Jo&Sanja on Wed, 6 Oct 1999 11:29:52 +0200

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Syndicate: HOOKED UP! Fw: OTR Civil Society in Kosovo, Issue 8

(excuse if you receive this more than once)

hallo all, tung tutti,

here is part 1 of the exciting story of how the Internet finally re-landed
in Kosov@
I find some US bias in forgetting some European agents like Wam Kat, or
VUSUS in developing Internet in XU but it's a nice concise overview

and of course the fact that Internet is now available provides a window
of opportunity for net-culture activists around the globe

and the RIKS pilot-project in Tetovo is still struggling to get on its feet

best wishes to Burim and friends


mos ban luft, ban dashuri
(make love not war, in Albanian)

-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: The Advocacy Project <>
Aan: <>
Datum: dinsdag 5 oktober 1999 23:18
Onderwerp: OTR Civil Society in Kosovo, Issue 8

>ON THE RECORD: //Civil Society in Kosovo//----------------------------
>Your Electronic Link to Civil Society in Kosovo
>Volume 9, Issue 8 -- October 5, 1999
>In this issue:
>From the Editorial Desk:
>     Over the last few weeks, subscribers to this series have been
>     reading profiles of civil society in Kosovo. During this
>     period one of the series editors, Teresa Crawford, has been
>     working in Kosovo trying to link these and other
>     organizations to the Internet.
>     This represents a change of direction for The Advocacy
>     Project. The Project was created last year to help community
>     activists make better use of information technology. But so
>     far, this has involved getting their messages out through our
>     on-line newsletter On the Record. We have not offered
>     technical support, for three reasons. First, we wanted to
>     consolidate On the Record. Second, we did not possess the
>     technical capacity. But mainly, it was a question of the
>     opportunity not presenting itself.
>     That opportunity has occurred in Kosovo. As subscribers will
>     know, Teresa traveled to Kosovo in June, soon after the end
>     of the bombing, to edit this series of On the Record with
>     Peter Lippman. But Teresa wanted to do more than observe. She
>     wanted to help some of the activists she had met in Kosovo on
>     a previous visit in 1998.
>     Once in Kosovo, Teresa linked up with Paul Meyer from the
>     International Rescue Committee (IRC). Paul is another web
>     enthusiast. During the refugee crisis earlier this year, he
>     initiated an imaginative project (the Kosovar Family Finder)
>     to download thousands of refugee names from the Internet and
>     help reunite families. The third member of the project, Akan,
>     is a Kosovar technical expert who formerly managed the
>     computer network of the US Information Service (USIS) in
>     Prishtina, and the first Email provider in Kosovo (
>     Working together, Akan, Paul, and Teresa have spent the last
>     two months under the auspices of the International Rescue
>     Committee, trying to provide civil society in Kosovo with an
>     electronic outlet. After many frustrations, their efforts
>     finally paid off on September 20, when they sent out their
>     first message from their small office in Prishtina. The next
>     three issues tell the story of this experiment, and place it
>     in context. *
>     In addition to a new departure for The Advocacy Project, this
>     is the first time that the Internet has been centrally
>     integrated into a major UN peace-building mission.
>     It would be irresponsible to exaggerate the importance of
>     electronic information to a people that is struggling to cope
>     with mass graves, landmines, and the departure of its
>     minorities. But Kosovo's unique post-war situation is also
>     proving to be an important test case for those who want to
>     see the Internet put to a constructive use.
>     On the one hand, it is clear that communications have a
>     critical role to play in rebuilding war-torn societies like
>     Kosovo. On the other hand, Kosovo is another reminder that
>     the Internet cannot function in a vacuum. It needs money,
>     computers, electricity, and a legal and administrative
>     framework. All are in short supply in countries just emerging
>     from war.
>     It has not been easy for our colleagues in Kosovo to steer
>     their project through these shoals. Even when the technical
>     obstacles are overcome, there will be larger questions to
>     answer: who takes over running the project? Which civic
>     associations will be the first to benefit? Can the project be
>     made commercially viable -- or will it always depend on
>     donations?
>     Such questions face all aid agencies working in Kosovo -- and
>     to this extent, the Internet project is merely one more
>     aspect of the larger task of reconstruction. It is a reminder
>     not just that the Internet is now a part of peace-building,
>     but that peace-building has entered the information age.
>     (Iain Guest)
>- Transcending Ethnic Divisions in Bosnia
>Electronic information became an instrument of war and peace
>during the collapse of Yugoslavia. When the history of the
>information age comes to be written, it will be associated with
>some of the worst crimes committed in Europe this century -- but
>also with heroic resistance.
