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<nettime> [kcc-news] Fact Sheet: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo

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(Based on Information from U.S. Government Sources)

(The following Fact Sheet was released April 1.)

Reports of Serb war crimes in Kosovo -- including forced expulsions of
large segments of the ethnic Albanian civilian population, the
detention and summary executions of military-aged men, rapes, and the
destruction of civilian housing -- have increased dramatically over
the past week. Serb forces, including Yugoslav Army (VJ) and Serbian
Interior Ministry (MUP) units, have attacked towns and villages
throughout the province of Kosovo in a pattern of widespread and
systematic violence against the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo.

We have incontrovertible evidence that tens of thousands of ethnic
Albanians have been forcibly expelled from Kosovo and that thousands
of dwellings have been torched. Due to the removal of western
government observers and most of the non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) and journalists from the province, it has been difficult to
obtain independent corroboration of specific allegations of violations
of international humanitarian law in Kosovo. Nonetheless, the
overwhelmingly consistent nature of the thousands of reports from
official observers across the border in Albania and Macedonia, from
journalists and NGOs still in contact with their local staff in
Kosovo, and from Kosovar Albanians themselves (both refugees and the
Kosovo Liberation Army-UCK) paint an unambiguous picture of an
accelerating campaign of ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces in the
past week.

The following types of war crimes or violations of international
humanitarian law have been reported in Kosovo:

Forcible Displacement of Ethnic Albanian Civilians:

For the past year, Serb tactics in Kosovo were dominated by attacks by
the security forces on small villages. While as many as 300,000 people
were displaced either internally or abroad at the height of last
summer's fighting, the bulk of them left their houses voluntarily, out
of legitimate fear for their safety.

Yugoslav Army units and armed civilians have now joined the police in
systematically expelling ethnic Albanians from both villages and the
larger towns of Kosovo. Many of these places had not been the scene of
any previous fighting or UCK activity, which removes any pretense that
the Serb expulsions are part of a legitimate security operation. There
are numerous reports from refugees and the press of Serb forces going
house-to-house to force the residents out at gunpoint before looting
and burning their homes.

There have been uncorroborated reports that the majority of the 1.8
million ethnic Albanians in Kosovo may already have been displaced
from their homes. The UN High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) estimates
that Serb forces have forcibly expelled upwards of 70,000 persons into
Albania over the weekend and expects another 90,000 may cross over in
the next few days. This is in addition to the nearly 20,000 refugees
who fled to Albania last year. Although refugees were expelled from
their homes at gunpoint, Serbian authorities have been forcing these
refugees to sign disclaimers saying they left Kosovo of their own free

According to the refugees, Serb forces have been confiscating their
documentation -- including their national identity papers -- and
telling them to take a last look around because they will never return
to Kosovo.

Looting of Homes and Businesses:

Prior to the forced expulsions, Serb forces have reportedly looted the
homes and businesses of ethnic Albanians in at least 20 towns and
villages throughout the province. In addition, Serb soldiers have
reportedly occupied some Albanian homes in at least Pristina.

Widespread Burning of Homes:

Albanian refugees report widespread burning of homes in 13 towns and
countless villages throughout Kosovo. This activity is not only more
extensive than Serb destruction last summer, it is more thorough. Many
settlements are being totally destroyed in an apparent attempt to
ensure that the ethnic Albanian population cannot return.

Reported Detention of Ethnic Albanian Men:

Refugees entering Albania claim that Serb forces are separating
military-aged men from the groups. An NGO reports that 10,000 Albanian
men may have been herded into the Sports Stadium Complex in Pristina
for detention, while the press and refugees report that as many as
20,000 ethnic Albanians were force-marched from the town of Cirez to
Srbica and are being detained in a factory.

The vast majority of refugees crossing international borders out of
Kosovo have been women and children. We are gravely concerned by the
whereabouts and fate of the missing men numbering at least in the tens
of thousands and possibly in the hundreds of thousands.

Reports of Summary Executions:

Refugees have provided accounts of summary executions in at least 20
towns and villages throughout Kosovo. Serb forces appear to be
targeting members of the Albanian Kosovar intelligentsia including
lawyers, doctors and political leaders. In particular, UCK political
leaders who attended the Rambouillet talks are being targeted.

Reported Atrocities and War Crimes by Location:

The following is a list of the reported war crimes or violations of
international humanitarian law that occurred in many of the larger
population centers in Kosovo:

Bela Cervka:

Serb forces reportedly killed 35 people, then dumped their bodies near
the Bellaja River, between the Rogova and Bela Cervka railroad. By
March 28, Serb forces reportedly killed as many as 500 civilians.


20,000 Albanian Kosovars were reportedly used as human shields against
NATO bombings.


Ethnic Albanians have reportedly been executed by MUP and paramilitary
units. Seventy bodies were found in two houses. 33 Albanian bodies
were found in a nearby river and men are being separated from women
and children. A prominent surgeon, Dr. Izet Hima, was murdered. All
Albanian Kosovars remaining in the town have been warned to leave by
29 March. In addition, Serb forces are burning down ethnic Albanian


The Albanian residential area has been burned, sending displaced
persons to the Cicavica mountains.


