U.N. Accuses Group of Illegal Evictions, Tax Collections
By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 24, 1999; Page A01

UROSEVAC, Yugoslavia, Nov. 23—Nasir Hajdari was summoned to the door of his third-floor apartment late last month here in the town where President Clinton today hailed the progress Kosovo has made toward a return to normal life. Outside were three men who identified themselves as employees of the provisional Kosovo government run by Hashim Thaqi, political leader of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army.

The three had a message for the ethnic Albanian family: Hajdari and his wife and three children were no longer entitled to live in that flat; they had to vacate the premises to make room for new occupants selected by Thaqi's rebel-led government.

In recent days, the message has been heard with growing frequency by Kosovo's Albanians as well as its Serbs. Despite the U.N. administration here, Thaqi's government of former soldiers has declared itself the sole arbiter of which citizens have a right to preferred accommodations in the freezing temperatures that have descended on this Serbian province.

Such actions are illegal, according to U.N. officials charged with administering Kosovo's recovery and implanting a democratic system under the protection of a 40,000-member international peacekeeping force. Lt. Col. Michael Ellerbe, commander of U.S. peacekeeping forces in Urosevac, said his troops arrest people carrying out such evictions with growing frequency.

Despite the arrests--and the lack of any effort by rebel leaders to hide their actions--top U.N. officials say the evictions have largely occurred without their knowledge. But the evictions are part of what U.N. police officers and NATO officials in four of Kosovo's major urban centers describe as growing evidence of government-organized illegal activities by former rebel fighters in Kosovo.

Former KLA guerrillas were among the ethnic Albanians who moved quickly after the war ended in June to push out Kosovo Serbs and take their property. The difference now, the officials say, is that former KLA fighters have been organized into groups that intimidate Serbs and ethnic Albanians alike to appropriate apartments, collect fees or gain access to rent money from the flats.

The KLA officially ceased to exist two months ago, under an agreement its leaders reached with NATO. But some of its leaders, including Thaqi, run an unofficial ethnic Albanian government that operates alongside the United Nations and openly prepares for the day when Kosovo is independent in law as well as in fact. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 former KLA members have been issued new identity cards signifying their application for 5,000 slots in a successor organization approved by NATO and called the Kosovo Protection Corps.

U.N. police and NATO soldiers have seized hundreds of identity cards from former KLA troopers at crime scenes in the past four months, said a U.N. police official. Although some cards have been found to be forged, another U.N. official following the rise of crime said most of his colleagues believe the former rebels "are systematically threatening people, evicting people . . . [and] trying to collect illegal taxes."

For example, the 1,300 or so trucks passing the Macedonian border every day for months have been routinely forced to pay a customs duty of $20 apiece to agents of the Thaqi government, despite claims by the U.N. administration that it must be the sole recipient of public revenues in Kosovo, according to police and former KLA officials.

Thaqi's aides deny that any such taxes still are being collected by his government. But documents recently seized in Urosevac show a businessman was ordered to pay $400 in taxes two weeks ago and that the government has established an elaborate sliding scale of illegal taxes for cigarettes, alcohol, juices, coffee and gasoline.

Some Western officials say such fees sometimes may be collected with an implicit threat of force. In the Serb enclave of Globocica, for example, a Muslim Slav complained to Western human rights monitors early this month that his shop was blown up after he refused to pay a registration fee to the government. No conclusions were reached in that case.

But Western officials say they have confirmed complaints from ethnic Albanians, Roma and Serbs in the cities of Prizren, Pristina and Djakovica that they have been threatened with violence or even kidnapped to force their withdrawals from apartments by men who identified themselves as police in Thaqi's Ministry of Public Order, according to police reports.

Rexhep Selimi, 28, a former soldier whom Thaqi appointed to head the ministry in July, acknowledges that some evictions have occurred but denies they are unfair. He said in an interview that he knows the group's actions are not legal, but says they are nonetheless "morally" justified by the urgent need to allocate scarce housing to the most worthy citizens, including people living in tents, former KLA fighters and their families.

Selimi said the Public Order ministry has 1,500 members--who receive average salaries of $225 a month--whom he hopes will form the nucleus of a new ethnic Albanian police force under U.N. supervision.

He said the ethnic Albanian government has stepped into a vacuum left by the United Nations, which he said is administering the province "like this is just a movie, more like acting than real work." He acknowledged that if occupants of a targeted flat refuse a "suggestion" to leave, then "we escort them out." If they resist, he said, "we are the ex-KLA and we know how to deal with these cases."

Selimi and other former KLA fighters say they consider it reasonable to give housing priority to the families of soldiers or to needy former KLA fighters--particularly since some ethnic Albanian civilians unjustifiably seized more than one flat during a massive postwar scramble for living space. To accomplish their work, he said, the ministry's police are amassing a comprehensive apartment-by-apartment tally of who lives where, where they are from, whether they own their flat and whether they have KLA permission to stay.

Selimi said the housing reallocations have been finished at the village level and now focus on urban centers. Ministry documents indicate that 64 apartments were handed out in Urosevac during a 15-day period ending Oct. 1.

Although the work is ostensibly overseen by special municipal commissions, these are controlled by ex-KLA officials under the supervision of Thaqi, who is aware of the eviction effort, several officials said.

NATO troops seized one eviction notice, for example, that ordered a flat in Urosevac be given to someone wounded in the war; it was signed by Shukri Buja, a former KLA regional commander slated for a top job in the Kosovo Protection Corps.

But Dennis McNamara, the U.N. official responsible for humanitarian issues, said only U.N. administrators have "the authority to make those adjudications." He added that a list of priorities including former KLA fighters is "not a list I would be part of," because the United Nations' aim is to find homes for the "most vulnerable"--those who cannot rebuild their homes, households headed by women, the elderly and the sick.