>The first major experiment in email was launched in June 1992 in
>Zagreb and Belgrade, almost exactly a year after Croatia seceded
>from Yugoslavia, triggering a brutal response from Serbia. The
>violence of the conflict provoked a vigorous response from the
>international peace movement. With support from the Soros Open
>Society Institute, Eric Bachman -- an American peace activist who
>had been living in Europe since 1969 -- established an electronic
>network between peace groups in the region. It was named ZaMir
>("For Peace") Transnational Net.
>The ZaMir network was described by one article in Wired Magazine
>as a "tangled fishing line tossed out between cities in the rump
>of Yugoslavia, and a server in Germany." By 1995, it had "nodes"
>in Belgrade (Serbia), Zagreb (Croatia), Tuzla and Sarajevo
>(Bosnia), Ljubljana (Slovenia), and Skopje (Macedonia).
>This network allowed beleaguered peace activists in these
>countries to talk to each other and also to friends outside the
>region. This was crucial in Bosnia, which had been turned into a
>patchwork of besieged communities by the war. When ZaMirNet
>reached Sarajevo in 1994, the city was still ringed by Serb tanks.
>Apart from the UN humanitarian flights (which were restricted to
>non-Bosnians) the only physical way in and out of the city was
>through a tunnel under the airport. In northern Bosnia, entry into
>the ZaMir network was provided by the Forum of Tuzla Citizens
>(CTF) set up in 1993 with the goal of promoting inter-ethnic
>contact. The Forum was to provide an electronic mailbox for 700
>Internet-users in the Bosnian Federation during the war, receiving
>and transmitting 70,000 messages. Many of them concerned life and
>death issues.
>The Bosnian war showed that email could be an instrument of peace
>in interethnic conflict, because it could allow people to cross
>ethnic frontiers and bypass centralized authorities that were
>utterly opposed to free expression and interethnic contact.
>This email network was able to vault over a telephone system that
>also acted as a barrier to inter-ethnic cooperation. Bosnians who
>lived in the Serb and Croat regions of Bosnia could only talk by
>phone after passing through Belgrade or Zagreb. In contrast,
>subscribers to ZaMirNet would dial up through the server in
>Germany, passing through one of the six nodes, and talk to anyone
>on the network. As one article noted: "Email has taken root in the
>scorched earth of the Balkans."
>But ZaMirNet also demonstrated the limitations of electronic
>communications. First, it still depended on telephone lines, which
>were increasingly degraded by the war. Second, it required
>computers and electricity, which could certainly not be guaranteed
>in war-time conditions. Third, it required money. When the war
>ended in Bosnia, in September 1995, Soros stopped supporting
>ZaMirNet. Presumably, the need was felt to be less compelling and
>ZaMirNet was expected to become self-supporting. But this was
>unlikely, given the desperate economic conditions in the region.
>The 800 or so subscribers in Bosnia paid between five and 200
>marks to the German server. But this was not enough to cover
>costs. Charging commercial rates would mean losing customers.
>Peace brought other pressures, including increased government
>regulation. This might have been benign if the new Bosnian
>government had been committed to inter-ethnic cooperation and free
>speech. But Dayton produced a government that reinforced and
>legitimized the divisions between the three major ethnic groups.
>Added to this, the state-owned Bosnian telephone company was
>reluctant to open up lines for Internet use.
>This delayed one well-meaning initiative by the University of
>Villanova, which collected scores of donated computers in the
>United States for the Bosnian Constitutional Court and the Bosnian
>Federation's Human Rights Ombudsmen. These two bodies were
>obviously dedicated to inter-ethnic cooperation, and by helping
>them, the University of Villanova could presumably be assured that
>it was also helping to promote peace.
>But it proved impossible to get enough phone lines from the
>Bosnian PTT (Post and Telecom). Over a year passed before the
>project was able to install Netscape and email programs on the
>computers. It was a sober reminder than the Internet does not
>exist in isolation. Even email requires an administrative, legal,
>political, and financial framework.
>- Milosevic and His Critics Fight it Out on the Internet
>During the late 1990s, electronic information emerged as a key
>player in the titanic struggle between the regime of Slobodan
>Milosevic and his democratic opponents in Serbia. It was a
>dramatic example of the cat and mouse game that was increasingly
>being played out on the Internet between repressive regimes and
>their critics.
>At the heart of the confrontation was B 92, Serbia's renowned
>independent radio station. Initially, to aid in them in their
>work, B 92 used an Internet service provider (ISP) in Amsterdam.
>In November 1995, with help from Soros, B 92 founded Opennet,
>Belgrade's first Internet service provider and the only provider
>in Serbia until March 1996. In the restricted environment in
>Serbia starting Opennet was possible only because it was made
>available to Serbia's academic network, and could be justified as
>an educational tool.
