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Kosova Daily Report #1518, 98-08-11

Kosovo Information Center: Kosova Daily Report Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Kosova Information Center <http://www.kosova.com/>

Kosova Information Center
KOSOVA DAILY REPORT #1518
Prishtina, 11 August 1998


CONTENTS

  • [01] Serbian Troops Launch Full-scale Offensive in De^an Villages Today Morning
  • [02] As many as 80,000 civilian Albanians holed up, besieged by Serb forces in a few villages
  • [03] Kosova Should Be Independent, a Free Nation, Rugova Says
  • [04] Serb Attacks on Gjakova Area Continue Unabated
  • [05] Body of Albanian, Slaughtered by Serbs, Buried with Missing Head
  • [06] Over 20 Albanians Killed in Latest Serb Offensive in Drenica
  • [07] Serbs Kill Two, Wound Six Albanians, at Petrova Village of Shtime
  • [08] Returnees Flee Rahovec for a Second Time as Serbs Step Up Campaign of Violence
  • [09] Serb Troops Station in Obran^& Village, North-eastern Kosova
  • [10] Physicians for Human Rights Urges Clinton to Take Decisive Action over Kosova

  • [01] Serbian Troops Launch Full-scale Offensive in De^an Villages Today Morning

    [02] As many as 80,000 civilian Albanians holed up, besieged by Serb forces in a few villages

    PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - Serbian military and police troops, backed up by tens of tanks and heavy armament, have embarked today (Tuesday) on a full- scale offensive against a number of Albanian villages in the municipality of De^an, in western Kosova, local sources said.

    The villages of Dubrav&, Grama^el and Gllogjan are bearing the brunt of the Serb offensive today, sources said, adding that all kinds of heavy guns were being used by Serbs to shell the villages.

    Zek& Sinanaj, a local journalist, said a convoy of Serb troops and hardware involving 110 vehicles, including 36 tanks, trailing heavy guns, left the town of Peja ('Pec') for the De^an area today morning.

    At 8 o'clock, they started shelling the village of Grama^el, whereas a bit later the other outlying villages were targeted, too.

    The LDK Information Commission in De^an said there are killed and wounded in the latest offensive, especially amongst the civilians, but failed to offer details.

    Yesterday, Serb troops with 60 tanks, 40 armoured vehicles and other combat equipment, pounded the villages of Grama^el, Baballoq, Dubrav&, Lluk& e Ep&rme, Shaptej, Prejlep, Glloxhan and Irzniq, LDK sources said. (The name of a killed, Nexhat Humaj, killed in Baballoq, was made known only.) Some 15,000 Albanians have been holed up in the three villages under attack today - Grama^el, Baballoq and Dubrav& - LDK sources said, adding that they have been living rough in the open. Now they may well be targeted by Serbs who have been shelling indiscriminately, they added.

    Local sources in De^an cried foul today over the plight of some 80,000 Albanians, displaced from their homes, who have been all clustered in the village of Isniq and the vicinity, mainly in the villages of Irzniq, Prapaqan, and Strellc i Ul&t villages. They are by and large the population of the municipality of De^an, but also people who fled the Reka e Keqe region of Gjakova, as well as the municipalities of Peja ('Pec') and Malisheva. "Virtually all the civilian population of our (De^an) municipality is there", Osman Cacaj, the LDK Information head in De^an told the KIC by phone.

    If the Serbian offensive is not brought to a halt, there is danger of a massacre being committed against the population, which is besieged from all sides by Serb forces, the Commission said.

    The LDK chapter in De^an made dramatic appeals for help today. It called on the Kosova leadership, the Albanian Government and the international community to do their utmost, to intervene urgently so as to avert a large- scale massacre, "a crime foretold", as they put it.

    [03] Kosova Should Be Independent, a Free Nation, Rugova Says

    "Only through independence can democracy and human rights be accomplished," President Rugova said in his chat session on the MSNBC on Monday PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - The President of the Republic of Kosova, Ibrahim Rugova, had a chat session with the MSNBC Monday, August 10th.

    Rugova took part in an exclusive MSNBC on the Internet live chat from his offices in Prishtina, the capital of the Republic of Kosova.

