and things "seen"
is highly significant.
the OSCE report confirms, the violence in Kosovo escalated dramatically
when the NATO air strikes began on March 24. Information about the 78-day
period of NATO bombing comes essentially from 2,764 interviews with
refugees in Albania and Macedonia. These "victim and witness statements"
were made according to "refugee interview forms" prepared
precisely with the aim of collecting evidence _against Serbian leaders_
for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
In short, the aim of the interviews was not to get a full understanding
of a complex situation, or to gather evidence on all the crimes that
may have been committed by all sides during a period when air raids
and civil war broke down law and order, but solely to gather statements
that could be used against Belgrade.
was to be expected, the ethnic Albanian refugees told their Western
interviewers what they wanted to hear.
of the most harrowing tales told by ethnic Albanians about their Serb
adversaries have turned out to be totally false: notably the reports
of thousands of bodies thrown into the Trepca mines, among others. It
is reasonable to suspect that other stories were also untrue.
the young Albanian woman who claimed to be killing Serbs to avenge the
ghastly murder of her little sister, turned out to have made up the
whole story for the benefit of the Western TV journalist looking for
real-life drama. Later, her little sister was found to be alive, well
and unharmed. The girl's relatives shrugged this off: "If her little
lie helped the Albanian cause, that's just fine", her father reportedly
commented. It is unlikely that this attitude is unique or even rare.
were many reasons for ethnic Albanians to flee Kosovo during the air
strikes: fear of violent reprisals by infuriated Serbs who blamed them
for the NATO attack, expulsion by Serb security forces clearing the
border area in preparation for an expected invasion from Albania, fear
of the air raids, fear of the Kosovo Liberation Army, or even -- and
this is the reason given by Cedomir Prlincevic, head of the Pristina
Jewish community -- orders from KLA leaders to leave in order to advance
the cause. All these reasons may have contributed to the mass exodus.
(See note # 2 at end)
the only explanation that Western interviewers wanted to hear was also
the only explanation that could improve a refugee's standing with the
ever more powerful KLA: Serbian atrocities.
really happened during the bombing remains uncertain. The powers in
control of the terrain -- NATO and the KLA -- are strongly motivated
to support the worst possible version of Serb behavior. Even so, no
material evidence has been found yet for mass killings.
the other hand, the daily persecution of non-Albanians in Kosovo since
the NATO-led KFOR took over the province is beyond doubt. The OSCE report
makes this quite clear. The murders and ethnic cleansing of Serbs and
Roma (gypsies) are going on day after day right under the eyes of the
Western military forces.
is a place where the alienation and fear between two communities was
fed for years by lies, rumors and false accusations. Serbs genuinely
feared Albanians, and Albanians genuinely feared Serbs, often on the
basis of wild rumor. The first thing outside mediators should have done
was to sponsor a patient, serious and fair effort to establish the truth.
On the contrary, by endorsing every accusation against Serbs, and ignoring
crimes against Serbs, the United States and its NATO allies have given
carte blanche to violence against them. Ethnic Albanian children are
growing up in the belief that nobody really blames them for hunting
down elderly "Skrinje" (the ethnic slur for Serbs) and beating
them to death.
who is most to blame? War is the worst evil. By bringing war to Kosovo,
NATO brought out the worst in a certain number of Serbs, and the worst
in a certain number of Albanians. The people of Kosovo have been guinea
pigs in a macabre experiment: how do people react when they are bombed?
How do they react when they are told that the bombing is to detach part
of their country? How do they react when they are told the bombing is
on their behalf? The screeching noise, the terrifying explosions, the
fires, the destruction are administered from a safe distance. Then the
observers go in and take notes.
people in Kosovo -- including ethnic Albanians -- were safer under Serbian
rule than they are now. Kosovo is more than ever a dangerous place,
a land of hatred.
there is one little oasis of safety: Camp Bondsteel. The biggest overseas
United States base since Vietnam has been built in Kosovo. U.S. armed
forces personnel are secure in Kosovo. The citizens are not.
The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution
Issue 2.4 | November 1999
NOT TO SOLVE A CONFLICT : THE KOSOVO QUESTION
By C. Clermont
of all, I should like to apologise for having to write under a
pseudonym. Unfortunately, since the information that I will forward
contrary to the point of view of Western governments, I cannot reveal
was in Kosovo in March 1999 and in Yugoslavia several times since
1998, before, during, and after the war. I have seen refugee camps in
Albania during the war and I hope my article will help in the peaceful
resolution of such conflicts.(1)
stated, I was in Kosovo in March 1999, just a couple weeks before the
war. I visited Kosovo on my own, with my own car, and was able to talk
freely to ethnic Albanians, Serbian policemen, and Yugoslav soldiers.
One night, at about 11:30 PM, the police asked me to spend the night
their offices. I was very well treated, was given a bed in a warm room,
and left at 8 AM with no hint or threat of violence. Other than that,
and cursory requests for my documents at police checkpoints, no further
around Kosovo, I saw much evidence of Serbian violence against
Albanians. At least, that is what it seemed, but of course one cannot
guarantee whether destroyed buildings sprayed with Serbian slogans were
the result of Serbian aggression or adverse propaganda by Albanian
nationals. These buildings were also in very exposed areas and could
easily be seen by anyone who passed the road. They could also have been
also saw the results of several attacks against Serbians by the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA). Soldiers and common citizens were the target
these attacks, usually made with rocket-propelled grenades. I also saw
that there was a certain pattern in these attacks: the KLA would enter
village, attack Serbian offices from there. The villagers would flee,
creating even more refugees, because they knew that the village would
attacked by the police and/or the army. One can, therefore, safely
assert that the violence was not unilateral, that it came from both
sides. What is impossible to say, however, is who generated it.
decision of the Yugoslav government to suppress the autonomous
status of the province of Kosovo and Metohia is often cited as the main
source of the conflict, together with the repression against ethnic
Albanians. Naturally, I cannot vouch for the safety of those actively
involved in the KLA. However, what I did notice was that, in most of
Kosovo, shop names could freely be written in Albanian. People spoke
Albanian. There were schools in Albanian. People had their business
cards written in Albanian. Consequently, one could deduce that they
could express their status as ethnic Albanians.
the war, I visited Montenegro, which is very close to the Kosovo
region and borders with Albania. In the southernmost cities, again the
same situation for the ethnic Albanians: shops in Albanian, Albanian
schools, etc. I have not visited Macedonia, but the information I have
from ethnic Albanians from that country matches what I saw in Montenegro
and Kosovo. And right in Belgrade, ethnic Albanians gather in public
places and meet and chat freely in Albanian.
all struck me as rather odd, since their rights were supposed to be
trampled, they were supposed to be oppressed. However, while in the
Baltic states the USSR did not allow any nationalist expression, such
the use of the Lithuanian, Latvian, or Estonian languages, this did
happen in Yugoslavia.
was also quite strange was that the Albanians in Montenegro, not
very far from Kosovo and right next to Albania, did not want to secede.
Montenegro is an integral part of Yugoslavia. The question therefore
arises: Was the forming of KLA a spontaneous movement or was it induced?
the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo might have wanted such
'liberation' from Yugoslavia, there is strong evidence that hints that
the KLA received strong foreign help. Everyone from the KLA I met in
Albania, where the KLA (sometimes alone, and sometimes with the help
the Albanian police) checked cars and people from about 30 km from the
border with Yugoslavia, , had brand new uniforms even with plastic name
tags, which is a good evidence of a good influx of money, considering
the KLA is meant to be a 'popular' liberation army. They seemed very
well trained and nourished. Many of them spoke German among themselves,
and, wherever the KLA was stationed in Albania, the rate of the German
mark to the Albanian lek, in the black market, dropped by around 20%.
