The Independent of London, 8-2-99

Organised crime gangs rule Kosovo

By Laura Rozen in Pristina

Around 30 people a week are being
killed in Kosovo as organised gangs
take advantage of the UN's failure to
police the province.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea admitted
yesterday a "law and order vacuum" has
been created by a long delay in
deploying UN civil administrators and
an expected 3,000-strong police force.
But he insisted the war-torn province
was not yet out of control.

Western diplomats in Pristina say
gangs, some of which are suspected of
having links to the Kosovo Liberation
Army, are taking apartments, real
estate, businesses, fuel supplies and
cars from Kosovo Albanians and Serbs,
who have little recourse to justice.

A British K-For official in Pristina
said: "UNMIK (the UN interim
administration) is unprepared to take
over law and order. In the absence of
police and legitimate rules, a vacuum
has occurred.

"That vacuum is being filled by
organised crime. Albanian gangs are
inviting Kosovo Serbs to leave their
apartments. Now Kosovo Albanians are
being invited to leave."

Because so many Kosovo Albanians had
identity documents and licence plates
seized by Serb forces, and because
there are now no border controls, many
gangs are moving in unhampered by the
37,000 K-For soldiers.

While the UN plans to deploy 3,125
international police, only 400 have
arrived. The police commander has
decided not to put troops into active
service until he has enough to patrol
entire areas. Currently, the commander
says, his most urgent need is for
border police to keep out more gangs
and smugglers.

The German K-For commander, General
Fritz von Korff, said his soldiers stop
cars to search for weapons and
frequently come across smuggled items,
such as massive amounts of cigarettes,
particularly at the Morina-Kukes border
crossing. But Nato's mandate does not
permit his soldiers to confiscate any
item except weapons, and the smugglers
are permitted into Kosovo with their
loot if it is believed they are from
the province.

One of the biggest problems involves
gangs showing up at homes to claim
ownership and threatening to beat those
who refuse to move out.

No statistics are available on the
number of property seizures, but
anecdotal evidence suggests a growing
problem. And, while initially it seemed
that seizures were ethnically
motivated, and targeted at Kosovo Serbs
in the capital Pristina, increasingly
Kosovo Albanians are victims as well.

Kosovo's provisional prime minister,
KLA leader Hashim Thaci, 31, denied his
organisation was behind seizures of
Kosovo Serb apartments. "We have no
such information. We know there are
those who have left Kosovo, but we have
not forced anybody to leave, or put
pressure on them to leave. That is
propaganda. Any one who has not
committed crimes is free to live in

According to a UN police commander, who
asked not to be identified,
intelligence suggests there are three
main types of organised criminal gangs
in Kosovo: Russian, Albanian, and those
linked to the KLA. Some analysts
suggest that the seized apartments and
other looted goods are the KLA's way of
paying debts to arms procurers, funders
and important soldiers and their

UN officials deny the organisation's
slowness is responsible for Kosovo's
growing crime problem. One senior UN
commander said, unlike K-For, which has
been preparing for a Kosovo mission
since February, the UN wasn't told it
was to take over civilian operations in
Kosovo until June.

An American involved in the
international police force warned that
by the time the UN police are deployed,
criminal gangs will already have their
networks set up, and will be as much a
menace for Kosovo's Albanian population
as they are for the Serbs.

US says no safety guarantees for Serbs in Kosovo as new police move in

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (AFP) - The United States said Thursday there was
no way to guarantee the safety of the Serbian minority in Kosovo amid
reports that retaliatory attacks against them were increasing.

"It is simply not possible for NATO to be in a position to ensure that all
the Serbs stay (in Kosovo) or that every Serb is free from violence," State
Department spokesman James Rubin said, referring to the
NATO-commanded international peacekeeping force or KFOR.

Rubin noted that crime against ethnic Albanians was also ongoing in the
province and urged both sides to refrain from attacks, at the same time
announcing that 100 more US police officers had left for Kosovo.

But even with the additional officers which will quintuple the number of
American police already there but not come close to meeting the US
commitment of 450 law enforcers, Rubin said safety could not be

"I think it's very important for people to understand that NATO never
could, nor can the United Nations, guarantee that people stay in Kosovo,"
he said.

Rubin made the remarks in response to questions from reporters about
the worsening situation for the Serb population in Kosovo.

On Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed
concern at the fact that Kosovar Serbs, frightened of revenge attacks from
ethnic Albanians, were leaving the province in greater numbers.

A study of 76 villages found that the localities were slowly emptying of
their Serb populations, according to UNCHR.

Rubin insisted he was not condoning violence on either side, but said it
was impossible to imagine that ethnic Albanians, after ten years of
harassment by the Serb population culminating with this year's ethnic
cleansing campaign, would sit idly by once they returned home.

He did say that Washington did not believe attacks against the Serbian
population were being coordinated by the Kosovo Liberation Army, which
has publicly renounced the violence.

"We have no evidence it is being organized by the KLA," Rubin said.

A senior US official agreed with Rubin's characterization about the
difficulty in bringing violence to a complete halt and warned against
overestimating the power of the peacekeeping force and the civilian

"This is the Balkans," the official said in reference to the region's bloody
past. "No one said it was going to be Switzerland overnight."

The Daily Telegraph, UK

Muslims seek a haven from hatred in Belgrade


By David Millward in Belgrade

ETHNIC Albanians are eager to move to Belgrade from Kosovo, despite the presence of Nato troops in the province.

A noticeboard at the Yugoslav capital's only mosque is crammed with slips of paper from Kosovars offering two or, in one case, three flats in Pristina for one in Belgrade. There are an estimated 200,000 Muslims in the Yugoslav capital which has been a haven from the bloody inter-communal strife that has beset first Bosnia and then Kosovo, with little more than a handful of incidents since the start of the Nato bombardment.

Most are employed in blue collar jobs. Many have lived in Belgrade for decades and are located throughout the city. There is not a Kosovar or Muslim "ghetto".

Imer Mehmet, 50, left Pristina 32 years ago and is now one of about 50,000 Kosovars living in Belgrade. He said: "Everything here has been fine; I haven't had any problems. I have friends who are Serbs, my children go to school with Serbian children. I really could not go anywhere else."

Another Kosovar, Farzi Zeneli, 53, who has lived in Belgrade for more than 40 years, also doubted the wisdom of the bombing which, he said, had soured relations with the Serbs. He said: "I didn't have any problems, but I know some people who did and it has made things worse for some of us in Belgrade."

The two men were among about 1,000 Muslims who packed into weekly prayers in the mosque in Dorcol, the oldest part of Belgrade. The ease with which the Muslims live in Belgrade is one of the paradoxes of a country that has been ripped apart over the past decade by ethnic conflict.

