Vine & Fig Tree opposes military intervention in Kosovo. Our reasons for opposing military intervention predate the Kosovo crisis, and are found here.
Clinton Does to Belgrade What He Did to
The Times (London): Kosovo Liberation Army as Drug Dealers
Report in Chronicles
Diving Into the Kosovo Quagmire
LFB: Leviathan at War
LFB: War and the Rise of the State
Duncan & Porter House of Hospitality and Resistance
95 Theses Against the New World Order
Theonomic Defense of Pacifism
Subj: Kosovo - part 1 Date: 3/24/99 5:42:39 PM Pacific Standard Time From: email@example.com (vincent scotti eirene) To: firstname.lastname@example.org (PEACEMAIL.....D-LIST) friends, print this out, forward it...the best yet peace, vincent p.s. revolution is the opiate of the intellectuals duncan and porter house of hospitality and resistance snail/mail: post office box 99332 pgh., pa. 15233 toll free: 1-888-NOTOWAR fax: 1-412-231-1114 vox: 231-2766 pager: 590-2212 URL: http://www.notowar.com From: Rebecca Reid email@example.com
I am mad. Where was the IAC when the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo needed help? This situation has been going on for a long time now and no-one to my knowledge was out on the streets to defend the ethnic Albanian men, women and children who have been massacred by the Serbs over recent months. Is it so unfair to compare Molosevic and his supporters to Adolf Hitler? While I abhor the idea of bombing anywhere, I don't think that the Kosovo situation can be compared to Iraq and you should be careful before jumping in to support Molosevic & co. If you're going to protest any bombing then you must distance yourselves from the Serbs and offer a solution for protecting the Albanians and preventing any further atrocities.
Here, as food for thought, are extracts (in fact, most of the report) from a document
drawn up by Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) and sent to Koffi Annan and the
international press. I had to translate it for them more or less overnight so the English
is probably less than perfect. Again, this is a non-affiliated humanitarian organization,
definitely not pro-American, definitely not pro-military, and if they drew up this special
report for Annan, it means they were really upset with what is going on over there.
Sorry it's so long, but I think it's worth looking at both sides of the story.
I. Current situation: deterioration in living conditions.
II. A very precarious health situation.
III. Permanent threats and terror
IV. Working conditions for humanitarian aid: increasing attempts to block it.
88 villages in the four municipalities in which Médecins du Monde is working (Malisevo, Suva Reka, Orahovac, Glogovac) were selected for the purposes of this report. The questions focus on a period running from February 1998 (date of the first offensives) to January 1999. The information is updated each time we visit the villages (every two weeks). In certain cases, it is passed on to organizations that can provide protection for people who have been victims of individual coercion. Testimonies are also collected from patients during consultations.
The municipalities of Orahovac, Suva Reka, Glogovac and Malisevo are located in the center of Kosovo in a mountainous region. The villages are isolated and very difficult to access in winter; there is constant pressure from the police and the military. In addition to the physical and psychological isolation, living conditions have deteriorated enormously.
The villages, almost all of which have been evacuated at least once (83 villages evacuated out of the 88 taken into account in the report between February 1998 and January 1999), have been looted by the Serbian forces and a large number of houses have been destroyed by heavy artillery or burned down with flame-throwers. Many families are living together in the same house. Sometimes, over 30 people are living in two or three rooms.
At present, 31,748 people in the areas covered by the evaluation are displaced and, in spite of the extensive destruction that took place during the attacks, the total population of the 4 municipalities together has increased as a result of displacements and the arrival of families from other municipalities.
Over 45% of houses have been directly affected by the fighting. In the village of Budakovo (municipality of Suva Reka) for example, 258 houses have been destroyed out of the 390 that used to exist in the village. 700 people have returned out of the initial 1,987. Although some houses have only been partially damaged, living conditions for these 700 people are particularly difficult due to the lack of privacy.
The almost systematic looting of villages has left the population destitute. Some of them have lost everything: furniture, clothing, food stocks... Food stocks have, in most cases, been looted or destroyed during attacks. In certain cases, the harvest was not taken in because the population fled and some fields were burned. Our teams witnessed the case of one village where syringes (contents unknown) had been planted in bags of flour, preventing it from being eaten by the villagers. Elsewhere, village wells have been deliberately and almost systematically contaminated with herbicides, dead livestock or fuel.