Furthermore, since the KLA was not considered a terrorist group by the
US government, one could freely donate money from the US to that
organization. It is also worth noting that several convicted drug
dealers, in Italy, for example, declared that they wanted to help the
KLA. And now, among the European underworld, Kosovo is considered a
place where anything goes, and is already an entry point for the
smuggling of cellular telephones in the Balkans, as there is no
effective tax system at the border. And when one smuggles telephones,
switching to drugs is merely a question of changing the merchandise.
should like now to discuss the question of the legality of the
conflict itself. NATO, through its various Heads of State, claimed
various reasons for the attack on Yugoslavia: non acceptance by
Yugoslavia of the whole of the Rambouillet agreements; the flow of
refugees, which would upset the 'ethnic balance' of the region; the
alleged genocide of the ethnic Albanians, etc. These arguments are
easily refuted - Yugoslavia did not legally have to accept the
Rambouillet agreements, imposed by foreign powers; the bombing created
much larger flow of refugees; and, well, genocide being the systematic
and complete destruction of a genus, it implies that such crime should
be perpetrated in the whole of Yugoslavia, but Albanians in Montenegro
and in Serbia outside of Kosovo were not systematically killed - and
can dispute whether those in Kosovo were to be 'eradicated' (to use
infamous ausröttung contained in the Nazi document which mentions
final solution) in such a methodical manner. Incidentally, one should
remember that in the Balkans, the national borders do not match the
ethnic ones very well. There were Italians in Dalmatia and Istria, Serbs
in Knin, and there are Albanians in Montenegro and Macedonia,
Macedonians in Greece, and so on.
let us assume that all that the NATO Heads of State said was
correct. Let us assume that there was indeed a genocide in Kosovo, that
the refugees could create an inbalance in the region, and that NATO
every right to impose on Yugoslavia a diktat on it's most cherished
region (Kosovo is considered the birthplace of Serbia, it's most
important monasteries are there, and many historic battles were fought
made that assumption, we have to face a formidable obstacle: the
United Nations Charter specifically forbids any regional organization
from attacking a country, even if to preserve peace, without the
approval of the United Nations. In fact, this article acts should
prevent regional organizations from doing exactly what NATO did, because
the Security Council would only legalize such attacks in very evident
peace-threatening situations. Since NATO could not count on UN support,
they simply bypassed the UN. Previous peacekeeping operations were all
done with UN support. Since this one would probably not have Chinese
Russian aquiescence, the UN was ignored.
very serious implication of the attack is the violation of the
constitutions of the member-States. NATO was conceived as a defensive
organization. Such was its Charter at its inception. Now, in democratic
governments, the Executive cannot enter an international agreement
without the approval of the Legislative. When the Legislative, i.e.
representatives of the people, approved the entrance in NATO, it was
approved as it was stated in its Charter - a defensive organization.
course, any international organization has the right to make changes
its charter, but when such changes are of such nature that they make
substantial and significant changes to the nature of the organization,
then they should be approved by the Legislative. Otherwise, one could
easily fool this constitutional requirement by, say, having approval
a peaceful cultural organization and then completely redoing its charter
to turn into a military alliance. Finally, all the constitutions of
member-States have certain requirements for a declaration of war. Simply
having wars and calling them 'interventions' or any other name, and
following the constitutional procedure is, again, plainly illegal. It
a well known legal principle that the name chosen for an act does not
determine what the act is, only its actual nature does(2).
is the situation in Kosovo at present? Kosovo is massively occupied
by KFOR troops. There is no effective government there, as Yugoslavia
longer controls the region. The Albanians are now raising flags - of
Albania proper - on public buildings and, geopolitically, Italy and
Greece sure don't want a large Albania right next to them. All sorts
illegal deals are going on there. Furthermore, the Albanians are often
attacking the Serbs - men, women, children and old people. In fact,
people say there now is that the most dangerous thing you can do is
that you speak Serbian. The Serbs in the region naturally harbour much
resentment against the Albanians, and want to get even. The attack
managed to lock Yugoslavia into a simmering political situation: some
Yugoslav people generally do not like the present government, because,
among other reasons, he managed to "lose" Kosovo; they however
like the opposition, because they see it as backed by the West, by NATO,
by the very people who bombed their country. There is no third option.
Germany in 1919 had a diktat imposed onto it, lost historic regions
was partly occupied; it sort of survived until a third force came out
with the consequences that we all know. The situation in Yugoslavia
not similar to Weimar Germany, but the third force, should it appear,
would probably be nationalistic and oriented to the East, while trying
to appear apolitical. But this only time can tell.
lesson can be drawn for the attack on Yugoslavia by NATO, regarding
the peaceful resolution of conflicts? The Albanians and the Serbs lived
in Kosovo peacefully for many years; both had schools in their own
languages. And until 1945 the Albanians had even school books in the
Arabic alphabet, adapted to their own language. What happened in the
last few years? What led the Albanians to start a secession movement,
limited to Kosovo, which then resulted its clamping down by Yugoslavia,
and to the escalation which resulted in the war of March-June 1999?
is my firm belief, after all I have seen in the region, that it was
foreign interference achieved through the injection of money in the
separatist circles. Sure, a separatist movement certainly existed in
region, but by drying its money and weapons supply, by sticking to
legality, much could have been avoided. This, I think, is the main
lesson we should learn from the war against Yugoslavia: violence does
not solve conflicts; it might just postpone an inevitable crisis for
while. What does solve conflicts of this kind is to dry the supply of
means of violence to those who are prepared to use them. And what is
essential is a political will to do so. When government are, on the
contrary, trying to intensify the conflict, no well-meaning peaceful
resolution of a conflict will occur: violent means will be perceived
a fast way to achieve one's goals.
also believe the Kosovo situation is not solved and was not meant to
be solved by the war. An unstable Yugoslavia, a volatile Kosovo, all
help to confirm the necessity of NATO at a time when the 'end of
history', the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, were making people
question its very existence. Now there is something which, to the eyes
of the uninformed public, warrants the existence of an aggressive
military organization, just when it was beginning to seem anachronistic.
This article has no bibliographic references. Everything, unless
stated otherwise, was based on direct testimony
Here it should be noted, that the Parliament of Yugoslavia did have
vote on an 'imminent state of war', and then on an actual state of war.
Clermont is a pseudonym. The author is a diplomat in a Westen nation.
The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is published
by the Tabula Rasa Institute, www.trinstitute.org.
Difficult Situation of Refugees from Kosovo in Kragujevac
"IT IS AS IF WE ARE BURRIED ALIVE"
by Zoran Radovanovic
FR Yugoslavia, December 27 1999
During the last few weeks and days the group of 200 persons expelled
from Metohija and now living in the collective center in Bresnica has
been freezing most of the time. Besides space heaters, which are more
frequently broken than working, they have no other source of heat
Kragujevac - In the corner, next to a double metal door, and right next
to a TV set (a cartoon is on) and a space heater which is blowing warm
air, a crowd of children, 2-3 to 5-6 years old is crouching, jostling,
and from time to time, jumping. They are kept company by several adult
men, dressed as if they were about to go skiing. Women are busily doing
something a few steps away, while the cold is barging in from
everywhere: through half closed doors and large glass panes. The snow
the tin roof is melting under the cold December sun and the water is
This was the scene
a few days ago in the collective center (a store
owned by the supermarket chain PKB) in the Kragujevac settlement
Bresnica. There, a group of 200 refugees from Metohija has been trying
to somehow survive for almost six months. Among them there are 95
children of preschool and primary school age. During the last few days
this group of persons expelled from Metohija has been freezing since,
besides space heaters which are more frequently broken than working,
they have no other source of heat.
Children are Crying
"It is the hardest at night. Children are crying and coughing.
a draft and water is leaking everywhere. Some sort of wet cold is coming
from the concrete floor... This is a tragedy. Two hundred of us were
buried alive. And this shouldn't have happened to us. My brothers and
myself have been for months on the front in Metohija and here we are,
under a thin layer of tin, in the middle of a winter," says for
Milorad Ilic (37) from Djakovica. During the night between Wednesday
Thursday, sometimes 'round midnight, he took his feverish six-year-old
son Nemanja to a friend's place so that he could be in warmth for a
while. Milorad wanted to avoid another family tragedy: in August his
niece Vesna (Ilic) found a tragic end in the bathroom of the nearby
soccer club Slavija.
He worries that the refugees from Metohija could freeze to death in
Bresnica or, in the best possible case, fall ill en masse until their
problems with heating and (un)sanitary and inhuman living conditions
PKB's supermarket are sorted out. He accuses the state and its
government for the situation shared by him and his fellow two hundred
refugees. He testifies that the Serbian police pillaged everything while
it was in Metohija. "Full trucks of goods and valuables were shipped
policemen from Djakovica and Pec to Montenegro. We remained as poor
we were before the war," claims Ilic.
"We must bear
our fate, and it is a horrible fate. We are day and night
on this concrete floor, space heaters are getting broken and fuses
burning all the time. The children have it the worst. We adults can
somehow pull through," adds Mila Petkovic (45), also from Djakovica.
left in Djakovica a three-storied house and memories of good life and
good relations with Albanians. "Our first neighbor, an Albanian,
off with tears in his eyes," she says and claims that "all
happened because of politicians".