Serb forces executed 20 men, including schoolteachers, on March 25.
The town was reportedly burned down.


The expulsion of the entire population of ethnic Albanians in the town
began on 28 March. Serb forces are removing villagers from their homes
and ordering them out of the country.

Kosvoska Mitrovica:

Serb forces have reportedly expelled all Albanian Kosovars from this
city since 23 March. In addition, over 200 Albanian homes and shops
have been torched, and Serb forces reportedly have killed prominent
Albanian Kosovars. Latif Berisha, a poet and President of the
Democratic Alliance of the Mitrovica Municipality, was executed in his
home, and Agim Hajrizi, Chairman of the Assembly of the Independent
Workers' Union, was murdered with his mother and 12-year-old son.


This small village located on the crossroads between Pristina, Pec,
Malisevo was reportedly set on fire by Serbian forces on 30 March.


Serb forces may have expelled 50,000 Albanian Kosovars from Pec. At
least 50 ethnic Albanians were killed, then buried in the yards of
their homes on the evening of March 27. On the same day, all ethnic
Albanians seeking shelter in the Albanian Catholic Church of Pec were
extracted and forced out of town. To further terrorize ethnic
Albanians, Serbs reportedly have looted and burned their homes and
shops throughout the town. Refugees claim that Zeljko Rasznjatovic
(a.k.a. Arkan) was responsible for the atrocities.


Serb forces may have executed 200 Albanian Kosovars. In addition,
Serbs reportedly are removing ethnic Albanians from their cars and
shooting them on the spot. Ninety percent of the town reportedly has
been burned.


Serb forces have moved into former Albanian Kosovar homes to avoid
NATO attacks. Serb forces have also executed male ethnic Albanians,
including Bjram Kelmendi, a prominent human rights lawyer, and his two
sons. Serb paramilitary units have burned and looted Albanian homes
and stores throughout the city. Mixed Serb police and paramilitary
units are reportedly separating men from women and children. Serbs are
passing out pamphlets admonishing Kosovars to leave or else they will
be killed. Fehmi Agani and Venon Surroi, prominent ethic Albanians
from Pristina who served on the Rambouillet negotiating team, were
reportedly kidnapped and executed by Serb forces, along with the
husband and children of Ibrahim Rugova's secretary. As many as 10,000
Albanian Kosovars have reportedly been herded into the city's Sports
Complex in downtown. This information has been disputed by an
eyewitness, however.


Serb forces reportedly transported ethnic Albanians to the border and
executed 20 to 30 civilians. At the border, Serb forces confiscated
all personal documentation, removed all license plates and warned them
never to return to Kosovo.


Serb forces reportedly executed at least 50 ethnic Albanians.


Serb forces executed 115 ethnic Albanian males from the age of 18 and
over. Serb forces reportedly are holding 20,000 prisoners in an
ammunition factory in town.


Serb forces reportedly burned the headquarters of a human rights
committee and the Democratic League of Kosovo. In addition, nearly
25,000 civilians have been expelled.

Suva Reka:

On 25 March, Serb forces massacred at least 30 Albanian Kosovars, most
by burning them alive in their homes. Serb forces have reportedly
killed over 100 civilians in the past week, and the town has been
"cleansed" of its Albanian population. Sixty percent of the town has
been burned. On March 28, Serb forces reportedly encircled the town to
conduct operations.

Velika Kruska:

Serb forces have reportedly killed 150-160 Albanian Kosovars and
dumped 50 bodies in a mass grave.


On March 27, Serb forces reportedly killed four young Albanian
Kosovars, including a 14-year old girl. By March 29, Serb forces had
reportedly herded Albanian Kosovars in a school in the city.


On March 28, local police reportedly ordered all ethnic Albanians to
leave town. As many as 7000 Albanian Kosovars may be displaced as a


Serb forces reportedly expelled all ethnic Albanians from this
village, then burned it down.

U.S. Policy:

Milosevic's forces are clearly committing crimes against humanity in
Kosovo. There are indicators that Yugoslav forces also are engaged in
genocide. The departure of international non-governmental
organizations, press and other independent sources of information has
complicated international efforts to determine precisely the scale of
the crimes being committed by Yugoslav forces against ethnic
Albanians. International personnel are interviewing refugees to help
collect evidence for possible war crimes indictments. We will make a
decision on whether Yugoslav actions against ethnic Albanians
constitute genocide once we have sufficient information on which to
base a judgement.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia will
indict those responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide,
both of which carry the maximum sentence the Tribunal can impose, life
imprisonment. The Tribunal Prosecutor, Louise Arbour, issued a
statement on March 31, 1999 announcing the indictment of Zeljko
Raznjatovic, also known as Arkan, one of Yugoslavia most notorious
warlords. The Prosecutor also announced that her investigation of
reports of crimes against humanity in Kosovo is progressing.

The United States reminds those responsible for the actions of the
Yugoslav army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kosovo that
these attacks directed against the civilian population and the summary
execution of detained persons are war crimes under international law.
Commanding officers and political leaders will be held responsible for
the actions of their subordinates as well as those committing the

(end Fact Sheet)

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