In addition to this, people are so terrorized by the Serbian forces that they are unable to access the usual sites where they get supplies or humanitarian stocks. Cases of severe malnutrition have been noted by the team. Some families are living in an extremely precarious situation. One example is a young woman aged 28 in the village of Llapushnik (municipality of Glogovac), mother of 2 daughters and 8 months pregnant with her third child, who explained her situation to the team doctor:
"Like all other Albanian men, my husband lost his job at the factory where he used to work and he can't find another job. The family has no more income. When we left we had to leave everything behind. When we fled into the mountains, we were very afraid of losing the youngest girl who had to be fed on goat's milk. We came back to the village a month ago (November 98). The house had been broken into, plundered, the children's clothing was rotting because of the water in the bedrooms. We were given ]by a humanitarian organization[ 50 kg of flour. Today, we have hardly anything left."
Because of the lack of food stocks, most families are dependent on humanitarian aid. Because of the isolated location of the villages, the very limited access to the area in winter due to the snow and the mud on the mountain roads, aid cannot be brought to them in sufficient quantities.
Ë Considerable deterioration in the state of health The health of the populations considered to be the most vulnerable in this type of situation (women who are pregnant or nursing, infants, the elderly) has greatly deteriorated. During the months of October, November and December 1998, 10,000 individual consultations were conducted by Médecins du Monde doctors who noted on a daily basis:
The interruption of child vaccination programs, which began many months ago, is likely in the long term to bring about a resurgence of certain diseases and, in this case, an increase in the child mortality rate.
In spite of the difficulties our teams have encountered in trying to intervene, which mean that only very short consultations are possible, the doctors have noted the effects of this situation on the psychological state of patients. This is expressed mainly by the request for physical health care. Most often, mobile clinics are the only contacts that village people have with the outside world. As a result, consultation attracts an inrush of people. Simple requests to be seen and, very often, to be listened to are encountered alongside the most serious medical conditions. In a population accustomed to difficult living conditions, this excessive demand for physical health care is the expression of a deep anxiety and sometimes of traumas caused by the violent events that many people have witnessed.
The Serbian posts or checkpoints prevent patients from visiting the ambulanta in the main village. Fear of the mobile patrols on the main highways has intensified the block. In the village of Llapushnik (municipality of Glogovac), the inhabitants cannot reach the nearest ambulanta because of the Serbian post looking over the road. By preventing people from moving around freely in this way, they are also preventing medical facilities from receiving drugs. Health-care providers or the patients themselves cannot go and buy the drugs they need in the nearest towns.
The destruction of a large number of dispensaries and/or the fact that medical staff have fled or been arrested also deprives the population of any access to health care in certain areas. According to many of our contacts, both medical and teaching staff have been subjected to heavy coercion from the Serbian forces. In the village of Gradice (municipality of Glogovac), the doctor is said to have been murdered during the Serbian attack of September 22. Other cases of ill treatment or threats have been reported. In Movlane (municipality of Suva Reka), a village made up of 82% Albanians and 18% Serbs, the staff at the ambulanta were arrested and are still being held. Others were forced to flee due to threats.
Hospital reference facilities are federal, and are therefore run by Serbian medical and administrative staff. The reception and treatment given to Albanians in these facilities is discriminatory compared to the conditions in which Serbian patients are received. This discrimination is latent, but can sometimes be expressed in the smallest act of health care or treatment of a patient. One patient from the mobile clinics, a pregnant woman, taken to the hospital for a therapeutic intervention after her baby died in utero, waited two weeks without being given any treatment. However, Médecins du Monde had provided the necessary treatment and visited the hospital every day to meet with the head of service. The life of this patient was put in great danger by the refusal of the health-care staff to give her treatment.
Serbian medical staff frequently talk in a discriminatory fashion, even in the presence of volunteers from Médecins du Monde. Serbian patients, a minority in terms of numbers, are prioritized for doctor's visits, administering drugs, providing food, visits from members of their family
Again according to the Médecins du Monde team, "In the pediatrics service, we were told that some Serbian nurses refuse to treat Albanian children especially if they have come from the war zones. We also noted a police presence in the corridors, in surgical units and even in the pediatrics unit. The mother of one little patient told us that very late one night, she wanted to leave the room she was in with her son to go and get some milk and she came face to face with armed policemen patrolling the corridors. A female patient operated on at the hospital explained that one day she had been forced to return to her room by an armed policeman who was there."
