QUARTERLY REPORT ON THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS IN KOSOVA IN THE COURSE OF JANUARY - MARCH 2000
During the first quarterly period of the year 2000, the situation of human rights and freedoms in Kosova was very grave. The cycle of violence spread with the killing of citizens of all nationalities.
Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms based in Prishtina has registered 108 killings
(59 Albanians killed in Kosova and 8 Albanians killed in Presheva-Bujanoc, 17 Serbs, 5 Bosniacs, 17 are unidentified, a Russian soldier and a foreigner, whose nationality is unknown), a murder attempt towards a Serb and 9 murder attempts towards Albanians, 47 cases of woundings (7 in mine accidents), 1 case of rape, 3 cases of kidnapping, 8 cases of disappearance, 131 cases of physical ill-treatment, etc.
The main source of insecurity and human rights violations remains Mitrovica, which continues to be the epicentre of negative developments and a negative sample for all mixed areas.
In Mitrovica, between 1 and 13 February, 12 Albanian civilians were killed (5 women and 2 children), 40 people were wounded and tens were physically ill-treated. KFOR troops arrested 58 Albanians and a Serb.
Even though the French troops had claimed that the late Avni Haradinaj had been a sniper, it was confirmed that he was an unarmed civilian.
According to the information of the CDHRF, groups of Serbs have expelled 1500 Albanians from their flats and houses in the northern part of Mitrovica. All this happened in the presence of KFOR troops and international police.
During the period of January March 2000, 430 cases of human rights violations were registered in the northern part of the town.
KILLINGS UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES A COMMON PHENOMENON IN KOSOVA
During this period, killings under unknown circumstances were very common. Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms based in Prishtina has registered 80 such cases. One of the gravest cases was that of the Skenderi family (Bosniac family). On 11 January, in the Tusus quarter in Prizren, 4 members of this family spouses Sezair (52) and Anife (50), their daughter Ardiana (21) and Sezairs mother Gjyla (78), were killed by unknown persons.
CDHRF in Prishtina is very concerned because of the high number of killings and has condemned these acts and at the same time has appealed to the international community to urgently act in order to prevent the escalation of violence. It has also appealed to the citizens of Kosova to restraint themselves pointing out that every citizen must contribute to the prevention of crime and to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes.
During this period, the violence against women in forms of harassment, threats, kidnapping attempt, etc. was evident. A very concerning phenomenon is the trafficking of women and forcing them into prostitution. This has become a business.
The gravest case of sexual abuse, which resulted in the violent death of the victim, happened in the vicinity of Vitia. On 13 January, the corpse of Merita Hamdi Shabiu (12) from Debëllde was found in
the vicinity of Vitia. She was reported missing a day before. Prior to being killed, she was raped. Sergeant Frank J. Ronghi (36), a member of KFOR American troops, was accused for this crime. He was kept under arrest in the prison of the American camp Bondsteel in Sojeva (Ferizaj) and later on taken to the American military base in Manheim (Germany). There he will be under
THE SERIES OF TRIALS AND CONVICTIONS AGAINST THE ALBANIANS GOES ON IN
The series of trials and convictions against the Albanians goes on. The convictions range from 10 months to 20 years of imprisonment. According to the information available to the CDHRF, during the very same period, 50 Albanians were convicted by Serbian courts.
One of the convicted is Albin Kurti. He was convicted to 15 years of imprisonment. Even those who are on the run or are dead are being convicted. One of the Albanian lawyers called Hysni Bytyçi, as well as the Serbian ones, claim that during the investigation, the statements from the accused were taken by the use of violence. The legal proceedings were violated during the trials.
The best evidence for the violation of legal norms is conviction of the physician Flora Brovina to 12 years of imprisonment as well as other women and the underaged for terrorism. Many local and international non-governmental organisations on human rights as well as governments and well-known
personalities reacted against such violations. All of them demanded the release of the prisoners.
According to the sources of the Ministry of Justice of Serbia, about 2100 Albanians from Kosova were in prisons of Serbia last year. All these Albanians are charged for penal acts of hostility and terrorism. They are in the prisons of Nish, Leskovc, Vranje, Prokuple, Zajeçar, Pozharevc, Kraleva and Mitrovica e Sremit.
Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms based in Prishtina registered over 1550 Albanians that currently are in the prisons of Serbia.
About 300 Albanians were released during this quarterly period. The released stated that their families had paid sums of money between 5000 and 120000
DM.MASS GRAVES IDENTIFICATIONS
As the Hague Tribunal investigators interrupted their activity due to the cold weather, the CDHRF activists made their efforts to identify mass graves and the personal things of the victims were exhibited in public places. Many people, who had been considered as unaccounted for, were identified in this
THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF PRESHEVA, BUJANOC AND MEDVEGJA
The situation in this region continues to be very grave and tense. On 4 and 5 January, the trial against Riza Halimi, mayor of the municipality of Presheva, and Sevdail Hyseni, a writer and a human rights activist, went on.
