Monday, January 31, 2011

A Look at Kosovo and Albania!

Kosovo and Albania: Dirty Work in the Balkans: NATO’s KLA Frankenstein
By Tom Burghardt
URL of this article:
Global Research, January 30, 2011
Antfascist Calling - 2011-01-28
The U.S. and German-installed leadership of Kosovo finds itself under siege after the Council of Europe voted Tuesday to endorse a report charging senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of controlling a brisk trade in human organs, sex slaves and narcotics.
Coming on the heels of a retrial later this year of KLA commander and former Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, an enormous can of worms is about to burst open.
Last month, Antifascist Calling reported that Hashim Thaçi, the current Prime Minister of the breakaway Serb province, and other members of the self-styled Drenica Group, were accused by Council of Europe investigators of running a virtual mafia state.
According to Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty, the Council’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Thaçi, Dr. Shaip Muja, and other leading members of the government directed–and profited from–an international criminal enterprise whose tentacles spread across Europe into Israel, Turkey and South Africa.
For his part, Thaçi has repudiated the allegations and has threatened to sue Marty for libel. Sali Berisha, Albania’s current Prime Minister and Thaçi’s close ally, dismissed the investigation as a “completely racist and defamatory report,” according to The New York Times.
That’s rather rich coming from a politician who held office during the systematic looting of Albania’s impoverished people during the “economic liberalization” of the 1990s.
At the time, Berisha’s Democratic Party government urged Albanians to invest in dodgy pyramid funds, massive Ponzi schemes that were little more than fronts for drug money laundering and arms trafficking.
More than a decade ago, Global Research analyst Michel Chossudovsky documented how the largest fund, “VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue ‘families’ of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests,” even though the fund “was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.”
By 1997, two-thirds of the Albanian population who believed fairy tales of capitalist prosperity spun by their kleptocratic leaders and the IMF, lost some $1.2 billion to the well-connected fraudsters. When the full extent of the crisis reached critical mass, it sparked an armed revolt that was only suppressed after the UN Security Council deployed some 7,000 NATO troops that occupied the country; more than 2,000 people were killed.
Today the Berisha regime, like their junior partners in Pristina, face a new legitimacy crisis.
As the World Socialist Web Site reported, mass protests broke out in Tirana last week, with more than 20,000 demonstrators taking to the streets, after a nationally broadcast report showed a Deputy Prime Minister from Berisha’s party “in secretly taped talks, openly negotiating the level of bribes to back the construction of a new hydroelectric power station.”
As is the wont of gangster states everywhere, “police responded with extreme violence against the demonstrators; three people died and dozens were injured.”
While the charges against Thaçi and his confederates are shocking, evidence that these horrific crimes have been known for years, and suppressed, both by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and by top American and German officials–the political mandarins pulling Balkan strings–lend weight to suspicions that a protective wall was built around their protégés; facts borne out by subsequent NATO investigations, also suppressed.
Leaked Military Intelligence Reports
On Monday, a series of NATO reports were leaked to The Guardian. Military intelligence officials, according to investigative journalist Paul Lewis, identified Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi as one of the 'biggest fish' in organised crime in his country.”
Marked “Secret” by NATO spooks, Lewis disclosed that the 2004 reports also “indicate that the US and other western powers backing Kosovo’s government have had extensive knowledge of its criminal connections for several years.”
According to The Guardian, the files, tagged “‘USA KFOR’ ... provide detailed information about organised criminal networks in Kosovo based on reports by western intelligence agencies and informants,” and also “identify another senior ruling politician in Kosovo as having links to the Albanian mafia, stating that he exerts considerable control over Thaçi, a former guerrilla leader.”
As noted above, with the Council of Europe demanding a formal investigation into charges that Thaçi’s criminal enterprise presided over a grisly traffic in human organs and exerted “violent control” over the heroin trade, it appears that the American and German-backed narco statelet is in for a very rough ride.
In the NATO reports, The Guardian revealed that Thaçi “is identified as one of a triumvirate of ‘biggest fish’ in organised criminal circles.”
“So too,” Lewis writes, “is Xhavit Haliti, a former head of logistics for the KLA who is now a close ally of the prime minister and a senior parliamentarian in his ruling PDK party.”
The reports suggest “that behind his role as a prominent politician, Haliti is also a senior organised criminal who carries a Czech 9mm pistol and holds considerable sway over the prime minister.”
Described as “‘the power behind Hashim Thaçi’, one report states that Haliti has strong ties with the Albanian mafia and Kosovo’s secret service, known as KShiK.”