The Albanian population is afraid to visit these facilities and it is sometimes very difficult to convince a patient to allow him/herself to be hospitalized. For the villagers, and especially the men, being hospitalized in Pristina involves risks that many refuse to take. Besides the discrimination, the police presence inside the hospital itself dissuades a very large number of people who nevertheless need treatment. The conditions in which they are transferred to Pristina and the need to go through checkpoints also frightens and dissuades patients. As a result, very few men and a small number of women and children agree to be transferred to hospitals.
All the people encountered, patients and village officials, systematically described the terror in which the population lives today. This fear often makes the work of our medical teams difficult, and, in certain villages particularly affected and isolated (like Maciteve, municipality of Suva Reka), they have already come up against a wall of distrust. For almost a year, civilians have been living in a context of extreme violence. All of them are in constant fear of security forces coming into the villages, of arbitrary arrest, of ill treatment. Every family has one or more members who have been arrested, ill-treated or killed.
The civilian population is convinced that, while they are somewhat protected by the current weather conditions which prevent such attacks, these will start again as soon as the snow thaws. The confrontations that began again in late December 1998 and early January 1999 coincided with a period of mild weather. Simply traveling across the villages and the mountain areas, it is obvious that the two camps are positioned to start fighting again. In the villages, the presence of armed men from the UCK is helping to maintain the pressure on the population. Renewed population displacements in certain areas, the massacre in Racak, and the sporadic recommencement of fighting has only deepened their anxiety.
N.B.: 83 villages out of the 88 taken into account in this report have been evacuated one or several times since the attacks began in February 1998. Some have been evacuated 3 or even 4 times. Sometimes, as in the case of Glanasselle and Globar (municipality of Glogovac), the attacks began without the population having been warned or an ultimatum presented by the military forces. As was the case, among others, at Polluzhe (municipality of Orahovac) or Senik (municipality of Malisevo), widespread coercion (murders, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests ) has been inflicted on civilians during attacks. These events have profoundly traumatized a part of the population. Some villages have been the stage for acts of extreme violence. One woman from the village of Abrinje explained to the Médecins du Monde team how she witnessed the massacres perpetrated in this village on September 26, 27 and 28, 1998:
"I was hiding in the bottom of the garden with my husband and Hyra and Ali, the parents of my daughter-in-law. The other inhabitants of the village were hiding in the woods around the village. Until 5 PM, we stayed in the garden. We saw houses being burned. My husband and the couple went up to the houses. Later, I went to join them, to see if they were alive. When I arrived near to the well, I saw the police in the yard of our house. They came toward me, caught me by the arm, took off my clothes and took me toward Hyra and Ali. In front of the gate of our house, there were a lot of policemen and armored vehicles. There were 4 children too. One of them, the biggest, was wearing a sweater covered in bloodstains. (...).
They interrogated Ali. They asked him for money. He gave them 50 DM and a few dinars. They asked him if "Slobo" (Slobodan Milosevic) was good, if Serbia was good. They were hitting him at the same time, in front of the children. They were slapping him and kicking him. (...) They nodded in my direction. But maybe he told them that I was with the children. My God, those children saved my life! They killed Ali around 2 PM. They killed him by striking his head with an axe. His ear was torn off along with a part of his chest. When the children and I went out, we found Hyra in the yard. In the yard, I spread my blanket out on the ground, then I looked for Rustem to tell him that they had killed Hyra and Ali. I found him dead, with a scarf over him. Around him were his knife, his hat. He had also been killed by being struck on the head with an axe.. The children saw the corpse. I covered the body. (...) All day Saturday, they burned houses."
A man hiding out in the region of Gllobar who witnessed the events that occurred in the region of Likoc explained to the team what he had been through.
The shots were coming from Likoc in the direction of Abri. We were hiding in the valley. It was a Friday. The next day, Saturday September 27, at 3 PM, the forces caught up with us. Everyone over 12 years was checked. They tied us together by the wrists, two by two, with a rope and put us on the trailer of a tractor. All along the way they hit us, with sticks, with iron bars. We couldn't move, we kept our heads down, they were striking at us from everywhere. In Likok they made us get down and beat us some more. We climbed back up again. Then one of them lifted up the tarpaulin over the trailer, got hold of me by my sweater and started hitting me on the head. I fainted. When I regained consciousness, I saw a hand grab Driton by the hair and slit his throat. He moaned. I pulled on the rope to pull him away. Blood was pouring onto my feet. A policeman cut the rope. They made us get down from the trailer and get into a truck bound for Glogovac. Driton stayed on the trailer. (...) ." According to other witnesses, Driton's body was found a month later by an inhabitant of Likoc.