    "I greet everyone in the chat and everyone in MSNBC from the Republic of Kosova. We thank you very much for your interest in Kosova, especially during these difficult times.", Ibrahim Rugova said at the outset. He added that he hoped this would contribute to a better understanding for the Kosova issue.

    "Our goal is independence for the Republic of Kosova. This is based on the 1991 referendum. We have not called for a change of Kosova borders and namely for the external borders of the former Yugoslavia.", Rugova said in reply to a question regarding what the Kosovars' goal was: federation with Albania, an eventual reunification, or total automony and independence for Kosova.

    Independence is the will of the people of Kosova, he said, adding that the desire (for Albanians) to live in one State was there, "but the current balance in the region is quite complicated."

    In reply to further questions, President Rugova elaborated that the best solution for south-seas Europe was and independent state of Kosova. "This solution will calm down Macedonia, Albania and Serbia.", he said.

    Asked whether Kosova could settle for a status with a FRY federation, Rugova said "federations in this part of Europe have not been so successful."

    An optimal solution for the Albanian issue is independence for Kosova, the President said.

    "The basic goals of my policy are human welfare, freedom, human rights and the independence of Kosova.", Rugova said.

    The Kosova problem does not have any religious background whatsoever, he insisted. "Albanians in general belong to a pro-western culture and preference."

    Albanians are Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Muslim, he recalled, adding that "religion does not have that much influence" on the life of Kosovars.

    Asked about the likelihood of achieving a resolution to the conflict in Kosova, President Rugova said it is of the utmost importance to have a cessation of the Serbian offensive in Kosova in order to reach peace for Kosova. He stressed the need for an increase in the international presence in Kosova, for an international protectorate, "something I have been urging for several years now."

    An interim stage international protectorate would bring about the demilitarization of Kosova and "help with democracy being instituted for all citizens of Kosova."

    What there has been here in Kosova is not a conflict, bur rather "massacres" against the unprotected civilians, which should lead eventually to a massive ethnic cleansing of this country, Rugova said.

    Asked about the formation of a new government of Kosova, the President recalled that there is a government of Kosova in exile, but "these days we have been talking about the creation of a government here in Kosova, in the wake of the March 22nd elections."

    He said a coalition government would be formed to include all political forces in Kosova.

    Asked about the contacts the Kosova presidency presently has with the KLA (Kosova Liberation Army), who controls them, and whether they had agreed to join the Kosova coalition government, President Rugova said it was "very difficult for us to have any contact with the KLA. It is isolated by the Serbian police force."

    There have been contacts, mostly indirect ones, he said. "We have some kind of contact with them, and (we) will eventually bring them closer."

    President Rugova said the KLA will "certainly have a say in our institution."

    Asked how can the U.S. and other nations assist in achieving that Kosova regains its independent status, Rugova said the United States and other countries can help in this course. "One way of helping (us) is establishing an international protectorate in Kosova with the help of the United Nations, United States, and other international forces."

    "I think that it is about the time to recognize (the) independence of Kosova and take us under protection."

    Asked about the contents of a document British Ambassador Donelly delivered to him last week, Rugova said it contained a few proposals of the Contact Group, and "it as sort of working paper."

    "It is more suggestions and options -- mainly topics for discussion."

    Asked about his stance, Rugova said the position was well-known: independence for Kosova.

    Asked about the probability of war between Yugoslavia and Albania because of the Kosovo "problem", Ibrahim Rugova said that the Kosova problem cannot be isolated. "If a massive scale conflict ensues we will see masses of people heading towards Macedonia, and Albania, and elsewhere and that will eventually destabilize this portion of Europe."

    If such a war breaks out, "if anything like that happens, it is the people of Kosova who will suffer most."

    Rugova said It could be that the intention of Belgrade was to attack Albania, "so the problems of Kosova will be neglected and overlooked, as was the case in 1920."

    It is but natural to expect help from Albania, but "Albania itself is in a difficult situation.", the President said.

    He said it was not difficult to assemble a negotiating team for talks for Belgrade. "It is not difficult at all -- too much noise has been raised about all that."

