THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND SURVIVAL
AND SOME FACTS ON SCHOOLS
DAMAGED IN KOSOVA AS A RESULT OF WAR
THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN PRACTICE, ETHNIC CLEANSING
by SEVDIE AHMETI, Human Rights Director
Center for the Protection of Women and Children
Prishtine - Tue, 2 Mar 1999
SEVDIE AHMETI, Human Rights Director______________________________________________________________________________
Center for the Protection of Women and Children
THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND SURVIVAL AND SOME FACTS ON SCHOOLS DAMAGED IN KOSOVA AS A RESULT OF WAR
THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN PRACTICE, ETHNIC CLEANSING
On the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms to speak of basic human rights in Kosova is an absurdity. As a document of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration has not been signed by any state in the classical sense of the ratification of its principles. But, this Declaration, is taken into account as an international law and is a basis for the defense of human rights, from which subsequently resulted conventions which oblige the signatory states to respect it.
The discussion will focus directly on the violation of human rights in Kosova, therefore on the violation of the rights of Albanians as an entity at risk from a totally different entity. The violation of the rights of Albanians, even as of lately quite horrific, is not a novelty: Kosove has been overcome by an obvious apartheid, and Europe has never been able to solve the problem she created herself with Albanians. These days she is not even able to ensure peace, unable to undo the mess in regions where people are discriminated because of their origin from the hand of the occupator. It is without dilemma that KOSOVA is the largest prison where the most severe forms of apartheid are carried out, with inhuman acts directed by one group towards another group.
We will focus on these spheres of the violation of human rights of Albanians in KOSOVA: a. The right to life and survival, b. The model of killing as a means to massive displacement of Albanians and the destruction of the institution of protection and c. Schools were buildings which were to be purposely destroyed.
THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN PRACTICE
a. THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND SURVIVAL.
Human rights in Kosova are not taken into consideration at all. Every day, people are killed, massacred, tortured, arrested, convicted and terrified without any reason. The notion of life and survival are closely intertwined with one another.
The merciless and destructive war, in other words the Serb offensive against the Albanian people, displaced over 600 000 persons from their homes, meaning that one third of the population found themselves in a forceful displacement. These people were persecuted and because of the Serb offensive they had to abandon their homes. This actual number, based on the population at risk from war and from the regions engulfed in war, does not conform at all with the reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that continually insist on the number of 230 000 displaced persons. Such insistence, more than halving the number of persecuted and terrified persons, according to our opinion, has the sole intention of minimizing the problem of an humanitarian catastrophe which we are facing today. Even though people have now descended from the mountains down into the plains, the condition of their settling has changed very little. These people have remained without shelter, without a home and without a roof over their heads, therefore the problem of displaced or persecuted persons remains unsolved.
According to an assessment carried out in August and September of 1998, in cooperation with some Emergency councils and "Mother Tereza" activists, we have obtained results which alarmed the world. Among the displaced there were 63% children of 0 to 18 years old, 25% women and 12% men of various ages. With this we were able to prove that the population largely at risk were mainly children and women.
The humanitarian catastrophe is not just made up of the problem of displacement and shelter. The Serb offensive was concentrated on the destruction of everything that was Albanian. It burned down the food reserves accumulated in peoples homes. The catastrophe was spread by the facing of hunger amidst the population and many children, elderly persons and women, especially newborns died either from hunger or from lack of medical assistance. The international humanitarian organizations responded quickly in order to appease the impact of hunger by distributing basic food articles in places where there were people at risk. We would like to mention flour as a basic food article. In the assessment carried out by the World Food Program, and an assessment carried out independently by the Center for the Protection of Women and Children, during summer of 1998 every sixth family at risk received one bag of flour. When one knows the fact that one average Albanian family is made of 7 members we arrive at the result that on average 42 persons received 50 kgs. of flour; or each person received 2.200kgs. of flour. These data are a clear indication of the condition of the population at risk and it "entirely" justifies the attempt to minimize the number of displaced persons from war on which the United Nations continually insist. This is the humanitarian relief which arrives these days in our villages and which by far does not suffice.
b. THE MODEL OF KILLING AS A MEANS TO MASSIVE DISPLACEMENT OF ALBANIANS AND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE INSTITUTION OF PROTECTION
We will speak of the right to life. This is illustrated by the many killings and massacres, even of children who hadn't yet made their first steps in life. The war consequences will be felt long into the future. The main goal of the Serb aggression is the terrorization of the population, the loss of hope for well-being and the forceful displacement of the Albanian population.
AS the first example of a killing we will consider the case of the killing, more precisely, the execution of an innocent young man, who was also a displaced person. BASHKIM ABDULLAH KRASNIQI, 18 years old, was displaced from the village of Gllanaselle of the municipality of Gllogoc, who, because of the attack on his village, was temporarily sheltered in the village of Verbovc. According to the testimonies of witnesses, when the Serb forces attacked, they were wearing blue, black and green uniforms amongst whom were Romanians, Russians and Macedonians (identified by the witnesses from the languages they spoke) the villagers of Verbovc as well as the persons who had found shelter there all ran towards the place called Fusha e Molles. This boy was executed in front of a mass of people amidst who there were children of three years and less. Witnesses say that Bashkim was not armed but that the Serb forces placed a machine gun in his hands and a bullet belt around his neck. They paraded him among the people and cried out "We have captured a terrorist, this is a terrorist, here is how each terrorist will end up" and then they executed him. The narration of a three year-old child concerning Bashkim's case is very interesting. This child describes how they were told to "put up their hands" and then how he raised his arms, then shut his eyes and ears so as not to see and hear and in order to save himself he lay on the ground. This child has been traumatized and this trauma will be transmitted generation by generation.