In spite of the demands laid down by the United Nations Security Council and the commitments made by the Yugoslav authorities with the lifting of the NATO ultimatum in October 1998, Serbian security units, the Yugoslav army and militia from Kosovo are still present in large numbers.
There are military convoys and patrols by the security forces all along the main roadways. Every day, when traveling around, teams in the mobile clinics pass by these convoys. They have therefore been able to directly observe their size and their effects on the population.
The direct result of this heavy and very visible presence is to prevent people from moving around freely. Most of the villagers encountered said that they could not use the roads for fear of being arrested.
These patrols also travel along mountain roads and into villages, contrary to the measures laid down in the agreements signed with NATO and the OSCE. At least 24 villages are thus the object of regular "visits" by security force patrols, some of them accompanied by brutal treatment of civilians.
The municipality of Glogovac is home to the "Ferronickel" industrial complex, which has become a base for the special police. Observations have noted 30 daily police patrols leaving from this base. These cover the entire region, making it impossible for villagers to travel on the roads.
Worse still, on 10/11/98, a group of armed Serbs, camouflaged in two white vehicles bearing the Red Cross symbol, entered the village of Vuçak and murdered a 25-year-old man (Abedin Bujupi). On several occasions, the presence of disguised vehicles resembling those used by NGOs has been noted by the team when passing by patrols. Ambulances parked among military vehicles have been seen around the Serbian posts.
Alongside this mobile presence, there is the continued existence of checkpoints and posts held by the army and the Serbian special forces. Located at points where the roads from several villages meet, they prevent any access to the ambulantas and to stores for food supplies. 22 villages are located near to these posts
Several people have testified to acts of violence committed at checkpoints. This in particular concerns the checkpoint set up in Reshtan (municipality of Suva Reka), the one in Ratkoc (municipality of Orahovac), and the one in Movlane (Suva Reka) set up in the village ambulanta. On December 31, 1998, the team treated a 31-year-old man victim of brutal treatment at a checkpoint. A medical report was drawn up after the consultation. "I was returning from Pristina by bus. At the checkpoint near to "Kroni i Mbretit," the police entered the bus and checked the passengers' identity cards. They made me get off the bus along with two other men. One of them, an elderly man, was slapped several times then allowed to join the others back in the bus. The other one got back on as well. The police saw that I was from the village of Orllat. They took me to an armored vehicle. They were three policemen dressed in black. They told me that I was in the UCK. I told them that it wasn't true, that I didn't know who they were. They hit me with iron bars, a spade, their billy club. It went on for more than an hour. I nearly passed out twice. The policemen were taking turns. (...) ».
Army or security-force posts generally look out over roads or highways, thus preventing villagers from going by. One man, from the devastated region of Llapushnik, who had been displaced to the region of Suva Reka, explained to the team how he was unable to return to his village to look for the body of his father who was killed during the attack. A Serbian post located above the village effectively makes such action risky. Since July 26, his father's body has been lying in the yard of the house.
In most of the villages, nocturnal fire from heavy and light artillery from the Serbian posts has been reported. This shooting, intended to frighten the inhabitants of the villages sometimes gives rise to a new wave of displacements. The population of the village of Budakovo (municipality of Suva Reka), for example, evacuated the village for a few hours during the night of November 26. A person from the village of Movlane explained to the team "they often fire at night, into the air, especially recently when they were celebrating Christmas and the New Year. The children were frightened. We're especially afraid of the police. We're afraid that they'll enter into our houses at night. In the village, there are no more men, either they're in prison or they've fled. Over half of the inhabitants have fled Movlane."
The first direct effect of this armed presence is to prevent any traveling around by a large part of the inhabitants of the villages. For the men, immediately suspected of belonging to the UCK, it is impossible to travel around. They all stay in the villages or travel across the mountains. The women experience the same difficulties. Those with a relative belonging or suspected of belonging to the UCK are also likely to be arrested. For the others, their terror is often too great to allow them to travel around.
