Following is the text of the statement.
"After the announcement of the Independence Declaration of Kosova on 2 July 1990, the proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosova on 7 September 1990 marked a fundamental act for the state of Kosova. This important date in the modern history of Kosova set the legal and political foundations for the statehood of Kosova.
Today, eight years after the adoption of this grand act, the people of Kosova - although occupied and facing severe Serb forces' offensives - is strongly committed to building a democratic and civic society in Kosova. And, despite the suffering, they are committed to achieve independence for Kosova by political means.
In the face of current critical and difficult times, the people of Kosova will know how to overcome the grave situation, with the support and help of the democratic world, especially the United States of America and the European Union.
God bless the people of Kosova!"
Senator Dole: "American and European leaders have pledged not to allow the crimes against humanity which we witnessed in Bosnia to occur in Kosovo. But, from what I have seen this weekend, such crimes are already happening."
PRISHTINA, Sept 7 (KIC) - Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck and Senator Bob Dole, chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons, held a joint press conference Sunday, 6 September, after their two- day visit to Kosova.
Following are the statements the two U.S. officials made in Prishtina.
Assistant Secretary John Shattuck: "I want to thank both the staff of Embassy Belgrade, USIS Pristina, and the officers and staff of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission for their superb work giving Senator Dole and me the opportunity to look first-hand at the human rights catastrophe that is occurring in Kosovo.
Senator Dole and I have been examining the situation since we arrived two days ago. Over this period, we have had the opportunity to meet with Kosovo's political, academic, and religious leadership, and to speak directly with eyewitnesses and victims of human rights atrocities. What Senator Dole and I have seen are horrendous human rights violations, violations of humanitarian law, and acts of punitive destruction on a massive scale.
We are deeply concerned about the plight of refugees and note that as each day passes we come closer to a humanitarian disaster. If the authorities do not take immediate action to stop the massive shelling of civilians and destruction of villages, the many thousands of people who are afraid to return to their homes will be at serious risk of freezing or starving. Belgrade cannot look away from the disaster it has created.
Today, I heard first-hand reports that security forces are separating men and boys from their families in villages and clusters of internally displaced persons. We have raised this issue directly with Belgrade today and plan to take it up with President Milosevic tomorrow. Mortar attacks on fleeing civilians, such as what occurred last week in Senik, are a common occurrence in Kosovo. The numbers of missing persons are growing. Kidnapping and detention by all sides must stop.
We have heard reports of mass grave sites in a number of areas, including Orahovac and Klecka. Without impartial forensic experts on the scene, no one will ever know even the names of the dead, to say nothing of who was responsible for killing them. We strongly urge the Yugoslav government to issue visas for Physicians for Human Rights, an independent association of forensic doctors that can resolve these critical questions. Investigating these sites is an urgent priority, and is in the interest of both Serbs and Albanians.
All that we have seen points to the urgent need for investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the serious human rights violations and the current and expanding humanitarian crisis point to the urgent need for safe and unimpeded access to all parts of Kosovo by international non-governmental organizations.
Belgrade must stop denying them visas. Freedom of access for all must be restored.
Our larger goal is a democratic and peaceful region where civilians have control of their own lives. But first, the violence must stop.
The government must face up to the looming tragedy that could occur as early as October. Half measures will only exacerbate the problem. When I return to Washington, I will communicate my finding to the President and Secretary Albright. Thank you."
Senator Bob Dole: "First, I would like to thank Assistant Secretary Shattuck, Ambassador Miles, the American Embassy and USIS staff, and the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM) for arranging this critical fact- finding mission.
As the Secretary [Shattuck] has mentioned, we came here to assess first- hand the human rights and humanitarian situation. What we have seen is tremendous suffering - suffering that will only escalate dramatically once winter sets in a month from now. We spoke to Albanian families and Serb families - the elderly and the young.
