Independent of London, 8-2-99
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
"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
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
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.
says no safety guarantees for Serbs in Kosovo as new police move in
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.
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,"
Department spokesman James Rubin said, referring to the
NATO-commanded international peacekeeping force or KFOR.
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.
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
think it's very important for people to understand that NATO never
could, nor can the United Nations, guarantee that people stay in Kosovo,"
made the remarks in response to questions from reporters about
the worsening situation for the Serb population in Kosovo.
Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed
concern at the fact that Kosovar Serbs, frightened of revenge attacks
ethnic Albanians, were leaving the province in greater numbers.
study of 76 villages found that the localities were slowly emptying
their Serb populations, according to UNCHR.
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.
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.
have no evidence it is being organized by the KLA," Rubin said.
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
is the Balkans," the official said in reference to the region's
past. "No one said it was going to be Switzerland overnight."
Daily Telegraph, UK
seek a haven from hatred in Belgrade
David Millward in Belgrade
Albanians are eager to move to Belgrade from Kosovo, despite the presence
of Nato troops in the province.
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.
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
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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
these incidents were isolated. Mr Jusufspahic said: "My view is
that the religious leaders in Belgrade did their job well and behaved
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."
he believes the bombardment may have brought the two communities in
Belgrade together. "We were in the same boat," he said.
Daily Telegraph, UK
murders lone Serb grandmother
Philip Smucker in Luzane, Yugoslavia
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.
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.
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
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,
remained in her home to protect her belongings.
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.
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.
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
Kosovo, a Destroyed Serb Village Leaves Many Clues but No Answers
By SCOTT GLOVER, Times Staff Writer
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
International, August 16, 1999
Out the Serbs
Extremists are killing civilians and blowing up churches. Is this the
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
murders, abductions, bombings. In this round of atrocities, however,
victims are Serbs and Gypsies (many of whom threw in their lot with
Milosevic's thugs during the war). Brutal killings-like the slaughter
Serb farmers 11 miles southwest of Pristina on July 23-have left most
afraid to wander from their homes. Many cower behind doors barricaded
by iron bars, tables and chests. But staying home is no guarantee of
Pristina last week, the fully dressed corpse of a 78-year-old Serb woman
found slumped over the side of her bathtub; an unknown assailant had
The scale of atrocity isn't the same as the widespread massacres by
paramilitary forces during the war. But the effect is similar: more
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
escape. Jelica Cimbrovic, 87, is one of only three Serbs left in the
Podujevo, 20 miles north of Pristina. She's lived there since 1933;
husband died long ago, and she has no children. Six British soldiers
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;
British guards deliver handouts from an aid agency. "If it wasn't
soldiers, I would be dead," she says.
U.S. officials, flush with their success in the war, sometimes seem
to what's happening. "Never again will people with guns come in
declared Madeleine Albright during a visit to Kosovo on July 29. Speaking
before a cheering crowd in Pristina, the secretary of state dismissed
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
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,
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
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
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
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
Miljka. Meanwhile, the UN is now reporting that Albanians are increasingly
forcing Serbs to hand over their property rights.
broke into our ethnically mixed apartment building in
broad daylight a few weeks ago. When confronted, the head of household,
aggressive, sweating man obviously scouting out the building with a
driver, said: "What am I supposed to do? Our house in Djakovica
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.
the police, call the police," Miljka whispered. But no one came.
deployed its first 30 international police to patrol Pristina only this
and says it will soon be setting up 24-hour stations in a few areas
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
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
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
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
take her home with them.
Laura Rozen is journalist
specialising in the Balkans.
Sunday August 15, 1999
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
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
the roundabout of Balkan violence is that the bombers of Lipljan are
ethnic Albanians. But their mission had a chillingly familiar ring -
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
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
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 -
the Balkan wheel has turned again - has suddenly found itself the
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
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,
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
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.
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,
protection officer with the UNHCR, who has been studying the method
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
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.
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.
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,
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
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
'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.'
cycle of violence
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.'
Serb forces begin
leaving Kosovo as Nato troops enter the province
after end of 78-day bombing campaign.
Serb civilians start
fleeing for fear of reprisals.
With all Serb forces
gone, Kosovo is divided into five peacekeeping
zones but Russians not given their own sector.
City divides into Serb and Albanian sectors.