It is President's
Recently, says Mila Petkovic, she dialed her phone number in Djakovica.
A woman picked up the phone. An ethnic Albanian. "I said 'Mirdita'
day], she said 'mirdita'. I asked 'A jeni mir?' [How are you doing?],
and she replied with the same words and asked who I was and what I
wanted. I said that that was my house and she responded 'No it isn't.
Now it is mine'. I couldn't take it anymore so I hung up," says
Petkovic and claims that Albanians from Djakovica did not break into
house because she knows them well and had good relations with them.
claims that the new "tenants" in her house are farmers, most
In spite of all of that, Mila Petkovic would like to return to
Djakovica, since she does not consider her current conditions worth
living. "I would return with my family, if only someone could guarantee
peace. We can have one meal a day, but let it be peace... We cannot
this anymore," she says and adds with resignation that the fate
expelled individuals will be from now on "decided by others".
A young man, who
introduces himself as Zoran, would also return to his
hometown of Suva Reka. He is in exile with two small children and a
wife. Zoran blames the president of this country for his fate and the
fate of other refugees from Metohija. He believes that he (the president
of this state) "should not end up in the Hague, but should be crucified
in the center of Belgrade".
(57), another inhabitant of Suva Reka, does not talk
about return but he is also having a horrible time in the collective
center in Bresnica. Especially at night when the temperature drops below
zero, when children cry and cough, and wet cold barges in from all
the Diary of our Reporter who has Recently Returned from Kosovo
EXHIBITION OF OBJECTS FOUND IN DUMPSTER
by Nikola Zivkovic
Glas Javnosti, Belgrade,
FR Yugoslavia, October 31 1999
Photographs, books, children's shoes, letters, toys, paintings, which
the Albanians threw out of Serb apartments and houses on the street,
displayed in the Pristina gallery "Ikonos"
October 23, 1999
A sunny morning. A bus from Belgrade leaves at half past nine. It
crosses a bridge rebuilt after the NATO bombardment. We arrive to Raska
after five hours. A sign says that we are 250 kilometers away from
Belgrade. About ten kilometers after Raska, we enter Kosovo. I am
returning after two months. Everything seems the same, except that
Belgian soldiers have replaced French troops on the border between
Serbia [proper] and Kosovo. A soldier enters the bus and says in the
Serb language "Good day!" [dobar dan] There is no control.
He only walks
up and down the aisle and gets off the bus after two minutes. Thus,
enter Kosovo controlled by NATO-KFOR as is written on the vehicles used
by "peacekeeping forces". We drive along the Ibar river through
villages and towns: Postenje, Lesak, Leposavic, Socanica, Srbovac,
Zvecan. Albanians have never lived there. This region, as is well known
was added to Kosovo later [in 1959, supposedly to increase the number
Serbs in the province].
We arrive to Kosovska Mitrovica, its Serb part, at 4 p.m. It is peaceful
on the bridge that divides the city in two parts. A lot of people in
streets, especially the young ones. Kosovska Mitrovica is the only urban
community in Kosovo where the Serb language is still spoken. There is
water and phone lines have been down since the previous day. I sit in
bar with several young men. In two hours they are supposed to head to
the bridge: "Our shift. We will not give up this part of Serb Kosovo
without struggle. I was expelled from Pec and this friend of mine is
from Prizren. None of my friends have run away to Serbia. We are all
here, every day by the bridge. We are determined to defend our city
the mob that cannot think about anything else but their pathological
hatred of Serbs. If they expel us from this part of Mitrovica, then
rest of the Ibar valley to the north will also fall. The French soldiers
do not support us. They destroyed the TV repeater, so that we cannot
watch Serbian TV any more. On the other hand, many French officers try
to help us discretely: they see that we are the victims here.
terms, the most honest part of foreigners in Kosovo are
soldiers. They are daily exposed to significant danger. The worst are
officials, members of numerous humanitarian organizations etc. It is
unclear what their actual role in the province is. I am convinced that
most of them have come here, to my country, with dishonorable
intentions. Albanians have seriously wounded and killed several French
soldiers, so that no love is wasted between them. Thus, the Albanians
unintentionally help us. They behave arrogantly, triumphantly and
October 24, 1999
A warm Sunday. From the northern, Serb part of Mitrovica, I head to
Pristina on a bus with Novi Pazar plates. They told me that that is
safest way for Serbs to get to Pristina. I arrive to Pristina at noon.
Unbelievable noise at the station. Deafening Albanian music. Several
taxi drivers are hawking their services.
What is the appropriate reaction? Should I keep quiet, as many friends
have advised me? Fine. I try English. An Albanian does not understand
me. Then I pretend to be an Englishman who speaks a bit of Serb. The
taxi driver responds: "Why do all of you foreigners only learn
come none of you learn some Albanian?"
A short walk through
the city. Streets are crowded. One can frequently
hear shots from guns and automatic rifles. I can't hear a single Serb
word in the street. A lot of construction is going on. Shops are full
goods, everything twice or thrice as expensive as in Serbia. About a
third of goods originate in Serbia. The city appears dirty, neglected,
without open spaces and parks.
I go to see a Serb
exhibition with Veselin Radojevic, a painter! Veselin
goes to a store after checking out the exhibits with me. He does not
return for two hours. All of us are worried, but no one dares to say
We are simply mute. Mitra Reljic speaks first: "Do you think something
could have happened to him? Three days ago they murdered a Serb like
that. Someone recognized him in the street, they dragged him behind
building and shot him to death." Mitra explains how she visits
located about two hundred meters from her apartment. "That requires
special precautions". She prepares like a real secret agent. First,
goes to the left, then pauses, then to the right. If the owners are
their own, they talk in the Serb language, of course. They have known
each other for years. However, if other Albanians are inside the store,
they use pantomime: "They protect me and I protect them. Unfortunately,
such examples are very rare".
In the midst of
a European city with, according to a UN estimate,
400,000 inhabitants, 99 percent of them Albanians, on 48 meters square
in the University Village, Serb poet Darinka Jevric, with assistance
from literature professor Mitra Reljic, has founded the Serb cultural
center "Ikonos". Serbs in Kosovo, in Pristina, live as if
arrest. How does one visit the cultural center? Only with escort of
Mitra Reljic talks
about 98 Serb pupils in Pristina. They share the fate
of their parents. They have been locked up in their apartments for
months. As a Serb poet once wrote: "As in the midst of a Christian
catacomb, outside persecution never stops".
The first activity
of the Serb cultural center was to set up an
exhibition in the gallery "Ikonos". Darinka explains with
enthusiasm: "Objects collected and displayed in this gallery are
striking and unique. They are photographs, books, children's shoes,
letters, toys and paintings thrown by Albanians from Serb apartments
houses on the street or a refuse dump." She collected them with
friends and gave them the dignity of exhibition objects. In a daily
I object to unnecessary, pathetic language. However, today I am severely
tempted to break that rule. I believe that the reader would not object,
since any one visiting Kosovo these days soon realizes what is needed
for such an apparently small cultural undertaking. Enormous strength
courage, even madness. Standing in front of these exhibits I feel as
front of holy icons in a church. I read excerpts from a diary of a Serb
girl form Pristina.
"I do not dare
go out to the hallway. I do not even think about opening
the door or speaking in the Serb language."
Is this girl still
alive? A Serb Anna Frank? The very existence of that
humble exhibition speaks volumes about spite and protest. We do exist
spite of terror and exodus. Darinka: "To Albanians terror, plunder
murders and to us books, paintings and spirituality". As every
exhibition, this one also has a guest book. The poet pulls out some
pieces of paper so that I can write something too. I see that she was
visited the previous day by Mira Aleckovic [a Serb poet], Draginja
Aleckovic, Duska Vrhovac, Nada Petrovic, Radoslav Zlatanovic, Vladimir
Jaglicic, Slobodan Stojanovic...
a poet, the founder of the Serb cultural center, was
recently expelled from her apartment in the district of Pristina known
as Kupusiste. Unlike most of expelled Serbs who headed for Serbia,
Darinka lives as a refugee in her own city, in the University Village:
"I plan to establish a Serb library and a gallery. Seven Russian
soldiers came to carry books from my apartment. They are wonderful
people. A British patrol saw them and they demanded to see their
documents, as if the Russians were criminals and not people trying to
save books. The Russians helped me on their own initiative. Pristina
in the British sector. The British refused to help me save the books.
They said that that was not within the scope of their duties. Then,
Russians came to help."