But even under Tito the Yugoslav capital was a law unto itself. Renowned for its tolerance, Belgrade was a cosmopolitan city where cafe society flourished; and the tradition has continued.

Even if many Serbs in the city regard the KLA in Kosovo as the devil incarnate and tacitly condone ethnic cleansing, the idea of turning on their near neighbours is regarded as anathema. Belgrade once had 274 mosques and the only surviving one is not big enough for the Muslim community's needs, according to Imam Mustafa Jusufspahic, 29.

He said: "Yes, we have problems, but they go back to the time of Tito rather than Milosevic." The war was difficult, however. "The Kosovars are our brothers in religion, but the Serbs are our brothers in blood."

The mosque itself did not escape unscathed. Mr Jusufspahic recalled: "There were difficulties with hooligans and skinheads. They threw stones at the building, which was perhaps understandable at the time."

There was also a grenade attack at 3am. The explosion shattered glass, and the white walls of the mosque annexe are still pock-marked from the shrapnel.

But these incidents were isolated. Mr Jusufspahic said: "My view is that the religious leaders in Belgrade did their job well and behaved responsibly."

Once the Nato bombardment started, the Muslims in Belgrade found themselves as vulnerable as their Serb neighbours. Mr Jusufspahic said: "The bombardment did not make a distinction between the different religious groups. Nato was acting as if it was still the 19th century rather than approaching the beginning of the 21st."

But he believes the bombardment may have brought the two communities in Belgrade together. "We were in the same boat," he said.

The Daily Telegraph, UK

Gang murders lone Serb grandmother


By Philip Smucker in Luzane, Yugoslavia

BRITISH troops were yesterday mourning the loss of a proud but stubborn Serb grandmother whom they had tried to protect from Albanian gangs preying on defenseless old women throughout Kosovo.

About a dozen of the King's Royal Hussars stood guard with two tanks in front of Godsa Draza's two-room home, a day after she had been brutally killed. Capt Nick Perry said the murderers broke down a gate before shooting Mrs Draza twice through the chest. They then threw her body on to a dung heap and covered it with hay.

Capt Perry said: "My soldiers are all extremely upset about this. Grandmother Draza was one of the kindest ladies we met and she had tried to protect the homes of her Albanian neighbours during the war. She was the only Serb left for miles around but she refused to go and we respected her for that."

British soldiers had dropped in on Mrs Draza twice a day in "surprise visits" meant to keep would-be assailants guessing. On those occasions she had made them some Turkish coffee and joked about the Nato bombing. On two occasions the troops had taken her to visit her two sons living in one of the few "Serbian ghettos" remaining in Kosovo. Both times, soldiers had
remained in her home to protect her belongings.

Yesterday her son Mila arrived at her home with a British lorry to pack the last of the family belongings. He said he planned to give the family cow to an Albanian for safekeeping.

British troops said the neighbours had still not offered any clues as to who might have committed the murder. Troops have stepped up patrols around the homes of elderly Serb women in a mission they call the "Granny Beat", following several killings, one of a grandmother drowned in her bathtub last week.

United Nations officials estimate that 130,000 Serbs have abandoned their homes out of fear of revenge attacks since the end of the Nato air strikes and the deployment of the KFOR peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. Nato forces reported yesterday that a Serb man was killed and his wife injured by Albanian gunmen in their apartment building in the city of Prizren, while a Serb woman and her two-year-old daughter were shot in the western city of Pones.

LATimes, Wednesday, August 11, 1999

In Kosovo, a Destroyed Serb Village Leaves Many Clues but No Answers

By SCOTT GLOVER, Times Staff Writer

DOJNICE, Yugoslavia--In Kosovo, what happened in Dojnice is hardly unusual. At most, 16 Serbs were killed.
But the story of this "dead village" is significant nonetheless.
The apparent slaughter here--authorities suspect everything breathing,
including the animals, was killed--didn't happen during NATO's 11-week
air war against Yugoslavia. It wasn't carried out by members of a Serbian
paramilitary group.
What happened, authorities say, was most likely neighbors killing
Details are scant. What is known, according to the German military
officials in charge of the sector of Kosovo where the village is located,
is that sometime between late June and the first week of August, the
village was burned to the ground. And amid the ashes were found the
skeletal remains of five people, believed to be elderly residents.
The story of Dojnice, whose ruins were discovered by German soldiers
last week, has enraged officials of the Serbian Orthodox Church. While
revenge-fueled killings and the torching of Serbian homes and churches
have become commonplace in Kosovo since the war ended in early June,
church officials say that what appears to have happened marks the first
case they are aware of in which an entire Serbian village was destroyed
and its residents slain.
They also point out that the killings are believed to have taken place
well after international peacekeeping troops arrived in Kosovo--a
province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's main republic--and that they highlight
the vulnerability of Serbs in the wake of the war.
"We cannot understand how one of the rare Serb villages that remains
in Kosovo was left without proper protection," said Father Sava Janic, an
aide to the bishop of Kosovo.
Last Wednesday, German soldiers serving in the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization-led peacekeeping force known as KFOR were on routine patrol
in the mountains when they rolled into Dojnice and found the cinders and
Officially, the 11 other people who were known to have remained in the
village after the war are missing. But Lt. Col. Rainer Buske, the brigade
commander in the German-controlled section of Kosovo, has little doubt
about their fate.
"They were all killed. There is nobody left," Buske said. He is
convinced that the remains of the others are buried in the rubble.
"We will find them sooner or later," he said.
Buske said he understands the church's concern. But because he does
not know exactly when the slayings took place, he cannot say for certain
whether German troops, who were deployed in the area in mid-July, had
even arrived.
Besides, he said, "KFOR simply has not the manpower to provide shelter
and protection to every single Serb person or Serb town in the area."
Dojnice is--or was--a picturesque hamlet comprising a couple dozen
homes on a mountainside in southern Kosovo, not far from the Albanian
border. About a mile away, across a broad crevice in the mountains, sits
Skorobiste, a slightly larger village made up of Bosnian Muslims and
ethnic Albanians.
A single dirt road leads to both villages. From the main paved road
below, it is about a six-mile climb up the twisting, rocky road to
Skorobiste. Dojnice lies a mile beyond. The route between the villages is
more a trail than a road--in two places, it traverses mountain streams
without benefit of a bridge. The trail forges a semicircular path along
the forested mountainside, where Dojnice looks directly across at its
neighbor, the two villages resembling lighthouses perched on opposing
cliffs above an ocean cove.
It is clear that the people of Skorobiste would have seen the flames
as Dojnice burned. They may even have heard screams. Yet "there are no
eyewitnesses, at least no eyewitnesses who want to talk," Buske said.
For the month or so until the soldiers happened upon the carnage,
nobody said a word, according to Buske. There was not a single report
from Skorobiste that something was amiss in the village next door.
"In Kosovo, nobody sees anything," said Capt. Nico Werner, another
German officer.
Today in Dojnice, the sweet smell of plums mixes with the sour stench
of death. Every house in the village is not only burned but destroyed.
Most of the walls have caved in, leaving only piles of rubble where the
houses once stood. The narrow footpaths from house to house are strewn
with shattered tile from fallen roofs. Family photos and keepsakes litter
the ground. In one case, someone took the time to rip a snapshot in half,
separating family members' smiling faces from their bodies.
A school workbook, filled with a first- or second-grader's attempts to
form the letters B and G, lies next to one charred home--perhaps left
behind by one of the grandchildren who used to visit the village on
weekends. Here and there, red pieces of plastic mark the spots where the
bones were found. Also here and there are the letters UCK, the Albanian
initials of the Kosovo Liberation Army, scrawled on remnants of walls in
what appears to be blood.
Buske said the letters prove nothing,
but he does suspect the KLA or
people affiliated with it of carrying out the slayings
. He believes that
the killers came at night and worked quickly. Everything was set ablaze,
including livestock pens with animals still inside.
Buske would not speculate about whether people were roused from their
houses, but some of the red placards marking the spots where bones were
found are outside, suggesting that they were. The colonel said it was
impossible to tell immediately from the skeletal remains how the five
were killed. The slayings are being probed by an international team of
investigators, which includes members of Scotland Yard and the German
equivalent of the FBI.
In Skorobiste this week, most people reported few problems with their
Serbian neighbors in Dojnice. But they also did not want to talk about
the issue in detail or give their names.
A few brought up an incident earlier this summer in which a member of
the KLA was shot to death, allegedly by a man who lived in
Dojnice--implying that the recent killings were retaliation by members of
the rebel army. One man said the Serbs had burned the village themselves.
But most of the villagers said they were saddened by what had
happened--no small concession in a part of the world where the depth of
ethnic hatred seems limitless.
One man went a step further.
"I am ashamed for what happened," said Ramiz Alija. Alija said the
Serbs in Dojnice had guaranteed the safety of his own villagers during
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's horrifying campaign of "ethnic
"They were good neighbors," he said.