Ellerbe and other U.S. troops say their aim is to block actions by organizations attempting to usurp U.N. authority and to enforce a form of "squatters rights" through the winter until a U.N. commission on property ownership can begin to function. The commission was formed a few days ago.

In the Hajdari case, the family says it took over the flat after their house was burned in the war. After they complained, U.S. soldiers arrested three men at the Public Order Ministry on charges of illegal intimidation and put them in the brig at nearby Camp Bondsteel. But top officials at the camp later asked that no more such suspects be sent there.

A spokesman for General Agim Ceku, new commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps, said "the real members" of that group had no role in evictions or any criminal activities. "For the KPC, the life and the property of every citizen of Kosovo is sacred, and it is our firm conviction that whoever acts against the life and the property of the other should be treated as a criminal," the group said in a statement several weeks ago.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


Christian Sites Being Decimated in Kosovo

Balkans: Serbs accuse ethnic Albanian rebels
of systematically destroying places sacred to Orthodox

By PAUL WATSON, Times Staff Writer
September 22

ZOCISTE, Yugoslavia--The church was built of stones quarried six centuries
ago from the rock of Kosovo, and before last week's blast it had the power to make people believe in miracles.

For generations, through endless cycles of war and foreign occupation,
people came to the small Serbian Orthodox shrine behind monastery walls and asked the spirits of saints to heal them.

Pilgrims reached out to touch caskets said to contain relics of St.
Cosma and St. Damian, or lay down beside them and whispered a prayer before closing their eyes and waiting to be healed. Even ethnic Albanian Muslims were known to come.

But the saints' power was as nothing against the explosion Sept. 13 that
collapsed the 14th century church.

The charges that destroyed it were placed at just the right spot to
bring the whole medieval building down and make certain there was nothing
left to rebuild.

The Church of Saints Cosma and Damian was built in 1327. It is now a
ruin of broken stone, yellowed by the centuries that the sanctuary endured.
Four other, newer buildings where the monks lived and worked were not
blown up. They were gutted by fire instead, and scorched pieces of religious
icons lie among the ruins.

A Painted Acronym Suggests Complicity

The letters UCK, the Albanian acronym for the guerrilla Kosovo
Liberation Army, were painted neatly in white on the wooden doors at the
monastery's front gate.

The Zociste monastery is one of at least 60 Serbian Orthodox churches
and other religious sites that have been looted, burned or, in at least 21
cases, blown up since the NATO-led peacekeeping force, known as KFOR, began to take control of Kosovo--a province of Serbia, the dominant of Yugoslavia's two republics--from retreating Serbian forces in mid-June. The Serbs say they were promised that several hundred of their soldiers and police would be permitted to return to guard Orthodox churches and sites in the province as well as to secure border posts, but so far that hasn't happened.

The list of sites destroyed by explosives includes several dating back
to the Middle Ages, such as the Dormition of Mother of God parish church,
built near Suva Reka in 1315.

Orthodox leaders have received reports that 20 more churches and
monasteries have been destroyed, but it is too dangerous for Serbs to check
their condition, Father Sava Janjic, an Orthodox cleric, said in an
interview. Orthodox churches, religious offices and schools have also been
targeted with grenades and rockets but not seriously damaged, KFOR reports confirm.

The skilled execution of the attacks leaves Janjic and most other Serbs
convinced that well-trained KLA guerrilla units are secretly trying to wipe
out historical Serbian links to the territory.

"It is more than obvious that these churches were destroyed by people
with military training, people who still have not just ordinary weapons but
hundreds of kilos of the best explosives," Janjic said.

"We are completely sure that the perpetrators of these crimes are from
the ranks of the KLA," he said. "It is now only a question whether these
groups are under the control of the highest KLA officials or not."

Dutch troops are posted just over a mile from Zociste, guarding Velika
Hoca, a Serbian village of vineyards and churches dating back to the Middle

The village is outside the city of Orahovac, where ethnic Albanian
leaders say Serbs killed 163 people after the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization began bombing Yugoslavia on March 24.

Serbian security and paramilitary forces, led by the head of the local
winery, began rounding up and executing ethnic Albanians, said Agim Hesku,
who leads a protest blockade that has been keeping Russian peacekeepers out of Orahovac since Aug. 23. A local Serbian doctor and Russian mercenaries participated in the killings, Hesku said.

At least 1,800 of the region's 60,000 ethnic Albanians were slain and an
additional 1,000 are missing, Hesku said.

Hazards Hamper Search for Evidence

Peacekeeping troops have not found any suspects in the attack on the
monastery in Zociste, and two Dutch army officers said troops hadn't gone in
to examine the ruins for fear of land mines.

The officers, who would not speak on the record, said Dutch troops were
ordered after the blast to block the wooden gate of the walled monastery with coils of razor wire.

"I'm afraid KFOR is not prepared to get in serious conflict with the KLA
because KFOR countries don't want the coffins of their soldiers coming home," Janjic said.

Senior leaders of the KLA, such as political head Hashim Thaci, have
publicly condemned attacks on Serbs and other ethnic minorities in Kosovo and insist that the separatist rebels are not behind the attacks on religious
sites or other violence.

"All acts of violence and threats against Kosovo citizens are taking
place with the goal of discrediting the national resistance movement," namely the KLA, Thaci said Aug. 19.

The KLA signed itself out of existence as of midnight Tuesday, but
mounting evidence of systematic, clandestine attacks and the discovery of
arms caches suggest that Kosovo's ethnic violence might not end so quickly.
Never a strictly united guerrilla army, the KLA has always been split between moderates and hard-liners. KFOR officers say privately that they fear radicals might be waging a secret war in Kosovo.

The peacekeepers also have accused Serbs of trying to destabilize
Kosovo. They say paramilitary units appear to be infiltrating from Serbia

At the height of Kosovo's civil war, KLA guerrillas attacked the Zociste
monastery with grenades and light artillery on July 21, 1998, as the rebels
seized nearby Orahovac.

