Skip to comments.‘Missing’: The real question is: why? (Kosovo non-Albanian missing)
Posted on 11/13/2006 7:06:50 AM PST by joan
Are the cases of missing persons in Kosovo science fiction or consciously closed files?
Unexpectedly for many Kosovo crisis observers, proliferation of terrorism and violence resulted with huge number of cases of missing and kidnapped civilians, mostly non-Albanians (especially Serbs): in the summer of 1998, spring 1999 and during 2000. Actually, last reported kidnappings occurred in 2004. Although such acts of terror were well known to local population and local authorities, eccentric doubts could be summarized with only one question: If victims were held in hidden prisons and if after some time they were executed, where are the bodies?
Searches, investigations, intelligence and identifications took more then 6 years for many international and local authorities who worked on missing persons cases, but still there are many unanswered questions concerning the fate of missing. There are still discrepancies between the figures: number of reported missing persons cases doesnt match with number of recovered and identified NN bodies in Kosovo. This is the factual condition regardless on the missing persons nationalities, but utmost divergence is with so called non-Albanian cases. The real question is: why?
Recently published story concerning the fate of two Serbian missing soldiers in Kosovo, who were secretly and illegally held in US Army prison in Germany, brought the missing persons issue to the scope of public again. Sadly, this problem was almost forgotten.
Speaking about treatment and approach to this issue by the local and international authorities, we may see that missing persons issue was politically hindered. It is not so surprising if this concerns some foreign policies and institutions, but it is odd when this comes to local authorities, especially for some in Serbia proper.
At the very beginning, families of missing persons and other people offered lot of information that indicated existence of civil, foreign military and local illegal detentions region wide: in Republic Albania, FRY Macedonia, Federation B&H but in Europe too. Such information were treated as unreliable and were never seriously checked which was intentional informational handling whose aim was to prevent from any professional investigations. Somebodys plan was to leave aside known and unknown prisons in Kosovo (and region-wide) from police inquiries.
Constant obstacles and underestimations stroke any serious attempt to look after some missing people at designated places. Simply, real searches and operations were impossible. Even in several exceptions, there were no enough courage and will of certain individuals who rather looked into their careers, profit and local politicians then the professional and human values of their duty. It seemed that human lives dont worth much in the Kosovos gloomy ghetto.
In 2000 some people who were reported missing in 1999, managed to escape illegal prison in Tropoja (small town nearby Serbian and Albanian border). The "case" was managed in deep silence by KFOR. The same happened with some missing persons who were kidnapped in 2000 and managed to escape illegal detention center that was located in northern-east Kosovo in 2001. Again, the case was the mystery. In addition, we could recall many cases from 1998 and at least 10 KLAs illegal detentions that re-operated after international forces arrival to Kosovo, such as in Jablanica, Musutiste, Drenovac, Pakastica, Junik, Milosevo, Kacanik, Stimlje and many other places throughout Kosovo. Lack of real operational cooperation and activities between Serbian and international security forces resulted in minor results concerning recovery of dead, but not alive victims of kidnappings although there were a number of possibilities to find somebody alive. However, this never happened. If any person would manage to survive illegal detention, that was because of his/her escape or release by kidnappers it never happened that international police, KFOR, ICRC, local police or local authorities succeeded to find and release kidnapped and missing people. Bearing this in mind, we can only think about how is this possible? Are the all "professionals" indeed incapable or they are somehow prevented from doing their job?
Families of missing are well introduced with this situation and they have reasonable doubts to trust no one. More specific situation gain more suffer and efforts for the families of missing soldiers, volunteers and policemans, who are confronted with more bureaucracy, rules, roughness of systems and opinionated international and local players. Comparing to other cases, local military and police systems were not provided with prompt equipment, budget and human resources to deal with these cases at the right way. Especially military representatives were played down by own political establishment and international authorities on the other side. Each attempt to use official intelligence channels, Interpol, European high-levels of ICRC and designated contacts in other countries simply have failed. Sometimes there was no will to initiate such scope of work, but sometimes such attempts were stopped. In several cases operations to raid suspected facilities were intentionally prolonged once in took almost 30 days, which was too late even for the traces. Under regular circumstances, raids would be done immediately.