    Asked to say what has been achieved in Kosova, Rugova said that in spite of the Serbian violence, "we have been successful in establishing a democracy in Kosova."

    There will always be people who object, but it is the democratic order "that will save Kosova", President Rugova said.

    "The critical point for the U.S. to understand is that independence for Kosova is indispensable.", he said, and added:"The United States is a symbol of independence and freedom, and we would like to see independence of Kosova like the United States, Western Europe and open cultures."

    "Only through independence can democracy and human rights be accomplished, President Rugova said, and pointed out that Kosova was part of a country (Yugoslavia) that has fallen apart and does not exist any longer. Therefore, we are entitled to be recognized as an independent county and live in freedom, he added.

    Kosova would be a free nation, "a small nation, as many such nations in the world." As a nation it will capable of sustaining itself. "It has a very hardworking people, and has large natural resources."

    As an independent country, Kosova should and must have close ties with the United States and the European Union, President Rugova said.

    "We see Kosova in the future, as an open market economy state."

    Kosova would be a small, but independent country, the size of Connecticut, Rugova said, reaffirming that it would bring stability and calm down this part of the world.

    "The people of Kosova should be provided a window of opportunity to be themselves, and become a member of free nations."

    At the close of the chat, President Rugova described the environment the Albanian people live in Kosova, with lots of satellite dishes to watch the world, but unfortunately, with the Prishtina Albanian language TV closed down here in Kosova.

    The satellite dishes have helped a lot over the past several years, especially with regard to the young generation. "It is a spiritual link between Kosova and the Western world."

    [04] Serb Attacks on Gjakova Area Continue Unabated

    21 Albanians killed in ten days, bodies of 5 killed Albanians in Hereq identified PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - The Serbian offensive against the villages in the municipality of Gjakova has not relented a bit, local sources said today.

    Serb military, paramilitary and police troops have been attacking the border area villages in Gjakova and De^an, including the huge village of Junik.

    Overnight and today, Serb troops have been attacking from all sides. The village of Hereq has been levelled to the ground. The plight of Planqor is much the same, and the villages of Firaj& and Dobrigje are being shelled, too.

    Sources from Gjakova confirm that the scene of heaviest fighting today was in the municipality of De^an, especially in the villages of Gramaqel, Gllogjan, Dubrav&, Baballoq, Prejlep, and elsewhere, which have been reported pounded by Serb forces with heavy artillery from Suka e Biteshit, Kodra e Zhdrell&s and other positions.

    Convoys of Serb motorized units headed at five and seven o'clock, respectively, to the war front along the Gjakov&-De^an roadway.

    The LDK Information Commission in Gjakova said the village of Junik, which lies halfway between Gjakova and De^an, has been attacked by Serb forces today.

    Local Albanian resistance have been battling hard to repel the strong Serb attacks.

    Both sides have suffered casualties, local sources said, failing to offer details on the figures.

    21 Albanians killed in the past ten days Meanwhile, local sources said on 9 August Hysen Mal& Arifi (38), a padogogue with the local elementary school in Sheremetaj of Gjakova, died of wounds he had received a few days earlier in defense of the Reka e Keqe region. Another Albanian, Mark Sokoli, resident of Nec village, has died also of wounds he had received during the Serb offensive.

    During the Serb offensive in the past ten days, 21 Albanians have been killed, local LDK sources said.

    Part of the population along the Gjakov& - De^an area, which was attacked yesterday and today, have been running for their lives.

    Some 15.000 residents of these villages have been living between the villages of Skivjan and Novosell&, rough in the open, without food and water. Most of them are women, children, and the elderly.

    A number of Albanians have been arrested and missing in Gjakova and De^an area, local sources said, listing as arrested Muhamet Zenunaj, Shaban Fetaj, Haxhi Isufaj and Myrt& Shabanaj, all from the village of Here^, and as rounded up the families of Sali Maloku and Uk& Maloku from Grama^el, De^an. Pjet&r Krasniqi (66), resident of Meq&, Gjakova, has been reported unaccounted for.

