Gjakovë, March 3, ( Kosovapress)
- The family members of hostages and those who are missing, together with thousands of protestors have taken part in today's large protest for the release of the Albanian prisoners who are still kept in the Serb jails. They held transparences in their hands in which was written " Release the prisoners", " Find the missing people".
The protestors appealed to the International Community and to the UN Security Council Meeting on 6 March, to make pressure to The Serb regime in Belgrade for the release of the Albanians who are kept under the permanent torture in the Serb jails.
There is no freedom here In Kosova, without the release of thousands of Albanians who are kept in jails throughout Serbia only because they are Albanians.
Email the members of the UN Security Council countries and inform them of the unjust situation regarding the 1,600 prisoners. Ask them to appoint a Special Envoy from both the UN and the International War Crimes Tribunal, requesting the broadest possible amnesty from the Serb Ministry of Justice.
This amnesty is what they would have been granted under the Geneva Conventions. The prisoners should have been released on June 10, 1999, but these terms were dropped from the Kumanovo Agreement.
Members of the UN Security Council through December, 2000. The presidency rotates each month and is listed as well. The fifteen countries are:
1. United States of America: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pres/January,2000)
2. United Kingdom: email@example.com
3. Ukraine: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Tunisia: email@example.com
5. Russian Federation: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pres/December)
6. Malaysia: email@example.com (Pres/August)
7. Netherlands: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pres/November)
8. Jamaica: email@example.com (Pres/July)
9. France: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pres/June)
10. China: email@example.com (Pres/May)
11. Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pres/April)
12. Bangladesh: email@example.com (Pres/March)
13. Argentina: firstname.lastname@example.org (Pres/February)
14. Mali (do not have e-mail address) (Pres/September)
15. Namibia (do not have e-mail address) (Pres/Oct.)
The primary function of the Security Council is maintain peace and security in accordance with the principles of the UN. These include the Geneva Conventions. The prisoner issue is a violation of Geneva Conventions 3 and 4. All parties here are co-signers, and are therefore responsible for the
welfare of the prisoners.
Remind these countries that the Geneva Conventions of 1949 were enacted for situations just like this one. It is their sworn duty to carry out these policies. The Conventions are a minimum standard.
They are not optional. The NATO war in Kosovo was ended with an international agreement, not a local agreement, therefore the Conventions apply.
Also, RECOMMEND methods of adjusting settlements to disputes that are a threat to peace. Ask for a Special Envoy to reach a settlement on behalf of the prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and international standards regarding detention and arrests, use of torture, and lack of fair trials.
Another function is to formulate plans and to supervise the international court of justice. Ask for a Special Envoy from ICTY to systematically investigate the "disappearances" thousands of missing Albanians.
YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE DEAD TO HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS
ASSOCIATION OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
Interviews conducted in Kosova, January/February 2000
March 01, 2000
By Alice Mead
How did the 2,000 Albanians come to be in Serb prisons in the first place? They were transferred there on June 10, 1999, when the Serbs realized that US and NATO military advisors had agreed to strike the clause describing the terms for release of all prisoners following the cessation of armed
hostilities. These 2,000 people were considered "expendable" as the US and NATO hurried to end the air war as quickly as possible.
Here are statements from a few who have been released:
Avije Village, Prishtina
Released February 1, 2000
The others said when I was released, please do all you can to help us. I have seen wounded men in prison. Men with no eyes. Some men had lost many family members in the war. I heard others scream from the torture and I had no power to help. I cannot forget this.
Shtrumbullova Village, Gllogoc
Arrested May 28, 1999
I was arrested on May 28 early in the morning in my yard. Many police and paramilitary came in my yard. They came first at 5:00 a.m. to the village and into our yard at 7:00 a.m. There were many refugees staying here from other villages. Of the many men arrested, I think maybe only seventeen were from here.
The police took a piece of rope and tied my wrists together behind my back. I had no shoes on, it was so early. They asked where my father was, I was afraid to say because he was with KLA, so I said my uncle was here.
I was very scared. They asked how old I was, and I said 14. They said I had to go with them. They kept the rope on my wrists. They took me to the Gllogoc police station. There they tortured us. They
hit us all over with metal bars, on the back. They hit us with chairs, and on my back with a baseball bat. All day they hit us.