The former KLA logistics specialist, according to The Guardian, suggest that Haliti “‘more or less ran’ a fund for the Kosovo war in the late 1990s, profiting from the fund personally before the money dried up. ‘As a result, Haliti turned to organised crime on a grand scale,’ the reports state’.”
Such information was long known in Western intelligence and political circles, especially amongst secret state agencies such as the American CIA, DEA and FBI, Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, Britain’s MI6 and Italy’s military-intelligence service, SISMI, as Marty disclosed last month.
In 1994 for example, The New York Times reported that the Observatoire Géopolitique des Drogues released a report documenting that “Albanian groups in Macedonia and Kosovo Province in Serbia are trading heroin for large quantities of weapons for use in a brewing conflict in Kosovo.”
According to the Times, “Albanian traffickers were supplied with heroin and weapons by mafia-like groups in Georgia and Armenia. The Albanians then pay for the supplies by reselling the heroin in the West.”
A year later, Jane’s Intelligence Review reported that “if left unchecked ... Albanian narco-terrorism could lead to a Colombian syndrome in the southern Balkans, or the emergence of a situation in which the Albanian mafia becomes powerful enough to control one or more states in the region.”
Following NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign that completed the sought-after break-up of Yugoslavia, that situation came to pass; Kosovo has since metastasized into a key link in the international narcotics supply chain.
NATO spooks averred that Haliti is “highly involved in prostitution, weapons and drugs smuggling” and that he serves as Thaçi’s chief “political and financial adviser,” and, according to the documents, he is arguably “the real boss” in the relationship.
Like Haradinaj, Haliti “is linked to the alleged intimidation of political opponents in Kosovo and two suspected murders dating back to the late 1990s, when KLA infighting is said to have resulted in numerous killings,” Lewis reports.
In 2008, Haradinaj and Idriz Balaj were acquitted by the U.S.-sponsored ICTY “victors tribunal” of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lahi Brahimaj, Haradinaj’s uncle, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for the torture of two people at KLA headquarters.
A retrial was ordered last summer after evidence emerged that Haradinaj, long-suspected of running a parallel organized crime ring to Thaçi’s that also trafficked arms, drugs and sexual slaves across Europe, a fact long-known–and similarly suppressed–by the mafia state’s closest allies, Germany and the United States, may have intimidated witnesses who had agreed to testify against his faction of the KLA leadership.
A former nightclub bouncer who morphed into a “freedom fighter” during the 1990s, Haradinaj has been accused by prosecutors of crimes committed between March and September 1998 in the Dukagjin area of western Kosovo.
According to The Guardian, “Haradinaj was a commander of the KLA in Dukagjin, Balaj was the commander of the Black Eagles unit within the KLA, and Brahimaj a KLA member stationed in the force’s headquarters in the town of Jablanica.”
The appeals court ruled that “in the context of the serious witness intimidation that formed the context of the trial, it was clear that the trial chamber seriously erred in failing to take adequate measures to secure the testimony of certain witnesses.”
The indictment charges that the KLA “persecuted and abducted civilians thought to be collaborating with Serbian forces in the Dukagjin area and that Haradinaj, Balaj, and Brahimaj were responsible for abduction, murder, torture and ethnic cleansing of Serbs, Roma and fellow Albanians through a joint criminal enterprise, including the murder of 39 people whose bodies were retrieved from a lake,” The Guardian disclosed.
But in a case that demonstrates the cosy relations amongst KLA leaders and their Western puppetmasters despite, or possibly because of their links to organized crime, German Foreign Policy revealed that “high ranking UN officials helped intimidate witnesses due to testify in The Hague against Haradinaj.”
This charge was echoed by Special Rapporteur Dick Marty. He told Center for Investigative Reporting journalists Michael Montgomery and Altin Raxhimi, who broke the Kosovo organ trafficking story two years ago, that his investigation “could be hindered by witness safety and other security concerns.”
“If, as a witness, you do not have complete assurance that your statements will be kept confidential, and that as a witness you are truly protected, clearly you won’t talk to these institutions,” Marty said.
Such problems are compounded when the leading lights overseeing Kosovo’s administration, Germany and the United States, have every reason to scuttle any credible investigation into the crimes of their clients, particularly when a serious probe would reveal their own complicity.
Eyes Wide Shut
The Haradinaj cover-up is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
According to German Foreign Policy, “the structures of organized crime in Kosovo, in which Haradinaj is said to play an important role, extend all the way to Germany. It is being reported that German government authorities prevented investigations of Kosovo Albanians residing in Germany.”
Investigative journalist Boris Kanzleiter told the left-leaning online magazine that the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and its newest iteration, the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) “maintains very close ties to Haradinaj.”