Newsweek International, August 16, 1999

Driving Out the Serbs

Extremists are killing civilians and blowing up churches. Is this the Kosovo
that NATO fought for?

By Zoran Cirjakovic and Jeffrey Bartholet

Father Sava Janjic is that rare breed, the righteous Serb. He consistently
opposed Serb attacks in Kosovo, condemned the atrocities and continues to call for the ouster of Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic. But far from being a hero, Sava is a target. Simply being a Serb makes him an enemy of ethnic Albanian nationalists. Being an Orthodox priest makes him a visible symbol of everything Serbian. So he lives with displaced monks and nuns, among a collection of magnificent Christian icons, in a 14th-century stone monastery five miles south of the provincial capital of Pristina. British soldiers guard the front and rear gates. "The robe of the priest or monk is like a red cloth in front of a bull in Pristina," says the 33-year-old Sava. "We cannot move anywhere without a KFOR escort."

The headlines in Kosovo today are not very different from those a year ago:
murders, abductions, bombings. In this round of atrocities, however, the
victims are Serbs and Gypsies (many of whom threw in their lot with
Milosevic's thugs during the war). Brutal killings-like the slaughter of 14
Serb farmers 11 miles southwest of Pristina on July 23-have left most Serbs
afraid to wander from their homes. Many cower behind doors barricaded by iron bars, tables and chests. But staying home is no guarantee of safety. In
Pristina last week, the fully dressed corpse of a 78-year-old Serb woman was
found slumped over the side of her bathtub; an unknown assailant had drowned her.

The scale of atrocity isn't the same as the widespread massacres by Serb
paramilitary forces during the war. But the effect is similar: more than
120,000 Serbs and Gypsies have fled the province since NATO troops arrived on June 12, and more are preparing to run. In Pristina, virtually everything that used to be owned by Serbs-hotels, shops, pharmacies, dental clinics-is now run by Albanians. A formerly Serb-owned kiosk in the town center that used to offer newspapers and cigarettes now sells tapes and CD's glorifying the Kosovo Liberation Army. According to Sava, fewer than 1,400 Serbs remain in Pristina, down from 30,000 before the war.

The attacks on Christian sites have taken a devastating toll. Sava estimates
that ethnic Albanians have destroyed 40 Orthodox churches and monasteries since NATO troops took control of Kosovo two months ago. "These are the acts of people who have military training and explosives," says Sava. Two Serb priests are missing, he says, and one was seen kidnapped by uniformed soldiers of the KLA. Another went to an Albanian-owned shop and never came back to his monastery. "Attacks on churches are highly symbolic acts of violence," says Ben Ward, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. "The message is that there is
no future for Serbs in Kosovo."

Those who remain often are too old to leave, or just don't have the money to
escape. Jelica Cimbrovic, 87, is one of only three Serbs left in the town of
Podujevo, 20 miles north of Pristina. She's lived there since 1933; her
husband died long ago, and she has no children. Six British soldiers take
turns guarding Cimbrovic and her 72-year-old Serb friend, Jelica Milanoc, 24 hours a day. An Albanian neighbor brought them food for a while; now the
British guards deliver handouts from an aid agency. "If it wasn't for the
soldiers, I would be dead," she says.

U.S. officials, flush with their success in the war, sometimes seem oblivious
to what's happening. "Never again will people with guns come in the night,"
declared Madeleine Albright during a visit to Kosovo on July 29. Speaking
before a cheering crowd in Pristina, the secretary of state dismissed critics
who believe the Balkans will never overcome centuries of bloodletting. "Today I want to predict that you will prove those critics wrong... Democracy cannot be built on revenge."

But who is building democracy? The NATO forces in Kosovo today are
overstretched just trying to do simple police work. "We react to every call
for help," says Major Jan Joosten, KFOR spokesman in Pristina. "But we cannot be on every corner, we cannot be in every street, we cannot be in every house." Ethnic Albanians turn out en masse to jeer at Serbs as they flee under KFOR protection. (In one incident last week, a Serb in a convoy shot an Albanian, and Albanians fired back, killing a Serb.)

Human-rights workers suspect the attacks against Serbs and Gypsies might be encouraged or orchestrated by KLA leaders. A report issued last week by Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog group, stopped short of alleging a systematic campaign by the KLA, but it documented many abuses committed by people in KLA uniforms. One explanation for attacks on Serbs and Gypsies was simply revenge, the report said. But "another related motivation for the abuse is to drive members of these minority groups out of Kosovo."