Some of the people we met told us that they are living in the hills at night and coming to their homes during the day. And, they are the lucky ones. Today's rain will quickly turn to snow and the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons who are living day and night in the forests and hills will face freezing, as well as starvation.
We met Serb and Albanian mothers whose sons are missing. As Chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia, I have met with mothers in Croatia, in Serbia and in Bosnia - where there are more than 20,000 registered missing. All mothers are desperate for answers about the fate of their loved ones. In that regard, I intend to press President Milosevic tomorrow for visas for forensic teams from physicians for human rights. These forensic experts are ready to assist in Kosovo, but have been waiting for months without a positive response to their visa request.
We also heard testimony from eye-witnesses to some of the crimes and atrocities that have been reported by the press. These accounts were chilling. American and European leaders have pledged not to allow the crimes against humanity which we witnessed in Bosnia to occur in Kosovo. But, from what I have seen this weekend, such crimes are already happening.
Clearly, there is a humanitarian disaster here that is rapidly developing into a humanitarian catastrophe of tremendous proportions. However, we must all recognize that the problem in Kosovo is not by definition a humanitarian one. This is a political and military crisis, whose symptoms are humanitarian. This is war against civilians for political purposes.
And so, I believe that the United States and our friends and allies who are legitimately concerned about the situation in Kosovo, must press for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of police, military forces.
Harassment, kidnapping, and attacks on civilians must be halted - by all the forces in Kosovo. If that is achieved, people will be able to return to their villages without fear. Moreover, then Serb and Albanian political leaders can engage in negotiations to achieve a permanent and lasting peace in Kosovo.
Finally, I would emphasize that it should be our goal to achieve a permanent peace built on democratic institutions. The Kosovars have lived without civil liberties and human rights for more than a decade. The options are not easy, but postponing the search for a genuine solution will not only prolong the agony for the Albanians, but for the Serbs, who also deserve democracy. Thank you."
This is the beginning of an article by Muhamet Hamiti carried by the Prishtina-based Informatori evening newspaper, dated 6 September 1998.
The writer reflects on the current situation in Kosova and the utterly inadequate international reaction to it.
"NATO has been hibernating this summer. A sleepy exercise was what NATO was engaged in in Albania in August. Such will be the next one in Macedonia. Because the exercises will be conducted around Kosova borders, but will be directed against nobody, the American commander of the "Cooperative Assembly '98" maneuver in Albania said. Now the Americans are saying the NATO contingency plans for any eventuality are by and large complete.", the Albanian-language Informatori writer notes.
Mr. Hamiti goes on to say: "These past six summer months, while Albanians were being killed in their homes and villages, on the street and in the towns, but also in makeshift shelters of bushes and tree branches in the mountains, the world made some stews duly seasoned with 'deep concern', 'very deep concern' on the developments in Kosova."
The blistering summer that froze the hearts of hundreds and thousands of Albanians was among the hardest winters of Western civilization. This happens now that Europe has no self-questioning elite to question the values the establishment enforces in the society.", Mr. Hamiti writes, slamming the European response.
The author then comes back to the reality in Kosova, "at the close of summer, the beginning of winter", as he puts it.
"In Kosova, the idea of an interim settlement with Serbs - with a time frame of three to five years - has been introduced. Kicked off by Belgrade, warmly accepted by the Americans and Russians, the idea has been thrust to the weary Albanians. The official Prishtina, embodied in the Office of the President of the Republic, said 'yes' to the idea," the author sums up the situation of the last week.
"The problem is the idea is married with a ready-made substance.
Words that have leaked from this private process of epistolary negotiations say that, such as it has been designed and redesigned by Belgrade and the Washington envoys, the solution that is on offer at present is pro-Serbian. The one that has been drafted by the Kosova negotiating team is believed to be pro-Kosovar."