The former head of UNMIK, Sören Jessen-Petersen, referred to him as a “close partner and friend.” Kanzleiter said that “Jessen-Petersen’s successor, the German diplomat, Joachim Ruecker, also has a close relationship to him.”
Kanzleiter told the journal, “accusations were made that high-ranking UNMIK functionaries were directly involved in the intimidation of witnesses.”
These reports should be taken seriously, especially in light of allegations that even before Haradinaj’s first trial, a witness against the former Prime Minister was killed in what was then described as “an unsolved auto accident.”
“Back in 2002,” German Foreign Policy reported, “three witnesses and two investigating officials were assassinated in the context of the trial against Haradinaj’s clan.”
Similar to the modus operandi of Thaçi’s enterprise, the newsmagazine reported that the BND had concluded that Haradinaj’s “network of [drugs and arms] smugglers were operating ‘throughout the Balkans’, extending ‘into Greece, Italy, Switzerland and all the way to Germany’.”
Not that any of this mattered to Germany or the United States. German Foreign Policy also reported that despite overwhelming evidence of KLA links to the global drugs trade, political circles in Berlin vetoed official investigations into KLA narcotics trafficking.
In 2005 “the State Offices of Criminal Investigation of Bavaria and Lower Saxony tried to convince the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation to open a centralized investigation concerning the known [Kosovo-Albanian] clans and individuals in Germany” because “many criminal culprits from the entourage of the KLA have settled in Germany.”
The author noted “this demand was refused.” Indeed, “even though the Austrian Federal Office of Investigation and the Italian police strongly insisted that their German colleagues finally initiate these investigations, the rejection ... according to a confidential source in the Austrian Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, came straight from the Interior Ministry in Berlin.”
As we have since learned, Haliti and other top KLA officials have also been linked to organized crime in Marty’s report. The human rights Rapporteur accused Haliti, like Haradinaj, of having ordered “assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations” of those who ran afoul of Thaçi’s underworld associates.
In 2009, German Foreign Policy reported yet another “new scandal” threatened to upset the apple cart. “A former agent of the Kosovo intelligence service explained that a close associate of Kosovo’s incumbent Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, had commissioned the assassinations of political opponents.”
“The newest mafia scandal involving Pristina’s secessionist regime was set in motion by the former secret agent Nazim Bllaca,” the magazine disclosed.
According to the publication, “Bllaca alleges that he had been in the employ of the secret service, SHIK, since the end of the war waged against Yugoslavia in 1999 by NATO and the troops of Kosovo’s terrorist UCK [KLA] militia.”
The former secret state agent claimed “he had personally committed 17 crimes in the course of his SHIK activities, including extortion, assassination, assaults, torture and serving as a contract killer.”
Marty told the Center for Investigative Reporting that “Bllaca’s experience did not bode well for other insiders who are considering cooperating with the authorities.” EULEX officials only placed Bllaca under protective custody a week after he went public with his allegations, in what could only be described as an open-ended invitation for an assassin’s bullet.
Despite such revelations, diplomatic cables unearthed by WikiLeaks show that the U.S. Embassy views their Frankenstein creations in an entirely favorable light.
A Cablegate file dated 02-17-10, “Kosovo Celebrates Second Anniversary with Successes and Challenges,” 10PRISTINA84, informs us that “two years have seen political stability that has allowed the country to create legitimate new institutions,” but that the narco state “must use its string of economic reforms and privatizations as a springboard to motivate private-sector growth.”
Such as auctioning-off the Trepca mining complex at fire-sale prices. As The New York Times reported back in 1998, the Trepca mines are “the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, worth at least $5 billion.”
Summing up the reasons for NATO’s war, one mine director told Times’ reporter Chris Hedges: “The war in Kosovo is about the mines, nothing else. This is Serbia’s Kuwait–the heart of Kosovo. We export to France, Switzerland, Greece, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Russia and Belgium.
“We export to a firm in New York, but I would prefer not to name it. And in addition to all this Kosovo has 17 billion tons of coal reserves. Naturally, the Albanians want all this for themselves.”
Judging by the flood of heroin reaching European and North American “markets,” one can only conclude that if fleets of armored Mercedes and BMWs prowling Pristina streets are a growth metric then by all means, America and Germany’s “nation building” enterprise has been a real achievement!
In light of reports of widespread criminality that would make a Wall Street hedge fund manager blush, we’re told by the U.S. Embassy that the Thaçi government “must prioritize the rule of law and the fight against corruption.”
Laying it on thick, despite damning intelligence reports by their own secret services, the Embassy avers that “Kosovo’s independence has been a success story.” Indeed, “the international community and the Kosovars, themselves, can feel good about the positive steps that have occurred over the past two years.”
