Report on the violation of the human rights and freedoms in

Kosova in the course of 1999

 


KËSHILLI PËR MBROJTJEN E TË DREJTAVE E TË LIRIVE TË NJERIUT

COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

Rr. Zdrini, 38000 Prishtinë-Kosovë; tel. 381 (0) 549006 fax: 381 (0) 38 549007

E-mail: kmdlnj@albanian.com / cdhrf@albanian.com


The institutionalised violence and terror of the Serbian regime against the Albanians gained the dimensions of genocide · The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was used as a pretext for the ethnic cleansing of Kosova, through killings, massacres and executions, through the looting, destruction and burning of settlements and the mass deportation of the Albanian population. Unarmed Albanian civilians were not spared (including women, children, newly-born babies and the elderly).

It is supposed that some 11.000 Albanians were killed between 1998-1999. CDHRF has managed to compile a list with the names of 8911 Albanians, who were killed during this period (6691 in the course of 1999 and 2220 in the course of 1998). According to the data available to the CDHRF 465 Serbs, Montenegrins and Roma were killed in Kosova during the very same period.

The Serbian violence in Kosova, gained the dimensions of genocide in the course of 1998 and the first 6 months of 1999. This violence was stripped of basic human values and aimed the extermination of the Albanians. The killings and the massacres, which aimed the extermination of the Albanian population in Kosova, unmasked the policy and the genocidal character of the
Serbian regime and state.

Death squads did not spare unarmed Albanian civilians (including women, children, newly-born babies and the elderly). In order to hide their crimes, Serbian forces burned the corpses of their victims, unburied them and took them to unknown locations. There are indications that the corpses of some of the killed were burned in the furnaces of the "Trepça" mines, some were thrown in water wells, in pits for slaking lime, in ravines or were buried in mass graves. A large number of victims were left unburied for months. 550 mass gravesites were discovered..

Between January 1 and December 31, 1999, the CDHRF registered the following:

7156 persons were killed, of whom

6691 Albanians, of whom
859 women
553 children
1312 elderly
283 unidentified persons
465 Serbs, Montenegrins and other minorities, of whom
29 women
3 children
45 elderly
23 unidentified

The total number of the killed is supposed to be at least 11.000. More than 2000 Albanians are imprisoned in the prisons of Serbia and Vojvodina. The number of the missing and the kidnapped is estimated to 4000. The CDHRF and the Sub-Councils possess the lists with the names of the above mentioned. Serbian policemen, soldiers and paramilitaries raped Albanian women in different parts of Kosova.

The number of buildings, which were destroyed, damaged or burned, is very high (including private houses and apartments, shops and factories, schools and other educational, cultural and scientific institutions, religious objects, historical and cultural monuments, etc.). It is estimated that between March 1998 and June 1999, some 1100 Albanian settlements were burned and destroyed (partially or completely); some 200.000 houses, apartments, workshops, factories, schools, libraries, historical and cultural monuments, religious, scientific and cultural objects were looted, burned and destroyed (partially or completely).

In the course of 1999, CDHRF registered the following: 6691 Albanians were killed and mutilated, of whom 859 women, 553 children, 1312 elderly. Out of the total number of the killed, the identity of 218 could not be confirmed.

2220 persons were killed in the course of 1998. The corpses and the skeletons of the killed are still being found in different parts of Kosova.

The teams of the Hague Tribunal have stopped their investigation of the crimes perpetrated in Kosova and the identification of the killed due to the weather conditions. They are to continue with their work in spring. The relatives of the victims continue to search for their beloved ones, as there is a justifiable fear that most of those who went missing during the conflict in Kosova (7000) were executed.

According to the available data to the CDHRF (which are still incomplete), some 3500 persons went missing or were kidnapped by the Serbian forces. 1027 Albanians went missing or were kidnapped in the municipality of Gjakova, 234 in Gllogoc, 209 in Mitrovica (it is supposed that the number of those who went missing in Mitrovica is about 400 (men, women, children and elderly). Yet, their identity could not be confirmed as they were from the other parts of Kosova and had sought shelter in Mitrovica during the war), 127 in Skënderaj, 125 in Deçan, 74 in Vushtrria, 52 in Malisheva, 32 in Obiliq, 28 in Prishtina, 17 in Kaçanik, 14 in Ferizaj, etc. According to family members 146 Albanians, 12 Serbs and 4 Roma went missing in the village of Krusha e Madhe near Rahovec, 82 Albanians went missing in Klina and 14 in the village of Bukosh near Suhareka. 1085 persons were reported missing in the other parts of Kosova.