The program of ethnic cleansing of Albanians and the racial discrimination is clearly illustrated by the case in the village of Ratishe e Poshtme in the municipality of Decan. Before the Serb offensive, this village had 570 inhabitants with 50 houses, out of them 45 houses were Albanian and the 5 others were Serb. After the offensive this village has no more Albanian houses because all were burned down whereas the 5 Serb villages remain unscathed as does the Orthodox church.
The Albanian family institution has for a very long time been a thorn in their side. The continual repression directed towards the population, police intervention in the late hours of the night or early morning when it was impossible to follow up the violence carried out against the families, have left the consequence of the feeling of worthlessness or the low self-esteem within the family, in the rapport of head of family-family member, wife-husband, father-child and mother-child. The father was beaten up in front of his children, in this way the institution of protection was destroyed; the mother was beaten up in front of the children and the husband and was attached to a pole or with her hands and legs tied up, here the goal was to introduce and plant the feeling of fear, guilt, low self-esteem and the lack of perspective.
The case of FLORIJE KAMAJ (34), mother of five who was subjected to a ferocious military-police violence, is very grave. Here we can see the case of the destruction of the family protection institution, where the father as the first protector, the head of the family, was powerless in protecting his own family. Florije Kamaj, a mother of five under aged children, from Strellc i Ulet of the municipality of Decan was executed in front of her children and husband. Elez, her husband, was maltreated, tied up and kept encircled before they debased his wife in a most miserable way, who was then executed. Another characteristic of this crime was that the only burned down house in Strellc i Ulet is the Kamajt house which testifies of the premeditation of this crime and so the house was burned down so as not to leave traces of the crime.
c. SCHOOLS WERE BUILDINGS WHICH WERE PURPOSELY DESTROYED.
The education of young generations is one of the priorities in Kosova. After the signing of many agreements on education, including the famous September 1, 1996, Albanian schools remained usurped, today they are destroyed and looted by the Serb military-police forces. In only two and a half months of the terrible Serb offensive, 160 school buildings in 50 municipalities, which were engulfed in war, were burned, shelled, destroyed and looted (please see the attached list). In the municipality of Skenderaj 13 schools were destroyed, in Suhareke 17, in Gjakove 18, in Gllogoc 14, in Obiliq 3, in Rahovec 14, in Kline 9, in Prizren 3, in Shtime 8, in Vushtrri 7, in Mitrovice 12, in Ferizaj 2, in Podujeve 1, in Malisheve 11, in Decan 21, and in Peje 6 school buildings.
The data collected by November 21 1998 show that the Serb army are still placed in eight schools, in the village of Zoqishte of Rahovec, Junik of Decan, in Ponoshec, Molliq, Sheremet and Demjan of Gjakove and in Kijeve. The schoolchildren of these places do not go to school, they are deprived of the right to education.
Reka e Keqe of the Dukagjin Plain has been forcibly emptied of its inhabitants, by war and by the impressive presence of the Serb forces. The goal of enlarging the border by five kilometers, which is now penetrated by ten kilometers, is the physical separation of the Albanians from the two sides of the border. This area is mined and less than 15% of the inhabitants have returned to their burned, destroyed, shelled and looted homes. Only 50 meters away from the road sign noting Shishman, in the direction of Batushe, on the side of the road a mine was placed, which can have serious consequences (Attention: after the second visit on 22.12.1998 the mine was removed from this place, this was a fast reaction of the Serb military forces after the appearance of the article in KOSOVE Sot of 13.12.1998). The primary schools in Gramacel and in Carrabreg of Decan are mined all around them.
The Albanian "Oda" are a symbol of Albanian tradition and culture. These were our centuries-old schools. Our oda were places where history was learned of and where it was history was sung of. The Albanian Oda were our first schools, which in the Plain of Dukagjin were not unintentionally destroyed. There are cases when they were soiled with feaces and in this way they were trying to debase our tradition and our culture.
THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND SURVIVAL AND SOME FACTS ON SCHOOLS DAMAGED IN KOSOVE AS A RESULT OF WAR
This discussion concerns the right to life and survival while focusing particularly on the problem of the Albanian schools, which were intentionally destroyed by the Serb forces and whose number today amounts to 160 school buildings which were burned, shelled, demolished and looted (data collected by November 1998). The occupation of Albanian schools by the Serb police and military forces is a problem on its own. The children of the Plain of Dukagjin are deprived of their right to education which is in discord with the Convention of Childrens' Rights.
Today the Albanians of Kosove fight only for the right to life and survival. The Serb offensive destroyed entire villages and displaced over 600 000 persons from their homes. Because of this humanitarian catastrophe the population groups at risk were 63% children, 25% women and 12% of men of various age groups. Humanitarian aid is not sufficient. This aid doesn't even fulfill the basic needs of the population at risk. During summer of 1998 flour, as a basic life article, was distributed in the quantity of one bag of flour for every sixth family (the average Albanian family is made up of 7 members).
The goal of the Serb offensive was the ethnic cleansing of Albanian land. As a means to achieve this end the Serb police and army used terror, the feeling of the loss of hope and perspective, massive burning down of houses, burning down of food reserves for people and farm animals, the execution of innocent persons, the execution of civilians including children and women.
Seite erstellt am 3.3.1999
Dillinger Straße 41...
Telefon 08272 - 98974
Fax 08272 - 98975....