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Kosovo Report: August 4, 1999

4 August 1999, Number 14, Volume 1

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CRITICIZES INSUFFICIENT PROTECTION FOR SERBS AND ROMA. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch has published an 80-page report about the situation in Kosovo, in which it criticizes KFOR for insufficient efforts to stop the killing and expulsions of Serbs and Roma in Kosovo. Human Rights Watch based its report on interviews with victims and witnesses.

The organization quotes UNHCR officials as saying that over 164,000 Serbs have left Kosovo over the last five weeks. These sources added that the Serbs remaining in Kosovo are staying in Serbian enclaves protected by KFOR. The forms of mistreatment of the Serbian and Roma minorities include destruction of property, beatings, kidnappings, and killings. Most of these crimes were committed by people dressed in UCK uniforms, but the Human Rights Watch activists also said that they do not know for sure whether this is part of a campaign organized by the UCK, or whether these are isolated and individual cases.

Most of these incidents are related to revenge for the ethnic cleansing of Albanians from Kosovo earlier. Many Serbs and Roma told Human Rights Watch that individual Albanians told them to leave Kosovo. Human Rights Watch concluded that neither the UN nor KFOR reacted in an adequate manner to cases of mistreatment of Serbs and Roma. The organization adds that one of the main reasons for the lack of UN intervention is the absence of a police force and judicial institutions that can handle the problem. There is also confusion over the validity of laws. Human Rights Watch urged the international community to accelerate the deployment of an international police force in Kosovo and to increase patrols in critical areas.

As of 3 August, 350 international police personnel have arrived in Kosovo, according to UNMIK spokeswoman Nadia Younes. She added that that new police personnel will arrive soon, including 135 Americans, 71 Russians, and 35 Canadians. International agencies reported that UNMIK intends to eventually deploy 3,000 international and 3,000 local policemen in Kosovo.

VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN KOSOVO. Two Serbs were killed in Kosovo on 2 and another two on 3 August, according to KFOR officials. On 2 August, four people believed to be Albanians took a Serbian couple hostage and killed the husband. In another case, an elderly Serb was killed. KFOR subsequently arrested five ethnic Albanian suspects. In Mitrovica, KFOR arrested 15 Serbs, who had tried to hinder ethnic Albanians from returning to their homes in the northern part of the town. The soldiers confiscated one Kalashnikov machine gun and a grenade thrower. French KFOR soldiers also arrested the Serbian paramilitary Dragan Jovanovic. Jovanovic is suspected of having committed crimes against the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo between March and June of this year. Jovanovic is the second Serbian paramilitary arrested in Mitrovica by French soldiers. One week ago, KFOR arrested Dragan Marjanovic, who is suspected of having killed ethnic Albanians, and burned and looted their homes.

KOUCHNER CALLS FOR MULTI-ETHNIC ADMINISTRATION. UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner said in Prishtina on 3 August that the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is making serious efforts to install a civilian government in Kosovo that will be open for all ethnic groups. He told the daily "Kosova Sot" that UNMIK is there to organize elections to the parliament and government of Kosovo and stressed that -- in the name of humanity -- the rights of the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo must be protected. Kouchner also stressed that the parallel existence of two governments -- that of Hashim Thaci of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), and that of Bujar Bukoshi of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) -- can cause problems in the establishment of a civilian government.

TRIBUNAL PROSECUTOR CAUTIONS OVER CASUALTY STATISTICS. Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Graham Blewitt declared on 3 August that the Tribunal did not give Bernard Kouchner a figure of 11,000 ethnic Albanian bodies suspected in mass graves in Kosovo. He added that the Tribunal only estimated that the number of victims is in the thousands rather than in the hundreds. Kouchner earlier said that unspecified tribunal officials gave him that higher estimate.

U.S. OFFICIALS PLEDGE $50 MILLION FOR UNHCR. U.S. officials in Washington have pledged $50 million in assistance to the UNHCR for humanitarian aid to Kosovo and neighboring countries affected by the Kosovo crisis. Ten million of that amount will be dedicated to aid for women. The U.S. will give a total of $500 million in humanitarian aid to Kosovo.

KOSOVO TRADE UNIONS RESUME WORK. At a press conference in Prishtina, Harullah Gorani, chairman of the independent trade unions, talked about the role of ethnic Albanian workers in the recent conflicts and about the new platform of the trade unions under the new conditions created in Kosovo. He said that particularly the return of Albanian workers to their workplaces is high on the unions' agenda. He also said that the trade unions will work to set up an information network. During the press conference, union officials also read out a message from trade union activists in Bujanovac, in southern Serbia, who said that local Albanian workers there are exposed to severe discrimination by the Serbian authorities. The statement added that an ethnic cleansing campaign is currently underway in three Albanian-majority communities inside Serbia proper, which includes massive layoffs of ethnic Albanian workers.

MAJKO TO VISIT KOSOVO. Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko will visit Kosovo this week, according to Reuters. Majko will be the first Albanian Prime Minister to visit Kosovo. In Prishtina, he will meet with Albanian leaders, UNMIK chief Bernard Kouchner, and KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson.

SERBIAN POLICE BRINGS VILLAGERS TO COURT. The Vojvodina Coalition, which on 2 August organized a blockade by farmers of the road between Belgrade and Srenjanin, announced on 3 August that the police threatened to take legal action against participants in the blockade. The Vojvodina Coalition said that most of those charged are farmers who told RFE/RL that Federal Agriculture Minister Nedeljko Sipovac is incompetent.

Meanwhile, protests continued in Serbia, calling for the resignation of Milosevic. Even Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic participated in 2 August's demonstration in Valjevo organized by the Alliance for Change. He said that Milosevic has no more place in Kosovo and that his place is in The Hague. Artemije recalled last year's massacres in Drenica during the demonstration: "Kosovo was not lost on 12 June with the signing of the Kumanovo agreement. Kosovo was also not lost on 24 March, when NATO's bombing campaign started. Kosovo was lost on 28 February of last year, when Milosevic began to solve the Kosovo problem by force. That is when Kosovo was lost."

Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic confirmed that his party will join an opposition demonstration organized by the forum of independent economists, also known as the G-17 for 19 August. Earlier, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic also confirmed his participation in the gathering. It is the first demonstration in which both of the leaders of the two largest opposition parties will take part jointly.

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS CALL FOR COOPERATION WITH DEMOCRATS. The Socialist Party's Foreign Relations Secretary Arta Dade said at a press conference on 3 August that the party seeks to cooperate with its rival the Democratic Party in democratizing the country, increasing regional security, and promoting economic development in all countries in the region. Democratic Party deputy leader Genc Pollo reacted to the invitation by the Socialists by recalling the Democrats' earlier efforts and proposals to cooperate, in particular the proposal of concluding a "public order pact."