Albanian arsonists arrested.
refugees housed in a 78-unit complex are forcibly
evicted by ethnic Albanians.
Serbs are bound, gagged and shot in the head in the
of the Serb intellectual elite leave.
Serbs are killed. Germans impose curfew in their sector
Sitinica: 12 houses
are burnt under Nato's noses in village populated
by Roma Gypsies and ethnic Albanians.
begins after British paratroopers shoot dead two
ethnic Albanians as they celebrate.
French troops intervene in violent clashes between
ethnic Albanians and Serbs.
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
Belo Polje: Three
Serbs shot through the head by KLA forces. In Kosovo
more than 100 Serbs are reported missing in a month.
Prizren: Serb pensioners
Marika Stamenkovic, 73, and Panta Filipovic,
63, stabbed to death.
Roma Gypsies are
targeted in revenge attacks as 2,000 flee to Italy.
Zac: Albanians shoot
at Spanish troops who return fire and arrest five
in western Kosovo.
Three Serb houses set on fire in Albanian quarter.
Serb farmers shot dead while harvesting.
Pec: Five murders, four abductions, one rape and 14
K-For reports 237
prisoners in its custody, 86 per cent of them
force now numbers 35,000, including 1,500 Russians -
still short of 40,000 originally promised.
Since the start
of the peacekeeping mission 840 cases of arson and 573
of looting have been reported.
Only 150 international
police have joined the Nato troops in Kosovo
although 3,000 were promised by member countries.
Zitinje: 350 Serbs
flee the village as Albanians move in and burn it.
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.
Human Rights Watch
reports 198 murders since Nato's arrival.
Pristina: In the
heaviest night of violence directed at Nato-led
peacekeepers since they arrived, a Russian soldier is wounded.
Albanians hurl stones and taunt French peacekeepers
preventing their entry into the Serbian quarter.
Dobrcane: Nine men
arrested for an attack on Russian tank.
Serb woman killed and her son injured.
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.
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
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.
About 2,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrate to demand
that Russian peacekeepers be sent home.
Albanian protesters scuffle with Russian and US in
Ethnic Albanians repeatedly clash with French
by Nerma Jelacic
Sunday August 15, 1999
troops declare war on Serb-baiting Kosovo mafia
Peter Beaumont in Pristina
The Kosovo peacekeeping force, KFOR, and newly-arrived officers
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
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
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
as part of a sophisticated racket providing empty houses to homeless
The latest clampdown
follows widespread horror in the international
community at a series of murders in Pristina of elderly women living
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
Thaci has denied
August 15 1999
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
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
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
"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.
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
last few weeks, with increasingly violent attacks on the rise,"
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
a safer place or give them sanctuary in churches or monasteries outside
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
"The KLA has the power to stop these things, but it has not been
given the opportunity," Selimi said. "For the military police
[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
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,"
Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved
women vow to flee Kosovo after ethnic attack
04:41 a.m. Aug 17, 1999 Eastern
By Kurt Schork
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.
who had arrived quickly on the scene,
said the attack was the third such incident in Pristina on
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.
civilians -- Serbs, Gypsies and even
Serb-speaking Moslems -- are now being cleansed by recently
returned Kosovo Albanian refugees.
say some incidents are motivated by
revenge while others are the work of petty criminals.
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
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
Christian Science Monitor
August 19, 1999
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
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,''
``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".
Kosovo Deserve Independence Now?
I regret I have
to add a postscript to what I wrote a year ago.
(http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/simop.htm)(text 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
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
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
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?
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
this "police" now are carrying passes entitling them, in the
Gestapo style, "to carry arms, to arrest people, to enter and search
private dwellings and to confiscate goods that are needed". In
German soldiers discovered a torture chamber where this "police"
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
are told to leave but have nowhere to go have been shot dead through
doors of their flats. Serbs have been denied medical care, and Albanian
doctors cooperating with Serbian doctors have been threatened.
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
house, find something to eat. Where would you find the time to hunt
and kill e.g. an elderly, ill Serbian woman who personally has not hurt
you in any way?
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
them; it made its first appearance (as "secret military police")
1998, when it "arrested" some Albanian party politicians,
speaker of their KLA wing, Jakup Krasniqi, declared that this was not
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
defend the injustices of our side" (towards the Serbs; nobody deigns
mention the Roma).*
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
most important partner of that informal agreement, and the only one
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
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
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
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,
* 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.