Finally, according to some recent experience we shouldnt be in shock if in the future there will be more cases of missing persons sudden appearance. Regretfully, we might hope for only small number of "lucky" individuals who somehow managed to survive years of torture and secret imprisonment or there will be no more survivors to witness horrible and inhumane scenes. But the most horrifying and bizarre is the fact that all of that would never happened if the authorities of all sides involved did their job responsibly, professionally, humanly, fairly, incalculable and fearlessly.
just one more example............
Some of the camps were restarted (the ones I guess which were interrupted by the Serbian police/military, bombing, or movement of the KLA) after KFOR gained control.
None of the internationals rescued a single kidnapped victim. Only those who escaped or the KLA decided to release itself.
Although the German KFOR did interrupt, in June 1999, the KLA beating several Roma (gypsies) at a police station the KLA had just taken over. But I guess these people were freshly kidnapped and weren't reported as missing, and that the Germans weren't seeking them but came upon them and were surprised by the scene of people handcuffed to radiators and an old man recently dead in a chair.
what people don't realize that while this was a Clinton legacy, Clinton was just an errand boy. He has been groomed by the "powers that be" to take the US and NATO to enter the Balkans in the Early 90's. The entrance by provocation, exaggerations, and fabrications were in the planning stages long before.
Some folks even still believe that Clinton entered Bosnia due for the purpose of taking sights off of him and placing the Serbs etc.......et al. However, it is Clinton's legacy no matter when it was drummed up.
I realize that it was all planned, and the general foreign policy is the same regardless of the change of presidents. There might be a different style and window dressing type of differences for instance one president might gloat and talk a lot about it (Clinton) while another is rather quiet on what happens (Bush), but the same anti-Serb pro-non-Serb separatist agenda goes on the same.
You can find Bob Dole in 1986, before Milosevic and the curbing of Kosovo's autonomy (enacted due to Albanian violent and separatist behavior in the early-mid 1980's and before), using language that is a subdued precursor to the war language later used to attack and bomb Serbia.
Things were being planned, though the time was not ripe, it was down the road a decade or so.
In June 1986, more than four years before the suspension of Kosovo's Albanian-Muslim dominated autonomous government, Senator Robert ("Bob") Dole of Kansas was the Republican Majority leader in the US Senate. On June 18th of that year, he submitted the inflammatory Concurrent Resolution #150, the complete text of which is reprinted below (Exhibit #1), along with Senator Dole's introductory speech. Joseph DioGuardi, a conservative Republican of Albanian ancestry from New York's metropolitan area, sponsored a companion Resolution in the House of Representatives, ("concurrent" means a resolution is deliberately submitted in both houses) to be found elsewhere in the same volume of the Congressional Record for June 18, 1986.