After taking control of the monastery, the guerrillas took seven monks,
an elderly nun and 30 elderly Serbian refugees prisoner. They were later
released uninjured.

But the KLA also captured an estimated 85 Serbs in Orahovac, according
to New York-based Human Rights Watch. By August 1998, 40 Serbs were still unaccounted for, the rights group said. Serbian officials reported the
missing Serbs to the Red Cross, but none of them have been found. Serbs
continue to disappear in Kosovo despite Thaci's repeated calls for an end to
ethnic violence.

Thaci and most of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority are committed to
winning independence for Kosovo, even though Western governments say it must remain a province of Serbia.

Ethnic Albanians accuse the Serbs of destroying at least 120 mosques
over the past year and a half. Serbs also allegedly massacred 15 Muslim imams during the 78-day NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia last spring and jailed 20 others who are still in Serbian prisons, according to Sabir Bajgori, head of the Islamic Council of Kosovo.

While the NATO-led peacekeeping force tries to stop the attacks on
Serbs, it calls them acts of revenge.

Janjic, who has repeatedly condemned Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and his Serbian security forces for massacring ethnic Albanians,
sees a more sinister campaign to permanently remove Serbs from Kosovo.

"Of course, there were acts of revenge, but it is more than obvious that
there has been a systematic attempt to push the Serbs out of Kosovo in order
to create a fait accompli," he said.

More than three months after NATO's bombing campaign drove Serbian
security forces out of Kosovo, a NATO-led peacekeeping force of at least
40,000 troops has failed to stop the ethnic violence.

While the victims have come from different ethnic groups, the heaviest
attacks since the peacekeepers arrived have been against Serbian targets.
They have included at least three separate attacks that killed four Serbs and
wounded 12 in recent weeks in the U.S.-patrolled zone in the southeast.

In a separate incident in western Kosovo, peacekeepers arrested eight
KLA guerrillas Sept. 10 in the city of Djakovica after finding a machine gun,
ammunition, 30 cluster bombs, two 85-millimeter antitank weapons and several antipersonnel mines in their apartment.

Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. 9-22-99


Albanian Mafia, KLA and Kosovo Aid

September 16, 1999

Scandal of aid crates left on the dockside Kosova refugees were denied
vital supplies of food, medicine and blankets as a result of theft, inefficiency and mafia corruption By John Laughland

In April, readers of The Express joined donors from around Europe in a wave of sympathy for the refugees from the Kosovo war. Food, clothes,
medicines and other goods were sent. But now, in a scandal which is rocking Italian politics, some of that aid appears to have been sucked into the morass of criminality from which the Kosovo Liberation Army and its mafia allies in Albania emerged to fight Yugoslav rule in the first place.

I have recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Italy with the British
Helsinki Human Rights group. We found that for months now, more than 900
shipping containers full of aid have been lying on the docks in Bari, Italy's
major port on the Adriatic coast opposite Albania. They contain medicine,
food, blankets and other items donated by British, Italian and other
organisations. There are a further 1,000 containers lying in Vlore, the Albanian port some 50 miles away.

While there is no doubt that large quantities of aid did get through, there is
some that never reached the refugees who have now returned home anyway.
British donors, who sent aid in the spring, were promised that it would be in
Albania within days. The Italian military had said it would ensure an air bridge from a military base near Milan straight to the Albanian camps. Arcobaleno, the organisation responsible for shipping the aid, is theoretically a non-governmental body but in reality it operates out of the Italian prime
minister's office in Rome. As a result, the prime minister, Massimo D'Alema,
has been severely embarrassed by the scandal and has had to write entire
articles in the Italian press excusing himself.

Mr D'Alema has now promised that the aid will be sent to help earthquake
victims in Turkey instead. But a date has still not been fixed for its
transport. Questions are being asked in Italy by the public prosecutor about the nearly £50 million which Italians donated in cash and which remains unspent. Meanwhile, the Italian social security department is paying thousands of pounds every day in rental for the containers which are lying idle on the dockside.

It is possible that the aid was left at the port simply through negligence.
Certainly, so much flooded into Albania during the Kosovan war that there
was simply not enough space for any more of it in Vlore.

But there is also evidence that organised crime may have been responsible
for diverting some of the aid that did leave Italy. Many of the clothes and
medicines were stolen by the Albanian mafia and can now be purchased - at
market prices -in ordinary shops in Albania. Indeed, according to Sokol
Kociu, a prosecutor in Albania, the millions of pounds worth of aid became
part of an ugly deal between the Albanian and Italian mafias, in which the
Italian mafia paid off the Albanian mafia for various favours, including the
supply of prostitutes.

The scandal demonstrates two things. The first is that the war against
Yugoslavia continues to generate severe fall-out, affecting innocent people.
Because Western governments needed to maintain public support at fever
pitch for their attacks on Yugoslavia, they used the media to dramatise the
humanitarian situation to the fullest possible degree. This meant that the
amounts of cash and goods donated turned out to be vastly in excess of

By the same token, western governments - especially our own -
systematically played down the fact that the KLA was in fact controlling the
refugee camps we saw on our television screens every night. Away from the
cameras, during the war, pimps kidnapped girls from the camps to sell into
prostitution in Italy; and once the war was over, refugees had to pay the KLA
a fee to be allowed to leave the camps and go home. It is inconceivable,
under such circumstances, that aid could have got to the refugees without the
KLA stealing it.

The second point highlighted by the scandal is the stranglehold the Albanian
and Kosovo mafia wields over the Adriatic region. The Strait of Otranto and
the east coast of Italy are its springboards into Europe. Every evening you
can see the motor boats on the beach in Albania waiting to make the short
night hop across the Adriatic into Italy. The strength of the extended family
structure in Albanian society - it is divided into elaborate "clans" - makes it
well suited to mafia activities. In recent years the Albanian and Kosovan
mafias have made great strides in displacing even the biggest Italian mafia

The Albanian and Kosovan mafias now control the traffic of migrants,
prostitutes, cigarette smuggling and drugs into Europe. Interpol confirms that
80 per cent of the heroin market in central Europe has been in the hands of
Kosovo Albanians for years: control of the brothels in Brussels (where Nato
and the EU are based) has also fallen into their hands.