"I forbid you
to die elsewhere," says Darinka in one of her poems.
Mitra Reljic says
that the Albanians burned down a collection of books
in Russian. That collection was the biggest and best of all at the
Pristina University. I have not heard in Berlin about that most recent
Albanian "achievement". I can only imagine what German media
would write if, God forbid, Serbs did something like that.(...)
CHAOS IN KOSOVO
On December 13 the
UN witnessed a pact setting up an Interim
Administration with space for both Hashim Thaci and Ibrahim Rugova
around its table. But can more Albanian involvement in the executive
halt the escalating violence plaguing the province?
By Gordana Igric
in Pristina (BCR 103, 17-Dec-99)
An United Nations
policeman, an American, furiously kicked a car, one in
a line of vehicles jamming a crossroads in central Pristina. One more
helpless attempt to impose some semblance of order on the traffic chaos
endemic to Pristina, a town without street lights, police, judges or
law and order, beyond that brought by the self-control of citizens
suffering from post-war stress.
Six months have
passed since the anti-Albanian apartheid system imposed
by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on the people of Kosovo was
overthrown. It has taken as many months for some 50,000 KFOR soldiers
and about 1,800 UN policemen, under the jurisdiction of the UN high
representative, Bernard Kouchner, to enter this formerly Serbian
The UNMIK policeman
launched one more blow at the car, this time
punching the bonnet with his fist. A young Albanian angrily jumped out
of the car. His body trembling, he told the policeman in perfect
English, "Do it one more time, and I'll kill you."
"What am I
doing in this crazy place?" the American shouted back.
"I am asking
you the same thing", came the Albanian's response.
Finally a bus conductor
jumped from his bus, tangled up in the midst of
the traffic jam, and took up position in the middle of the junction
began to "make order".
Journalists in Kosovo
are filling up column inches with reports that the
United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) chief Bernard Kouchner has
decided to recruit 400 new judges and prosecutors in an effort to combat
escalating crime rates.
On December 13 three
Albanian political leaders signed an agreement with
the UNMIK to share provisional management of the province. The three
signatories Hashim Thaci, leader of the Peoples Democratic Party of
Kosovo (PPDK), Ibrahim Rugova, leader of theDemocratic League of Kosovo
(LDK), and Rexhep Qosja, leader of the United Democratic Movement (LDB)
were appointed to the newly established Joint Interim Administrative
The province's Serb
leadership rejected the agreement. Serbs called it
another step toward an independent, Albanian-run Kosovo.
Vengeful and systematic
violence is against Serbs is very obvious and
well documented. Those Serbs remaining in the province use KFOR troops
as bodyguards when they venture to the shops or out for a walk in the
However, very little
is said about the experience of Albanians in the
post-war legal violence, of the increase in Albanian on Albanian
"Not even during
Milosevic's time did I have to escort my child to
school," A.M. says bitterly, "but now I have to."
A.M is not nostalgic
for the Milosevic era but he is saying that it is
very unsafe, still, to be an Albanian in Kosovo. The schoolyards are
full of parents, afraid of child kidnapping, waiting to collect their
No one goes out
on the streets after dark. Property security is
non-existent. Muharem S. said an acquaintance had gone to Skopje for
days and upon his return found the house ransacked. He tried to report
the robbery to the UNMIK, where he was subjected to hours of questioning
before finally giving up the whole issue.
Gangs of robbers
sporting black masks have appeared in the villages of
Drenica, the Pec area and Malisevo.
have organised night guards in a village near
Pristina. In the apartment blocks, tenants have organised their own
self-defence system to counter robbers they believe come from Albania.
are blaming Albanians from Albania and the infamous
Albanian mafia for all the crime related problems. Other offences are
placed at the door of Milosevic's secret service, members of which are
thought to be still operating in Kosovo. But mostly blame is directed
representatives from the international community. The view of A.M -
"someone from the outside benefits from this chaos in Kosovo"
- is not
an isolated one.
It is in this chaotic
atmosphere that armed groups of "fighters for
justice" are appearing on the political scene.
A group from the
Llap region, the self-styled "National Eagles", made
itself known to the public last week. The group said they arrest, try
and liquidate criminals. One suspect captured by the "National
admitted (and who wouldn't) to 42 criminal acts, including kidnapping,
and was duly executed.
It is not known
who is behind the Eagles.
The Pristina daily
newspaper, Koha Ditore, received a fax recently from
a self-styled "National Intelligence Agency". Again it is
not at all
clear who is behind this organisation.
Another group, calling
itself the "New KLA", has appeared in rural
Kosovo. The backers of this organisation are also a mystery.
MMK, the Albanian
acronym for Kosovo's Big Mafia is inscribed on the
walls of some buildings in rural Kosovo. It is assumed that this is
counterpart of the newly formed Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK).
With the approval
of the international community, the Kosovo Liberation
Army (KLA or UCK) has been practically transformed into the TMK, an
unarmed organisation still in its nascent stages. The international
community envisages a multi-ethnic TMK, which should incorporate members
not linked to the KLA, to act as a crack intervention unit in trouble
But this is definitely
not what the KLA members or their former leader,
Hashim Thaci, has in mind. These men believe they deserve more having
"shed blood for freedom in the woods."
Over 10,000 people
have applied to join the TMK so far and a total of
5,000 recruits are planned for, including a reserve numbering 2,000.
Some of the applicants are already carrying TMK insignia and documents,
even though the selection process is still underway. These new TMK
officers are imposing their own law and order - with arms. They are
stopping traffic, checking documents. They are encountering opposition
Only a superficial
observer cannot see a system in the existing madness.
Kosovo is politically
torn between supporters of Hashim Thaci and
Ibrahim Rugova, the moderate intellectual and unofficial, long-standing
president of Kosovo.
The supporters of
Hashim Thaci seek reward for "having fought, while
others (Albanians) sat in the coffee shops". They believe that
current chaos is a direct result of the international community's
inability to impose order and that the allocation of greater power to
Thaci would end the crime wave.
A source close to
Thaci, who sees the TMK as the future armed forces of
the independent Kosovo, said "Our (men) have discovered five gangs
kidnapped children, Albanians, and even the members of the KLA in
Kosovo. In all cases, the leaders of those groups were Albanians from
caught, and handed over to KFOR. They were held there for 48
hours, and then released. Now, our men, who caught them, are receiving
threats. Also, we gave a list with (the names of) 40 criminals to KFOR.
They have not done anything until now. We also tracked down the robbers
with masks. And KFOR began to detain our men for overstepping their
powers. Kouchner wants to disarm us, while not prosecuting the
however, argue that all the existing vigilante
groups and even several criminal gangs are actually under the control
Hashim Thaci. The argument goes that Thaci is deliberately creating
feeling of insecurity in Kosovo in order to force the international
community to hand over executive authority to him.
"It is no secret
that Thaci has his own police, is taking people into
custody for interrogation, is introducing a reign of terror," said
Kosovo intellectual who is currently preparing to leave "such a
Hashim Thaci himself
dismisses such accusations, claiming he is unable
to control the various armed groups. In a recent statement to the Voice
of America Thaci said that both KFOR and UNMIK know who is behind the
kidnappings and murders, "just as we know as well." But, that
being done about it.
security situation within Kosovo provides an
explanation for Kouchner's decision to establish the Interim
Administration incorporating Thaci and Rugova. Kouchner's repeated
requests for at least 6,000 police officers have been turned down on
He has described
the decision to allocate only 1,800 officers as
"ridiculous and a scandal". Furthermore by bringing in Thaci,
has succeeded in forcing Thaci to relinquish his 'provisional
government'. An unofficial source told IWPR that Thaci was reluctant
sign the December 13 agreement for this reason but that he had no
But, it is already
clear that the balance of forces between the two
Albanian political blocks will depend on how much chaos, orchestrated
otherwise, descends on post-war Kosovo.
Gordana Igric is
Associate Editor at the Institute of War and Peace
Reporting and recently visited Kosovo, December 11-14, 1999.
OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
8 December 1999
There are few things
that better symbolise the fear of crime
that grips Kosovo than the persistent rumour that a gang of kidnappers
is on the streets of Pristina, stealing children and slicing open their
bodies for spare-part organs.
The stories are
as detailed as they are directly
unattributed. Last weekend a child was reportedly snatched from outside
the city museum, in broad daylight, by men speaking the telltale
Albanian Tosk dialect that distinguishes a person from Albania proper
from the Northern Gheg Albanian speaking Kosovars.