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD-SENATE; June 18, 1986
Page 14439 (Vol. 132 Part 10, June 11-19, 1986)
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 150 - EXPRESSING CONCERN OVER THE CONDITION OF ETHNIC ALBANIANS LIVING IN YUGOSLAVIA
Mr. DOLE submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:
Whereas there are more than two million ethnic Albanians living within the borders of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
Whereas the ethnic Albanians constitute one of the largest ethnic groups within Yugoslavia;
Whereas there are reports that several hundred ethnic Albanians have been killed in communal violence and the Government's efforts to control it
Whereas there is evidence that several thousand more have been arrested by the Yugoslavian Government for expressing their views in a non-violent manner;
Whereas most political prisoners within Yugoslavia are ethnic Albanians;
Whereas many of those arrested have been sentenced to harsh terms of imprisonment ranging from one to fifteen years;
Whereas many ethnic Albanians have been denied access to full economic opportunity because of alleged "Albanian nationalist" activities;
Whereas Amnesty International, a respected international human rights organization, has published allegations of torture and assassination of ethnic Albanians in exile by the Yugoslav secret police;
Whereas the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a signatory to the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe [CSCE, now OSCE], known as the Helsinki Final Act;
Whereas one of the provisions of the Act states that "the participating States on whose territory national minorities exist will respect the rights of persons belonging to such minorities to equality before the law, will afford them full opportunity for the actual enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms and will, in this manner, protect the legitimate interests in this sphere;"
Whereas the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has failed to protect fully the rights of ethnic Albanians, in accordance with its obligation under the Act;
Resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives Concurring, That Congress:
1. is deeply concerned over the political and economic conditions of ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia and over the failure of the Yugoslav Government to fully protect their political and economic rights;
2. urges the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to act so as to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms as expressed in the Helsinki Final Act and the Concluding Document of the Madrid CSCE Follow-Up Meeting are respected in regard to persons from all national and ethnic groups in Yugoslavia;
3. calls upon the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to review in a humanitarian spirit the cases of all ethnic Albanians currently imprisoned on political charges and to release all of those who have not used or advocated violence;
4. requests the President of the United States to direct the Department of State to convey the contents of this Resolution to the appropriate representatives of the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, I rise today to submit a concurrent resolution expressing the concern of the Congress about the conditions of ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia. Congressman DIO GUARDI of New York has introduced a similar resolution in the House, and I am pleased to be working with him to focus attention on this important matter.
Mr. President, there are approximately two million ethnic Albanians living in Yugoslavia, making them the third largest ethnic group in that country. They have extensive ties of ancestry and common culture with the growing ethnic-Albanian community in the United States.
Regrettably, the Yugoslav Government has not granted to the Albanian community the full protection of their political and economic rights. While many ethnic groups in Yugoslavia have suffered at the hands of the government, the Albanian community has been singled out for particularly harsh treatment.
Under the guise of responding to the greatly exaggerated threat that ethnic Albanians might try to assert political independence from Yugoslavia, the government in Belgrade has arrested thousands of Albanians, hundreds this year alone, often for doing no more than peacefully expressing their commitment to the preservation of Albanian culture. In fact, the Helsinki Commission and other knowledgeable, independent observers have reported that more than one-half of all political prisoners in Yugoslavia are Albanian.
And when arrested these ethnic Albanians face the harshest kind of penalties. Prison sentences of from 1 to 15 years are common for offenses that may be no more than holding up a placard at a public gathering pledging to uphold elements of Albanian culture.
Many Albanians have also been fired, or denied access to particular jobs, because in some way they have expressed their Albanian heritage or manifest some element of Albanian culture. A number of university professors, for example, have been fired solely for teaching courses on Albanian history or culture.
Finally, and most disturbing of all, hundreds of ethnic Albanians have died in recent years as a result of communal strife and the government's often violent efforts to put down communal unrest. These dead have become martyrs within the ethnic Albanian community. Even admitting that the government's actions in all cases were not unprovoked, the strong evidence is that the government has vastly overreacted, as part of a conscious campaign to stamp out even any sign of Albanian ethnocentrism or any inclination for ethnic Albanians to develop a stronger political self-identification.
Mr. President, as I noted, the Albanian populations [sic!] is not the only group that suffers. But it appears that it may well be the group that suffers the most.
For that reason, I believe we have a responsibility to express our deep concern about the plight of these suffering people, in the hope that the influence we can bring to bear will encourage the Yugoslav Government to meet its solemn commitments under the Helsinki Accords to grant ethnic Albanians --and all other ethnic groups in Yugoslavia-- their full rights and freedoms.
Mr. President, I send the concurrent resolution to the desk and ask for its appropriate referral.
And the irony of that is here:
The New York Times; April 28, 1986, Monday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section A; Page 13, Column 1; Foreign Desk
14. IN ONE YUGOSLAV PROVINCE, SERBS FEAR THE ETHNIC ALBANIANS
By HENRY KAMM, Special to the New York Times
DATELINE: PRISTINA, Yugoslavia
The ethnic Albanian majority in the autonomous province of Kosovo is feared by the minority population of Serbs and Montenegrins, who believe the Albanians are seeking to drive them out of the province. A 1981 fire that gutted the medieval nunnery of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate in Pec, a center of Serbian national feeling, has been officially ascribed to bad construction.