The power of these mafia gangs will be boosted further by the Albanian victory in the Kosovan war because Kosovo has long been a central transition point for the heroin and cocaine trades.

As the chief Italian prosecutor with responsibility for the Albanian mafia in
Italy told me, "Europe is being submerged by a tidal wave of organised crime
from Albania" - a sentiment confirmed by the British National Criminal
Intelligence Service, which warned that Albanian mafia gangs were preparing
to move over here too.

The power of the Albanian mafia is also relevant to the current influx of asylum seekers into Britain - more than 200 people a day are now coming here as refugees. Those who cross the Adriatic have all paid the mafia smugglers between £300 and £500 for the short trip. I have visited a number of these "asylum seekers" in Dover, Calais and in southern Italy in recent weeks: not one of the Kosovo Albanians I met said he or she was a victim of political persecution; they all wanted to come to Britain to work.

Amassive 80 per cent of those who make an initial application for asylum in
Italy never see it through because they travel on immediately to Germany and Britain instead. Because the European Union has abolished border controls on the Continent they can be in Calais within 24 hours. The only significant group suffering real persecution are the Kosovar gypsy refugees, chased out of their homes by Albanians on the rampage. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to go to a richer country like Britain to seek your fortune, it is certainly wrong for the present mass influx to be occurring thanks to an abuse of an asylum process which was set up to help genuine victims of persecution.

The Yugoslav war was fought on the basis that the Serbs were diabolical
beasts and that the Albanians were passive victims. Both visions were
exaggerated for the purposes of propaganda. During the war, this led to
civilian deaths on both sides and to the impoverishment and disruption of the
lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians. But now it has also led to the
swindling of thousands of well-meaning Britons as well.
© Express Newspapers Ltd


Serb monastery target of mortars

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Mortar shells have landed in vicinity of the UNESCO-protected Serbian monastery of Gracanica, apparently from a nearby Albanian village, monastery sources tell media in Yugoslavia.

The bombs, supposedly fired Thursday night from the village of Ajvalia, fell in the courtyards of two family houses in the village of Gracanica, 200 meters from the monastery buildings. No casualties or damage were immediately reported.

Gracanica monastery is one of the most important Christian shrines and cultural monument for the Serbian people. It serves as the seat of the orthodox church bishop whose diocese includes Kosovo and some surrounding areas. UNESCO has put Gracanica on the list of world heritage sites.

More than 300 Serbian families, refugees from all parts of Kosovo, have found temporary accommodation in the village.

Representatives of the international peacekeeping force KFOR and the United Nations civilian mission have been asked to find and punish the perpetrators.


August 8, 1999

In Kosovo, Gangs Dim the Luster of a 'Greater Albania'


PRIZREN, Yugoslavia -- As concerts go, it wasn't much of
an affair -- a few hundred people gathered to hear a
local band flail out some songs on a scratchy sound system.
But it was a fine night for the "halabaket," gangsters visiting
from Albania. Above the din of the rock band they looted and
burned four Serbian homes, hot-wired and drove off a dozen
cars, including seven belonging to those in the crowd, and
topped off the haul with a couple of armed robberies.

The morning after the show, which took place at the end of
July, a weary ritual was enacted. Several of the Kosovo
Albanians who had lost vehicles traveled the 30 miles over the
border to Kukes, Albania, to buy them back. Among them was
Lutfi Shala, the concert's organizer, who paid $600 to regain
his car, the price jacked up because it had already been

Kosovar Albanians, along with their ethnic kin in Albania,
Macedonia and Serbia, have long dreamed of a "Greater
Albania." The departure of the Serbian border police, opening
up the frontier, has given most a taste of what such a state
might be like. Not many seem to like it.

"Girls are kidnapped, taken we expect to work as prostitutes
in Italy, cars are stolen or hijacked, houses are looted and
there are shootings at night," said Masar Shala, the Mayor
appointed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, known as the

"The refugees who are coming home, many of whom have
driven from Germany with their families, are systematically
stopped just before they enter Kosovo and robbed of all their
money," he continued. "Apartments in the city have been
seized by Albanian gangs and rented out. The only thing we
lack is drug dealing, but that will probably arrive shortly."

Prizren is a sleepy city of 80,000 people with crumbling
mosques, domed Turkish baths, cobblestone streets, old
wood-frame shops and an imposing Serbian Orthodox
monastery perched on a steep hillside above the city. It was
once, in the old Yugoslavia, a tourist attraction, famed for its
Ottoman architecture, mountain peaks and Turkish food.

But its proximity to Albania has made it a haunt for scores of
old Mercedeses, stripped of license plates and packed with
men wearing sunglasses. The cars rumble into the city center
each day.

The Albanian visitors have taken over the bars. The sidewalks
are lined with Albanians selling cigarettes, plastic containers
filled with gasoline, cheap clothes, cooking oil and sunglasses
-- all brought in from over the border. At night, when most of
the criminal activity takes place, locals give the gangs a wide

"It is better to work here," said Pajtim Syla, 20, from Kukes,
who had a collection of K.L.A. shirts and banners spread out
on a street corner. During the day, at least, he said it was safe
to show his wares.

The German troops, who control this sector, have reopened
the jail and imprisoned 80 suspects for murder, rape, arson
and theft. They have also imposed a midnight curfew.

But the peacekeeping troops, hampered by unfamiliarity with
the area and a language barrier, acknowledge that the
problem is too vast for them to handle. Most of the suspects
do not carry identity cards, making it impossible to determine
nationality. The cars lack registration and license plates.

Witnesses are reluctant to cooperate.