Many police came to torture us. They used electric shock too. Eight or nine police tortured us
all night. We stayed at the police station for three days or five days. Then we went to Lipjan and on June 10th to Pozharevac Prison in Serbia. I still had no shoes to wear and my legs were very cold.
The trip from Lipjan by bus was terrible. I can't forget it no matter how hard I try. We were handcuffed and put on the bus at 7 a.m., with no food and water. We were on that bus til 11 p.m., all without food and water, and it was very hot. All the time, they tortured us. I was very tired and I
didn't want to go to Serbia. They made us sing Chetnik songs and told us from that day we were not Albanians any more. Sing in Serb, they told us.
When we got to Pozharevac, it was late at night. The guards tortured us when we got there. They beat us in a long corridor of guards with clubs. They beat the children and old men just like everyone else. I was put in a cell with many men. Finally a friend there gave me some shoes to wear.
I never had a lawyer, not once. I don't know why I was in prison. The ICRC came twice. I was very scared the whole time and there wasn't enough to eat, I lost one half my weight. Even now, after I have been home two months, I am still scared. My wrists are scarred from the handcuffs, but my back is healed.
One boy is still there and I am afraid he will die. I worry about it all the time. We could never wash. There was no heat and hardly any food. My neighbor died from the torture. One day the guards came in November. They called me and some other minors and sent us into isolation cells. Four of us in each one. We thought now we would die.
On November 18, they searched us and said we were terrorists, KLA, they insulted us. They brought us clothes and said put them on. Then on the 19th, they took us to a bus. We didn't know where we were going, but we thought maybe to be executed. There were 21 of us on the bus. They drove us to the border. We got off and they insulted us some more and then said "walk."
We started walking across the border and finally ICRC came andthe KFOR searched us. That's how we found out we were released. It was on November 19, 1999. ICRC brought me home. Now I'm back in school in the eighth grade.
Shtrumbullova Village, Gllogoc
Arrested age 14 yrs.on May 28, 1999 at home
That day the police came to the village, 320 men were arrested from our village. Many were from other villages staying here because their homes were destroyed. I have four other brothers. My father was trying to hide all of us in different places so the soldiers wouldn't see us all at once.
At five a.m., the police surrounded the village. We heard their voices outside. I was with my father in the house. They took us outside. They tortured my father there, 3 or 4 of them. They took our money and my mother's jewelry and made her stand against the wall and put her hands on the wall and stay there. I wanted to put my shoes on but they wouldn't let me.
The police took me and my father to the Gllogoc police station. That's where we were tortured the most. They hit us with metal bars and a baseball bat mostly on the back and arms. You can see the big bruises on my arm where they hit me seven months ago. These big bruises, the doctor here said they are thrombosis. The bruises are where they hit me with the metal bars. They hit me on the back of the head too with a Kalishnikov rifle with my father watching. I sat down on the floor because I was so tired and they hit me for that.
I have problems from that now. The doctor here said it is head trauma. I have bad headaches all the time. And I have a tremor in my hands. I smoke a lot, too.
The second day, the police gave us the paraffin test to see if we had been touching gunpowder. Then after a few days, they let my father go and took me to Lipjan prison in handcuffs. The handcuffs left these scars on my wrists. At Lipjan everyone was tortured. We had only a very small piece of bread to eat and no way to ever sleep. We were always very hungry.
I was arrested on May 28, 1999, together with Sabri, and I spent three days in the Gllogoc Police Station with the others. After three days in Gllogoc, we were taken to Lipjan. The police first tortured me here in the yard in front of my home. But then at the police station, it was terrible. They hit us with metal bars. They beat my fourteen year old son in front of me because he sat down. I saw this . I don't know why they released me and took my boy.
BEDRI YMERI (uncle of Plerrat Isufi from Sankoc Village)
Arrested May 28, 1999
I was also brought to the Gllogoc Police station for three days. There I was tortured a lot. There was one policeman who tortured us the most. And there was one high-level policeman from Prishtina there.
They put all the Albanian men in the big room with many doors. They said we had to play a game. The Albanians had to stand in the doorways and stop the ball. The police stood in the middle with four balls which they kicked at us very hard, so hard that there was almost no chance to stop them.If
you dropped the ball, you would be tortured more.