An aged nun at the Patriarchate said she and her sisters were convinced that the fire had been set to chase them from Kosovo. But she said the nuns would never leave, and three Serbian or Montenegrin visitors agreed with her. The provincial leadership, dominated by ethnic Albanians, has said it believes that a Serb grossly mutilated last May by a broken bottle inflicted his injuries himself while performing an auto-erotic act. The maiming of Djordje Martinovic, a 56-year-old farmer and father of three, has become the most widely discussed Yugoslav criminal case in years, debated in Parliament and covered in full detail by television and the press.
Yugoslavs Blame the Albanians
The case remains unsolved, but Yugoslavs' minds seem mainly made up on both incidents. They blame ethnic Albanians. They also blame them for continuing assaults, rapes and vandalism. They believe their aim is to drive non-Albanians out of Kosovo.
''A legitimized genocide against the Serbian people is being carried out in Kosovo,'' said Dobrica Cosic, a dissident novelist published here and in the United States, in an interview in Belgrade. ''More than 200,000 Serbs have been forced to leave their home in the last 10, 20 years.'' A steady exodus continues.
Since Albanian nationalists went on a rampage in 1981, leaving at least nine people dead, the level of violence has declined. But enough agitation continues, punctuated by acts of violence, to make a burning issue of the antagonism between the 1.4 million ethnic Albanians and the little more than 200,000 Serbs.
Under the federal Constitution, Kosovo is part of the Serbian Republic. In effect, it is as self-governing as the six republics of the nation. It is also the poorest region of Yugoslavia. Men in their 20's line the main street of Pristina - a stretch of grandiose modern buildings that separates near-slums on either side - offering to shine the shoes of passers-by who can hardly afford such luxury. Begging children accost diners in restaurants.
Use of Funds Criticized
The overambitious buildings, such as a recent, prematurely rundown, 300-room hotel with 3 restaurants in a little-visited town of 100,000, sustain criticism of the provincial leadership a a misuse of federal development funds. To many, the aid represents a futile effort to solve an intractable problem through financial bounty.
Mohammed Mustafa, director of the Provincial Economic Planning Instititute, said there were 115,000 registered unemployed out of a potential work force of 804,000. The economic growth rate has been 1.5 percent a year since 1980, while the population is growing at 2.5 percent, he said. The average wage is 20 percent below the national average.
''Kosovo is Yugoslavia's single greatest problem,'' said a Western diplomat. ''They can pay off their huge debt, but Kosovo defies solution.'' Serbs and Montenegrins feel beleaguered. Communists and non-Communists express distrust of the provincial leadership and chagrin over the federal and Serbian authorities who in their opinion do nothing to halt increasing Albanian domination over a multi-national population and lands that are historically inseparable from Serbian national identity.
Non-Albanian Yugoslav residents and visitors characterize the atmosphere of Kosovo as frighteningly restrictive and its Communist leadership as so dogmatic as to resemble the rigorously Stalinist regime that holds power in nearby Albania.
In contrast to officials elsewhere in Yugoslavia, who readily acknowledge problems and errors and de-emphasize ideology in favor of pragmatism, a leading Kosovo official, Ekrem Arifi, offered an entirely ideological explanation of Kosovo's problems.
In prepared statements that took the place of replies to questions, he blamed outside forces for all difficulties -agents of Albania and emigres in the West. Mr. Arifi, executive secretary of the provincial party, spoke in Albanian and in stock phrases long out of use in Yugoslavia, such as ''proletarian internationalism,'' ''the class enemy'' or ''the solidarity of the working class.''
They are not echoed by the non-Albanian population. Asked whether the nuns felt safe in their rebuilt convent, the old nun replied, ''Yes, with God's help.''
