Mentor Cana on Wed, 31 Mar 1999 20:00:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> [kcc-news] Kosova: Ethnic Albanians Expelled (fwd)

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 Human Rights Watch
     March 30, 1999
     Refugees reported to Human Rights Watch researchers today that 
     Serbian special police and Yugoslav military units are systematically 
     expelling ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, including the cities of Pec 
     and Prizren, in a well-orchestrated and centrally organized campaign 
     to rid the region of the majority of its population.  The stories of 
     refugees interviewed by Human Rights Watch staff in Albania and 
     Macedonia revealed a consistent pattern in the conduct of the 
     expulsions and their timing, underscoring the fact that the Yugoslav 
     government evidently made a decision over the weekend to "cleanse" the 
     region of ethnic Albanians.
     Scores of refugees interviewed today described their expulsion from 
     their homes by Serbian forces.  Refugees from the major Kosovo cities 
     of Pec (population approximately 100,000) and Prizren (population 
     approximately 80,000) reported that there was widespread shooting in 
     and around the cities from Thursday, March 25 to Saturday, March 27, 
     during which time many shops were burned or bombed.  Starting either 
     on Saturday or Sunday, refugees reported that their homes were raided 
     by Serbian special police and/or Yugoslav Army units who moved from 
     neighborhood to neighborhood, ordering people to leave their homes and 
     forcing them into columns that were then accompanied to the border.  
     Refugees repeatedly told how soldiers and police threatened that 
     anyone who did not leave within four hours would be killed. 
     Those who carried out the raids were either Serbian special police 
     dressed in blue camouflage uniforms with either black ski masks or 
     black grease paint on their faces or Yugoslav Army units dressed in 
     green uniforms with either red or white bandanas.   One person 
     interviewed by Human Rights Watch also described Serbs in civilian 
     clothes and another spoke of Serbs in all-black who participated in 
     the raids.
     All ethnic Albanian residents of Pec, a city in western Kosovo, 
     reported that they were forced to gather in the central square where 
     local trucks and private buses had been commandeered by the police to 
     transport them out of the city.  None of those interviewed by Human 
     Rights Watch were allowed to take their own vehicles.  It appears that 
     a large convoy departed Pec at approximately 11 a.m. accompanied by 
     Yugoslav forces who then stopped them about one hour from the border 
     with Albania and forced them to walk the rest of the way.  
     Several of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that 
     individuals had been pulled out of the convoy and killed, and one 
     person interviewed reported that soldiers stopped the bus he was on 
     and took between 10 and 15 men off the bus.  He reported having 
     subsequently heard shooting, but had not actually seen anyone shot.  
     He added, "As we drove past, I saw blood on the road."  Human Rights 
     Watch was not able to confirm these reports or find individuals who 
     had been eyewitnesses to the reported killings.
     Similarly, refugees who were forced to flee the town of Prizren, in 
     southwestern Kosovo,  reported that they were rounded up on Sunday 
     morning and forced to leave their homes.  In contrast to the expulsion 
     in Pec, no vehicles were provided to transport the residents from the 
     town.  Instead, they departed in their own cars, tractors, or on foot 
     to the Albanian border.
     Those interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that both cities were 
     almost completely emptied during the raids, although some handicapped 
     and elderly Albanians were reportedly left behind in Pec. Human Rights 
     Watch is deeply concerned about their safety.
     For the past year, the Yugoslav authorities have often targetted 
     ethnic Albanian villages which they claimed were harboring the Kosovo 
     Liberation Army.  However, the expulsions reported in Pec and Prizren 
     mark the first time that major cities in Kosovo have been targeted 
     with what appears to be the sole motive of "ethnically cleansing" the 
This human rights flash is an occasional information bulletin from Human
Watch. It   will include human rights updates on the situation in Yugoslavia
generally and in Kosovo specifically.  For further information contact Fred
Abrahams at (212) 216-1270 or 

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