The writer, Mr. Hamiti, criticizes what he calls 'blocking off' and 'scaling down' of official information on atrocities and destruction during the Serbian aggression in Kosova. The Western officials have been doing this with statements like 'there has been destruction, but not that much', 'there is no verified information', 'there are allegations that human rights have been abused' in Kosova, he notes. "Western quarters will now try to settle down the thing and appease their consciousness by laying the blame on the [Kosova] Albanian side", the author notes, referring to the interpretation of the VOA Friday evening in the wake of the unveiling of the interim settlement idea for Kosova. The Albanian rather than the Serb side is now the problem, the VOA correspondent said portraying the current state of the affairs. "And no doubt the Albanians were at fault from the very beginning, for they have not accepted Serbian rule and occupation", the Informatori writer said ironically.
At the end of his reflections, the author says the "morality of office demands that Albanian officials, first and foremost the President of the Republic of Kosova, Ibrahim Rugova, tell their electorate something more before they accept even in principle something that fastens or unfastens the fate of Kosova. For the idea precedes everything."
To say 'no' is a civic and official courage and imperative when the arrangement is unfavourable." Muhamet Hamiti concludes his article in Informatori evening newspaper.
People from other villages organized the funeral of Qazim Poniku (86), Agush Poniku (72), Nesim Krasniqi (65), Mersel Halilaj (63) and Skender Mehmetaj (80), LDK sources in Prizren said.
Meanwhile, the drama of Albanian people living in villages along the Drini river banks continues, although there has been a let-up.
Four Albanians who had been arrested in Dejn&, Renoc and Ratkoc villages of Rahovec and released Saturday evening, said some 58 persons had been rounded up in the village of Dejn& alone, men who had separated from the cluster of refugees, mostly women, children and elderly.
The Serb police reportedly had ordered the rounded up Albanians to walk to the village of Ratkoc with their hands behind their heads.
They were ordered to walk in such a posture as not to allow them see the dimension of Serb destruction in Ratkoc.
Reports said in the village of Palluzh&, Serb police ordered the Albanian men and women take off their clothes, remaining only in underwear. 27 men were sent to Prizren virtually unclothed. Amongst them were Samidin Bytyqi and Gazmend Bytyqi, who were singled out and taken away by police, and not returned to the group of other detainees, witnesses said.
Today (Monday) the following wounded Albanians were said to be in Prizren hospital: Rexhep M. Krasniqi (1954) - Kramovik, Manush H.
Bytyqi (1964), Bedrush H. Bytyqi (1970) - Dejn&, Bekim R. Krasniqi (1970) - Kramovik, Ekrem H. Bytyqi (19) - Dejn&, Albert Halim Bytyqi (1992) - Dejn&, Astrit S. Bytyqi (1985) - Dejn&, Abdullah I.
Morina (1964) - V&rnjak&, Kadri J. Mustafa (1962 - injured from beating), Hajrije R. Morina (1961) - V&rnajk&, was discharged after being offered the first aid, and Drita S. Morina (f, 1964) - V&rnjak&, who is in the intensive care unit.
Sources said Drita Morina and Hajrije Morina were wounded in their home. Reportedly, they had returned back home and were wounded from a bomb Serb forces had planted in the wood stove. The grenade exploded when the two women started a fire unaware of it.
Hajrije received light wounds, whereas Drita sustained life- threatening wounds, local sources in Prizren said.
The remains of an Albanian, Ramadan Mazreku, killed by Serb forces, were buried yesterday in Semetisht village. Two old men who happened to walk near by buried him as there are no people at present in the village, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, sources said that bodies of six other Albanians have been laying unburied in Sllapuzhan village for days now, as no one dares approach the site which is under the watchful eye of Serb troops.
The municipal board of school principals met on Sunday to examine if and where the pupils could begin the new school year, officially kicked off in Kosova on 1 September. For the time being the classes can only be held in 11 schools in the municipality, the board concluded.
It reported that 4,000 Albanians, displaced from the municipality of Rahovec, who have been camping out in the fields of the Marmull village of Gjakova are "living through a catastrophe".
Albanian medical staff has been prevented by Serb regime authorities from going to the affected area, sources said.