On an average day there are more than 50 crimes, including
at least one murder, recorded by the German military police.
They blame the Albanian gangs for much of the lawlessness,
although some is clearly by carried out by Kosovo Albanians,
sometimes working with Albanians across the border.

"Those who drive a car toward the border with Albania risk
their lives," said Lieut. Ander Henrik, the liaison officer for the
German military police. "The lucky ones are beaten and lose
the car. The unlucky ones we never hear about."

At the main border crossing with Albania, there are 8,000
cars a day. On one afternoon cars headed into Albania had
washing machines, chairs, stereos and televisions lashed to
their roofs or crammed into the back seats. The Albanian
border guards, engaged in a game of cards, never lifted their
heads to watch the loot streaming out of Kosovo.

"For fifty years our two countries were blocked," said border
policeman Zylfi Ademi, 32, slumped in a chair next to the
empty customs post. "Now everyone wants to visit Kosovo
and have a little fun."

The United Nations, to stem the flow of contraband, is setting
up a customs police. But the gangs, the German officers said,
use an intricate network of back roads that are not patrolled.
"The border is mined," said Lieutenant Henrik, "and we do not
know the area well enough to wander around in the
countryside. These back roads are heavily traveled, especially
by those carrying weapons or kidnapping girls."

Kosovars, when asked what happened to a missing item, hang
their fingers limply toward the ground and give them a half
turn, as if unscrewing a gas cap, to indicate that it was stolen.
The gesture has come to characterize life in Prizren.

Many said they fear traveling to Kukes, where large numbers
were stranded as refugees during the war and watched
helplessly as the gangs carted away relief aid from the United
Nations camps. But it is impossible to make international
phone calls from Prizren, so those who want to communicate
with family members abroad are forced to make the trip. Most
travel in small groups.

"I parked my car in front of the Kukes post office to make a
call and watched armed men break all the windows and take
everything inside, including my passport," said Perparim
Elshani, 32, "but I was lucky. The guy in line next to me had
to watch them drive his car away."

Glas, or Voice, is an independent daily newspaper from Belgrade

Glas, July 28 1999

While the preparations for the new publishing of the paper continue

by M.Milovanovic

Pristina - The announcement that the printing of the daily newspaper in Serb language "Jedinstvo" will resume in about ten days has initiated a series of attacks by Albanian extremists on Serb journalists in Pristina.

First, a few days ago, there was a murder attempt at the editor-in-chief of "Jedinstvo" Nikola Saric. Several bombs were planted in his apartment. On that occasion, the life of the director and editor-in-chief of the publishing house "Grigorije Bozovic", Petar Saric, was also endangered. Then, photographer Milovan Vitkovic was expelled from his apartment, while Ljiljana Staletovic received a threatening message.

Almost at the same time, there were attacks on the apartment of the Serb poet and editor in "Jedinstvo" Darinka Jevric. Several days before, Albanian extremists threatened "Jedinstvo" editor Zorica Pokusevska and journalist Milka Karadzic. Photographer Dragan Jovanovic is hanging onto his apartment by the skin of his teeth. Let us not forget a large number of
the employees in this publishing house who were expelled from their apartments six weeks ago. Their apartments are now occupied by Albanians. Editor in the publishing house "Grigorije Bozovic" Radomir Stojanovic was also mistreated by Albanian extremists.

Fortuitously or not, journalists of "Jedinstvo" are exposed to daily maltreatment exactly at the time when, after a month-long-break, they were preparing to re-enter their offices and begin with preparations for the printing of the newspaper.

Threat to "Glas" Correspondent

Unknown Albanians have for five days been trying to break into the apartment of our correspondent from Pristina. On Tuesday night, the correspondent received a written message with illegible signature: "If you do not leave this apartment by tomorrow, I shall kill you". Very quickly, KFOR soldiers came to the spot and spent the whole night in front of the apartment.

Glas, July 23 1999

Albanian terrorists continue to maltreat Serbs in Pristina

by M. Milovanovic

PRISTINA - Ethnic Serb workers in coal mines Belacevac, Dobro Selo, and power plant "Kosovo A", which had started work three days ago, gathered on Friday morning in front of the gates and then returned to their homes. The reason for their refusal to work was the protest because of an assassination attempt against the main coordinator of the coal-mines and the
power plant Zoran Stojisavljevic.

The assassination attempt had been made two days before, at about 1p.m., near the cooler of the 4th power plant block. British KFOR soldiers failed to react. Stojisavljevic was shot at while driving his car. The assassins were in another car. They followed Stojisavljevic's car. When they caught up with him and pulled next to his car, Stojisavljevic slammed on his brakes. At that moment, the assassins shot at Stojisavljevic's car from a machine gun with a silencer, and pierced a number of holes in the car and its windshield. Stojisavljevic was not hurt and managed to get through to the British
soldiers. They escorted him to Kosovo Polje, where he picked up some necessities and left for Serbia proper.

Evictions of Serbs from their apartments in Pristina are old news. In the night between Thursday and Friday "Jedinstvo" photographer Milovan Vitkovic was thrown out of his apartment. Albanian terrorists hurt his wife by hitting her with a gun. Vitkovic has also worked for many years for "Rilindja", the oldest daily newspaper in Albanian language in Kosovo.

Members of peace forces are usually too late for timely reactions in such cases. They advise Serbs who call them for help to leave their apartments, and even offer to provide security while Serbs take out their possessions. If the victims are able to find a truck, KFOR also usually offers to provide escort to the border with Serbia proper.

Glas, July 23 1999

Night in Pristina with Serbs, who with fear await their night visitors


by Milka Milovanovic

A night has fallen in Pristina. It is long, too long. Gathered in an apartment in the Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] district of Pristina, Nada and Dragi, Jela and Bora, Vera, Nena and Djurdja, are sharing experiences from the previous night when they had "visitors". More than two hours they had fought for their apartments. They fought and won the right to stay in
them. For how long, they do not know.