That is, if one closes one’s eyes when stepping over the corpses.
World: Europe Racak killings 'crime against humanity'
BBC News
Wednesday, March 17, 1999
A final report by forensic experts into the killing of 40 Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak has failed to rule on whether they were massacred by Serb police.
But the report does conclude the victims were unarmed civilians.
[Left: The killings prompted the latest attempts to secure a peace deal]

Dr Helena Ranta, the forensic expert who led a team carrying out post mortems on the bodies, called the Racak deaths a "crime against humanity".
The killings provoked international outrage and prompted the latest efforts to secure a peace deal between the warring Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
The Serb authorities said the Albanians died in clashes after opening fire on police. But locals said they believed that Serb forces were to blame for the deaths.
Dr Ranta said there were no signs that the victims were anything other than unarmed civilians and that they were most likely shot where they were found.
She said there was no reason to conclude that the victims were members of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army or that they were killed accidentally.
Dr Ranta told a press conference in Pristina, Kosovo's regional capital, said: "This is a crime against humanity."
But she added apportioning blame for the killings fell outside her remit.
Dr Ranta said her report should be the start of a longer, criminal investigation which would have the power to hear from witnesses.
Dr Ranta's Finnish team examined the bodies of 40 of the 45 Racak victims to determine how they died.
Their report coincides with the third day of peace talks on Kosovo, as international mediators in Paris attempt to secure a peace settlement between the rival factions.
The ethnic Albanians have said that they are ready to sign the three-year Kosovo peace plan, but the Serbs are continuing to reject both the deal and the presence on the ground of Nato peacekeeping troops.
Jacky Rowland, a BBC correspondent in Pristina, said Dr Ranta's team were keen not to say anything inflammatory which might disrupt the peace talks.
Yugoslav denial
Controversy has surrounded the investigation into the Albanians' deaths on 15 January.
[Right: Albanians said Serb forces were responsible for the deaths]
A pathologist, who carrried out an investigation for the Yugoslav authorities, denied that those who died were victims of a massacre. Dr Sasa Dobricanin said: "Not a single body bears any sign of execution."
The Racak killings also strained relations between the Yugoslav Government and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in charge of the Kosovo monitoring mission.
The head of the OSCE's mission in Kosovo, William Walker, said the deaths were a "massacre" by Serb police. He was ordered to leave Yugoslavia after pinning the blame on the security forces, but defied the expulsion order.
The 45 dead are among some 2,000 people who have lost their lives during a year of fighting in Kosovo.
History of the war in Kosovo
Written by Glenn Ruga with help by Julie Mertus.
Written April, 1999
Historical Background
The NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia beginning on March 24, 1999 did not occur in a vacuum but rather followed ten years of regional conflict and aggression inspired and orchestrated by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Until 1991, Yugoslavia was one nation comprised of six republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Serbia was further divided into two autonomous regions; Kosovo and Vojvodina. Each republic and both autonomous provinces in Serbia had a seat on the federal presidency and had a considerable amount of autonomy in local affairs. With one notable exception--Bosnia--each of the republics roughly represents a distinct ethnic group. Today each of the republics of the former Yugoslavia use their own language, but they are all Slavic languages similar to Serbo-Croatian.
(Click to see information about each republic.
The Rise to Power of Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic came to power in 1987 with the rise of Serbian nationalism following the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism. He became a hero overnight in Serbia when in 1987 he went to Kosovo to qualm the fears of local Serbs amid a strike by Kosovar Albanian miners that was paralyzing the province. In a famous speech televised throughout Serbia, he told the waiting crowd of angry Serbs, "You will not be beaten again." Few Serbs were either beaten or oppressed in Kosovo (a few incidents were blown way out of proportion), but this did not matter to 8 million Serbs who felt deep historical grievances and welcomed a strong figure, such as Milosevic, who might restore their place in history.
By 1989, Milosevic was firmly in control of the Serbian republic and embarked on a campaign to consolidate
his power throughout Yugoslavia. On the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo where the medieval Serb kingdom was defeated by Ottoman forces Milosevic presided over a massive rally attended by more than a million Serbs at Kosovo Polje, the exact location of the historic battle fought on June 28, 1389.
One of his first acts following this historic event was to rescind the autonomy enjoyed by Kosovo and institute draconian martial law in the province. Kosovar Albanians were fired from their jobs, their schools were closed, they were denied access to state-run health care, and they lost administrative control of the province. The situation also effectively gave Milosevic additional votes in the federal legislature.