>B 92 thus had a connection to the Internet backbone in 1996, when
>protests erupted in Serbia following Milosevic's decision to annul
>the results of 18 municipal elections. Via the Internet the
>station began to broadcast detailed accounts of the protests to
>the outside world, and became a focus for democratic opposition to
>In November 1996, the government responded by jamming B 92's radio
>signals. B 92 replied by relaying its material through the
>Internet, using a computer program called RealAudio, which allows
>sound to be carried on the Internet. RealAudio carried B 92's
>radio signals over low-speed connections to B 92's Internet
>service provider in Amsterdam, where they were uploaded to B 92's
>home page. This meant both the outside world and those with an
>Internet connection in Serbia could still hear B92's broadcasts.
>Even if B92's phone lines had been cut they could have found
>another phone connection to Amsterdam. Their re-broadcasting could
>only have been prevented by shutting down the entire Serbian
>telephone system.
>RealAudio's US manufacturer donated more powerful equipment, which
>allowed more then 500 Internet users to hear the broadcasts at
>once. On December 3, 1996, the Serbian government shut down B 92's
>transmitters altogether. But this did not shut down the Internet
>to Amsterdam. Round one to democracy.
>The next major threat came two years later, on October 20, 1998,
>in the form of a draconian information law, which banned all
>broadcasts that spread "fear, panic, and defeatism," as well as
>the re-broadcasting of foreign news programs. Two radio stations,
>three newspapers, and a weekly news magazine were shut down. One
>firm was fined US$500,000.
>B 92's server, OpenNet, found itself under pressure. It was
>difficult to obtain phone lines, which would allow subscribers to
>dial in and log on. The Serbian authorities were aware of the
>threat created by the Internet by now, and were looking for ways
>to discourage its use. At one stage, they thought about taxing
>Internet-users, but found it extremely difficult to identify them.
>(This has frustrated other regimes. China has created a cyber
>police force, dedicated to tracing those who use "subversive"
>The Serbian government then placed a filter on web browsers at the
>university, blocking sites such as B92's. OpenNet immediately
>asked international friends to "mirror" (copy) its information
>onto other unblocked sites, and distribute it by Email. Ten sites
>responded, and the material began to circulate via distribution
>lists, and find its way back into Serbia. Once again, the Serbian
>authorities had been thwarted. On December 28, 1998, the filter
>was removed. Round two to democracy.
>- Supporting the Parallel Society in Kosovo
>By the time that Milosevic confronted his critics in Belgrade,
>Kosovo's civic organizations were using electronic information to
>bolster the parallel society described in this series. One of the
>first email systems used in Kosovo, ZanaNet, was run by Koha
>Ditore, the largest Albanian-language newspaper distributed in
>Kosovo. ZanaNet was established in 1994 and was part of the ZaMir
>network described above. The Zana connection allowed subscribers
>in Kosovo to communicate with the outside world through the server
>in Germany. These were early days in the evolution of the
>Internet: it was used almost exclusively for email (as opposed to
>websites, downloading files etc).
>By March of this year, there were four Internet service providers
>in Kosovo - Pronet, Eunet, Co.yu, and the PTT. Of these, only
>Pronet was owned and managed by Albanians.
>Pronet became operational earlier this year, just before the NATO
>intervention. The staff designed and maintained web sites for many
>Kosovar organizations including the Mother Teresa Society, but
>they were constantly being forced to hide their equipment from
>Serbian forces. They also found it difficult to get access to
>enough telephone lines. Pronet was operational for about a month
>before the bombing, serving several hundred users.
>Somewhat ironically, throughout the second half of the 1990s,
>Kosovo's parallel society was dependent on three Serbian ISPs for
>their connection to the outside world. Both Eunet and the PTT ISP,
>based in Belgrade, had offices and equipment in Prishtina. This
>meant that subscribers in Kosovo were able to call a local number
>and get access to Internet and email, instead of dialing long
>distance to Belgrade. This kept the expense down, but the
>connection speed was slow and there were very few numbers to dial
>in on. As a result, during peak times it was difficult to connect
>and the modem would hang up regularly.
>However meager, these opportunities were exploited to the full.
>Radio 21, the independent Albanian radio station, broadcast
>through the World Wide Web and was also able to get most of its
>international content from the Web. Koha Ditore also took much
>international content from the Web.
>Of the groups profiled in this series, ELENA used Email to stay in
>contact with friends and supporters abroad, and was sufficiently
>connected to send a member to the Human Rights Defenders Summit
>that took place in Paris in December 1998. (Editor's note: This
>meeting was covered by On the Record - Volume 4). The Center for
>the Protection of Women and Children sent out reports via email on
>their work with women and appeals for support.