Nada and Dragi pushed a cupboard against the door, Jela and Bora pushed a stove so heavy that they had a hard time removing it in the morning. Vera argued with the thugs through the closed door in front of which she pushed several armchairs, and Nena and Djurdja argued with them in Albanian.

"All this is aunt Desa's fault. Had she not run out of the apartment and thrown away her keys when they banged on her door, in the middle of the day, we wouldn't have had night visitors. She gave in, but we must hold out. At least until September 20, when KLA should stop to exist - if one is to trust KFOR," says Djurdja.

These people have lost trust in KFOR. They called them several times during night, but they did not show up. In the building next to theirs, KFOR arrived only after thugs had given up and left.

"They are always late," Bora jumps in the conversation. He didn't buy the newspaper that morning, so that neighbors have nothing to talk about.

Because of low voltage, TV S has stopped with broadcasts in Serb language after only a few days. "Jedinstvo", the only daily newspaper in Serb language, which had been published in Pristina for 55 years and whose next issue is eagerly awaited by the few remaining Serbs, has not yet resumed with publication, and the journalists they know are not in the mood to talk
or exchange news over the phone.

"Today, we've been left even without spoken news," sadly concludes Nena and suggests to her neighbor Djurdja that they should head home.

It is already 6p.m. and they live in the building across the street. Bora, Jela and Vera stuck around a bit longer and then they also headed home. It is after 6p.m. and it is dangerous to be outside apartments or to leave them empty.

A night has fallen on Pristina. Serbs, shut in their apartments behind lowered blinds are trying to see the sky and the stars. Serbs lock their doors, push cupboards against them and with a book in hand wait for night visitors who want to throw them out of their apartments.

Glas, July 26 1999

Glas reporter in refugee train Kosovo Polje-Lesak


by V.M.

Ten years ago, more than 30 trains traveled along the railroad between Beograd and Kosovo Polje. Today, only one train, known as the refugee train, travels to Lesak. It can not go any further. Tracks have been damaged at several spots and bridges destroyed by the NATO bombardment.

"We leave at 2:40p.m. from Kosovo Polje. We are in Lesak at 5p.m. We stay there for 30 minutes and head back. This is a refugee train. Passengers ride for free and we cannot guarantee their safety. The train is not escorted by KFOR. All passengers, including myself, are risking their lives when we leave Kosovo Polje," explains Branislav Rankovic, conductor with 27 years of work experience with Yugoslav Rail-transport.

"We do not stop at all stations. Train does not stop in Albanian majority settlements (Samodreza, Mijalic, Uznica, Vucitrn, Mitrovica and Zvecan) and passengers sit low while we drive through those stations because the train is sometimes stoned," adds the second conductor Bozidar Stosic. "I would not be surprised if they mined the railroad one day and blew all of us up. Heavenly people... Most of passengers are housewives, pensioners, workers, youth, Serbs and Roma... Honest people and smugglers..."

The last station is at the same time the starting station for everyone. They leave and return on the same train. And the train waits. It waits until they finish the buying of food and other basic necessities at the improvised market at the train station in Leposavic, or sell the goods brought from Kosovo in Lesak.

"This is a shame. A fall in every sense. War profiteers are getting rich on other people's troubles," says one of the passengers. "This is nothing compared with what is being shipped to Albania," add other passengers, and beg that we do not disclose their names. Home appliances, TVs, cameras, VCRs, irons, linen, curtains are sold for almost nothing. Any price is good. Train does not wait for long.

"I am here every day. I sometimes think I'll recognize something from my home. I feel like strangling all of these monkeys," says a well built 25-year-old who is now, as he says "homeless".

In Leposavic, 70 kilometers from Kosovo Polje, Serbs buy bread, fruit, vegetables, milk products and other food products. It is safer to travel to Leposavic than to go to Pristina, which is 8 kilometers from Kosovo Polje.

"We'll travel for a few more times until we spend all the money we have. After that, who knows," says the elderly couple Scepanovic from Obilic. "All of these people are poor. The wealthy have left for Serbia long time ago."

"They left us to the mercy of our enemies. The same people who bombed us until yesterday are now supposed to protect us. You can see for yourself how they protect us. I come here to buy bread. Where else can you find something like that," says resigned Jovo Cirkovic from Kosovo Polje.

"There is no bread for Serbs in Kosovo Polje. There is no life with Shqiptars either. Old neighbors look at you the way wolf look at sheep. Forget it, I haven't told you anything. Please, don't mention my name."

Slavica Brajkovic, midwife from the Pristina hospital says: "I worked the most humane job. I assisted women to give birth to healthy children. I treated everyone the same, regardless of their nationality and religion. I've lived long enough to be thrown by my Shqiptar colleagues from my job. It is hard. It is really hard, but am staying with my family in Kosovo. I will be the last one to leave Kosovo Polje. It is never too late for a tent or a refugee caravan..."


Glas, July 31 1999

Burning and looting of Serb houses in Pristina continues

by M. Milovanovic

Albanian extremists haven't slowed down in their drive to cleanse Pristina of Serbs. Their compatriots who work as translators with KFOR are offering them every assistance in that. They either do not report citizens' calls for help, or report them late. There are lot of examples for that The most recent ones are from the last night.

The struggle of disabled Ljubica Rakocevic from the Pristina district of Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] to defend her apartment from Albanian thugs went on for three hours. She and her neighbors called KFOR several times, but the translator, an ethnic Albanian, kept saying that no patrols were available. She "encouraged" them to hold out and wait. The thugs left just before midnight, but that does not mean that they have given up. Moreover, that is unlikely having in mind that a bomb was thrown into Ms. Rakocevic's apartment ten days ago.

In the information center of the Serb national Council we found out that on Friday at about 6p.m. Dusko Ristic's apartment in Vidovdanska St. in Pristina was attacked. The same source stated that the house of Veljko Savic in 38 Robert Gajdik St. was set on fire the very same night.