During the very same period, 465 Serbs, Montenegrins and other minorities were killed in Kosova, of whom 3 children, 29 women, 45 elderly and 23 persons whose identity could not be confirmed.

The Serbian violence in Kosova escalated after the meeting between Holbrook and Milosevic The Serbian violence in Kosova escalated in October 1998, after the meeting between Richard Holbrook, the special representative of the President of the
USA, and Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Yugoslavia, as well as the arrival of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosova.

In the beginning of 1999, Serbian police and military forces opened a 25 km front in the Llapi region, between the villages of Lupç i Poshtëm and Peran near Podujeva. These villages were attacked with tanks, heavy artillery, rockets, etc. As a
consequence of these attacks some 45.000 Albanians were forced to flee their homes. Due to the lack of food and medical assistance several cases of death were reported.

During this period, the situation in the regions engulfed by war was very grave. Many villagers in the municipality of Klina were forced to flee their homes as well. Similar was the situation in Drenica, Llapusha, Deçan, Reka e Keqe near Gjakova, Suhareka, Prizren, Rahovec, Ferizaj, Shtime, Obiliq, Fushë Kosova, etc. The civilians in the above mentioned regions were directly threatened by the Serbian forces. Furthermore, the villagers of Shipitulla and Graboc (in the municipality of Obiliq) could not return to their homes for several months due to the large presence of Serbian forces.

The situation of the civilians was very grave. They were facing different diseases due to the lack of food, medicine, and other necessities. The situation was made even more difficult due to the cold weather. During the months of January, February and March 1999, large police, military and paramilitary forces as well as heavy weaponry were deployed to Kosova.

In many parts of Kosova, local Serbs were mobilized and weapons were distributed to them. Later on, the very same participated in the crimes of the Serbian police and military forces against the Albanians and their settlements. The Yugoslav army mined roads and bridges and provoked incidents in order to terrorise the Albanian civilians and to force them to flee their homes. Later on, these were looted, burned and destroyed by Serbian policemen, soldiers and paramilitaries as well as Serbian and Roma
civilians.

On January 19, an incident in the "Ura e Gjakut" quarter in Mitrovica was used as a pretext for a huge action of the Serbian forces against the inhabitants of the "Ura e Gjakut" and "Bair" quarters, Shipol as well as the villagers of Vaganica e Poshtme and Vaganica e Epërme. During this action, 2 Albanians were killed and a large number were arrested, ill-treated or went missing.

During the first 6 months of 1999, many villages in the municipalities of Skënderaj, Gllogoc, Malisheva, Hani i Elezit, Kaçanik, Rahovec, Klina, Gjakova, Deçan, Prizren, Suhareka, Shtime, Lipjan, Podujeva, etc. were targeted as well. The Serbian police and military forces shelled the Albanian villages on a daily basis. Once the population fled, the houses were looted, burned and destroyed. The killings, executions and the massacring of tens of Albanian
families-including women, children and elderly

During the month of January 1999, 3 cases of mass executions of Albanian civilians by the death squads of the Serbian regime were registered in Kosova. On January 15, 51 Albanians were massacred in Reçak. On January 24, 5 Albanians were killed in Rakovina (including two children and one woman).

On January 29, 26 Albanians were massacred in the village of Rogova near Gjakova. On January 15, 1999, Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces as well as armed Serbian civilians attacked the village of Reçak. Later on, large forces entered the village massacring unarmed Albanian civilians (including women and elderly, who could not flee). According to the eyewitnesses who survived this massacre, many villagers were arrested and taken in the direction of Shtime. Later on, they were massacred at the place called "Kodra e Bebushit". Many of the killed were mutilated, whereas Banush Azemi (63) was decapitated. After this tragedy, the villagers of Reçak took the corpses of the massacred to the local mosque. Yet, Serbian forces came, took the corpses from the local mosque and sent them to the Forensic Institute in Prishtina, allegedly to carry out the autopsy. The families of
the victims requested the help of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosova in getting the corpses back. Yet, Serbian authorities prevented this. The families of the killed believed that the Serbian authorities wanted to manipulate with the mutilated corpses of their relatives. Furthermore, on being taken to Shtime several corpses were once again returned to Prishtina.
About a month later, on February 11, the funeral of 40 of the killed took place.