The KLA, which is busy creating a shadow government in Kosovo, denies
involvement. "We would like to find out who are those people who are shaming the KLA," said spokesman Lirak Celaj. He noted that anyone can obtain KLA uniforms for 30 German marks, or $16. "That's not a convincing explanation," says Joanne Mariner, one of the authors of the Human Rights Watch report. "Clearly, members of the KLA are involved in some of the most serious abuses... It's critically important that the KLA be more active in stopping them."

Sava blames Milosevic for most of what has befallen the Kosovo Serbs, and
believes his ouster is key to the future of the province. But the soft-spoken
priest worries that Kosovo may be empty of Serbs by the time that happens. "In two months, if there is no improvement in the security situation and if the terror is not stopped, I think there will be no Serbs in Pristina and other
multiethnic areas," he predicts. Many Albanian Kosovars, of course, say good riddance-and even some Western analysts suspect that separation of the two populations is in the best interests of all. But Sava says that separation will never bring peace. He warns that Kosovo to the Serbs is much like Jerusalem to the Jews: it's a holy place with a bloody history, and will never be forgotten.

With Juliette Terezieff in Podujevo and Michael Hirsh in Washington



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

By Laura Rozen in Pristina

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.

The Observer
Sunday August 15, 1999

Is Kosovo peace crumbling?

Two months after Nato troops entered Pristina, Peter Beaumont returns
to find the mafia, KLA and police engaged in a murderous struggle for

The bombers of Lipljan are children. The makeshift jail, in a battered
police station now home to the British Army's Royal Military Police,
was once a stronghold for President Slobodan Milosevic's special
forces. Now its cells hold two 15-year-old girls, detained in
connection with a series of grenade attacks that terrorised the town's
remaining Serbs.

Their alleged crime is a dark mirror to methods of the Serb Police and
paramilitaries during their reign of terror in the 15 months before
Nato forces arrived in Kosovo in June. The only difference this time on
the roundabout of Balkan violence is that the bombers of Lipljan are
ethnic Albanians. But their mission had a chillingly familiar ring - to
drive the remaining families from the other side of the sectarian
divide out of the town, and Kosovo, for good.

The age of the members of the gang so far arrested has shocked the
British military police involved. Of the 16 they detained in connection
with a spate of more than 20 'fraggings' of Serb businesses and homes
in barely three weeks, 12 were aged 19 or under. Last week, the
bombings reached their peak with seven grenade attacks in a single day
before military police moved in to break up the gang.

But for all their youth, the attacks in Lipljan were carefully planned,
not by the children who committed them but by the gangsters who
convinced the teenagers to perpetrate them. Persuaded by figures in the
ethnic Albanian mafia that they had been recruited to cleanse their
'country' and create an ethnically pure Kosovo rid of its Serbs, the
girls agreed to be used as couriers to transport grenades from the
Albanian border to the little town just south of Kosovo's de facto
capital Pristina. The girls would carry them into the town in handbags
- aware that the British soldiers would not search them - or gave them
to even younger children to transport.

There the grenades were stored by 'quartermasters' until needed in
attacks against the remaining 4,000 Serbs, in a town where Serbians
once made up more than 80 per cent of the population and now make up
barely half. Most sinister of all, however, is how the attacks were
carried out: with the teenagers sent out in pairs masquerading as
promenading lovers - the first pair to make sure the coast was clear of
British troops from the K-For peacekeeping force, while the other
hurled the grenades. When Nato troops arrived the bombers would
suddenly appear beside the soldiers, presenting themselves as
distraught witnesses of yet another atrocity in the Balkan cycle.

But the truth behind this series of attacks in Lipljan, and elsewhere
in the province, is more cynical than simply an upsurge in the
sectarian attacks by young hotheads on a minority population that - as
the Balkan wheel has turned again - has suddenly found itself the
vulnerable one.

Instead, investigators believe, the Albanian mafia, posing as freedom
fighters, have turned the 'ethnic cleansing' of Kosovo into a lucrative
business. 'These kids believed that they were working for figures in
the Kosovo Liberation Army, and were engaged in revenge attacks on
Serbs,' said one source familiar with the bombings.

'They were young and impressionable. They were all fired up. But the
truth is that they were being manipulated by the mafia for a housing
scam with access to the vacant properties being sold on to homeless
ethnic Albanians for 400 deutschmarks a time.'

The sinister pattern of violence against the remaining Serb population
has created an atmosphere of febrile crisis for the international
community whose policing of Kosovo's imperfect peace has come under the
spotlight. After three months of Nato bombs to stop this kind of
killing and expulsions, many are now asking whether the war with
Yugoslavia happened simply to allow the ethnic Albanians to turn from
victim into victimiser in pursuit of independence.

The violence has sickened many who thought the province had offered up
all that it could from the well of inhumanity. But recent weeks have
seen new atrocities that - if not equal to the fury of the Serb ethnic
cleansing in March and April - are strikingly familiar. Most shocking
of all has been a series of murders of elderly Serb women, shot through
their doors in Pristina, strangled, even drowned in their own baths, if
they refused to leave and give up their homes to men describing
themselves as representatives of the KLA.

'The truth,' said one aid worker, 'is that we are in the key period for
the survival for the last remnants of the Serb community. There are
probably less than 2,000 left in Pristina, and more are leaving every
day. People are trying to keep it quiet, but we are aware that daily
the Serb community is organising transports out of the city of up to 50
people a day.

'With only 2,000 left at most out of 30,000 before the war it doesn't
take a lot to work out that soon the city could be empty of its Serbs.
And when Pristina is ethnically clean of its Serbs, that sends a
powerful message to the other Serb enclaves trying to hang on.'

With only 22,000 remaining of the 200,000 Serbs who once made the
province their home, the question that many aid workers, military and
diplomats are privately asking is whether there will be any Serbs left
in 12 months time.

It is a message that has been rammed home by Ron Redmond, senior
spokesman in Pristina for the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, who last week said the elderly remnants of the Serb
population in Pristina, which once numbered almost 40,000, were the
victims of sustained attacks, killings and intimidation.

'Conditions for those who have remained have noticeably worsened over
the last few weeks. A disturbing pattern has arisen against Serbs still
in the city,' said Redmond. That pattern is described by Ruma Mandal, a
protection officer with the UNHCR, who has been studying the method of
the killing and expulsions.

'We are aware of concerted efforts to remove remaining Serb individuals
and whole families from the apartment blocks in which they live,' said
Mandal. 'Typically, they first receive a letter telling them to go,
followed by a personal visit setting a deadline. In some cases this is
repeated throughout the entire block.'