Copyright 1986 The New York Times Company
* * * *
Reuters; May 27, 1986, Tuesday, BC cycle
SECTION: International News
15. KOSOVO PROVINCE REVIVES YUGOSLAVIA'S ETHNIC NIGHTMARE
By Peter Humphrey
DATELINE: PRISTINA, Yugoslavia
Ethnic conflicts are boiling again in Yugoslavia's wayward Kosovo Province, reviving nightmares that the country's federation may split at the seams. In recent months serious nationalist tension has resurfaced between Kosovo's 1.7 million majority of ethnic Albanians and the region's minority of 200,000 Serbs and Montenegrins.
Authorities have smashed a plethora of separatist groups, and scores of Albanians have been jailed for activities allegedly aimed at bringing about Kosovo's secession from Yugoslavia.
The subject has filled the Belgrade press and dominated public debate, with fears expressed that the tensions could lead to a repeat of the kind of fierce nationalist riots which broke out here in 1981. Troops were then put on the streets and martial law was clamped on Kosovo.
Over 1,000 people have been convicted here since 1981 on charges of activities aimed at illegally changing Kosovo's status in the Yugoslav constitution, according to police figures.
Western diplomats are watching the troubled region, along the sensitive border with Albania, with great interest. "It's Yugoslavia's 'Northern Ireland' -- a powder keg," one diplomat said, "and they're struggling to keep the lid on."
He echoed a view aired in official circles that Kosovo is Yugoslavia's single most pressing problem and will be one of the thorniest issues for the Communist Party Congress in June.
Some of the secessionist groups recently uncovered here were hoarding guns and explosives, official reports said. Yugoslav officials have blamed Albanian and overseas emigres for funding such groups in the region, where ethnic Albanians outnumber the other nationalities eight to one.
Tensions rose to a peak this year over alleged Albanian harassment of Serbs and Montenegrins, who sent petitions to Belgrade or flocked there to protest and seek official help. Protesters said Albanians were trying to create a pure Albanian Kosovo by driving others from their homes and land. Belgrade, anxious to hold the fragile balance of races making up
Yugoslavia's hodge-podge federation of six republics and two autonomous provinces, has played down the conflict.
It urged restraint among both Serbs and Albanians, warning that Serb militancy could solve Kosovo's problems no more than Albanian militancy could.
Last month, at Kosovo Polje, near Pristina, it was Serb nationalism that almost sparked the prairie fire, when Kosta Bulatovic, a popular Serb leader, was arrested on "hostile propaganda" charges after organizing petitions.
Some 6,000 Serbs flocked to protest at Bulatovic's home and Belgrade had to fly down Serbian Communist Party leader Ivan Stambolic to defuse the tense confrontation with local police.
"If one Albanian policeman had opened fire on those Serbs, it would have been 1981 all over again," a Yugoslav said here.
Thousands more Serbs, meanwhile, organized protest trips to Belgrade and poured out their complaints to the authorities.
An official inquiry later found their grievances justified and a purge of the Kosovo judiciary and police was ordered.
It was found that local security and justice bodies had let Albanian offenses against Serbs go unchecked, including rape, assault, arson, intimidation and property offenses.
At ground level here it is hard to get to the truth. Both Serb and Albanian citizens told Reuters of similar charges against each other. The other side, each group said, was taking land and jobs.
Albanians said Serbs took the best farmland and got all the plum jobs. The region has around 50 per cent unemployment and a poll of local residents showed it was mainly Albanians who were out of work, while unemployment was rare among Serbs.
Belgrade argues it has in recent years poured funding amounting to millions of dollars into the region, Yugoslavia's poorest, to subsidize development and raise living standards.
As a result, Pristina is one of Yugoslavia's most impressive cities, with mosque minarrettes blending in among modern skyscrapers.
A few years ago, Albanians out for an evening stroll would stay on one side of the street and Serbs on the other, a tense line of animosity dividing them. Today it is in the cafes.
"Serbs don't drink in Albanian cafes and we keep away from theirs," said one Albanian. "We want a republic," said his unemployed friend, sipping Turkish tea with a group of colleagues.
It is Belgrade's great nightmare because federal authorities fear that if Kosovo wins republic status, it will break away.
Kosovo is a heartland of the Serbs who originally populated it but many moved north after Ottoman onslaughts in the 14th century, leaving a vacuum filled by Turks and Albanians.