The massacre in Rakovina occurred in the vicinity of the Rakovina Bridge on the road between Prishtina and Gjakova, on January 24, at about 9 p.m. Serbian police opened automatic fire from an armoured car killing Shaban T. Kelmendi (45) and his children Haxhi (11) and Besim Kelmendi (12) from Rakovina, as well as Hysen and Sanije Kurti from Cërmjan. The five were
travelling in a tractor to the village of Cërmjan.

On January 29, Serbian police and military forces massacred 26 Albanians in the village of Rogova near Gjakova. According to the eyewitnesses who survived this massacre, at about 5.30 a.m., Serbian policemen, soldiers and paramilitaries besieged the village, searched and demolished many houses. The terrified villagers fled in all directions. Many were killed while doing so.

The Serbian regime exposed its true face and its genocidal aims the moment it seemed that the Kosova crisis was to be solved Serbian terror escalated and culminated, once it seemed that the struggle of the Kosovars, led by the KLA, was leading towards the solving of the Kosova issue, prior to and during the international intervention for solving the Kosova issue in February and March 1999, especially with the withdrawal of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosova and other international organizations, which were largely present in Kosova until March 20, 1999. That was the moment when the Serbian regime exposed its true face and its genocidal aims for the ethnic cleansing of Kosova and for the extermination of the Albanians in these territories.

On March 20, the day the international monitors left Kosova, Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces arrested hundreds of people and killed 30 Albanians in Skënderaj. On March 24, 1999, at about 5.15 p.m., once the NATO intervention was announced (but prior to the attacks on the Serbian targets in Yugoslavia and Kosova), 22 Albanians were executed by the Serbian forces in the village of Kotlina near Kaçanik. Police threw the corpses of the killed into a deep ravine in order to hide the traces of this crime.

The night between March 24-25, 1999, once the NATO bombing started, members of the Serbian special police forces in Prishtina arrested Bajram Kelmendi, a lawyer, member of the CDHRF Board in Prishtina, and his two sons Kastriot, a student, and Kushtrim Kelmendi, a pupil. The very same night, they were executed.

The night between March 24-25, 1999, Serbian criminals killed Latif Berisha, a poet and a professor with the University of Prishtina and chairman of the LDK branch in Mitrovica, Agim Hajrizi, a well-known activist, chairman of the Assembly of the Independent Trade Unions of Kosova, his son and his mother, as well as Enver Haliti, an activist. In Gjakova, Serbian criminals burned the bazaar with more than 300 shops, arrested and killed a large number of Albanian youngsters, not even sparing the elderly, children and newly born babies.

The very same night, Serbian policemen and paramilitaries executed Dr. Izet Hima, a surgeon, and Avni Ferizi, an academician. Their houses were burned and so was the atelier of the latter. The exact number of the killed in Gjakova is unknown, as there are still no information on the whereabouts of more than 1000 people, who went missing (whether they were executed or are alive in the prisons of Serbia).

Killings, executions and massacres of the Albanians throughout Kosova

The campaign of institutionalised state terror, killings, massacres and executions engulfed the whole territory of Kosova. Serbian policemen, soldiers and paramilitaries imposed free reign violence and acted without any moral, human or legal responsibility. They killed the young and the elderly, not even sparing children and newly-born babies. They killed with or without a pretext. The only reason to kill was because their victims were Albanians. The only reason to do so was to make them flee Kosova (those who were not killed or butchered). Only in the village of Krusha e Madhe near Rahovec, 204 Albanians were massacred, of whom172 could not be identified. 10 mass gravesites were identified in this village.

All these acts of barbarism were registered in our reports (acts of the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces and unfortunately acts of local Serbian civilians who did not hesitate to raise their arms against their Albanian neighbours, with whom they have lived side by side for decades).

On March 28, 1999, 127 Albanian civilians were killed in the village of Izbica near Skënderaj. An eyewitness, who had survived this massacre, declared that Serbian soldiers came to the village, separated men from women, lined them in groups of 3 and opened automatic fire. "When they opened fire, I hit the ground pretending to be dead. Once they left, I crawled to the nearby forest. All the others were killed", stated the villager.