The situation is getting worse due to the frequent interventions of police forces, killings, arrests, raids, kidnappings, lootings and control in the demilitarised area. The interborder movement is prevented by policemen at their checkpoints, who are ill-treating and looting passers-by. According to the Sub-CDHRF in Bujanoc, during this period, 8 Albanians were killed in different ways. After these incidents, thousands of inhabitants fled. They were sheltered in Gjilan, Ferizaj, Vitia and Kamenica. Drivers of lorries, buses and other vehicles are being looted at the police checkpoints set up on the border with Kosova. They are forced to give money, gas or food to Serbian policemen in order not to have problems while driving through the checkpoint. In other cases, they cannot drive through without being insulted on a national and family basis and ill-treated.
A common phenomenon is setting up the explosive devices in certain places. Human rights are
violated in these three municipalities. The gravest cases were as follows: -killing of the brothers Isa and Shaip Saqipi by the Serbian police on 26 January;
-kidnapping of Nebi Nuhiu, owner of the Neza Enterprise, on 2 February by unknown persons;
-setting up explosive device in the flat of Sevdail Hyseni, a writer and human rights activist, in Bujanoc on 10 February;
-killing of Osman Sylejmani from the village of Tërnoc on 2 March;
-killing of Bahri Musliu from Verban (Bujanoc). He was killed in the vicinity of the Serbian village of Levosoja.
According to the available data to the CDHRF, during the quarterly period, there are no signs to prove that the situation of minority rights has evolved in a positive direction compared to the last few months of 1999. This counts mainly for the members of the Serbian, Bosniac, Goran and Roma communities, whereas Hashkali community were not subjected to any kind of violence. The Albanians, who live in the regions where they are minorities, were subjected to all categories of violence. The problems, which minorities face are as follows:
-limited freedom of movement
-house and flat usurpations
-burning of the houses of minorities
-due to insecurity, they do not enjoy the rights to education, medical care and employment.
One of the gravest cases of attacks against minorities is the case when in Çubrel, the UNHCR bus was attacked. Two elderly Serbs were killed and several others were wounded. Below are given some of the cases:
On 18 January 2000, Gjorgjeviq Danillo (43) from Zajeçar (Serbia) was killed under unknown circumstances. The killing took place in the municipality of Gjilan.
On 2 February 2000, Jovanoviq Budimir (65) and Rajkoviq Pllana (53) were killed in Çubrel.
The corpse of Gjukiq Zoran (52) from Suhadoll (Mitrovica) was found at the place called Kroi i Mbretit on 14.03.2000.
On 23.03.2000, Vlahoviq Milka (73) from Prishtina was killed in Prishtina.
According to the available data to the CDHRF, 21 members of minorities were
killed. All killings happened under unknown circumstances.
ATTACKS, ILL-TREATMENTS, PROVOCATIONS
Since the arrival of KFOR troops, the Sub-CDHRF in Mitrovica informs on daily basis about beatings and ill-treatments of the Albanians in the northern part of the town, which is controlled by the Serbs for the time being. During the very same period, the Sub-CDHRF in Mitrovica registered 56 cases of ill-treatment, 8 of whom suffered heavy injuries, 105 psychological ill-treatments, 9 shelled houses, 9 burned houses, 3 usurpations, 54 evictions of the Albanian families, etc.
According to the eyewitnesses, Serbian paramilitaries move freely in the northern part of the town. Members of peacekeeping forces did not prevent violence and sometimes they participate in the ill-treatment towards the Albanian population. Many cases speak for themselves on what was happening in Mitrovica, Graçanica, Obiliq, Viti, Kamenica and Shtërpca as well as all Serbian enclaves, which have become source of conflicts.
THE MOST ILLUSTRATIVE CASES
Apart from many cases of ill-treatments, attacks, blasts in Mitrovica, similar cases took place in Istog, Shtërpca, Fushë Kosova, Viti, Gjilan, Obiliq, Podujeva, Lipjan, Mitrovica, Prishtina, etc. In all these places, CDHRF registered different cases of human rights violations.
On 2 January, Serbian paramilitaries in Graçanica attacked the Përparimi bus from Kamenica. During the recent holidays, the Alpescommerce and Kosovatrans buses travelling between Gjilan and Prishtina were attacked as well. Considerable material damage was caused.