From this spins
the tale of Albanian-Italian spare-part
organ smugglers, of children disappearing for weeks on end, only to
materialise back home with scars where their kidneys should be. The
local media reported Saturday that two boys had been found dead at a
city soccer stadium - their organs missing.
"I have an
11-year-old, and call it paranoia but I am afraid
to let her go outside," says 35-year-old mother Afrim. The documented
near-impossibility of kidney snatching anywhere, let alone in desperate
Kosovo, makes no impact on fears like these.
The US agency for
organ transplant control, the United
Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), is clear. "It's all but impossible
such a market to exist," they say. The shelf life of human organs
measured in hours: as little as four for a heart, 48 to 72 hours for
kidney and that with modern storage facilities.
transporting, and transplantation procedures
are so complex and delicate - requiring advance testing, minute timing,
and the organised support of so many qualified personnel - that they
simply could not be accomplished outside of a legitimate medical
setting," says the UNOS.
The sad truth is
that such fears exist only because Kosovars
have been all but abandoned to the criminal element. "I have put
bolts on my door and now I am looking to buy a gun," says Jatmir,
Like many others, Jatmir has lost confidence in both the internationals
and the local political leadership.
look out for themselves while the local
political leaders don't have the means."
Two months ago the
presence of NATO KFOR troops patrolling
the town 24 hours a day gave one a sense of safety. But in the past
month not have only the number of patrols decreased but the British
squads that used to carry them out have been replaced with men from
very much less trusted Russian Army.
With the first snowflake's
fall, coldness has gripped the
heart of Kosovo's people; fear of crime and lack of security. Even the
internationals are feeling nervous.
In the centre of
Pristina sits the Spaghetteria Toni
restaurant, once a famous hangout for expatriates. Tonight, at what
should be a peak time, 6:00pm, it is already deserted. "It can't
because of the service," jokes one waiter.
"A few weeks
ago at this time this place would have been
packed," said another. "Now everyone, locals and internationals,
don't come out after sundown or if they do, they don't stay past
The locals have
come to understand that KFOR is not a police
force and the Kosovo police force in the making - the UN/OSCE trained
civilian force known by its Albanian acronym TMK - is too small to
tackle the problem.
The UN and OSCE
are trying. Last week an intensive nine-week
training course for a second group of 175 local police officers, guided
by 130 foreign police instructors from 13 countries and local legal
specialists, began at the new Kosovo Police Service School in Vucitm.
The OSCE is expected
to train approximately 3,500 locally
recruited police in 18 months, from all ethnic groups, while this month
UNMIK took over its first prison, in Prizren, what the UN call "the
final link" in an emergency judiciary system supposed to bring
and order to Kosovo.
They are not succeeding.
A report by the Lawyers Committee
for Human Rights, based in New York, concludes that "police efforts
been far from successful" and that Kosovo suffers from "unchecked
The UN has around
1,800 civilian police from 40 countries in
Kosovo, more than a quarter from the US. But this is fewer than half
4,800 officers the UN has authorised and most of those here are even
less well equipped than the locals for streets that UN spokesman Fred
Eckhard says are "similar to some of the toughest urban areas in
Little wonder the
officers have focused instead on safer
duties like car registration and licensing. With murder and armed
robbery unnaturally common, UN civilian chief Bernard Kouchner has
raised eyebrows with his fascination with the latter.
Last week he even
called in the world media to watch him pin
a first ever Kosovo licence plate on a car. "This is the most visible
sign of law and order in Kosovo," Kouchner said in a press statement.
"With the return of regular license plates it will be safer on
Few Kosovars think
licence plates will do the job. "There is
no governing structure," says Adem Demaci, former political
representative of the Kosova Liberation Army. "There is no governing
structure. Kouchner and UNMIK have failed to establish the necessary
structures for law and order."
Without this proper
governing structure, many locals fear
that Kosovo will descend into the lawlessness that swept neighboring
Albania in 1997. However Demaci is more optimistic.
situation is bad and probably will get worse
if the internationals do not take a more practical approach to the this
issues, Kosova will not descend to the levels of Albania because of
large presence of foreigners."
But Demaci notes
that locals can't sit idle and think that
the internationals will solve all their problems. "The locals,"
"have to take their hands out of their pockets and take a pro-active
his licence plates and his policemen fail
Kouchner has a fallback strategy. As he said in a recent interview for
the Pristina daily Koha Ditore, "what Kosova needs is more love".
Small, Uneasy Peace in Kosovo
By Danica Kirka
Associated Press Writer
Monday, Dec. 6, 1999; 1:21 p.m. EST
-- Aleksandar Todorovic rises to tend his
garden every morning. Equally without fail, ethnic Albanian children
retired repairman and his 76-year old uncle are the only
two Serbs left in this Pristina suburb of 3,500 people. They live behind
rocky wall, hiding from even the children, guarded by NATO
peacekeepers who are virtually their only friends.
Such is the reality
of daily life for Serbs in Kosovo, where a new human
rights report released Monday has confirmed vast anecdotal evidence
describing harassment and revenge attacks by the majority ethnic
Albanians against the province's minorities.
With many Serbs
fleeing the violence, NATO peacekeepers have
practically become the individual bodyguards of those that remain.
lived here, and my grandfather's grandfather lived here,"
Todorovic said. "I want to live here, and I want to die here."
Other Serbs in Pristina
have given up: an estimated 900 Serbs live in
Kosovo's capital. That's down from an estimated 32,000 who were there
before Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launched a crackdown on
ethnic Albanian militants.
The crackdown ended
in June after Milosevic accepted a
Western-dictated peace plan to end NATO's 78-day bombardment of
Instead of bringing
an end to violence, the arrival of NATO-led
peacekeepers in June simply turned the tables, with the oppressed
becoming the oppressor. A report by the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe found that revenge-motivated violence has
accelerated, with ethnic Albanians retaliating against Serbs, Gypsies
and Western officials often talk about creating an
environment for Serb, Gypsy and other minority refugees to return,
peacekeepers on the ground have their hands full just keeping safe those
bold enough to stay.
In Maticane, the
task of protecting the two men in their own personal
enclave got so complicated it rose to the attention of British Lt. Col.
Carter, a battalion commander.
Carter said he had
a "chat" with the elders of Maticane about safeguarding
the two men, telling the local ethnic Albanian leaders that "'if
there is one
little hair touched on their heads, I'll know where to find you.'"
"They are now
living a relatively normal life," he said.
Even so, the catalogue
of harassment in Todorovic's daily existence
includes threatening phone calls and the theft of his chickens. Strangers
bang on his door to try to persuade him to sell his property. He needs
have burly guys like British Lance Cpl. Stuart Rankin, 24, escort him
hill to perform a simple errand.
"If I leave,
I am afraid someone will burn my house," he said. "That's
I stay at home."
had much trouble with his longtime neighbors, but has
had concerns about the influx of people new to the area. Tensions around
his house have eased a bit in recent weeks, however, because he made
An ethnic Albanian
family began squatting in a house he owns next door.
He chose to let them stay until spring because he was moved by the fact
the family has small children. Besides, his own family isn't in a hurry
come back to Maticane.
The British soldiers
acknowledge they can't be there all the time. But to
discourage troublemakers, they have been known to hang out at the
Todorovic house, staying up late, making lots of noise, proving they
adores them, and said that one British soldier even
offered to take him home to Britain, because the young man had no family
of his own. Todorovic dismissed the offer.
to Britain and I didn't like it," he said with a smile. "Too
Kosovo, Criminals Are Free To Roam
Lack of Legal System Impedes Prosecutions
By R. Jeffrey
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, December 5, 1999; Page A41
of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo
arrested for serious crimes, including murder, assault and rape, have
set free without an indictment or trial because the province still lacks
functioning criminal justice system six months after NATO forces arrived,
according to United Nations documents.
In many cases, the
suspects are quietly let go within two to three days of
their detention by the few judges serving here, the documents show.
than 40 percent of all those arrested are released, according to one
In addition, a number
of other suspects have been held by NATO forces
for nearly six months without an indictment or trial, making them eligible
release shortly under European and Yugoslav laws proscribing long-term
detentions. Under these laws, the first murder suspect eligible for
cannot be legally detained past Wednesday; the United Nations is
scrambling to find a way to keep him and others behind bars.