On April 15, 1999, 18 Albanian civilians were killed in the village of Sllovia near Lipjan. Another group of 17 Albanians, mainly from Sllovia, were killed at the place called "Lugu i Demës". Eyewitnesses claim that these civilians were executed by a paramilitary unit led by the criminal named Toshiq.

On April 17, 1999, 52 Albanian civilians, mainly women, children and elderly, were executed in the village of Poklek near Gllogoc. 21 children aged between 6 and 13 were killed in this massacre. The very same day, the Vishesella family from the village of Ribar i Vogël near Lipjan was massacred. A similar thing happened to the Elshani, Llugani, Muçolli and Berisha families.

On April 18, 1999, the Serbian forces undertook a wide campaign against the Albanian villagers of Hallaç, Ribar i Vogël, Bujan, Bregu i Zi, Godanc i Poshtëm and Kraishta near Lipjan. During that action, there were widespread lootings and mass executions of Albanian citizens, including women children and elderly. 13 members of Rexhep Vishesella's family were killed in the village of Ribar i Poshtëm. The death squads were comprised of Serbian paramilitaries in black uniforms and of policemen. These units have executed people in their homes and house yards. They even used dum-dum bullets. Prior to being executed, all valuables were looted from the victims. 23 Albanians were executed in the village of Hallaç and 19 in Ribar i Vogël. Many were killed in Kraishta and the other attacked villages as well. Some 10.000 Albanians fled their homes and sought shelter in the mountains of Varigoc and Zborc (with no food and other basic necessities).

On April 20, 21 and 22, 1999, the Albanian villagers of Grashtica near Prishtina were massacred. 8 members of the Jakupi family from the village of Orllan near Podujeva were killed a few days before the arrival of NATO troops to Kosova. The Bala family from Peja was massacred on June 12, 1999, the day NATO troops entered Kosova.

During the actions of the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces, many Albanian families were killed
and massacred throughout Kosova. Mass expulsions and deportations - the final "cleansing" of Kosova Apart from torture, killings, executions, massacres, the looting, burning and destruction of their homes and property, the people of Kosova
experienced the forced expulsion, displacement and deportation from their territories and the ethnic cleansing of Kosova. The numbers and the statements of those expelled tell of the total cleansing of many Albanian settlements in Kosova. The Albanian civilians who were expelled on mass from Prishtina, Mitrovica, Suhareka, Rahovec, Ferizaj, Shtimje, Kaçanik, Gjilan, Lipjan, Vushtrria, Gjakova, Peja, etc., fled towards Kukës, the border with Macedonia and the regions mainly inhabited by Albanians and Bosniacs in Montenegro.

Long queues of people on foot, by tractors or by train were being deported from Kosova (persecuted by the Serbian forces). Among those who fled, many were in age, ill or handicapped, pregnant women, children or newly-born babies. These people travelled for many kilometres in difficult weather conditions with memories of the killed, who were left unburied, corpses thrown by the roads, burning houses, etc. These were the things most of the deported experienced.

To those who fled to Macedonia Bllaca was the place where they confronted death. Many among the elderly, children and the ill, succumbed to fatigue, hunger and the cold. Bllaca was a human catastrophe caused by the inhuman policy towards an unprotected nation. The events in Bllaca were condemned by the international public opinion.

According to the available data, 1 million Albanians fled due to the Serbian terror: 450.000 to Albania, 240.000 to Macedonia, 64.500 to Montenegro, 18.500 to Bosnia, 15.000 to Turkey, 5-6000 to Croatia, 2500 to Bulgaria, etc. Most of the refugees stayed in Albania or in Macedonia. Yet, a large number was transferred to third countries, i.e. the USA, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, etc.

With the end of the war and the arrival of NATO troops in Kosova, most of the refugees returned spontaneously to their homes not waiting for the organized return announced by international humanitarian organizations and institutions. Many houses, apartments, cultural and historical monuments were burned and destroyed throughout Kosova - religious objects and leaders were not spared

Throughout Kosova, Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces as well as Serbian and Roma civilians looted, burned and destroyed Albanian houses, apartments, shops, religious objects as well as cultural and historical objects. Personal documents - ID cards, passports, registry books, and other documents were seized and destroyed. International organizations have estimated that some 100.000 houses were burned and destroyed in Kosova (on average every third house was made uninhabitable). The very same organizations believe that some 250.000 people will spend this winter in very difficult conditions.