Mandal and other officers working in the city and elsewhere have
recently become aware of a new dimension of the expulsions -
quasi-legal documents posted under doors of those being warned to
leave. One - seen by The Observer - describes itself as an 'Internal
Tenancy Agreement' including a licence number and spaces for witnesses
to sign. It is effectively a piece of paper inviting the Serbs to give
up their homes. 'We have seen a number of these,' says Ruma Mandal. 'We
are aware that in some cases these have been sent to all the Serb
occupants of a block. It is simply another form of intimidation.'

But despite the way that those intimidating the Serb occupants have
described themselves as belonging to the KLA, even appearing in uniform
on visits to their victims and scrawling the letters 'UCK' (the
Albanian acronym for KLA) on the door of their victims, senior K-For
officers - including military police - are sceptical that the KLA is
organising the attacks.

'It is a complete and utter sham,' said one senior British military
policeman. 'The point that we want to make - that we have learned from
our investigations - is that these are acts of utter criminality. These
people are gangsters who are using the cover of the KLA to operate. We
have found no formal links with the real KLA.'

It is a version of events that is contradicted by other sources who
claim that, of 15 ethnic Albanians arrested for intimidation last week,
11 were carrying cards identifying themselves as members of the PU, the
KLA's military police.

In Lipljan too, the same identity cards have been uncovered, although
local commanders claim no knowledge of those arrested. 'The problem,'
said one Western diplomat, 'is that we simply don't know if these
people are KLA or not, even whether the cards are genuine. Certainly
the intimidation is being organised, by whom and at what level we
simply do not know.'

But the KLA's version of events - that criminals are abusing its good
name - does have support from the unlikeliest of sources. Bishop
Artimiye of the Serbian Orthodox Church is not convinced the KLA is
responsible but blames the organisation for not stamping down on
renegades and criminals using its name.

It is an issue that has cause deep discomfort for senior figures in the
former rebel army who, when challenged over why they cannot police
their own community, avoid the question.

For the truth is that, whoever is behind the intimidation, the attacks
on the surviving members of the Serb population are tacitly accepted by
a considerable proportion of the ethnic Albanian community, happy to
see the Serbs thrown out and complicit in their wider persecution.
While the military police can intervene in areas of crime, they are
powerless against the wider discrimination that has rapidly emerged
into Kosovo's vacuum of power.

Most Serbs feel too frightened now to venture out of their homes or the
fresh-minted Serb ghettos. Indeed, in some areas of the capital the
problem has become so acute that UNHCR has had to start delivering food
to Serbs at home to prevent starvation.

Among them is book keeper Stanka Lalic, who gave up the fight to stay
in Pristina last week, fleeing to a relative's house in Lipljan. But
even there, in the heart of the Serbian community, she does not feel
safe. Now she is contemplating escaping Kosovo to join her daughters in
Serbia proper.

'I feel like crying when I see what has happened to my life,' she says.
'We were told to leave our flat, and when I tried to go to work the
security men would not even let me through the gate. I cried for 10
days after Nato came and then gave up.'

Kosovo's post-war cycle of violence

11 June

Pristina: 200 Russian troops enter airport, creating a tense stand-off
with surprised Nato. Direct confrontation avoided when Lieutenant
General Mike Jackson tells General Wesley Clark: 'I am not going to
start Third World War for you.'

12 June

Serb forces begin leaving Kosovo as Nato troops enter the province
after end of 78-day bombing campaign.

15 June

Serb civilians start fleeing for fear of reprisals.

20 June

With all Serb forces gone, Kosovo is divided into five peacekeeping
zones but Russians not given their own sector.

21 June

Kosovska Mitrovica: City divides into Serb and Albanian sectors.

Pristina: Suspected Albanian arsonists arrested.

22 June

Pristina: Serbian refugees housed in a 78-unit complex are forcibly
evicted by ethnic Albanians.

25 June

Pristina: Three Serbs are bound, gagged and shot in the head in the

26 June

Pristina: Hundreds of the Serb intellectual elite leave.

27 June

Pristina: Three Serbs are killed. Germans impose curfew in their sector
of Kosovo.

29 June

Sitinica: 12 houses are burnt under Nato's noses in village populated
by Roma Gypsies and ethnic Albanians.

3 July

Pristina: Inquiry begins after British paratroopers shoot dead two
ethnic Albanians as they celebrate.

Kosovska Mitrovica: French troops intervene in violent clashes between
ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

17 July

Vitine: A 24-year-old Serb farmer is shot dead by five Albanians. In
the next few days grenade attacks wound more than 40 people in this

19 July

Belo Polje: Three Serbs shot through the head by KLA forces. In Kosovo
more than 100 Serbs are reported missing in a month.

21 July

Prizren: Serb pensioners Marika Stamenkovic, 73, and Panta Filipovic,
63, stabbed to death.

22 July

Roma Gypsies are targeted in revenge attacks as 2,000 flee to Italy.

23 July

Zac: Albanians shoot at Spanish troops who return fire and arrest five
in western Kosovo.

Kosovska Mitrovica: Three Serb houses set on fire in Albanian quarter.

24 July

Gracko: Fourteen Serb farmers shot dead while harvesting.

25 July

Orahovac, Prizren, Pec: Five murders, four abductions, one rape and 14

26 July

K-For reports 237 prisoners in its custody, 86 per cent of them

27 July

The peacekeeping force now numbers 35,000, including 1,500 Russians -
still short of 40,000 originally promised.

29 July

Since the start of the peacekeeping mission 840 cases of arson and 573
of looting have been reported.

30 July

Only 150 international police have joined the Nato troops in Kosovo
although 3,000 were promised by member countries.

3 August

Zitinje: 350 Serbs flee the village as Albanians move in and burn it.

4 August

Dojnice: Serb village reduced to ashes with five bodies among the

Pristina: Five Albanians arrested after a Serb abducted and killed. Two
others detained suspected of killing an elderly Serbian woman.

5 August

Human Rights Watch reports 198 murders since Nato's arrival.

7 August

Pristina: In the heaviest night of violence directed at Nato-led
peacekeepers since they arrived, a Russian soldier is wounded.

8 August

Kosovska Mitrovica: Albanians hurl stones and taunt French peacekeepers
preventing their entry into the Serbian quarter.

11 August

Dobrcane: Nine men arrested for an attack on Russian tank.

Kosovska Kamenica: Serb woman killed and her son injured.

Kosovska Mitrovica: Three Albanians beaten up in Serb quarter after
Serbs force their way into Albanian apartments telling residents to

Grabovra (near Pec): Nine mortar rounds fired into Albanian community.