It became part of Serbia in 1945 and won autonomous status after widespread rioting in 1968.
"We know they will drive us out completely if they get their republic," said a middle-aged Serb whose ancestors have lived for centuries at Kosovo Polje, the site of the landmark 1389 battle when the Serbs were defeated by the Turks.
The Serbs' present battle seems faced with defeat also -- in the long term. The Albanian population is multiplying rapidly, while several thousand Serbs quit the province each year.
"It's just a question of time," said one Albanian. "It's dangerous to talk about this. But we will get a republic."
In July 1999, US Marines were in Gnjilane. There was an incident where Albanians were shooting at Serbs in their homes..in the downtown area, "I believe" was the location. anyway one or two of the Albanians made a fatal error, he started shooting or pointed his rifle at the Marine Patrol....needless to say, they lit his donkey up......
I believe the marine then, a year later in Germany, read about the trial in the newspapers and spoke to the press that it was he who killed the Albanian, not the Serbs, and that he told this during the briefing and investigation of the incident. Yet, the Serbs were held in a shed and orange jumpshoots for a year. And all the time the Albanians kept blaming the Serbs, but when the U.S. marine admitted it, they shut up, the liars.
"jumpshoots" should be jumpsuits
The U.S. kept the information from the trial for a year. It doesn't say here, but it was the soldier who shot the Albanian himself who spoke up. At that point it became too obvious and known that the Serbs were innocent. So the U.S. couldn't keep the innocent Serbs locked up, as it wanted to and did do. Locking up innocent Serbs and letting Muslims rule the land and murder non-Muslims is part of the U.S. Balkans mission.
US troops blamed for Kosovo killing
New evidence presented to a court in Kosovo indicates that an ethnic Albanian war hero was killed last year by US soldiers, and not three Serbs who have spent a year in prison accused of the murder.
The new information was contained in a 130-page report submitted by the US authorities to the international court trying three members of a Serb family accused of killing Afrim Gagica on 10 July last year.
The presiding judge said the report revealed that US troops killed two armed ethnic Albanians in a shoot-out that day, instead of one as previously acknowledged.
Official sources close to the case said the Americans had now confirmed that the second person killed was Afrim Gagica.
Correspondents say it is unclear why the Americans did not supply the information earlier.
"These are obviously new elements and we have to discuss them," said the French presiding judge, Patrice de Charette.
The incident happened in the town of Gnjilane in south-eastern Kosovo, just a few weeks after Nato-led K-For peacekeeping troops moved into the province.
The Momcilovic family, who ran a car repair business in Gnjilane, say Mr Gagica and several other armed ethnic Albanians came to attack them in their home.
They told the court that Mr Gagica and the others had ordered them to come out into the street, and that when they refused a gun battle erupted.
US peacekeepers stationed nearby then intervened, they said.
Miroljub Momcilovic and his sons Jugoslav and Boban were arrested immediately after the shoot-out.
The court saw evidence from security cameras on Friday which the defence says supports the Serbs' case.
The judge said the court would discuss the new evidence when the trial resumes on Monday.
The US military said it had reopened the investigation after receiving an inquiry from the media, and had passed on the findings to the court.
Amnesty International warned in April that the trial - which began with a panel of ethnic Albanian judges who refused to admit the video evidence - risked being a serious miscarriage of justice.
The US military submission includes testimony from 35 US servicemen on duty in Gnjilane on the night of the shooting.
Yes, I believe so...do you have the link handy?
Sorry, jumped too fast, i see that you answered my post.
"Locking up innocent Serbs and letting Muslims rule the land and murder non-Muslims is part of the U.S. Balkans mission."
Absolutely correct , Joan.
From retrieving surrounded ( and about to be liquidated ) mujahideen in Macdenoia in 2001 to arming the Islamists in Bosnia. In Bihac, for example, U.S. fighters were escorting cargo planes from Iran, who were resupplying Mujahideen in the enclave.
Many senior U.S. politicians speak openly of giving the Balkans to the Islamists in order to win some brownie points on Arab street. I'll find the quotes.
It's beyond pitiful.