Religious objects were not spared from the looting, burning and destruction. A commission was established by the Board of the Islamic Community in Kosova to assess the damages. According to their data, 13 imams were killed and 14 pupils of the Moslem religious secondary school and students of the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Prishtina. During the war, Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces as well as local Serbs damaged, burned or destroyed 209 mosques and other religious objects (including 5 in Serbia proper). In Gjakova, Serbian criminals apart from the bazaar burned the "Hadumi" mosque dating from the XVI century (one of the most beautiful objects of Islamic Art in the Balkans) and the masjid with a very rich library containing unique works in Albanian, Arabic, Persian and Turkish.

Mass graves cannot conceal the crimes

Serbian criminals, apart from their brutality in killing, executing, massacring and torturing their victims, have constantly made efforts to conceal their crimes by burying the corpses of the killed and massacred, by removing them from one place to the other, by throwing the corpses into water wells and ravines or by burning them. Yet, the crimes in Kosova could not be concealed. 550 mass gravesites were identified in Kosova as well as thousands of individual graves with the decomposed corpses and skeletonsthe victims of the Serbian criminals, who continue to move freely throughout Kosova. Many of the corpses cannot be identified. Yet, thanks to certain clothing items, to the professional knowledge of the teams for the identification of the killed and to information from the relatives of the executed or the missing, the crimes of the Serbian criminals are being revealed. The criminals cannot escape penal responsibility and the deserved punishment for their crimes.

Mass gravesites were identified throughout Kosova (in cemeteries, ravines, water wells, in pits for slaking lime, in improvised crematoriums, in certain industrial objects, etc.). Some of the crimes will never be revealed. Yet, the crimes that were and are to be revealed with the exhumation of many corpses from mass gravesites will expose the crimes the Belgrade regime tried to conceal. In our reports, we have identified mass gravesites in the villages of Gushavc, Suhadoll i Poshtëm, Suhadoll i Epërm, Shupkoc, Vaganica and Vërnica in the municipality of Mitrovica. In the village of Vidimriq near Mitrovica, French soldiers buried the corpses of 11 Albanians, who were killed by the Serbian forces. 15 Albanians, who were killed by the Serbian forces, were buried in the "Tavnik" quarter in Mitrovica. It is believed that there are mass gravesites in the villages of Bugariq, Baran and Koshtova e Bobit as well.

Mass gravesites were identified in the fields of Ymer Bala near the "Ibër Lepenc" hydro-system and the fields of Xhevat Gashi in Dardhishta near Obiliq. Different items were found in the house of Rexhep Zeqir Kurteshi (68) in the "Qendra" quarter in
Mitrovica. These items show that the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces killed, executed and massacred Albanian civilians and probably raped Albanian women in the very center of Mitrovica. The very same happened in Gjakova, Peja and other towns and villages throughout Kosova. A mass grave was identified at the place called "Tauk bahçe" in the suburbs of
Prishtina. It is believed that there is another mass grave in the Albanian cemetery in Prishtina. Roma civilians were ordered by the Serbian police to bury Albanian civilians in these mass graves.

The situation of the Albanian prisoners continues to be very grave

The 1244 resolution of the UN Security Council and the military agreement between NATO and the Yugoslav Army, which was reached on June 1999, did not include the release of the Albanian prisoners. This enabled the Belgrade regime to keep some 7000 Albanians in detention and by doing so to blackmail the people of Kosova and to keep them under constant strain. The situation of the detained Albanians is very grave and getting worse. The Albanian prisoners in Nish, Pozharevc, Leskovc, Prokuple, Vranje, Mitrovica e Sremit, etc., are subjected to torture and are confronted with death. The prisoners receive an insufficient amount of food. They do not receive any medicine or medical assistance. They are ill-treated by prison guards and policemen as well as by Serbian deserters and ordinary criminals.

On August 11, 1999, the corpses of Sali Kurtaj (48) from Gjilan and Tefik Saliu (1926) from Ferizaj, who were killed in the Belgrade prison, were brought to Kosova. Muhamet
Basha (66) from the village of Vraniq died in the prison in Prokuple, whereas, Sadik Jahir Agushi (1958) from the village of Drenoc near Klina died in the prison of Mitrovica e Sremit. Zeqë Adem Hasaj (1953) from the village of Kodralia near Deçan died a week after being released from the prison in Zajeçar. Zeqa died due to the injuries suffered while being tortured in prison.