This is one of the main reasons for the deterioration in the health-care situation. One pregnant woman, a patient of the mobile clinics explained to the team: "On Wednesday January 20, 1999, I fell. I was afraid for the baby. On Thursday, the next day, my father-in-law, my two children and myself decided to take the bus to Gjakove, to get a check-up, because I couldn't feel the baby moving any more. At the bus stop there was a police car. They asked to see our identity papers and where we were going. They saw my children unclothed and said "is that how people like to see you". They insulted us. They wouldn't let us take the bus. They wouldn't let us leave, they kept us for two hours."
This presence is also a major factor in the destabilization of the population. It constitutes a threat that looms permanently over civilians: threat of an arrest, threat of another attack A large number of patients reported feelings of stress and anxiety, expressed via: insomnia, headaches, diffuse pains, asthenia, etc. The head of the village of Budakovo told us of suicide attempts when inhabitants return after evacuations.
For the time being, humanitarian teams have encountered few security problems. Although they are closely monitored when traveling around, it is still possible to do so. In certain villages, access has been slowed down by the checks imposed by the UCK but it is still authorized. Difficulties are sometimes encountered with Serbian civilians. On January 9, 1999, the team had its medical equipment confiscated and had to flee the town of Suva Reka when armed civilians challenged expatriate volunteers and Albanians, as one of the team doctors relates:
"We were at the entrance to Suva Reka, we wanted to turn left for the village of Musitishte. Then we saw a large group of armed civilians, unmasked. A truck was blocking the road, just opposite the Hotel Boss. The police were very passive, they didn't move. We were reaching the end of a slope, we couldn't turn around. As soon as we arrived, they asked us to stop. They were very agitated. We had to get out. (...). Next, an armed civilian arrived, accused us of only treating Albanians. I told him we treated anyone who needed it. He called me a liar. He asked why there were only Albanians on our staff. We replied that only Albanians turned up. Pointing to the Albanians, the civilian said that they should all be killed.(...) We showed them our trunks ]containing drugs and medical equipment[. (...) We loaded everything back in and then had to follow a car full of armed civilians to the ambulanta. The two armed civilians entered into the ambulanta and came back with two women wearing white coats. They took the equipment. We saw a car from the OSCE, we explained everything to them. They told us good luck! We left again on the road to Pristina. We turned around because there were armed civilians and the military. We stayed for half an hour on stand-by, 400 meters away. A car with civilians in it came up to us, another joined it. A man got out and pointed his gun at us. They went towards the second car. Sylvain rolled down his window to negotiate, the man touched him with the butt of his weapon. We left quickly. The civilians followed us. We continued as far as Budakove, the civilians stopped."
Problems of an administrative nature appear to be increasing. The process of acquiring visas for our medical teams is increasingly long and an outright block is to be feared. Several requests for visas have been pending since October 1998. While we have found a way around these problems, it is becoming increasingly difficult to replace teams. In the weeks to come, this issue could constitute a major problem in the continuation of the program.
Bringing drugs and medical equipment into Kosovo is systematically blocked. Medicine kits (almost 2 tons) for the Médecins du Monde program have been held up at customs since October 26, 1998. Eventually, this situation is also likely to call into question the continuation of the program, i.e. the only medical presence available for tens of thousands of people.
It would seem, as we already emphasized at the press conference, that the Serbian authorities, after 5 years of war in Bosnia, have learned to "manage" the presence of humanitarian organizations. Expatriate personnel are not put in any physical danger but the administrative blocks have intensified with the aim of reducing their ability to intervene and, eventually, their presence.
When the NATO ultimatum was lifted, we stressed the fact that all the criteria were present for the onset of a humanitarian disaster. Today, the very precarious state of health of the population, the fact that they are prevented from getting health care and food supplies and the profound state of insecurity into which they have been plunged only go to confirm that diagnosis.
Above all, the coercion that takes place on a day-to-day basis and the terrorizing environment created by the Serbian authorities are bringing about a constant deterioration in the situation. The massacres in Rogove and Racak, the new wave of population displacements and the increase in interventions by the security forces show to what extent the civilian populations are in danger in Kosovo. In particular, the thawing of the snow in a few weeks is likely to enable a recommencement of fighting between the Serbian forces and the UCK and civilians will be caught in between them once again.
Given the inadequacy of the current plan of action, measures must be adopted with a view to preventing a new round of fighting and massive violations of international humanitarian law, of a magnitude similar to those witnessed in 1998.
The current international organizations present, NGOs, OSCE, UN agencies, Kdom, are not able to provide effective protection for civilians. A real plan of action must be drawn up, one that will make it possible to intervene between the warring factions and force them to enter into real negotiations.
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