Once released, police
say the likelihood these alleged criminals will return
to custody and face a trial is slim. Although many of the victims were
Serbs--and the crimes were evidently inspired by atrocities Yugoslav
forces committed before and during the war here this spring--an even
larger number of victims are ethnic Albanians who now lack any legal
recourse and may be inspired to commit acts of revenge to settle scores,
U.N. officials here say.
in the world, people who throw grenades would spend
some time in jail," said one official of the nascent U.N. police
asked not to be named.
In the nearly six
months since NATO forces arrived, only 24 of the
hundreds of people arrested here have had a hearing or courtroom
trial--and in only one city, Prizren. Elsewhere in Kosovo, no judges
been appointed to fill as many as 350 vacant slots.
None of the court
facilities have even rudimentary supplies, although the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has recently
budgeted $80,000 in U.S.-donated funds for such essentials as window
glass, paper, pens and filing cabinets.
however, international administrators have yet to agree
on what legal code should be enforced, effectively stymieing any judicial
the top U.N. administrator in Kosovo, inherited a
hastily drafted regulation signed by his predecessor shortly after NATO
forces arrived in mid-June that makes the Yugoslav criminal code the
of Kosovo. Kosovo is a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant
republic. But ethnic Albanian judges and lawyers have unanimously refused
to implement the Yugoslav law, because it differs from a preferred criminal
code that had been in force prior to 1989 when Kosovo was autonomous
and ethnic Albanians had political control.
will apply Yugoslav law," said Blerim Reka, an ethnic
Albanian who chairs a U.N. advisory group on the judicial system. "If
apply the Serb criminal code, we will be against our own will for
independence" from Yugoslavia.
Faced with a universal
boycott by ethnic Albanians, who now make up 95
percent of the population, Kouchner privately proposed two months ago
to embrace the pre-1989 code.
But U.N. officials
in New York, seeking to strengthen Yugoslav
sovereignty over Kosovo, have been slow to approve the change,
according to a U.N. official here.
law issue has been a very serious complication . . . in the
administration of justice," said Daan Everts, the top OSCE official
Kosovo. "The time taken to resolve this has been painfully long."
called the establishment of a functioning court system "the most
issue" in Kosovo in the months since Yugoslav forces withdrew from
province to halt NATO's bombing campaign.
According to other
officials, the United States had strongly backed the shift
to another legal code, and after 6 months, only Russia dissents from
view. "It's a hot, emotional, political issue that's hard for the
community to deal with," an official here said. "The chemistry
in New York
is different than the chemistry on the ground here," a second official
officials are concerned that the 55 appointed ethnic
Albanian judges are being pressured or corrupted into treating accused
ethnic Albanians better than Serbs. The only seven Serb judges in Kosovo
resigned after one was threatened with murder.
For example, police
officials said that in the city of Prizren, four ethnic
Albanian men employed by the provisional ethnic Albanian government
were arrested for attempting to extort $6,000. But a local judge set
free two weeks ago without any explanation, and the victim subsequently
recanted his accusations.
willing to give us information, because they are afraid; they feel
pressure" caused in part by the absence of any credible criminal
in Kosovo, a Prizren police official said.
The judges have
each been paid $450 since the war ended, leaving ample
opportunity for others to supplement their salaries if desired--although
cases of corruption have been proven. Police, the OSCE, and the Lawyers
Committee for Human Rights have called for the appointment of
international jurists and prosecutors. But U.N. officials said the idea
not been seriously considered.
From an OSCE Report, Abridged
After the War
No part of Prizren
has escaped either the violent or chronic
violations since K-Day 1/8June 21, when KFOR fully deployed
in Kosovo). However, the villages of the Zupa Valley, where
many of the remaining Kosovo Serbs live or sought
protection, have been especially badly hit. In addition to the
killing, kidnapping and burning, there has been extensive
looting, stealing and a general lawlessness that could only
add to the fear and insecurity of the villagers. The elderly
have been a particular target, and there is some evidence that
children have been used to set houses on fire and have been
involved in acts of intimidation. . . .
The keynote feature
in Prizren since the end of the conflict has
been the house burnings. In the town they have nearly
exclusively been Kosovo Serbian properties burned with the
obvious intention of preventing any returns, but they have
also been used to signal to the international community and
the moderate part of the Kosovo Albanian population who is
The overall result
is that far more damage has been caused in
Prizren town after the war than during it. . . .
By the end of October,
nearly 300 houses have been burned
in Prizren and surrounding villages. The result of this pressure
on the Kosovo Serbs is clear: 97 percent of the prewar
population have left. . . .
incident, particularly when offset against the
pattern of targeting the elderly, is the story of Dojnice, 100
percent Serb prior to the conflict. Eighteen elderly people
stayed in the village after K-Day. Two of them left the village
on 27 June, returning a few hours later to find the village
absolutely empty and completely destroyed by fire. No bodies
were ever found. . . .
What is clear is
that the atmosphere in Prizren provided the
space and freedom for a consistent campaign of harassment
aimed at driving out the remaining minorities, and purported
leaders of the community did nothing to stop or even
condemn this campaign. O.S.C.E. could find no evidence that
K.L.A. "police" or K.L.A. representatives tasked by the
self-styled authorities with protecting streets and buildings
made any attempt to stop the harassment. . . .
There is a local
saying: "As Prizren goes, so goes Kosovo." If
that saying is true, the pattern of violence since K-Day, and its
effects on some of the minority populations, paint a picture of
a much more homogenous Prizren, and a much less diverse
24 November 1999
take revenge with campaign of murder, house-burning and
intimidation that has driven out thousands.
Serbs murdered by the hundred since 'liberation'...
By Robert Fisk
The postwar "ethnic
cleansing" of Kosovo's Serbs appears to be nearing
completion as armed Albanians continue to murder and kidnap the tiny
minority of Serbs who remain in the province more than five months after
Nato troops arrived in the words of their UN mandate "to
ensure public safety and order".
Of Pristina's 40,000
Serb population, only 400 are left. Statistics from
the Serb church and a human rights group in Pristina suggest as many
as 316 Serbs have been murdered and 455 more kidnapped, many of them
killed, since Nato's arrival.
If these figures
bear any relation to reality and most are accompanied
by names and dates then the number of Serbs killed in the five
months since the war comes close to that of Albanians murdered by Serbs
in the five months before Nato began its bombardment in March. Most
Serb victims died in the first two months after Nato's entry, but house-burning
and murder continues.
One of the most
recent deaths was that of a Serb restaurant worker
employed by a supreme irony at the Pristina office of
the International War Crimes Tribunal. The murder of Radovan Kukalj
in his home town of Obilic on 29 October went almost unreported outside
by the Nato-led K-For in Kosovo appear to be
woefully inaccurate. They give the number of Serbs murdered since mid-June
as only 125, despite detailed lists from the Serb Orthodox Diocese of
Raska and Prizren that include at least 184 named Serbs as murder victims,
and 104 more kidnapped between 13 June and 22 August alone.
Files at the Serbian-administered
"Centre for Peace and Tolerance' in
Pristina which includes Albanian victims in its statistics
say that at least 48 Albanians as well as 455 Serbs have been kidnapped
But even if the
true figure was closer to K-For's statistic, not one of
the brutal Serb killings is being investigated by members of the International
War Crimes Tribunal working in Kosovo, not even the death of their own
worker, Mr Kukalj.
For while tribunal
investigators still hope to bring charges against the
murderers of Albanians killed before the war, they are prevented by
the tribunal's mandate from any detective work on the postwar murder
of Serbs. The mandate states that it can investigate crimes committed
"during the armed conflict in Kosovo".
But since neither
Nato nor K-For will admit that a conflict continues
under their control in Kosovo, albeit a largely one-sided one in which
the Serbs are the principal victims, war crimes tribunal officials cannot
investigate the killing of Serbs. This means their murderers have only
the largely impotent UN police force to reckon with. No wonder, then,
minority groups continue to flee Kosovo.
The 300-strong Croat
community at Lecnice were preparing to celebrate
their 700th anniversary in the province but left en masse last month
for Dubrovnik. And this week, the president of the tiny Jewish community
in Pristina, Cedra Prlincevic, left for Belgrade after denouncing "a
pogrom against the non-Albanian population". He had left Kosovo,
said, "with only the Talmud".
Foreign aid workers
in Kosovo insist K-For is now making a huge effort
to protect minorities after Nato General Sir Michael Jackson's defeatist
response to the killings "we can only do so much,"
he said several times appeared to encourage the killers.
large numbers of Royal Irish Rangers in the Gjilane and
Stimle areas trying to defend the small number of Serbs there,"
a European human rights worker said. "Just east of Pec, Serbs are
returning from Montenegro at the rate of 40 a week and K-For is putting
enormous resources in to re-establish them."