On 3 January, at about noon, a group of Serbs beat and physically Ramiz Xheladin Hoti (39) and his sister Naxhije (41). The incident occurred in the vicinity of the place called Polet, in the Ibri quarter, in the northern part of the town. Ramiz suffered heavy injuries. During the evening hours, Serbian snipers from the northern part of the town opened fire towards the southern part of Mitrovica. Such cases of violence in Mitrovica occurred during the month of January.
On 7 January, at about 14.00, in Kishnica Serbs blocked the road Prishtina-Gjilan and threw stones to the Albanian cars and bus in the presence of KFOR troops. The bus and the cars could pass with the help of KFOR troops. While driving through Graçanica, Serbs chanted slogans and provoked Albanians. Some of them attempted to attack an elderly wearing a white turf, but were prevented by KFOR. Some Albanian youngsters got off the bus to protect the man and afterwards started to exchange stones and bottles with Serbs. KFOR troops prevented further escalation.
On 24 January, in Berivojca (Kamenica), local Serbs attacked and ill-treated passers-by, among them Fadil Kovani from Koretin (Kamenica) in the presence of KFOR Russian soldiers.
During the very same period, there were KFOR and UNMIK interventions in some Albanian villages and houses all over Kosova. Raids, arrests and ill-treatments were reported. Such interventions occurred in Malisheva, Gjakova, Mitrovica, Prishtina, Kamenica, Viti, Fushë Kosova, Suhareka,
Skënderaj, Lipjan, Deçan and Gllogoc.
On 24 February, three underaged Albanians attacked a Serbian old woman in Fushë Kosova. Later on, they were arrested by Norwegian soldiers.
On 4 February, at about 22.30 in Muçibaba, a village on the border with Serbia, 13 armed Serbian policemen in black opened fire towards the houses of this village.
On 3 March, in the evening, unknown persons threw a hand grenade at the house of Jovan Karaxhiq in Kishnica.
On 11 March, in Gotovusha, a large group of Serbs attacked 30 Albanians, who were visiting their houses in Biti e Poshtme under the escort of KFOR. The Albanians claimed that KFOR Polish and Ukrainian soldiers did not react at all.
On 11 March, in Fushë Kosova, there was an attempt for burning the house of a Serb, but the KFOR fire brigade managed to put the fire out.
On 25 March, in the buffer zone on the border with Serbia, a tank and an armoured car of the Yugoslav Army entered the region of Orllan.
On 30 March, a Serbian police jeep entered the region of Merdar. Afterwards, British soldiers intervened and warned to react if the security of Kosova is threatened and the Military Technical Agreement of Kumanova is violated.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE SITUATION
The following factors affect the situation:
-3500 unaccounted for, of whom 400 are members of minorities and 3100 are Albanians
-1500 Albanians kept as hostages in the prisons of Serbia
-rigged political trials against the Albanians
-escalation of violence towards the Albanians in the municipalities of Bujanoc, Medvegja and Presheva
-non-efficiency of the UNMIK police and the exclusion of the local police
-the refusal of Serbs to cooperate with UNMIK and the Albanians
-usurpations of flats, houses and business premises of minorities
-the denial of the rights of pensioners
-the insufficient engagement for the rehabilitation of sexually abused women, war invalids and orphans
-the insufficient engagement of the Albanian factor in human rights protection in general and minorities in particular
-the announcement of the repatriation of refugees from the Western Countries.
To the international community:
-to engage itself in the release of the Albanian hostages
-to ensure information on the missing people
-to intervene with the western countries to repatriate refugees in a selective way
-to form functional institutions
-to speed up the reconstruction process
-to authorise the local police
-to deal with the endangered social categories
-to firmly fight corruption and crime
To the Albanian factor:
-to help in ensuring information on the missing people
-to engage more for the release of the Albanian hostages
-to pay more importance to the respect of human rights
-to engage more for the protection of the rights of minorities
-fight corruption and crime through legal mechanisms
-to help in ensuring information on the missing people
-to cooperate with UNMIK and the Albanians
-to condemn the crimes perpetrated on the Albanians by the Serbian regime
-not to be instrumentalised by the same regime
Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms has warned on the escalation of violence, the victims of which are the citizens of Kosova regardless of their nationality. CDHRF, as an institution dealing with the protection of human rights and freedoms, respects the UN Universal declaration on Human Rights and will document all violations regardless of nationality, condemn all violators and engage itself in bringing those responsible before court.
In the period of January March, 108 people were killed in Kosova, of whom:
A Russian soldier and a foreigner, whose nationality is unknown, were killed.
80 persons out of the total of 108 were killed under unknown circumstances.
8 Albanians were killed in the region of Presheva, Bujanoc and Medvegja.