ON THE VIOLATION OF
HUMAN RIGHTS IN KOSOVA
September 23 , 1999
REPORT ON THE VIOLATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS DURING THE ARMED CONFLICT IN KOSOVA
Thanks to three months of hard work (in gathering
data) the consequences of the armed conflict in Kosova are becoming evident.
This work is done in very difficult circumstances (new cites of mass graves
are found, the identification of the killed is in process, there are serious
difficulties in the application of the 1244 resolution of the Security
Council of the UN). The data presented is not complete: the number of the
killed and mutilated, of the missing, raped, and of those who suffered
from different forms of discrimination increases day by day. The dimensions
of the crimes perpetrated in Kosova will remain unknown for a very long
time. A very long time and many efforts will be needed to collect evidence
on the widespread phenomenon of rapings. Those who went through these tragic
times have suffered traumas. There are indications that a very large number
of people will suffer from different kinds of mental diseases. The Council
for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) has gathered and systematized
all the cases identified until now. The sub-councils have carried the bulk
of this work. Thanks to their activities, we can learn on the consequences
of the armed conflict in Kosova, on the price of the fight of the Albanians
against the repression perpetrated by the Serbian regime.
The figures presented by the Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms show that:
- the consequences of the armed conflict are much higher and much graver than expected;
- the revolt of the Albanians against tyranny and discrimination and their fight for the defence of their human and national dignity resulted in a higher price than expected.
THE DIMENSIONS OF THE DESTRUCTION CAUSED IN THE FIELDS OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL LIFE
The Council for the Defence of Human Rights and
Freedoms considers that the armed conflict in Kosova was preceded by several
phases: the phase of discrimination; that of revolt and resistance
against the repression of the Serbian police and military forces; the phase
of the armed conflict which was accompanied by punitive measures and massacres;
the phase of the armed conflict which gained momentum between the end of
1998 and January 1999; and the outbreak of total war which intensified
after the involvement of the international community.
We shall focus on the situation of the human rights and freedoms during the period of the armed conflict in Kosova. In such a situation the individual as well as his nation, social, economic, cultural, scientific and religious institutions enjoy special rights and obligations. These rights and obligations are based on the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Children, unarmed civilians, pupils, students, teachers, hospitals, the medical staff and their patients, cultural, educational, scientific and religious institutions enjoy special rights. The Council believes that the Serbian police, military and paramilitary forces under the slogan of fighting Albanian terrorism, led a campaign against all the Albanians, regardless of their sex and age. In the period between January and March 24, 1999, 415 persons were killed, of whom 9 were Serbs and Montenegrins. The work of different educational, cultural and scientific institutions (cultivating the Albanian language, culture and customs) was banned. Many villages were destroyed, thousands of houses were burned and tens of thousands of people were deported from their homes.
During the most intensive phase of the armed conflict (March 24-June 10, 1999) 6538 persons were killed and mutilated, of whom 6189 were Albanians and 349 Serbs and Montenegrins. 395 mass graves were discovered. Many villages were burned and destroyed. According to data available to the Council, some 900 settlements were destroyed (partially or completely); some 200.000 houses, schools and other buildings were destroyed. Many quarters were destroyed, especially in Vushtrria, Mitrovica, Skenderaj, Peja, Decan, Gjakova, Suhareka, Rahovec, Klina, Kacanik, Hani i Elezit and Ferizaj. Some of these towns have changed completely (Peja, Gjakova and Vushtrria). Many houses, shops and factories were looted. The value of the looted goods is very high but we could not estimate it. Some 900.000 Albanians were deported from their homes. 4109 persons were reported missing. More than 2000 were imprisoned or taken hostage. Many towns and villages suffered severe changes. The demographic, economic and cultural identity of Kosova changed. During all this period, the brutal behavior of the Serbian police and military forces towards the Albanians became a widespread phenomenon.
Detentions, imprisonments and deportations became a common phenomenon. The Albanians felt insecure in their own country. On the other hand weapons were distributed to the Serbs. The Roma people were instrumentalized by the Serbian regime. Many were involved in the crimes against the Albanians, the others supported such crimes, whereas part of them did nothing to prevent what was happening in Kosova. Not a single case was registered of Serbs opposing the crimes perpetrated against the Albanians; such behavior caused anger and resulted in the hatred of the Albanians towards those who perpetrated these crimes. The high scale destruction shows the tendency for the extermination of the Albanians. The sufferings of those who survived turned into hatred towards the members of the Serbian and Roma minorities in Kosova. Due to such motives and due to the lack of state and civilian institutions; in conditions of extreme poverty; without any work and shelter, a number of Albanians cannot forget the past and seek revenge. Up to now, we have registered 349 cases of killings of Serbs (soldiers, policemen and civilians), of whom 23 elderly and 5 women. In the very same period 6189 Albanians were killed (717 women, 347 children, 882 elderly and 425 members of the KLA). Many Serbs and Montenegrins, especially those who participated and helped the crimes against the Albanians have fled Kosova. The number of the Serbs living in Kosova has been reduced to some 90.000. The Council condemns all acts of violence. The attacks on human lives, social, economical and cultural rights are unacceptable.
After the arrival of the NATO troops in Kosova and the withdrawal of those who committed the acts of repression against the Albanians, the Council has oriented its activities towards the defence of the rights of the minorities in Kosova. Their rights are being violated by frustrated individuals who have gone through tragic events in the past. Unfortunately, due to the lack of state institutions and especially due to the lack of electronic media our voice remained unheard. We use this opportunity to call upon all the influential factors in Kosova to engage in the protection of the human rights and freedoms of the minorities in Kosova in accordance to international standards.
The Council wants to attract the attention of the international community towards the brutal violations of the human rights and freedoms of the Albanians in Presheva, Bujanoc, Medvegja and Vranje (Serbia proper). The very same scenario which was applied in Kosova is being applied there. The Albanians are ill-treated, discriminated, killed and evicted from their homes and villages. 44 Albanian houses were burned in the region of Karadak near Presheva (by uniformed Serbs). 111 houses were demolished. Apart from the national rights, the religious rights of the Albanians are violated too. Yugoslav flags were hung on the mosques in Ternave, Leran and Ternove.
Electricity was cut to many Albanian villages. The phone lines were cut to the Albanian families in Bujanoc. Many factories were turned into military barracks. More than 8000 people were forced to leave and to seek shelter in Kosova or Macedonia. Apart from the pressure exerted by the Serbian police and military forces, these people were also subjected to pressure from the Serbs who fled Kosova.
The Council expresses its concern about the present situation and calls upon all the democratic forces in Serbia (dealing with the protection of human rights and freedoms) to raise their voice against the violation of the human rights and freedoms of the Albanians in these territories.
In a few months, the Council will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
Preparations are made to organize an international meeting (in which famous personalities and activists for the defence of human rights and freedoms will be invited to participate). One of the topics which would be discussed are human rights in the Balkans in the verge of the new millennium.
Prishtina, September 23, 1999
Chairman of the CDHRF
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KËSHILLI PËR MBROJTJEN E TË DREJTAVE DHE TË LIRIVE TË NJERIUT
COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
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