This ushered in a decade of hell for the south Balkans. Milosevic and other Serb ultra-nationalists embarked on a campaign to create a Greater Serbia, unifying under one nation all areas where Serbs lived and driving out all minorities through a genocidal process euphemistically called ethnic cleansing.”
The Disintegration of Yugoslavia
By 1991, the republics of Yugoslavia began clamoring for independence, inspired partly by watching MilosevicÃs grab for power in the federal capital of Belgrade and also by their own historic desires for independence.
Slovenia--the republic closest to central Europe--was the first to go in the summer of 1991. With almost no Serbian minority, Belgrade put up only brief resistance before backing off after a six-day war and allowing Slovenia to secede from the federal structure.
Unfortunately, this was not the case with Croatia. While 79% of the republic was Croatian, 12% was Serb and this group was not ready to become a minority. The Croatian Serbs had legitimate concerns, especially in light of the Croatian leaders using inflammatory nationalist rhetoric. The Serbs of Croatia suffered terribly during WWII, and for every contemporary provocation by the Croat nationalists, the Serbs saw unreconstructed Ustashe (Croatian fascists allied with the Nazi occupiers during WW II).
The Serbs responded in a manner that was to become commonplace during the next eight years. Their response was completely disproportionate to the problem. In Croatia, they declared their own mini-state and began a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Most infamous was the siege of Vukovar, where more than 10,000 civilians were killed and the first major war crime of the ensuing wars was committed. Serb paramilitaries emptied the Vukovar hospital of Croatian patients and executed them in a nearby field.
With a cease-fire negotiated in the fall of 1991 by U.S. diplomat Cyrus Vance, the Serb forces partially pulled out of Croatia and began repositioning their troops and heavy weapons in neighboring Bosnia. While the Serbs refused to abide by the terms of the cease-fire in Croatia and return territory, they simultaneously embarked on the most bitter assault to gain control of Bosnia.
As noted earlier, Bosnia has a sizable (31%) Serb minority with close ties to Belgrade. Milosevic by this time was in firm control of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), the fourth largest military in Europe. He also supported a UN-engineered arms embargo on the region, preventing the newly formed governments of Bosnia and Croatia to procure weapons, while Milosevic had complete control of the arsenals of the former Yugoslavia.
On April 6, 1992, the Bosnian Serbs launched a campaign of aggression against Bosnia with the siege of Sarajevo and the ethnic cleansing of the Drina River valley and the Bosnian Krajina (north and northwest parts of the country). The Bosnian government, headed by Alija Izetbegovic, was ill prepared to defend the country with no army and only a poorly equipped territorial defense force.
During the next three and a half years, Bosnian Serb forces, with the support of Milosevic in Belgrade, laid waste to large parts of Bosnia, killing more than 200,000 civilians and forcing half the population, two million people, to flee their homes. Tens of thousands of women were systematically raped. Concentration camps were set up in Prijedor, Omarska, Trnopolje, and other areas. Civilians were shot by snipers on a daily basis in Sarajevo, a city left without heat, electricity, or water.
Radovan Karadzic, a psychiatrist and poet originally from Montenegro, became president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, with Ratko Mladic as his military commander. Both have since been twice indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for their command role in genocide.
At the height of their power, the Bosnian Serbs controlled more than 70% of Bosnian territory. The failure of the UN to stop the killing in Bosnia seriously compromised its credibility as it neared its 50th anniversary in 1995. The UN already had UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) troops in Sarajevo at the outset of the war because it was their base of operation for the UN mission in Croatia. The UN hoped that their presence would discourage the spread of the conflict to Bosnia. But when Sarajevo came under attack in 1992, the UN forces pulled out to avoid casualties, leaving behind only a small and lightly armed contingent of œpeacekeepers.” As the situation deteriorated, the UN struck a deal with the Serbs, allowing them to control the Sarajevo airport. In reality, the Serbs allowed the UN to use the airport under de facto Serb control. During the next three years the airport was the scene of hundreds of casualties. UN humanitarian flights were repeatedly fired upon and Bosnian civilians were killed by sniper fire as they attempted to escape across the tarmac.
The worst act of the war occurred in the summer of 1995 when the Bosnian town of Srebrenica came under attack by forces commanded by Ratko Mladic. Srebrenica was a UN-declared safe area and guarded by a lightly armed Dutch contingent. This did not deter Mladic, who was intent on taking over the enclave. During a few days in mid-July, more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim males were executed by MladicÃs troops. The rest of the townÃs women and children were driven out to nearby Tuzla.
With a failed UN mission, the credibility of NATO waning, and facing a retreat of UN peacekeepers, President Clinton took the lead in August 1995 and launched a limited bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb positions. This, coupled with a Croatian offensive against the Croatian and Bosnian Serbs, forced Karadzic and Mladic to agree to peace negotiations commencing in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995.