Swedish troops have
virtually surrounded the Serb monastery town of
Gracanica, even ordering Albanians to strip Kosovo independence posters
from their cars if they are driving in the Serb streets.
But the same aid
official, who spends much of his time on emergency work
in Pristina, admitted: "Every single Serbian here has been intimidated
verbally in the street, on the telephone, physically ..."
A few hours later,
I was confronted by a 64-year old Serb woman, Milunka
Josic, who had just spent the night trying to keep Albanian youths from
breaking down her front door. Her right hand was covered in bruises.
"I know the young men who were shouting at me," she said.
"They were beating on the door and screaming, '**** your mother'
back to Serbia'."
In efforts to minimise
the "ethnic cleansing" of the Serbs of Kosovo,
K-For has even produced graphs which compare the province favourably
to cities which include Pretoria and Moscow, a meaningless performance
since these are among the crime capitals of the world. But OSCE human
rights teams working with the UN police force, say they are investigating
"an increasing number of murders, attacks and harassment of elderly
An OSCE official
reports that in Zupa, a 96-year-old Serb man was found
bound and gagged with a gunshot wound to the head. In Kamenica, a Serb
woman, 82, who had been ordered to leave her house was burnt to death
in her home.
Earlier, Serbs reported
that a 90-year-old woman, Ljubica Vujovic, had
been held down in her bathtub and drowned. Elderly Kosovo Albanians
also complain that Albanian families burnt out of their original homes
by Serbs are trying to evict them. Witnesses, say the OSCE, are too
fearful to help the UN and K-For investigate these crimes.
Amid this anarchy,
the question has to be asked: can the shameful
campaign of "ethnic cleansing" and murder of Serbs that continues
under K-For's eyes still be explained away as revenge attacks, as retaliation
for the mass atrocities committed against Albanians by Serb forces before
and during the Kosovo war?
A growing number
of Albanian intellectuals, including several courageous
journalists on the daily Koha Ditore newspaper, fear that the murders
and dispossession of Serbs are now being organised. By who? By KLA cells
never disbanded under K-For orders? By groups coming across the border
Serbs, of course,
still remember a British minister saying in the Kosovo
war that he wanted "Serbs out, Nato in, refugees back". George
Robertson, as Secretary of State for Defence, later claimed this was
merely a "distillation" of the G8 demands. But "Serbs
Out" has almost been accomplished. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen
is now head of Nato.
'lost count of uranium shells fired in Kosovo'
By Robert Fisk
22 November 1999
used so much depleted uranium ammunition during the Nato bombardment
of Serbia that US officials are now claiming - to the disbelief of European
bomb disposal officers - that they have no idea how many locations may
be contaminated by the radioactive dust left behind by their weapons.
British and other
ordnance officers ordered to defuse live ammunition in Kosovo have been
fobbed off by the US military with "security" objections -
and then with statements that no record was kept of depleted uranium
(DU) munitions used in the Kosovo war.
A growing number
of doctors and scientists suspect that an explosion of cancers in southern
Iraq is caused by the US use of depleted uranium tank and aircraft munition
warheads during the 1991 Gulf War. British and American doctors have
suggested that it may also be a cause of the "Gulf War syndrome",
which has caused the death of up to 400 veterans. Despite these fears,
Nato this summer refused to assist a UN team investigating the use of
depleted uranium munitions in Kosovo.
given to The Independent by European military sources in Kosovo demonstrates
just why Nato should be so reluctant to tell the truth about the anti-armour
ammunition - a waste product of the nuclear industry which burns on
impact and releases toxic and radioactive material when it explodes.
For it transpires that DU was used by A-10 "tankbuster" aircraft
for more than a month in at least 40 locations in Kosovo, many of them
"fake" military targets set up by the Serbs to lure pilots
away from their tanks and artillery positions.
A-10 aircraft used DU ammunition in two attacks against Kosovo Albanian
refugees, the first on 14 April on the main road between Djakovica and
Prizren. Hundreds of civilians were wounded in these attacks, carried
out when Nato pilots - flying at more than 15,000 feet to avoid any
injury to themselves - bombed refugee columns in the belief that they
were military convoys.
The British Ministry
of Defence admits that "ingestion" of DU dust at the time
of the explosion "could present a health risk". But Nato has
made no attempt to trace the Albanian survivors of these attacks or
check their health.
Nor have K-For troops
in southern Kosovo been informed that A-10 aircraft used DU-penetrator
ammunition on targets around a road at Gradis - west of Prizren - and
on a bridge east of Djakovica. Italian K-For troops now manning a checkpoint
only a few feet from the craters of a Nato DU bombing at Bistrazin have
no idea that depleted uranium dust was scattered over the ground around
them seven months ago. Nato sources in Kosovo say that DU was also used
in the warheads of some Cruise missiles fired at hardened silos and
bunkers around main Serbian towns and cities.
say they have no record of depleted uranium in Kosovo because of their
army's hurried withdrawal in June - but claim that DU ammunition was
used by Nato in areas around Vranje, Bujanovac, Ostojnik mountain and
on the Montenegran peninsula of Lustice.
the Americans lots of time where they used this stuff," a British
ordnance officer told me.
"First - you
know the Americans - they said they couldn't tell us for 'security reasons'.
Then they said that their A-10s used DU and fired the ammunition whenever
they came across Serb armour. They said that because these were 'targets
of opportunity', they kept no record of the location or dates of firing.
"I give three
pieces of advice to my men if they think they are near DU munition explosions:
stay away, stay away and stay away."
The same officer
said he had found the remains of only 13 Serb tanks in Kosovo - precisely
the same figure for destroyed tanks given by the Serbs after the war
and 83 tanks fewer than General Wesley Clark, the supreme Nato commander,
claimed his aircraft had destroyed.
But Nato pilots
were fooled by wooden models of tanks and armour into attacking hundreds
of other locations.
In a rare interview
in the Belgrade press this month, Colonel Dr Milan Misovic, a specialist
in radioactive protection in the Belgrade military medical school, claimed
that the consequences of DU use by Nato may be small on the present
generation but that "we'll have to check everything for the next
Javnosti [Public Voice] is an independent daily published in Belgrade
Sasa Trbusic, witness of several-months-long Calvary of Serbs from Orahovac
IT IS HARD TO LIVE AND EVEN HARDER TO ESCAPE
by Ljiljana Staletovic
Glas Javnosti, Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia, November 14 1999
An attempt to escape from the ghetto in which we had been living since
June would be suicidal
Since last summer, in the villages of the Orahovac municipality, with
the exception of the village of Velika Hoca in which there are still about
1,000 inhabitants, there is no Serb Orthodox population.
"Ethnic cleansing in mid-July of last year was conducted by ethnic
Albanian terrorists in the villages of Retimlje, Opterusa, and Zociste.
Several Serbs died trying to defend those villages, and many were taken
away in an unknown direction, to the wasteland of the mountains above
Suva Reka and Malisevo, and Drenica... Those days, ethnic Albanians abducted
51 Serbs from Orahovac. We can only speculate about their fate,"
Trbusic, one of Serbs from Orahovac. On October 27 1999 he managed to
get out of this town with his family with the assistance of the International
According to his testimony, about 1440 Serbs remain in Orahovac. They
live in a true ghetto.
"Ethnic Albanians control municipal services and cut electricity
and water to the ghetto for hours. Phone links with Serbia have been cut
since the beginning of the bombardment, and the Albanians have cut the
phone links to the nearby village of Velika Hoca. We are getting food
in various ways. Those with a yard around the house have planted potatoes,
cabbage, and lettuce. The rest we get from the Red Cross. We cannot go
to stores because
any attempt to leave the ghetto is suicidal," testifies our interlocutor.
Serbs from Orahovac are trying to get out of their occupied town in any
way possible, but only the most fortunate among them have managed to do
that. Ethnic Albanians have given to KFOR soldiers certain lists of alleged
war criminals. Every Serb from Orahovac, whose name is on that list can
only make it to the prison in Prizren.
"When on October 27, 163 of us finally entered 4 passenger buses
and 29 cars we thought that freedom was near. We ignored the shouts of
ethnic Albanians while we were driving through the town. However, we did
not even make it to the exit from the town. Instead we were driven to
the factory 'Termovent'. There, KFOR soldiers conducted a detailed search.