    Some 100 Serb policemen, stationed in the village of Bishtazhin, 7 km away from Gjakova, on the roadway to Prizren, have taken up combat position. All travellers heading to Gjakova have been turned back today.

    The LDK Information Commission in Gjakova said five bodies taken last night to the town morgue in Gjakova were Albanians killed during the Serb shelling of the village of Hereq.

    They have been identified as Mus& Bajrami (80), Asllan Bajrami (15), Din& Rexhepi (63), Met& Dervishi (80) and Haxhi Tahiri. They were all noncombatants, killed in their homes.

    [05] Body of Albanian, Slaughtered by Serbs, Buried with Missing Head

    PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - The mutilated body of an Albanian, Feriz Selimi, was found Monday in a forest outside his native village of Radisheva, municipality of Skenderaj ('Srbica').

    Feriz Selimi, 44, father to eight, was slain several days earlier.

    He was buried in the very place he was found dead in the forest, the LDK chapter in Skenderaj said.

    Meanwhile, the Prishtina-based Bujku said yesterday that seven other villagers of Radisheva village, in Skenderaj, were buried last weekend in a forest nearby their native village. Shyqri Ahmeti (56), Haxhi Ahmeti (65) Alban Ahmeti (17), Sabit Ahmeti (27), Beqir Hajrizi (65) and his two sons Azem Hajrizi (32) and Faik Hajrizi (28), were killed during last week's Serb offensive in the Drenica villages, in central Kosova.

    Bujku said that three of the killed Albanians - Shyqri Ahmeti, Haxhi Ahmeti and Alban Ahmeti, had their heads cut off by Serbs.

    The body of Shyqri Ahmeti was buried without his head, as it was missing.

    Witnesses who buried the slain Albanians in Radisheva have told the newspaper that their bodies were mutilated. The Serbs had dragged them near a road so they could be spotted by local residents or passersby, who, trying to collect their bodies, could be trapped and killed themselves.

    Serbs had probably waited quite long for other hunt games there, as heaps of garbage and bottles of alcohol could be seen not far from the place the dead bodies were laid, said witnesses.

    [06] Over 20 Albanians Killed in Latest Serb Offensive in Drenica

    PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - A local human rights organization in Skenderaj ('Srbica') has established the identity of 13 Albanians killed during a Serb offensive in the Drenica villages, central Kosova, last weekend.

    The Skenderaj chapter of the Prishtina-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms (CDHRF) said the casualty figures may be much higher, for it is impossible yet to figure out the extent of the Serb onslaught. It is feared that dead bodies lay scattered in the forests and fields, as it was the case with the mutilated Albanians near Radisheva village.

    The human rights council said it could identify the following victims of the latest Serb offensive in central and north part of Drenica: Sami Veliqi (16) from Polac, Elmi Kadiru (51) from Likoc (retarded person), Sokol Gashi (60) from Rezalla, Hav& Zabeli from Rezalla, (paralysed old woman), another old woman named Rab& from Llusha, Zek& Durmishi (52) from Rakinica, Dibran Idrizi (70) from Kopiliq i Ul&t, Shyqri Ahmeti (56), Haxhi Ahmeti (65) Alban Ahmeti (17), Sabit Ahmeti (27), Beqir Hajrizi (65) and his two sons Azem Hajrizi (32) and Faik Hajrizi (28).

    Witnesses have told the CDHRF that in Llausha village the Serb forces have slain Jakup Geci's mother and sister, as well as a (female) family guest and her daughter from Vitak village.

    The CDHRF said that the bodies of two still unidentified men have been found in the area. One of them is presumed to be from Turiqec village and the other from Rakinica, but they have not been buried yet until they are possibly identified.

    Many people have been missing since the Serb latest crackdown in Drenica late last week. Others are believed to be apprehended by Serb forces, including Sadri Geci (67), Sami Geci (25), Mustaf& Hazir Geci (28), all from Llausha.

    LDK sources in Skenderaj reported of a calmer situation in the area today. The Serb police has withdrawn from several positions, such as the villages of Likoc, Mak&rmal, Rezall&, as well a bases at Rakinica from where vast parts of Drenica were bombarded over the past days.