They called me for that game, but I am not young. I said I was too old. But they said I must play. Four police kicked the balls at me, and somehow I stopped them all, and I wasn't tortured any more.
They released me after three days. But they took my 16 year old nephew Plerrat and he is still now in Pozharevac. He was not released with the other boys. No one knows why not.
Our family had a letter from him in January around New Years. He said for us to please send food, because they don't have enough. He said he couldn't say more than that. Plerrat has never had a lawyer. He's been there since June 10th, 1999.
Plerrat's house had been burned, so he was staying in Prishtina with another uncle. That's where he was arrested in the street outside his uncle's house. The police did a paraffin test in the road and said he was a terrorist. He is tall for his age, but weak and thin. According to Shemsi, Plerrat doesn't know why he is in prison. He keeps telling people there that he is a high school student. The time the ICRC came to Pozhrevac, he asked them, "Why am I here?" They said they didn't know.
Detained in Pozharevac
Released December 12, 1999
I was taken to Pozharevac on June 10th from Lipjan by bus. We were tortured a lot on that bus ride. We had no food or water. At some point I was unconscious. We were beaten by clubs. I was put in one room with 40 men. The room was 7 meters by 5 meters. We were always hungry. We didn't have blankets and it was cold.
My family tried to find me for one month in July, 1999. They hired a lawyer from Nis named Obrat Mishic. He visited me six times for five minutes each time while the guards stood close by us. I had confessed to nothing no matter how much I was tortured. I think that helped in my release.
I didn't want the lawyer to help me with a trial because I was not guilty of anything. So why would I need a lawyer?
Plerrat Isufi, the boy, was in my room at Pozharevac. He was kept with the men. All the minors were. They tortured them the same as us. One of the worst things was that we could always hear the screams of the men being tortured. No one can forget hearing that. That and the bus ride to Serbia
were the two worst things.
FAMILY OF MUHAMET MIFTARI
Died in Pozharevac. Body arrived on January 23, 2000
FIKRIE MIFTARI (his daughter, age 26)
My father was a quiet man, who wanted his seven children, five girls and two boys, to be educated. He respected that.
When the war came, we wanted to leave Kosova and go to Macedonia, but he refused, so we all stayed to be with him. My younger brother, Bujar, age 18, was in KLA and he was killed.
My father was arrested in our home by the police on May 28. 20 special police came inside our house and destroyed everything. There were paramilitary too, with no hair only berets. They stayed here from 9 to 10 a.m. We gave them money and jewelry. There were refugees staying here from
other villages that had been destroyed with us.
They took my father to Gllogoc police station, and then to Lipjan and then to Pozharevac. We were worried about him because every day he had to take medicine for his ulcer. So we hired a lawyer, Hyseni Bitucci, to go see how he was.
In the meantime, we went to every protest in Prishtina and signed the petition to ask for release of prisoners in September, but nothing happened. The lawyer visited him in prison and told us that our father was not well. He was cold and weak. We sent a package but he did not receive it. We tried
again. But by the time that package arrived, he was dead.
No one helped us, no UN people and no Albanian politicians. Why does Kouchner and UNMIK do
nothing? If you want all the prisoners returned in a coffin like my father, then continue to do nothing. If you can't help us, leave us.
All the men here today are in mourning for my brother who we buried a few days ago. The ICRC brought us his body from Pozharevac on January 23. We asked for an autopsy to see how he died. I don't have the documents for that yet. The other prisoners say he died from torture. He died in the prison hospital on January 17th, but we were not called for almost one week.
When we asked agencies and UNMIK for help, they said they couldn't help us. Why are they here, then?
from the daily newspaper "Kosova sot"
February 29, 2000
"Those are terrible
-testimony of Enver Hashani -who was released recently from the prison of
Nishi Prishtinë, February 29 (Kosovapress)
- Familja Hashani from the Obiliq town was very happy. On February 14, Enver Hashani was released from the prison of Nish, who was previously sentenced to six years in prison. "I have paid
20.000 DM for my release", begins the story Enver, while his father said that "now, our father has born for the second time. ".