12 August

Pristina: UNHCR figures reveal that out of 40,000 Serb population, only
2,000 are left. Estimates that out of 180,000 to 200,000 Serbs, 170,000
have fled since Nato entered the province. K-For reports 78 arrests in
the past 24 hours.

Donja Vrnica: British soldiers patrolling a place where Serbs had been
warned to leave shoot and wound at least two men and detain two others
after a car chase.

Kosovska Kamenica: About 2,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrate to demand
that Russian peacekeepers be sent home.

13 August

Dobrcane: Ethnic Albanian protesters scuffle with Russian and US in
anti-Russian demonstration.

Kosovska Mitrovica: Ethnic Albanians repeatedly clash with French

• Compiled by Nerma Jelacic

The Observer
Sunday August 15, 1999

UN troops declare war on Serb-baiting Kosovo mafia
Peter Beaumont in Pristina

The Kosovo peacekeeping force, KFOR, and newly-arrived officers of the
international police force have launched a tough clampdown on ethnic
Albanian criminal gangs attempting to expel the last remnants of the
Serb population from the province.

Amid private warnings from senior military officers, diplomats and aid
workers that Kosovo could be emptied of its remaining 22,000 Serb
population within months, military and civilian police, including
officers of the British Army's Royal Military Police, have made scores
of arrests in the province's de facto capital Pristina, and other
remaining Serb enclaves, recovering large amounts of arms and

Among documents seized in Pristina and elsewhere are identity cards
purporting to show the holder is a member of the Kosovo Liberation
Army's military police, known as the PU.

According to one KFOR source, of 15 men arrested last week for alleged
involvement in intimidation of Serbs 11 were carrying cards identifying
them as PU members.

But despite evidence that seems to demonstrate the involvement of the
KLA in orchestrating the expulsions, investigators believe most of
those arrested are members of the Albanian mafia, posing as members of
the KLA. One senior British military police source told The Observer :
'We have not been able to demonstrate any links with the real KLA.'

He believed those arrested in the past week, including two 15-year old
girls detained in connection with hand grenade attacks on Serb
properties in Lipljan south of Pristina, were using the name of the KLA
as part of a sophisticated racket providing empty houses to homeless
ethnic Albanians.

The latest clampdown follows widespread horror in the international
community at a series of murders in Pristina of elderly women living on
their own who had been shot after refusing to give up their properties.
It also follows the shooting by British soldiers last week of three
ethnic Albanians caught attacking a Serb property.

Kosovo's UN administrator, in comments published yesterday, criticised
the KLA, suggesting it was to blame for the Serb exodus. 'In the future
I will not allow the homes of 10 or 15 Serbs to be burned down every
night, even if that means confrontation with the KLA,' Bernard Kouchner
told the Athens daily Eleftherotypia. I have told (KLA leader Hasim)
Thaci that my patience has run out. If the Serbs leave Kosovo we will
have lost.'

Thaci has denied KLA involvement.

LATimes, August 15 1999

Anti-Serb Crime Patterns Point to 'Ethnic Cleansing'

Kosovo: Slayings, property destruction suggest systematic purge by
Albanians. 'Organized forces' are blamed.
By SCOTT GLOVER, Times Staff Writer

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--Two months after NATO bombs cut short Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic's systematic effort to purge Kosovo of
ethnic Albanians, mounting evidence suggests that some Albanians are
now engaged in an "ethnic cleansing" campaign of their own--in this
case, with the province's remaining Serbs as its victims.
Initially, the widespread slayings of Serbs, and the torching of
their homes and churches, were seen as individual acts of revenge for
atrocities carried out by Serbian troops during the war--crimes that
claimed the lives of an estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians. But as the
days pass since NATO-led troops began occupying Kosovo on June 12, and
the crimes against Serbs continue, patterns in the violence are
beginning to emerge:
* Here in the provincial capital, "a disturbing pattern has arisen
in the method of intimidation used against Serbs still in the city,"
the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has found.
"First, a warning letter is received ordering them to leave their
homes, then the threat is delivered in person, followed a few days
later by physical assault, in some cases even murder."
* Dozens of Serbs have been slain execution-style in Pristina,
military police have said. Evidence shows that the victims were
commonly bound at the wrists and made to kneel on the ground before
being shot in the head. Many were blindfolded.
* In dozens of Serbian villages throughout Kosovo, Serbs have fled
after repeated threats and acts of violence, only to have their
villages burned behind them. In at least one case, authorities suspect
that a Serbian village was raided at night and that all its residents
were slain before it was destroyed.
* At least 40 Serbian churches in the province have been
vandalized and burned, Serbian Orthodox Church officials say. Many were
then bombed to complete the destruction.
"It's not that we think, we simply know it's organized activity
and systematically performed," Bishop Artemije, head of the Serbian
Orthodox Church in Kosovo, said.
Serbian church officials are not the only ones who see a
conspiracy behind the violence. At separate news conferences last week,
U.N. refugee agency spokesman Ron Redmond and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John
Craddock said they believe there are organized forces behind the
anti-Serb violence.
"This is one of the things that we're looking at very closely.
It's more than just neighbors getting upset at each other," said
Craddock, who commanded U.S. troops in Kosovo until his departure last
Asked who might constitute these organized forces, Craddock said:
"That's a work in progress. If I knew that, we'd have this thing
licked, wouldn't we?"
Whoever is behind the violence, it is having an effect. The U.N.
refugee agency estimates that only 1,000 to 2,000 Serbs remain in
Pristina, down from the 27,000 who were counted in the 1991 census. The
agency found that many of those who remain are among the most
vulnerable to attack: the elderly, the disabled and those without
"Conditions for those who remain have noticeably worsened over the
last few weeks, with increasingly violent attacks on the rise," Redmond
said. "Old women are now being shot through the doors of their
apartments, including two women in their 70s within the past week."
Despite the dire circumstances of the Serbs left in Pristina,
however, Bishop Artemije said the church will not help relocate them to
a safer place or give them sanctuary in churches or monasteries outside
the capital.
"The church can't exist without people. Our churches and
monasteries without people would turn into ash very soon. And it would
look like the church cooperated with the [Kosovo Liberation Army] on
creating an ethnically cleansed Kosovo, or at least a town, which can't
be accepted by us," he said.
The bishop, who spoke through a Serbian translator, said that he
empathized with the victims of anti-Serb violence in the capital but
that the situation was beyond his control. He said the "international
community," including the United Nations and KFOR, the peacekeeping
force led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is responsible for
the safety of Serbs.
"I'm afraid that any elderly man or woman killed [is] one defeat
more for the United Nations," he said.
KFOR officials have defended their effort, saying it's impossible
to put a soldier next to every Serb in Kosovo, a province of Serbia,
the dominant republic in Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, humanitarian aid
workers are attempting to find and assist Serbs in Pristina who are
essentially trapped in their homes.
"The freedom of movement of Serbs . . . is virtually nonexistent,
basically the same situation as Albanians faced here just a few months
ago," Redmond said.
Unlike U.N. and KFOR officials, Artemije and other church
officials did not hesitate to lay blame for the plight of the Serbs. He
said that if the Kosovo Liberation Army and its political leader,
Hashim Thaci, are not behind the attacks, they at least have the power
to stop them.
"All his declarations of a democratic nature are just for the
world's ears. His supporters [are repeating] all kinds of crimes that
were done against Albanians during the war--looting of houses,
evictions, beatings, rapes, burning of houses, destroying of churches,"
the bishop said. "Mr. Thaci calls himself the commander of the [KLA],
the prime minister, the head of the supposed government. If it is so,
why doesn't he give an order to the members of the [KLA] to stop these
Father Salva Janic, a Serbian Orthodox priest and an aide to the
bishop, has documented the destruction since mid-June of more than 40
churches and monasteries throughout Kosovo, many of which date back to
the 14th century.
"They want to destroy every remnant of Serb existence to prevent
their return," the priest said.
"For someone to destroy these churches, they need freedom of
movement. They need explosives, and they need military experience. This
is not the work of frustrated villagers," Janic said.
Bilall Sherifi, Thaci's chief of staff, countered that everyone in
the KLA "government," from Thaci on down, has repeatedly spoken out
against the violence.
"But such pleas don't do much good," Sherifi said, speaking
through an interpreter. "If they did, even you in the United States
wouldn't need a police force."
Rexhep Selimi, the KLA's "minister of order," or top police
official, said that, because neither his government nor its police
force is recognized by the U.N. interim government in Kosovo, his hands
are tied.
"The KLA has the power to stop these things, but it has not been
given the opportunity," Selimi said. "For the military police and the
[U.N. civilian] police, it will be very difficult to stop these things
because they don't know the people here. And without the cooperation of
the KLA, they can't be effective."
Meanwhile, Redmond, the U.N. refugee agency spokesman, said his
office gets phone calls every day from Kosovo Albanians concerned about
Serbian neighbors but afraid to be seen reaching out.
"We're sure that the vast majority of the Albanian population,
which has already suffered so much, wants nothing to do with those who
terrorize and shoot old women, evict innocent people from their homes,
bomb churches and employ some of the same disgusting tactics that were
used against the Albanians themselves just a few short weeks ago," he
Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved


Serb women vow to flee Kosovo after ethnic attack
04:41 a.m. Aug 17, 1999 Eastern

By Kurt Schork

PRISTINA, Serbia, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Armed ethnic
Albanian thugs locked an elderly Serb woman in her
Pristina kitchen early on Monday evening while they
beat, robbed and tried to rape her daughter-in-law in the next

The victims told reporters that the incident, which occurred
before dusk and within metres (feet) of a busy street in the
Kosovo capital, had frightened them so much that they both
wanted to get out of the war-ravaged southern Serbian

Such brutal tactics, employed widely against Serb targets of
opportunity by ethnic Albanian men in the two months since
NATO-led peacekeeping troops replaced departing Serb
security forces, has led to an exodus among the province's
remaining minority Serb population.

``I would leave tonight if there were a way to get out of the
city safely,'' the 30-year-old victim of the attempted rape
told reporters shortly after the incident occurred.

The woman, who refused to give her name for reasons of
personal security, said her three assailants had kicked
her. Her face and ribs were badly bruised.

The men ransacked the woman's room, stole money
and identity documents from her purse and defecated on
the carpet before fleeing when she and her mother-in-law
continued to scream for help.

British peacekeepers, who had arrived quickly on the scene,
said the attack was the third such incident in Pristina on

``Three (ethnic Albanian) men knocked on the door and said
they were interested in renting our house. When we wouldn't
open the door they said they had guns and we had better
let them in or they would shoot us,'' the mother-in-law said.

``I don't know if they were all armed but I saw at least two
pistols. They didn't wear masks. I want to leave Pristina
. It's not safe for us here.''

Both women left their house for safety elsewhere within an
hour of the attack. Two Serb women living next door left
with them. Effectively, the only two Serb occupied houses on
the street had been ethnically cleansed.

Kosovo had a pre-war population of about two
million, of whom an estimated 90 per cent were ethnic

Serb ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians in 1998 and 1999
displaced more than 1.5 million people from their homes inside
Kosovo, driving hundreds of thousands across international
borders into neighbouring Macedonia and Albania.

NATO bombed Yugoslavia, which is made up of Serbia
and smaller Montenegro, to halt the ethnic cleansing
campaign and then led a peacekeeping force into the
province to replace Serb security troops who were
forced to depart.

Non-ethnic Albanian civilians -- Serbs, Gypsies and even
Serb-speaking Moslems -- are now being cleansed by recently
returned Kosovo Albanian refugees.

Western officials say some incidents are motivated by
revenge while others are the work of petty criminals.

The international community, which intervened in Kosovo on
behalf of multi-ethnic, democratic principles, has
proved largely ineffective in preventing reverse ethnic
cleansing since it assumed control of the province in early

NATO-led KFOR troops have provided many Serbs who want
to leave Kosovo with armed escorts into neighbouring

A multi-national force of armed police, expected to number
more than 3,000, is beginning to form up and deploy across
Kosovo. One of its duties will be to supplement
peacekeepers' efforts to provide additional security for
minorities here.

The Christian Science Monitor
August 19, 1999

Two Serbian sisters hole up in Pristina
by Scott Peterson

Hiding in their apartments, Sasha and Dragana (not their real names) have a lot of time to think these days. Even as most of their Serbian countrymen left Kosovo when Serbian troops withdrew in June, they decided to stay.

The UN estimates there are only 1,000 to 2,000 Serbs remaining in Pristina out of a prewar population of some 30,000.

The sisters are just two of the Serbs now under threat from ethnic Albanian extremists. At first, Kosovo Force (KFOR) soldiers listened politely to the sisters' complaints that thugs were harassing them on the first floor of their building.

Someone knocked on the door in the middle of several nights and threatened to kill them if they didn't leave Kosovo. Once a hatchet was left behind. The sisters pushed a washing machine against the door. But last week the men came back, forced their way in, and struck one of the sisters.

Since then, Irish KFOR troops have taken up residence on the balcony and outside, to protect the remaining seven Serbs in the building. On Sasha and Dragana's doors are stickers noting that this is a ``zone known for criminal acts.''