The information center of the Serb National Council has been recently receiving a growing number of calls from Serbs who need assistance in food and medications. There are still Serbs in Pristina. It seems, they have been surveyed by their neighbors, Albanians, and they know where to send thugs. Serbs are mostly not leaving their apartments and houses, because they believe that that is the only way to preserve the property for which they had worked hard for years.

Many of them are on the verge of existential minimum and are lacking food, medications, toiletries. As we heard at the Information Center, Dr. Milenko Karan, a well-known psychologist and professor at the Philosophy Faculty, Veselin Kovacevic and more than thirty tenants in the solidarity building at the 2 Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] district and many others are in especially grave situation.

No Humanitarian Assistance for Serbs

Serbs have found out that they can ask for assistance from the humanitarian organization "Adra" by phoning the number 510-912. However, the employees there are mostly ethnic Albanians, so that there are no Serbs on their lists, and if there are, there are only one or two names.

A few days ago, Serbs from the Suncani Breg [Sunny Hill] settlement made a list of all Serb families who live there and approached "Adra" for humanitarian assistance. When the truck arrived, only two families were on the list. The remaining assistance was distributed to Albanians. Serbs were told that they would receive aid in the next day or two. "Adra" trucks have delivered aid to this settlement several times since them, but in all cases, none of the assistance made its way to the Serb families.


Serbs' Kosovo heritage in peril

Attacks continue on art, monuments, churches

By Alex Todorovic and Charles A. Radin, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff, 07/30/99

MUSUTISTE, Yugoslavia - A bent cross and a heap of rubble lie where the
church stood for nearly seven centuries, on the grounds of a Serbian
Orthodox monastery in this village 13 miles from Kosovo's capital.

Irretrievably lost in the debris are priceless frescoes by an unknown 14th century artist who distinguished himself with broad strokes of white, a bold move in his day. Also gone from the Dormition of Mother of God Church are early 17th century icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Destruction of Serb religious and cultural artifacts and monuments still is
occurring, two months after NATO wrested control of Serbia's southernmost
province from the regime in Belgrade.

The threat persists even as world leaders gather in Sarajevo today to forge a strategy for reconstructing the ravaged region.

Andras Riedlmayer, a Harvard University-based specialist on the art and
architecture of the Balkans, says the pillage must be seen as yet another
incarnation of the ethnic cleansing that has decimated the once-polyglot culture of the region throughout the 1990s.

''Once you destroy the cultural institutions, the houses of worship, and
cemeteries that proved people were there in the first place, you can then proceed to claiming they were never there,'' he said.

There are no more Serbs in Musutiste. Almost daily, the houses they fled are being burned, and local Albanians are in no mood to discuss the destruction of the church. A Globe reporter and photographer were detained and questioned by former Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers for taking pictures there, and a roll of film was confiscated.

To Albanians, such destruction is simple tit for tat, to be expected in a village where Serbs expelled the local Muslims and vandalized their mosque before the tide of war turned.

To Serbs, it is a resumption of anti-Serb violence that they say far predates the rise of Slobodan Milosevic as a nationalist leader, a continuation of a
decades-long effort to erase them from a piece of the Serb heartland which, even before the recent war, had become 90 percent ethnic Albanian and Muslim.

''It's a shame that the people who are destroying our religious sites cannot
differentiate a misguided regime from people who have lived here peacefully for centuries,'' said Father Teodosije, the head monk at the 14th-century Decani monastery, where Serbian Orthodox monks now live surrounded by Italian troops from the UN peacekeeping force, KFOR.

Whatever the context, the destruction is a tragedy to Western scholars, art
historians, and archeologists.

''A lot of the frescoes and architecture of these medieval churches are
masterpieces,'' said James Wiseman, an archeologist and art historian at Boston University who specializes in Yugoslavia.

''There is a style developed in Kosovo and just to the north in southern Serbia ... that reflects the cultural influences in the region from the second half of the 12th century through most of the 14th century,'' he said.

The style combines a Romanesque exterior and ornamentation of doors and
windows with an eastern building plan and way of developing interior spaces: a true meeting of East and West. ''The fresco paintings,'' Wiseman said, ''are more Byzantine.''

So, too, are the politics and propaganda surrounding this issue.

Like many Western specialists in the art and architecture of the region,
Riedlmayer criticizes the Serbs for the initial acts of cultural destruction, which now are being avenged.

''In this province in modern times, the majority of the population was
non-Serb,'' Riedlmayer said. ''The presence of Serbian monuments and cultural properties provided Belgrade's pretext for the repression of Kosovo.'' Referring to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, he said, ''This was very much used by Milosevic in his rise to power.''

However, he stressed that he is not critical of Serb efforts to publicize the current destruction, and is pleased that the former KLA soldiers who detained the Globe team were bothered that foreign journalists were looking into the destruction of the church.

''I'm glad to see these things publicized,'' he said. ''Once it is well understood that every time you do this you are damaging your own cause, there will be less of it.''

The war on art and architecture in the former Yugoslavia began in 1991, said
Bonnie Burnham, president of the New York-based World Monuments Fund, ''when the Serbs attacked cultural property in Croatia back in '91 - shelling Dubrovnik and other towns on the coast, and, especially, destroying Vukovar, where they were deliberately targeting buildings rather than people.

''The next major milestone was the destruction of the Mostar bridge by the
Croats,'' she said, referring to an internationally renowned white limestone
structure. ''This became a mode of warfare. Certainly the Croats retaliated
against the Serbs. When the Serbs started shelling Croat churches, the Croats turned around and shelled the Orthodox churches. ... Nobody's hands are clean, that's for sure.''

The Serbian monasteries are treasures, she said, but so, too, were some of the mosques razed in Bosnia and Kosovo.

While people think of Spain, Istanbul, and Damascus as the loci of great Islamic architecture, builders sent out in the glory days of the Ottoman Empire evolved an intimate, country-style mosque in the Balkans that deeply influenced the development of the region's cities.