The outcome of Dayton gave the Bosnian Serbs 49% of Bosnian territory and established the Bosnian-Croat Federation to control the remaining 51%. The Bosnian Serbs were also obligated to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal and allow refugees to return to their homes. To this day, they have done neither. While no one criticizes the peace brought by Dayton, many recognize that it is unjust for allowing the Bosnian Serbs to control territory that they took through a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign.
In addition, many commentators criticize the structure of the constitution created by the Dayton Agreement, which cements an ethnic divide. Among other measures, what was once the sovereign state of Bosnia Herzegovina is now divided into two entities, one Serbian and the other Bosnjak (Muslim) and Croatian. A non-functioning federal umbrella is headed by a three-member presidency: Serb, Bosniak and Croatian (people must declare themselves as one of these three groups in order to run for office or vote). The way the
government is structured, any ethnic group can block the workings of another group, often simply by not showing up at the legislature. Given all of these and many other problems, it is little surprise that Bosnia Herzegovina presently does not function as a unitary country and that intragroup tensions continue to run high.
During the long years of war in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, Kosovo remained under the tight control of Milosevic. The Kosovar Albanians responded by setting up a parallel civil adminstration, schools, and healthcare facilities. They also resisted the Milosevic regime with nonviolent, Gandhian tactics under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova.
All this time, the Kosovar Albanians hoped the international community would recognize their plight and come to their aid. Despite periodic reports by human rights investigators and international diplomats on gross and systematic human rights violations against Kosovar Albanians, the international community did nothing. The final straw for the Kosovar Albanians was Dayton, when the international community had the upper hand with Milosevic yet completely ignored the problem in Kosovo. The Kosovars even attempted to attend Dayton, but were not allowed to leave their plane and were sent back across the Atlantic. This demonstrated to the Kosovars that the international community was not going to come to their support. It also demonstrated that nonviolent tactics were not going to get the worldÃs attention. Only tremendous human rights abuses as suffered by the Bosnian Muslims would force the world to intervene.
With the situation in Kosovo only getting worse, and tit for tat retaliations by the Serb forces, finally in November 1997, at a funeral for slain Kosovars, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) stood up publicly and asked for support from the Kosovo Albanian community. The response by the crowd was overwhelming support. The familiar Serb response was disproportionate retaliation. If a Serb policeman was shot by the KLA, the Serbs would respond by torching a whole village and killing civilians. The first major massacre occurred in the Drenica region in the spring of 1998 when 51 members of an extended clan were killed by Serb forces in retaliation for a KLA provocation. Again, despite detailed reports of human rights investigators, the international community did nothing other than issue Milosevic an empty warning.
The U.S. has a particularly long history of warning Milosevic over Kosovo. As early as 1992, President Bush had warned Milosevic against a crackdown in Kosovo. Clinton reaffirmed the warning upon assuming the presidency and again at periodic stages during his terms. Throughout 1998 Milosevic increased his troop strength in Kosovo and began a scorched-earth policy of destroying whole villages in his attempt to wipe out the KLA. But for each village destroyed, more KLA members would sprout up in defiance. The Srebrenica of Kosovo occurred in January 1999 when Serb forces killed 41 civilians in the Kosovo village of Racak. While international mediators called it a massacre, Milosevic claimed that the slain villagers were actually KLA terrorists in civilian clothes. International forensic experts were soon to prove this untrue.
In October 1998, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, using the threat of NATO air strikes, negotiated with Milosevic to allow 2,000 unarmed verifiers into the province under OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation In Europe) control to monitor the human rights situation and to attempt to forestall further violence. In the end, they proved no more effective than UN peacekeepers in Bosnia. The violence continued to escalate. Finally a group of nations known as the Contact Group (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia) brought both Kosovo and Serb negotiators together in Rambouillet, France, in March 1999 to agree to a peace plan. The agreement called for the KLA to disarm, for Milosevic to drastically reduce his military presence in Kosovo, for autonomy to be restored to the province, and for a NATO peacekeeping force to be introduced. This was too little for the Kosovars, who wanted guarantees for full independence, and too much for Milosevic, who wanted to maintain complete control of the province and would not consider an outside military force on Serb soil.
While negotiations were going on in Rambouillet, Milosevic continued to pour heavy weapons and troops into Kosovo.
NATO, for its part, threatened to bomb the Serbs if they did not sign, or completely abandon the Kosovars if they did not accept the plan. In a tense standoff, the Kosovars finally said they could not immediately sign the document and needed time to present the plan back in Kosovo. Upon returning to Rambouillet, the Kosovars agreed to sign. Milosevic refused.