A similar situation has been reported in the villages and mountains of the Dushkaj& region of Gjakova, such as in Krelan, C&rmjan, Bardhaniq, Zhabel, G&rgoc and Jabllanic&.
Local Albanian structures in Gjakova have been calling for international NGOs, the Red Cross, "Doctors without Borders", and others, to reach out to these people out in the countryside, but also to those in the town itself.
The LDK chapter in Gjakova said it could confirm the identity of some of the Albanians arrested by Serb police in the town today, including Shyqri Bicurri, Masar Bicurri, Nysret Trupaj and his brother (his name unknown), Shani Luzha, Nuri Mulliqi and his son Erenik Mulliqi (11).
The LDK said it learned they were detained under the pretext that some children had stoned Serb forces' trucks driving along that part of the town.
By early afternoon today, all the detained Albanians were reported still in custody. Heavy Serb police forces were still in the 'Mulla Jusufi' neighborhood, harassing the local population and searching homes of Albanians there.
Isuf Bytyqi said that last night a baby born in the hills died because of lack of medical treatment. He said that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Albanians have been rounded up by Serb forces in the villages of Malisheva and the neighboring municipality of Klina. He named some of them, whose identity could be confirmed, including Kadri Rudi, Beqir Rudi and Ramadan Bacaliu from Gremnik village; Hysen Kryeziu from Bubavec; Bajram Gashi and Bislim Gashi from Sverka; Bajram Berisha and Selim Kelmendi from Kramovik, Blerim Gashi, Nazmi Gashi, Bekim Gashi and Zahir Gashi from Sverka.
They were taken in the direction of Peja but it is unclear where they have ended up, the head of the LDK Information Commission said, adding that many others are believed to be in the hands of Serb troops.
Meanwhile, sources said that Serb troops have withdrawn from the village of Llap^ev&, Rud and Panorc, where over 500 local men were terrorized during the last weekend. Serbs have torched scores of farmhouses there.
Serb troops entered today the Ostrozub village. The local population who had returned to the village earlier began fleeing again today when Serb troops were advancing into the village.
The CDHRF said that the now late Valentina Maloku was brought to the Prishtina hospital with fire arms wounds.
The patient was not only denied proper treatment by the personnel in the clinic, but was also subjected to physical maltreatment by police.
Serb policemen guarded during the whole time the hospital room she was being treated in, witnesses told the human rights Council.
Witnesses told the LDK chapter in Kamenica, the eastern-most Kosova town, that heavily armed Serb policemen cracked down on the homes of Albanians without producing any search warrant or explaining who they were after.
Local Albanians Ramadan Zubaku, Ismet Zubaku and Jakup Zubaku were detained after having had their homes thoroughly searched. They were released later in the day. Two other men, Esat Zubaku, and Sylejman Morina, are being still held in custody, sources said.
The LDK said that over the past days the Serb police has arrested several Albanians in Mitrovica and the neighboring municipality of Skenderaj ('Srbica').
Ajnishahe M. Shala, head of the LDK Women's Forum, was detained at a Serb police checkpoint in Nadakovc village on Sunday. She was reportedly offended and threatened with liquidation while in custody.
The LDK Information Commission also named the following Albanians arrested by the Serb police in past two days: Sejdi Ahmeti, local humanitarian worker, Imer B. Haziri (30), student with the Metallurgical Faculty in Mitrovica, and Gani I. Bajrami (46), LDK activist.
Mr. Ahmeti and another education worker, Nazmi Shahini, involved in distributing text-books, were arrested at Koshare village on the Shtime- Ferizaj ('Urosevac') roadway.
The motive behind their arrest is not known.
Ali Sadria, the LDK chapter head in Shtime, said only two Albanian schools have been opened, at Godanc and Muzeqin& villages, at the beginning of the new school year.
Serbian aggression and destruction, as well as displacement of people, is the reason why other schools remain closed.
Two local Albanian activists, Bashkim Ibali and Raif Rushiti, were taken for questioning by police today.