''What was particularly important was the commingling,'' Burnham said. ''It was a wonderful fabric to behold.''

Serbian Orthodox officials strongly dispute the idea that actions against cultural and religious targets arise from the disintegration of Yugoslavia at the hands of warring nationalities in the 1990s.

In 1981, ''Albanian extremists set fire to the Serbian patriarchate in Pec,'' said Father Aleksandar Vlajkovic of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Wakefield. ''Part of the complex was burned to the ground. Milosevic was not in power yet; it was just after Tito's death.

''Recently we heard of three days of mistreatment of nuns by the KLA and the desecration of the Devic,'' he said. ''NATO said it was revenge, but that
monastery was attacked several times in the '70s and '80s by Albanian

''These are events we do not forget, and when someone says today that these are revenge for what Serbian soldiers did to Albanians, I do not agree,'' Vlajkovic said.

Regardless of the various versions of history, the scholars plead for the United Nations to stop the destruction now.

''It is a scandal,'' Riedlmayer said, ''that the UN, which was supposed to set up civilian police, has yet to do so. KFOR is a military force and is not really trained for these functions.''

Todorovic reported from Kosovo; Radin from Boston.

This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 07/30/99.
© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

No sanctuary in town ruled by hate
Chris Bird

The Guardian

October 28, 1999

Life in the narrow, winding streets of the Serb ghetto in Orahovac was too much for the 155 scared Serbs who left the southern Kosovo town yesterday with an armed escort of Dutch peacekeepers.

The German military police and Dutch soldiers with the Nato-led peacekeeping force K-For were clearly uncomfortable with the task they had been assigned - to protect the convoy of four buses and 30 cars as it waited on a rocky grey hillside outside the town.

Even before it ended in disaster last night the very existence of the convoy was ugly proof that the ideal of a multi-ethnic Kosovo which was proposed by the UN and Nato is not working.

"We don't escort individual Serbs out of Kosovo," said Major Roy Abels, a Dutch officer in Orahovac. "We don't want to be seen deporting Serbs. They must leave on a flagged UN convoy."

The war is supposedly over in Kosovo, but memories of the killing frenzy that gripped Orahovac and the surrounding villages burns as intensely as the Serb houses torched by vengeful ethnic Albanians.

Dutch peacekeepers found and registered the bodies of about 1,000 ethnic Albanians in and around the town, murdered in mass killings by Serbian security forces. The death toll in the area may be as high as 3,000, and some local Serbs allegedly took part in the killings. Orahovac is no longer a place to be a Serb.

The Serbs were outnumbered nine to one, even before the mass exodus that followed Nato's arrival in the province in June. Only a fraction of the Serb population dared to stay behind to run the daily gauntlet of ethnic Albanian hatred. The attack on the convoy will only deepen their terror.

The green camouflage of Dutch soldiers has replaced the blue serge uniforms of the Serbian police in the town. They park their armoured vehicles and mobile artillery at the entrances to a series of streets at the top of the town which now forms the ghetto of about 2,000 frightened, hunted Serbs.

Sallow-looking men who survive on handouts of pasta and beans swap gossip outside the ghetto's Orthodox church or over coffee in the Casablanca cafe.

The women look tired and pale, their childrens' skin matte and wan. To step outside the ghetto means almost certain kidnapping and death as the murders of ethnic Serbs and Gypsies continue unabated in Kosovo.

Predrag Dedic, 67, was wounded this summer when a gunman fired on him and two friends outside his house in Vidovdanska Street, 50 yards from the ghetto's border with the Albanian half of the town.

He and his wife Bozhana, 61, have given up hope of finding their son Boban, 37, so they decided to leave on yesterday's convoy. Mrs Dedic said she was with her son when guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army arrested him, shortly after Nato troops entered the town. There has been no word since.

"We don't see any survival here, Mrs Dedic said. "We get bread but everything is triple the price here."

Few ethnic Albanian tradesmen venture into the ghetto to do business and she has a dwindling supply of Yugoslav dinars, while the ethnic Albanians want german marks.

She says the men are wary of going to their cafes, as young ethnic Albanian men have been known to walk right into the ghetto and sit menacingly at the bar. The Dutch troops try to keep the armed presence to a minimum.

"The Serbs can't move around. They're advised by us they can go wherever they want but they want a guard," said Lieutenant-Colonel Tony van Loon, the commander of the Dutch artillery battalion quartered in Orahovac.

"I don't want to start walking round with Serbs, we'd never hear the end of it [from ethnic Albanians]," he added.

The Dutch soldiers' relationship with the ghetto is made more difficult by the presence of suspected war criminals. Two alleged war criminals who applied to leave on yesterday's convoy were refused permission and subsequently arrested last week, bringing the tally of war crime suspects arrested by the Dutch since their arrival to 11. The Serb men look like packs of frightened antelope, unsure who the Nato military police will pick off next.

Astrid van Genderen Stort is in charge of the UN refugee agency's evacuation list for Orahovac. Belgrade has accused the agency of helping to "ethnically cleanse" Kosovo of Serbs, and ethnic Albanians are suspicious that she is helping alleged Serb war criminals to escape. After four alleged war criminals were taken off one of her convoys and arrested by peacekeeping troops earlier this summer, she received death threats from the ghetto. She says the refugees are unlikely to get a warm welcome in Serbia, which is the unspoken reason for why yesterday's convoy headed for Montenegro.

As the vehicles snaked their way through Orahovac, small crowds of ethnic Albanians gathered and watched from the pavements, some smiling, some even waving, happy that more Serbs were leaving the town, unlikely ever to return.

Mrs Dedic pulled us to one side before she left and said that despite the loss of her son she could understand the ethnic Albanians' anger.

"Many wrongs were done to them," she said.

And in a liberating whisper, she hissed: "Milosevic is a fascist!"

© Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 1999