The international community pulled all monitors out of Kosovo in late March. This was the green light Milosevic was waiting for and he began preparations for a massive sweep of Kosovo as his forces saturated the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. still hoped that Milosevic would give in. Even as the killing had already begun in Kosovo, Richard Holbrooke made one last, unsuccessful attempt to convince Milosevic to sign, explaining in detail what NATO would do to his military infrastructure if he refused.
NATO Bombing
After years of hollow threats against Milosevic and years of Milosevic destroying much of Bosnia and part of Croatia, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and responsible for escalating human rights abuses in Kosovo, NATO was finally determined to move ahead. While always hoping that Milosevic would finally back down with the credible threat of force, NATO did not posses much credibility at that decisive moment. On March 24 NATO launched an air campaign against Serb military targets in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.
Milosevic forces responded by an all-out campaign to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its Albanian population, driving hundreds of thousands across the border into Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro. Heavily armed Serb paramilitary forces, infamous for their tactics in Croatia and Bosnia, descended on Kosovo. At gunpoint they forced thousands of people from their homes, burning their towns and villages afterward. Many civilians were summarily executed. Most had all their money taken and their documents destroyed. Without any independent journalists and human rights monitors left in the region, it is impossible to tell the full extent of the atrocities though many, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, have called it genocide.
As of April 20, 1999, over a half million refugees have been forced out of Kosovo. NATO is continuing to bomb Serbia while Milosevic is fighting a war against both NATO and the defenseless population of Kosovo. The only possibility to stem the killings and expulsions is the introduction of ground troops, which the U.S. and NATO oppose. Meanwhile, if NATO achieves its objectives of securing the province, Kosovar Albanians would be forced to return to a land run by Milosevic. President Clinton still maintains that Kosovar Albanians should be returned to a Kosovo that would remain part of Serbia or Yugoslavia. Kosovar Albanians want to return but not before they would feel safe. International law expressly prohibits any country from sending refugees back home when they would be in danger. Who could possibly suggest that after all that has happened, Albanians would ever feel safe in a land overseen by Milosevic?
April, 1999
Written by Glenn Ruga with help by Julie Mertus.
The war finally ended in June with Milosevic accepting most of the earlier terms of Rambouillet including the pull out of all Serb forces from Kosovo and the entry of NATO troops. There is now no provision for a referendum on the political future of Kosovo. Much of Kosovo had been destroyed as well as important Serbina civilian infrastructure including bridges and oil refineries. Six months after the end of the war, there have been numerous retaliatory attacks and killings of Serbs and Roma by Albanians in Kosovo. Much of rural Kosovo is without adequate shelter, and the country is littered with landmines laid by both sides during the war. To find out more about the current situation, see the links page of the Friends of Bosnia web site.
List of massacres in the Kosovo War
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Incomplete list of massacres by Serb forces in the Kosovo War, listed chronologically:
February 28, 1998, Likošane Massacre — Serb Special Police murdered 14 members of the Ahmeti family.
February 28 and March 1, 1998, Cirez Massacre — Serb Paramilitaries executed several members of the Sejdiu family.
May 25, 1998, Ljubenić Massacre — Police Officers extrajudicially executed at least eight men suspected of being KLA insurgents.
September 26, 1998, Golubovac Massacre - Serb Paramilitaries summarily killed thirteen men who were under the suspicion of being KLA insurgents. The men were detained at a compound in the village of Golubovac.
September 28, 1999, Gornje Obrinje Massacre - After 15 Serb Soldiers were killed the previous day by sniper-fire coming from the village of Gornje Obrinje, Special Forces entered the village and executed all the men of fighting age (21 in total).
January 15, 1999 Račak Massacre - A Serb Special Anti-Terrorism Unit killed 40-45 people in Račak. Three investigations carried out by Belarusian, Finnish and Yugoslavian. The Belarus and Yugoslavian investigators found that those killed were not civilians. However, the Finnish investigators representing EU found that these killings were committed on civilians. Most sources defined it as a massacre.
January 29, 1999, Rogovo Massacre — Serb police-officers executed 24 Albanians, supposedly KLA members.
March 5, 1999, Attack on Prekaz - Yugoslav soldiers raided the home of KLA leader Adem Jashari and assassinated him and his brother and killed around sixty members of his family after a gunfight that lasted 12 hours.
25 March 1999, Massacre at Velika Kruša - 90 men were executed in the village of Velika Kruša. Massacres such as this were typical throughout 1999, as the Serb Special Forces attempted to decrease the number of recruits joining the Kosovo Liberation Army.