The ladies almost never go out, imprisoned by fears of the ethnic Albanian majority who now, for the first time after a decade of Serbian repression, are in control. Few speak Serbian anymore in public, and these ladies don't speak Albanian, so even going shopping is a trial.

``Our world has turned upside down, and it's worse than any horror movie,'' says Dragana, staring blankly into an ashtray on her table that cradles a worn wristwatch.

``We never had a problem in this neighborhood - these [thugs] must be people from outside,'' adds Sasha.

``It's not the life we used to have,'' says Sasha. ``Our friends and children have gone, and we can't have a meal outside. We're always waiting for that knock on the door.''

While KFOR troops guard the entrance, an attack is unlikely. Sasha says her ``broken heart'' blames Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and Dragana nods in agreement. But what will happen when those Irishmen withdraw?

``I'm already in a panic just thinking about it,'' Sasha says, her voice catching, ``but they will have to go sometime".


Does Kosovo Deserve Independence Now?

Postscript [August 17, 1999]

I regret I have to add a postscript to what I wrote a year ago.
( in which he supported the
right of Kosovo for independence)

At the core of my argument for Kosovar independence then was what I
wrote in II,3 and in note 67:

In Kosova, two "state powers" existed side by side. One was the Republic
of Kosova, based on democratic elections which had produced a
parliament, a president and a government, as well as local governments,
which, supplemented by basic organs of justice and supported by the will
of the people, governed the country as best they could under very
difficult conditions, providing a system of education, health care and
social welfare. The other was Serbia/Yugoslavia, which attempted to
control Kosova by terror, against the will of the people, without
democratic legitimation, committing not only multiple robberies and
murder, but genocide. I had argued that the latter could no longer be
considered a state, that it was at best a "failed state", in fact a
criminal gang. In a failed state situation, the will of the people is
the most important source of international legitimacy. The Republic of
Kosova was legitimized by the will of the people and therefore the only
legitimate state in the area.

After I had written my paper, the Serb/Yugoslav gang broke into a
paroxism of crime on a scale which had seemed unthinkable even after all
that had happened before. This finally made the international community
act and rid Kosova of these criminals. What then happened to the
Republic of Kosova?

Within two and a half months, the Serbian gangs had killed between ten
and forty thousand people. But many of the deputies of parliament, the
members of government, the president had survived. Freed of oppression,
do they now lead the country into a fully democratic society?


A "Provisional Government" has established itself, based on some groups
of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) - not on those groups in Llap or
Dukagjin, though, which gained the few successes in the armed fight
against the Serbs, but mainly on the "military police". The members of
this "police" now are carrying passes entitling them, in the best
Gestapo style, "to carry arms, to arrest people, to enter and search
private dwellings and to confiscate goods that are needed". In Prizren,
German soldiers discovered a torture chamber where this "police" (among
them a woman) was torturing a group of Roma; an elderly Roma had already

This was not an "isolated incident". All over the country, members of
the minorities - Serbs, Roma, Slav Muslims, Albanian Catholics - are
threatened, attacked, even killed. Serb and Roma houses are burned down
house by house and street by street. Serb churches are being destroyed;
a Serbian nunnery has been attacked, a young nun violated. Old Serbs who
are told to leave but have nowhere to go have been shot dead through the
doors of their flats. Serbs have been denied medical care, and Albanian
doctors cooperating with Serbian doctors have been threatened.

Though witnesses often say that the perpetrators of these crimes wore
KLA uniforms, such acts usually are blamed on people who want to revenge
themselves. Of course, when your wife, your children, your neighbours
have been killed, your house has been burnt down and you have been
hounded out of the country by Serbian paramilitaries, you won't feel
very friendly towards Serbs. But the Serbian criminals have long since
fled the country. You have to clear your fields from mines, rebuild your
house, find something to eat. Where would you find the time to hunt down
and kill e.g. an elderly, ill Serbian woman who personally has not hurt
you in any way?

Moreover, these crimes occur on a scale which shows that these are not
individual acts of revenge but an organized campaign.

Not only the minorities are threatened. From its very beginning, this
"military police" also attacked those Albanians who did not agree with
them; it made its first appearance (as "secret military police") in
1998, when it "arrested" some Albanian party politicians, while the
speaker of their KLA wing, Jakup Krasniqi, declared that this was not a
time for political parties. Even murders of Albanian opponents started
long ago (though no KLA leader openly accepted responsibility for them)
and included that of the Minister of Defence of the Republic, that of
several KLA commanders and that of critical Albanian journalists,
starting perhaps with the murder of Enver Maloku, the founder of the
Kosova Information Center. By now, everybody is afraid. The many critics
of the new order dare speak out, if at all, only abroad. Even Veton
Surroi, an able journalist deservedly famous for his courage under Serb
occupation now only notes mildly that he "does not like nor want to
defend the injustices of our side" (towards the Serbs; nobody deigns to
mention the Roma).*

The "temporary government" was supported from its start by both the
Albanian government (and the Albanian Socialists, the former Communists)
and the two US government radio stations in Europe (Voice of America,
Radio Free Europe). It now justifies its existence with an informal
agreement reached among the Albanian participants of the Rambouillet
conference to establish a sort of government of national unity. But the
most important partner of that informal agreement, and the only one with
democratic legitimation, the LDK, now declines to participate in this
"government"; and Rambouillet was stillborn anyhow. The "temporary
government" and those behind it have no democratic legitimation at all.
They base their power on fear and fear alone, fear in particular of
their "military police".

So we now again have a situation where a group of criminals reigns by
fear, robbing and expelling the minorities, scaring opponents into
silence and submission. Thanks to KFOR, the scale of these crimes still
is entirely incomparable with what happened under the Serbs. But in
essence, and in their effects, they are the same. The main difference is
that now, faced with this new threat, the legitimate organs of the
Republic of Kosova, once so courageous in opposing the Serbian
gangsters, are silent.

This is destroying the main legal basis of the argument for the
independence of Kosova. If what now poses as the Kosovar goverment is as
illegitimate and in essence as criminal as the Serbian gang which
terrorized the place before, what is there to choose between them,
legally or otherwise?

F. Muenzel, August, 1999

* Interview of A. Borden with Surroi, Java shqiptare, 14.7.1999, pp.10-11. Surroi adds that "it would be incorrect to think that the Albanians insinuated the leaving of the Serbs". This is quite true. It is not "insinuated" that the Serbs should leave. It is made abundantly clear. Surroi himself notes that he is "convinced of the collective responsibility of this [i.e. the Serbian] people", but that "without doubt, they are invited to bear the risks of the building of a real democracy together with us". This hardly is a very convincing invitation.