Enver has been arrested on May 31, 1998, at his work place in "Gazifikim". During the arrest and during investigation period he was very bed tortured. Released prisoner report that torture for children and adult is conducted at the same level of violence. The prisoners were poorly clothed, many had no shoes on and were wearing tee shirts.
He claims that they were kept in unheated cells, most slept on the floor with no blanket. Requests to see any doctor were met with beatings. Requests to see a doctor are met with beatings. Discharged prisoners suffering from contusions, broken bones head injures, and psychological problem are not being comprehensively treated. Enver says that now, he is not in able to sleep because he fear the people he left behind will die.
" I can not forget the moment they treated me by electro-shock, I also remember the time when they
put my head into the water, so that I could not breathe."-pointed he.
" On 28 July, 1998 they sent me to the hospital of Prishtina. I was tortured for several continually so I could not handle anymore. I have stayed at the hospital till September 5, 1998. And on September 23, he was sentenced to six years to prison ",-said Enver.
"On February 20, 1999 together with 16 friends he was deported to the prison of Mitrovica e Sremit, so we were treated there in- humanly: "I met there the group of Avni Klinaku, the group of Nait Hasani, the professor Ukshin Hoti and the group of the former police. We were held 45 people in
"When NATO bombardments started, on March 24, they placed us in the prison's basements. On April 26, they transferred us from the prison of Mitrovica e Sremit to the prison of Nish. We were still on the bus when the Serb" guards" and civilians invited especially for beating us started to
torture us. They beat us by metal and wood steaks. They broke the leg of a friend of mine. Another friend of mine was seriously hurt in her eyes ", shows Enver.
"On April 29, they loaded us on buses and brought us to Dubrava prison. On the way to Dubrava they maltreated us very much. I was lucky not to be in the second bus because in the second bus the Serb criminals have cut the ears, the fingers, the nose etc. I saw them later. They were exhausted.
"On May 19, was the first NATO bombardment. It happened in the pavilion six, and in that case were killed three Albanians and 7-8 eight others were wounded. During that day, according to some of my friends who counted them, were heard about 40 NATO detonations. On the other day were killed 18, and were wounded a high number. On May 23, The Serb Militaries and police have
executed 130 persons. They threw hand grenades and shot all the time. They gathered us in the sport's hall.
They threatened to me for execution. They ordered also to one of my friend Sali Zariqi, whose son, 19-20 years old was beside me, to get in the line of those who will be executed but, both of us survived.
"On May 24, they loaded us on the tracks and buses and send us to the prison of Dubrava. For 17days we were badly tortured."- Enver claims.
We gave sequences of the testimony of Enver Hashani, related to the time he
was in prison.
1.Email the UN Security Council and demand they appoint a special envoy/neutral country to investigate the prisoner problem and come up with a solution.
2.Institute an investigation under a sub-committee of the War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia to investigate torture and violations of human rights during the NATO bombing campaign.
3.Insist that the Security Council request from the Justice Ministry in Belgrade "the broadest possible amnesty," as described in the Geneva Conventions.
4. Appoint a neutral country to have access to the Serb prison sites, as the UN was allowed to inspect weapons sites. If this can be done for nuclear weapons, it can surely be done for human beings.
5. Provide impartial lawyers for fair, public trials, food for prisoners, blankets and beds, appropriate medical care and secure transport for families to visit loved ones should they be in prison.
6. Appoint human rights observer teams in each prison to report cases of torture and abuse.
7. Punish all judges who fail to enforce and carry out both the constitutional requirements of the State of Yugoslavia and international law.
HELSINKI COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN SERBIA
Student Forum: Confidence Building Measures between Serbs and Albanians
Appeal to the Ministry of Justice Republic of Serbia
We, the participants of the student forum, organized in Skopje on 15 and 16 January 2000 by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia within its project Confidence Building Measures between Serbs and Albanians", demand:
1. Immediate and unconditional release of all Kosovo Albanians imprisoned againts whom no charges were brought;
2. Immediate suspension of all ongoing legal proceedings against Kosovo Albanians;
3. Revision of all the court proceedings launched against Kosovo Albanians since March 24th 1989, until today.
Individuals and organizations willing to support this initiative are invited to join the appeal. To be signed to the petition, email to: demihai@EUnet.yu or biserkos@EUnet.yu