March 25, 1999, Bela Crkva massacre — Serb Police Officers executed more than 60 ethnic Albanians in Bela Crkva, including twenty members of the Popaj family and twenty-five members of the Zhuniqi family, on the grounds that they were suspected KLA members.
26 March 1999, Suva Reka massacre - Members of the Berisha family were forced into their family-owned pizzeria, where two hand grenades were thrown. Montenegrin police officers allegedly shot anyone who displayed any signs of life. The police officers then took all of the bodies and disposed of them in a mass grave, near an anti-terrorism facility in Batajnica.
March 28, 1999, Izbica Massacre - The Yugoslav Army shelled the village of Izbica. After the shelling killed over a hundred people, Serb Special Forces entered, demanded money from the refugees and told the women, the children and the elderly to go to Albania. After they left, the Special Forces lined about fifty men up against a wall and executed them with automatic weapons.
March 31, 1999, Ljubižda Massacre — security forces reportedly shot 14 men in the village of Ljubižda, northwest of Prizren.
March 31, 1999, Pusto Selo Massacre — Serb Paramilitaries lined 106 ethnic Albanian men against a wall and executed them in Pusto Selo, near Orahovac. The men were allegedely KLA sympathizers.
April 5, 1999, Rezala Massacre — Serb Police Officers allegedly entered the Albanian village of Rezala and gunned down at least 80 villagers suspected of harbouring KLA guerillas.
April 17, 1999, Poklek Massacre — A Montenegrin Unit of the Serb Special Police forced at least 47 people into one room and opened fire. 23 children under the age of fifteen died in the operation.
April 17, 1999, Ćikatovo massacre — Serb Paramilitaries killed twenty-four men from the Morina family that were suspected of being KLA members.
April 27, 1999 Meja Massacre - Serb Police and Paramilitary forces allegedly massacred at least 300 Albanian men, from the village of Meja, in Djakovica municipality. On the same day, Montenegrin Special Forces killed approximately 13 to 50 suspected-insurgents in the nearby village of Korenica.
May 2–3, 1999, Vučitrn Massacre - Albanian refugees fleeing the fighting that was occurring between the Serb Army and the KLA were cornered by the Serb Special Forces (who suspected that some KLA members were fleeing the fighting with the refugees). The Special Forces picked out about 120 men who they suspected of being KLA deserters and sprayed them with bullets and later hid their bodies in a mass-grave near Gornja Sudimlja.
May 14, 1999, Cuska Massacre — Serb police and Paramilitary Forces gathered villagers into 3 houses, gunned them down with automatic weapons and burned down the houses, killing all 41.
May 22, 1999, Dubrava Prison Massacre — Serbian prison guards killed more than 70 Albanian prisoners.
May 26, 1999, Prizren Massacre - Serb Volunteers killed thirty-four people and burned over 100 homes in the Tusus neighborhood of the city of Prizren, in an attempt to eradicate a dozen KLA insurgents.
Incomplete list of massacres committed by Albanian Forces in the Kosovo War:
Gnjilane massacre – 80 Serbs were discovered in mass graves having been killed by a group of Albanian militants.
Serbian Orthodox Holy Trinity Church in Petrić, leveled in 1999.
Orahovac Massacre - More than 100 Serbian and Roma civilians kidnapped and placed in prison camps, 47 were executed.
Staro Gračko Massacre – 14 Serbian farmers were murdered by the KLA.
Glodjane massacre – 37 Serbs were found in mass graves having been massacred by the KLA.
Klećka massacre – 22 Serb women were raped, murdered and mutilated by the KLA.
Ugljare Massacre – 15 Serbs were murdered by KLA insurgents.
Peć massacre – 20 Serbs were murdered and their corpses thrown down wells. Ramush Hardinaj is currently on trial for this, amongst other crimes.
Panda Bar Massacre in 1998 – 6 Kosovo Serb teenagers were killed in a café in Peć, by unknown gunmen .
September 1998, Massacre at Lake Radonjić - Yugoslavian authorities found 34 bodies in a mass-grave at Lake Radonjić near Glodjane (Gllogjan). All of the victims except one were ethnic-Serbs. This massacre is seen as the main cause of the Serb Special Forces' crackdown on the KLA.
1999 - 2000, In 2008, Carla Del Ponte published a book in which she alleged that, after the end of the war in 1999, Kosovo Albanians were smuggling organs of between 100 and 300 Serbs and other minorities from the province to Albania.[88] The ICTY and the Serbian War Crimes Tribunal are currently investigating these allegations, as numerous witnesses and new materials have recently emerged.