They even checked serial numbers on cars and their engines. Nevertheless,
all that ended relatively soon and we started towards Pec. We passed through
Zrze without trouble. However, the convoy was stoned in Djakovica and
Decane. The windshield on Trajko Simic's car was broken and we had to
stop on the road between Decani and Pec so that the Dutch KFOR soldiers
could help Trajko put a plastic bag over his broken windshield. While
were waiting, the passing ethnic Albanians were provoking us. At one moment
a KFOR soldier pushed away one of the four members of the Kosovo Protection
Corps who were blocking our way. Everything got much
more complicated once we reached Pec. At the crossroads near the former
Police Station, the engine in the car of Snezana Dzinovic and Zlata Simic
overheated. A KFOR armored troop carrier stopped and the convoy was divided
in two. Buses and four cars made it safely to Savine Vode [on the border
between Montenegro and Kosovo]. Our adventure was just about to
start," continues Trbusic.
The convoy, led by a KFOR vehicle, made a wrong turn. However, they soon
returned on the right route, but a human wall of Albanians had already
been formed at the crossroads towards Rozaje [town in Montenegro]. The
Albanians started throwing stones and bricks at the convoy. Many passengers
were injured. Our interlocutor was among them.
"We were saved from the maddened crowd by the Italian Carabinieri.
They took us into the former Police Station, where we remained until 9pm.
Then, under the cover of darkness with battery lapms, because a power
cut had begun in the meantime, they took us to their armored cars through
side entrances and drove us to Savine Vode on the border with Montenegro,
where our people were waiting," concludes his testimony Sasa Trbusic.
crossed over to Serbia with his father, mother, wife and a nine-months-old
The Trbusic family is now safe. They, as well as other Serbs who managed
to get to Montenegro received from the chief of the office of the High
Commissariat for Refugees, Robert Bryn on October 28 a confirmation that
their luggage and personal documents had been taken by force from them.
The document does not mention their cars which were looted and then set
on fire. They lost everything except for their lives.
Sasa Trbusic contradicts a statement by KFOR spokesperson major Ole Irgens
that no one was arrested because of the attack on Serbs in Pec. Trbusic
and other Serbs who on October 27 spent the night in the Police Station
in Pec saw when the Italian soldiers detained three Albanians. They beat
one of them up because they recognized in him the person who
had injured one of their comrades while they were trying to save Serbs.
Dr. Dostana the only Health Worker
The only physician in Orahovac is now Dr. Dostana Grkovic. She takes care
of the health of 1440 persons in almost impossible circumstances. She
lacks necessary medications, especially antibiotics and medications for
chronic diseases, but Dr. Dostana is doing her best to treat patients
even in these impossible conditions. And the number of her patients increases
OF NEW TYRANNY IN KOSOVO AS A KLA REGIME FILLS VOIDS IN GOVERNMENT,
EVIDENCE MOUNTS OF AN INTIMIDATED POPULACE
By Chris Hedges
New York Times News Service
July 29, 1999
-- The Kosovo Liberation
Army has taken sweeping political control in Kosovo,
establishing a network of self-appointed ministries and
local councils, seizing businesses and apartments, and
collecting taxes and customs payments in the absence of
a strong international police presence.
Despite a peace
agreement that calls for an
administration appointed by the United Nations and the
fact that the ethnic Albanian militants have no legal
standing, their grasp is a fait accompli. These days they
talk not of ceding power to the United Nations but of
cooperating as if they were equals.
"We will work
with the United Nations," said Muje
Gjonbalaj, who acts as the deputy minister for
reconstruction and development, "but this is our country
and our government. We are in charge until the
elections, when a permanent government will be
The KLA's swift
move to take power has been aided by
the squabbling and ineffectiveness of the moderate
opposition and by a disorganized UN administration that
is short on personnel and awaiting the police promised
by member countries to help maintain order.
the chief UN administrator in
Kosovo, said he was aware of the abuses being
committed by the KLA and insisted the organization was
working to curb them.
The United Nations
is planning to deploy a
3,100-member police force, though it has only 156
officers in Kosovo at present. Kouchner, who has been
criticized by U.S. officials for moving slowly, said he is
working to set up legal mechanisms that will sort through
issues such as property ownership and taxation.
"It is always
like this after wars of liberation," he said.
"Things take time. What we want to avoid is an internal
war. Some of these activities are carried out by the
KLA, others are carried out in the name of the KLA.
But we must work with them to establish law and order.
It will take more than 10 days."
What is happening
in Kosovo is not just liberation from
Serbian rule but a revolution. The ramifications for
Kosovo and the international powers that have set up a
NATO protectorate are immense.
The raw, often unschooled
fighters have as their political
patrons the government of Albania and seem to care
little for the civilities of Western-style democracies.
Violence has been
rising steadily, especially against the
remaining pockets of Serbian civilians. The looting and
burning of Serb homes, as well as dozens of
assassinations and kidnappings of Serbs and a few
Albanians, including the massacre of 14 Serbian farmers
on Friday, speak of a province spinning into the kind of
gunslinging and anarchy that has characterized Albania in
the last few years.
"The only political
group that has any structure is the
KLA," said Baton Haxhiu, the editor of Koha Ditore, an
Albanian-language newspaper. "It is using it to take
power, backed eventually by a police and a national
guard force it alone will control. It will be very hard to
turn Albania into Kosovo, but I expect very easy to turn
Kosovo into Albania. Each day it is becoming more
dangerous to think and speak independently."
The rebel fighters,
who are supposed to turn in their
weapons before the end of September to the
NATO-led peacekeepers, have been slow to comply
with the demilitarization agreement and are hiding large
stocks of weapons, NATO officers said.
In Prizren on Friday,
German soldiers uncovered 10
tons of ammunition squirreled away by the KLA. There
is an average of one murder a day, most often of a Serb,
and three or four lootings and house burnings in Prizren,
which is in many ways a typical city in postwar Kosovo.
In Prizren, as in
most towns in Kosovo, the City Hall
and municipal buildings have been commandeered by
the KLA. Former fighters sit in the offices and run the
In Pristina, several
large buildings have been taken over
by the group and turned into ministries. Small cafes,
shops, apartments and the huge shopping center in
Pristina are in the hands of KLA members.
Most of these new
entrepreneurs come from rural areas
and have nothing but disdain for the ethnic Albanian
urban elite, who, they say, failed to drive away the Serbs
under Ibrahim Rugova.
Rugova, the non-violent
political leader of a faction of
Kosovo Albanians, remains in exile in Italy after a brief
visit to Kosovo, saying he has delayed his return
because of concerns about his security in KLA territory.
Hetem Hetemi, who
said he led a unit of 20 KLA
fighters in the war, most from his immediate family, was
seated outside his new business, the Mozart Bar, seized
from its Serbian owner.
"My sons and
I showed up in Pristina with our weapons
and decided to take this bar," he said. It was a point of
pride to Hetemi that one of the enemy, a paramilitary
leader known as Arkan who has been indicted on war
crimes charges, used to drink at the bar.
we had in our village was destroyed,"
Hetemi said. "I took a Serb car, but the KFOR soldiers
stopped me and made me give it to them. What am I
supposed to drive? These peacekeepers are worse than
government is headed by Hashim Thaci,
a KLA commander who has appointed himself prime
minister and his friends and relatives to head various
departments, including his uncle, Azem Syla, to the post
of defense minister.
Thaci's orders usually
are delivered by small bands of
sunburned young men, many of them carrying concealed
pistols. They are handed over with warnings that a
failure to comply will lead to beatings or death.
Thaci says he will
govern Kosovo until parliamentary
elections, which are expected to be scheduled sometime
during the next nine months. He does not speak of
disbanding the structures that have been set up to allow
the UN to assume responsibility.
There is no deadline
for elections,meaning that Thaci
could be in power for a year or more before any vote is
set by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Under Thaci, the
large ministries hum with activity. The
reach of these newly formed institutions is increasingly
felt in neighborhoods, where most people say they are
afraid to run afoul of the self-appointed authorities.
Tahir Canolli, 49,
ran a furniture store in Pristina for
nearly three decades. He, like many businessmen, hoped
that when he returned to Pristina from the refugee camps
in Macedonia, the harassment he experienced under
Serbs would end.
Instead, a group
of KLA fighters arrived at his shop two
weeks ago with a paper issued from "The Ministry of
Public Order" demanding the keys to his 1990 Audi 80
and his store.
arrogant, brutal and rude," he said, unfolding
the stamped order that he now carries in his pocket.
"They told me that if I did not comply immediately they
knew a cellar I might like to visit."