The Humanitarian Law Fund based in Belgrade informed the public opinion on the fact that there are many Albanian juveniles in the prisons of Serbia accused for "terrorism" and that pregnant women have given births while in prison. In order to justify the keeping in detention of so many people, Serbian authorities bring Albanian prisoners to court and sentence them to many years of prison for "terrorism" and "subversive activity", despite the fact that most of them were arrested in their homes or house yards. Among the sentenced "terrorists" is Dr. Flora Brovina, a poetess, physician and humanitarian activist. She was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment because of offering medical assistance to those wounded and distributing aid to children and the handicapped. Many international organizations demanded the release of Flora Brovina, including the Swedish Government. While in court, Flora Brovina stated that if free she would again do the same, she would offer medical and humanitarian assistance to all, Serbian children, Roma, etc. After the arrival of KFOR troops the scale of violence decreased-Yet, the situation in Mitrovica, Anamorava and Rahovec continues to be tense

Since June 12, 1999 and the arrival of KFOR troops in Kosova, the scale of violence as well as that of human rights abuses in Kosova have decreased. Yet, there are still many criminal acts with tragic consequences. During this period, more than 400 killings were reported as well as many cases of wounding. Many were killed and wounded in mine accidents as well. The gravest problems are in Mitrovica, where the local Serbs, who have concentrated in the northern part of the town, have blocked this partof the town preventing the Albanians from returning to their homes. The situation is made worse by the negligence of the French forces in Mitrovica. The situation continues to be tense in the region of Anamorava and in the municipalities of Kamenica and Malisheva (in which Russian soldiers are stationed). Albanian citizens have prevented the deployment of Russian soldiers in Rahovec, due to the participation of Russian mercenaries in the atrocities against the Albanians throughout Kosova.

In many municipalities throughout Kosova, the identities of the policemen, soldiers and paramilitaries, who have committed grave crimes, have been revealed. 1426 persons were identified (mainly Serbs and Montenegrins), who were implicated in the killings of the Albanians, the looting, burning and destruction of their houses and property. Many indicted war criminals have returned to Kosova (4 in the northern part of Mitrovica), 1 in Lipjan, whereas, a number of others are hiding in the villages of the municipality of Lipjan.

Dutch soldiers have arrested a Serb indicted by the Hague Tribunal for crimes in the municipality of Rahovec. KFOR troops in the other parts of Kosova have also started arresting those indicted for war crimes. In the northern part of Mitrovica, as well as in the neighbouring villages, Serbian and Roma civilians as well as Serbian paramilitaries continue to ill-treat Albanian citizens, even in the presence of French soldiers. In several villages, cases were reported when Serbs opened fire towards Albanian houses.

On July 1, Veli Feriz Sadiku (66) and his son Avdi (43) from the village of Gushavc near Mitrovica were attacked with metal bars by a group of Serbian civilians, in the vicinity of the Ibri Bridge. On July 3, in the vicinity of the Ibri Bridge, a group of Serbian civilians led by Slavko Mandiq and a person named Qulle beat an Albanian citizen in the presence of French soldiers.

On July 7, Serbian civilians and paramilitaries beat Mevlude Aziz Barani (40) from the "Qendra" quarter, Refiqe Sejdiu (30) from the "Kodra e Minatorëve" quarter, Rabë Mehmeti (40) from Shipol, and Ejup Hamit Peci (56) from Rahova. On July 11, 2 armed Serbian civilians wearing masks stopped Arsim Isa Peci and Naser Jetullah Peci (44) from the village of Zhazha. On July 12, local Serbs from the village of Suhadoll opened fire towards the Albanian houses in Gushavc. On July 30, at about 2 p.m., a group of Serbian hooligans attacked the bus carrying the medical staff of the Mitrovica Hospital. Nurses Lirie Faik Bajraktari (38) and Shukrie Nezir Rudari (43) were injured. At about 3 p.m., a group of Serbian hooligans severely ill-treated Burhan Baliqi, a Bosniac living in the "Ibri" quarter.