>The Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms kept its
>sensitive findings hidden in computers. It distributed reports on
>Albanews, a distribution list of about a thousand subscribers, and
>posted a webpage on
>The main focus of electronic activity in Kosovo, as well as
>opposition to Serbian rule, was to be found at the parallel
>university, with campuses in Prishtina, Peja, and Mitrovica. The
>university had 17,000 students and a faculty of 880. Following the
>suppression of autonomy in 1989, students were only able to spend
>about 15 minutes a week on computers in makeshift labs. Like
>students everywhere, they were hungry for more. Those that could
>afford computers and access, opened private Internet accounts.
>By late 1997 students were impatient with the results of peaceful
>opposition, and in October. protests began at the University. They
>were organized by the student union and led by Albin Kurti and
>Bujar Dugolli. Expressions of solidarity began to spring up on the
>Internet. Kosovar websites were hosted on servers outside Kosovo
>and exiled Albanians sent messages of support on distribution
>lists created to inform the Albanian diaspora.
>The following year, 1998, saw the partial implementation of
>educational accords that had been negotiated between Milosevic and
>Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovar political leader. These allowed for a
>limited return of Albanian students and faculty to the University
>buildings. When professors and students returned to study in the
>early part of 1999, they set up computer labs with support from
>But by now the crisis in Kosovo had passed the point of no return.
>In February 1998, Serbian forces attacked the villages of Drenica
>with tanks and artillery in an attempt to crush the KLA. The
>photos of crushed houses and bodies were put up on the web by Koha
>Ditore. This was the first time that the world - and many Kosovars
>- had seen what was happening.
>Teresa Crawford was at the Council for the Defense of Human Rights
>and Freedoms in Prishtina when the photographs first came in. She
>recalls how the photographer's hands shook as he passed them
>around. Soon afterwards, the photos appeared on the Web - on the
>web pages of Koha Ditore and of the students.
>Albanians in exile were also learning to exploit the Internet. In
>the early 1990s there was relatively little information on the web
>about Albanians and no way for Albanians in the diaspora to talk
>to each other. A group of young men, two Albanians from Macedonia
>and two from Kosovo, started the Albanews email distribution list
>and the Albanian discussion list. During the NATO bombing this
>year, the Albanews list was to become one of the most important
>sources for information about what was happening inside Kosovo and
>how the international community was reacting. At the height of the
>bombing there were over forty postings a day to the list from
>civil society in Kosovo, news outlets, humanitarian agencies and
>people from all over the world.
>In early 1999, the same group created a website,, and
>set up an extensive web presence. This allowed them to post
>pictures and history, and post the addresses of agencies that were
>working with refugees. They developed and supported websites and
>pages for numerous other Albanian civil society groups.
>- Serbian Hackers Retaliate
>As the parallel society in Kosovo assumed a higher profile in
>emails and on the web in the late 1990s, it also attracted the
>attention of nationalist Serbs, who also knew how to exploit
>electronic information. On October 24, a group of hackers, calling
>themselves the Black Hand, declared "electronic war" against
>Albanian websites. One called a Belgrade newspaper and issued a
>warning that they would "remove Albanian lies from the Internet,"
>and attack the NATO site.
>The hackers sent a flood of email messages to one of the more
>outspoken Albanian sites,, causing it to crash
>several times. Hackers also took over the website of Zik, an
>Albanian news site published in Switzerland. According to the BBC,
>the owners of wanted to take legal action against the
>hackers, but decided it would be hard enough to trace the source
>of the sabotage, and almost impossible to prosecute. (For details
>of this episode consult the International Justice Watch Discussion
>List archives at
>"Serbian hackers declare computer war on 'anti-Serb' websites",
>Friday, 23 Oct 1998.)
>After attacking the Albanian sites, the Serbian hackers moved
>against Croatia, where they attacked the largest Croatian daily
>English pages <>. Croatian hackers retaliated
>swiftly by tearing down the pages of Serbian National University
>Library (NSB). The cyber war was truly under way.
>                           * * *
>In the next issue: War in Kosovo, War in Cyberspace
>On the Record is a publication of The Advocacy Project
>for more information, contact: or
>visit our website at:
>On the Record may be reproduced in whole or in part:
>Please see the guidelines at
>To subscribe to this volume of On the Record, send an email to
> with only the words
>subscribe kosovo
>as the body of the message.
>(To unsubscribe, replace the word 'subscribe' with 'unsubscribe')
>Another OTR volume is currently active:
>Bosnia Diary: Returning with the Refugees
>(replace 'kosovo' with 'bosnia' in the directions above to

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