On August 6, the Albanian medical staff of the Mitrovica Hospital was prevented by the Serbs working there as well as armed Serbian paramilitaries from entering the building. On August 10, at about 9 p.m., there were two powerful blasts in Mitrovica. Serbian civilians and paramilitaries led by spouses Ivica and Mira Ivanoviq, Lila and Damir Gashi entered the Albanian flats in the "Ibri" and "Kodra e Minatorëve" quarters, physically ill-treating and evicting the inhabitants. Ismet Qamil Kurti (48), Arta Ismet Kurti (21), Zelan Hazir Kurti (44), Sitrie (40), Gjylsym (38), and Sazan Shyqyri Koca (37), Xhevdet Kalludra(53), Ibrahim Hasan Vitaku (44), Arife Osmani and Qani Osmani suffered heavy injuries. On August 26, at about 11 p.m., 3 armed Serbs tried to kidnap Hetem Beqiri (16) from the "Tavnik" quarter. The incident occurred in the "2 Korriku" quarter in Mitrovica. On August 29, at about 12.30 p.m., 5 armed Serbs and 4 Roma stopped Agron Behlul Spahiu (27) from the village of Kastriot near Skënderaj, while going to his flat in the northern part of Mitrovica. Agron was attacked with knives and beaten until he fainted.

On August 31, at about 9.30 p.m., there were 4 explosions in the northern part of Mitrovica. The explosions occurred as many Albanian families decided to return to their homes in the northern part of the town and KFOR troops had started an operation for the return of 136 families in the "Kroi i Vitakut" quarter.

Provocations and incidents in other parts of Kosova

Provocations and incidents, ill-treatments and random shooting by Serbian civilians and paramilitaries have continued in different parts of Kosova. Since the arrival of KFOR troops, many incidents were reported on the road between Gjilan and Kamenica as well as other local roads connecting the villages in this region. Serbian civilians opened fire towards cars and passers-by. Russian forces did not prevent such actions.

On August 14, the meeting between the villagers of Plemetin and the mayor of Obiliq was not held, as Serbian civilians locked the premises of the "Pandeli Sotiri" primary school. Despite the arrival of KFOR troops, the Serbs did not unlock the school (Serbian and Albanian pupils are supposed to use the same school building). The next day, a group of 30 Serbian and Roma civilians, who were travelling in tractors, provoked Albanian villagers by shouting "Zivela Srbija". There is only a small number of Albanians living in the village of Plemetin. There are many policemen and paramilitaries among the Serbian civilians.
Many Albanians are ill-treated by French and Russian soldiers

Many provocations and ill-treatments of Albanian civilians involving French and Russian soldiers were reported. On August 7, French soldiers ill-treated a number of Albanians who were trying to go to their homes in the northern part of Mitrovica. On July 18, 6 French soldiers stopped and severely ill-treated a group of 6 Albanian youngsters in the Roma quarter in Mitrovica. Burim Behxhet Brahimi (20) from the village of Koshtova e Bobit and Naim Deli Deliu (18) from the "Tavnik" quarter in Mitrovica suffered injuries.

On August 2, a large number of French soldiers and policemen raided all the houses in the village of Oshlan near Vushtrria. On August 7, French soldiers and the gendarmerie physically ill-treated a large number of Albanians who were trying to return to their homes in the northern part of the town. The following suffered severe body injuries: Besire Sejdiu (42) from the "Qendra" quarter, Naser Ramadan Aloqi (36) and Veton Hamit Baruti (44) from the "Ibri" quarter, Sami Sadiku (22) and Nerxhivane Aziz Nimani (30) from the "Tavnik" quarter, Ramadan Hysen Istrefi (50) and Agron Avdyli (33) from the "Kroi i Vitakut" quarter, Hajrullah Hysen Skuroshi (32) from "Tuneli i Parë", Musa Tahiri (18) from Stantërg, Hamdi Kajtaz Sheremeti (24) from the village of Oshlan near Vushtrria, Sherif Meholli (38) from Melenica, Afrim Arifi (28) from Pantina, Afrim Tafil Osmani (32) from the village of Dolak near Vushtrria, etc. On August 29, 3 French soldiers severely ill-treated Hysni Ferat Muja (21) andEsat Januz Musliu (16) from the "Tavnik" quarter.

On August 9, at about 5 a.m., an armoured car full of Russian soldiers stopped in front of the house of Shefik Halil Hoda in the village of Koretin near Kamenica. The Russian soldiers went into the house yard. As Shefik came out of the house, he was hit with a rifle butt on his head and suffered heavy injuries. Shefik's son Ruzhdi was also attacked while trying to help his father. Later on, Russian soldiers searched the house terrifying family members, especially children. A Russian soldier hit Shefik's wife with the rifle butt. During the incident, Ruzhdi was threatened with a gun. Russian soldiers stole 100 boxes of cigarettes and arrested Shefik. He was taken to the Russian base in Kamenica and kept there until 8 a.m.

Brutal anti-Albanian campaign in Presheva, Bujanoc and Medvegja

The deportation and the expulsion of the Albanians from the municipalities of Presheva, Bujanoc and Medvegja (in Serbia proper) continues as a consequence of the free reign violence of the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces stationed in the villages on the border between Kosova and Serbia (contrary to the military agreement signed in Kumanova between NATO and the Yugoslav army, which envisages that a buffer zone is to be established 5 km from the border of Kosova, article 1, para. 3e and 4a). Many cases of looting as well as of usurpation of Albanian houses, apartments and shops were reported.

Violence against non-Albanians

Many cases of attacks against Serbs and other non-Albanians were reported (lootings, evictions and burning of Serbian houses). On July 26, Biserka Aleksa Vasiq (1931), a pensioner from the village of Orllan near Podujeva, living in "Vuk Karaxhiq" st. 4 in Prishtina, stated to the CDHRF that unidentified persons killed her son Lubisha Vasiq (40), a worker with the local water supply. Biserka stated that her son was not mobilized and did not participate in the war and that he had no problems with anyone.

On August 13, unidentified persons went into her garage and took her refrigerator and washing machine.

On August 18, a CDHRF delegation paid a visit to the Roma camp in the village of Dardhishta near Obiliq. 1230 Roma from Prishtina and the villages of Fushë Kosova, Obiliq, Lipjan and Shtime are settled in this camp. They stated to the CDHRF that they were evicted by force from their homes. A number of them stated that they were physically ill-treated by the Albanians. One of the interviewed stated that during the NATO air attacks on the Serbian positions in Kosova, many Roma came from Nish, Leskovc and other towns in Serbia to loot in Kosova. Many Roma were forced by the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces to "help" in looting the property of the Albanians, in killing them and in burying those killed. Yet, a number of Roma from Podujeva and the nearby villages fled together with the Albanian population during the Serbian attacks. Nowadays, they have noproblems and no one harasses them. Despite the killings and kidnappings the situation has started to improve Recently, the situation in Kosova has started to improve despite the killings, kidnappings and the mine accidents in many parts of Kosova.

During the last 3 months, 73 violent deaths were registered in Kosova (of whom 41 were Albanians, 18 Serbs, 1 Roma and 13 persons whose identity could not be confirmed). In the northern part of Mitrovica, Sevdie Xh. Ujkani (34) and her daughter Edona Ujkani (11), a pupil, were hit by a car and killed. The driver was a Serb. Many were killed and wounded in mine accidents, Albanians, Serbs as well as KFOR soldiers. One of the gravest cases was the killing of Valentin Krumov, an employee with the UNMIK Civil Administration in Kosova. The killing was condemned as a grave crime, which seeks to destabilize the situation in Kosova. Several cases of kidnappings or attempted kidnappings were reported in this period. These have caused grave concern among the population.

A girl was kidnapped and the attempted kidnapping of two others was reported. Teki Bokshi, a lawyer from Gjakova, was kidnapped in the vicinity of Belgrade. His family was forced to pay a ransom of DM 100.000. The tensions in Kosova are being kept high because of the situation in Mitrovica, where the Albanians cannot return to their homes, schools and jobs. It is difficult to believe that there shall be peace in Kosova while thousands of Albanians are still being kept in the prisons of Serbia. Protests are being held throughout Kosova demanding their release.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces, prior to the NATO attacks, made efforts to prevent the activities of the CDHRF based in Prishtina. The communication between the main office of the CDHRF and its field associates was interrupted. Many activists of the CDHRF were arrested and killed, including Bajram Kelmendi, a member of the CDHRF Board, and his two sons, Gafurr Loku, vice-chairman of the Sub-CDHRF in Hani i Elezit, Xhevdet Leci, member of the board of the Sub-CDHRF in Prishtina, Rexhep Bislimi, Remzi Ademi, etc. The work of the CDHRF was practically blocked. Yet, several Sub-Councils continued with their activity informing the international public opinion on the events in Kosova. As most of the CDHRF staff was forcibly deported to Macedonia, it continued its activity there, gathering data on the atrocities of the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces in Kosova. Prishtina, February 3, 2000 Information Service

 

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