    [07] Serbs Kill Two, Wound Six Albanians, at Petrova Village of Shtime

    PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - Two Albanians were killed and six others wounded yesterday (Monday) in Petrova village of Shtime, 25 km south of Prishtina. The village came under Serb artillery and machine-gun fire for several hours yesterday, sources said.

    The local LDK chapter in Shtime said Avni Hysenaj (15) and his 2- year-old sister Mejreme Hysenaj (2) died during the Serb shelling of their village. Their mother sustained life-threatening injuries.

    Five other persons were wounded in the village: Sh&ndrit Hysenaj (3) from Petrova, Bujar Beqaj (15) resident of Carraleva sheltered with his relatives in Petrova, Fatmir Duga (15) from Shtime, Halit Luma from Kraishta village, Abedin Beqaj from Shtime (13. They had likewise fled their homes earlier and were sheltering in the village.

    Sources in Shtime said there was a lower intensity shelling of villages today in the Gryka e Carralev&s (the Carraleva Gorge) area, along the Shtime-Prizren road.

    [08] Returnees Flee Rahovec for a Second Time as Serbs Step Up Campaign of Violence

    PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - At least 300 Albanians have fled the town of Rahovec ('Orahovac') during the course of last night and today morning, local sources said today.

    The return of Albanians in Rahovec following a large-scale Serb onslaught in mid-July was highly-publicized by both Serb and foreign media featuring stories about the alleged safe return of Albanians to their burned or half- burned houses.

    Witnesses told the KIC that many returnees were forced to flee again amidst growing intimidation by the Serb forces and armed civilians. Dozens of hapless Albanians left the town over the past couple of days seeing what was left from their property being plundered in front of their noses.

    People have quoted Serb policemen based in Rahovec as calling the town "the second Kosova's Trep^a", referring to the Trep^a mines north of Prishtina. Shani D&rguti, owner of e jewelry shop in the town was robed of 100 'putli', gold pieces worth several tens of thousand of DM.

    A witness from Rahovec, Xhelal Tha^i, claimed that Serbs have burned down 14 houses in the Tuneli suburbs. The houses were first looted, then doused with gasoline and set ablaze, he said. He named some of the Albanians whose houses were burned that way: Arif Thaqi, Magjun Thaqi, Ramiz Thaqi, Ramadan Thaqi, Xhelal Tha^it.

    96 houses of Albanians have been leveled in the Bellac&rk& village near Rahovec, he said.

    [09] Serb Troops Station in Obran^& Village, North-eastern Kosova

    PRISHTINA, Aug 11 (KIC) - Serb military troops have been deployed yesterday and today in the village of Obran^&, two km away from the town of Podujeva, the main town in north-eastern Kosova.

    Serb military troops with scores of tanks and other combat equipment have been deployed for weeks in Llaush&, another village in the municipality, six km north of Podujeva.

    In Obran^&, 7 lorries and other cars full of soldiers were stationed yesterday. Some 60 other vehicles arrived today.

    These Serb troop reinforcements have arrived from Serbia.

    They seem intent to stay for some time, for they started digging in, local sources said.

    Serb military aircraft flew today low overhead the territory of Podujeva, a municipality bordering on Serbia, which has a 99 percent Albanian population.

    [10] Physicians for Human Rights Urges Clinton to Take Decisive Action over Kosova

    PHR calls for U.S. government to "support the establishment of an international peacemaking force, organized under NATO auspices, in Kosova requiring all Serb forces (army, police, special police, and paramilitary) to withdraw from Kosova at once PRISHTINA, Aug 11(KIC) - The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) sent 7 August a letter to U.S. President Clinton regarding the current Serb atrocities in Kosova and the evidence of mass graves in Kosova.

    Following is the full text of the letter to President Clinton, signed by Leonard S. Rubenstein.

    (Begin text) Dear Mr. President: Your strong leadership three years ago this month brought an end to the war and massive human rights abuses in Bosnia. Your administration galvanized support among NATO allies to use its military strength to bring about peace in the Balkans.

    Atrocities reminiscent of the war in Bosnia are now occurring in Kosovo. President Milosevic has unleashed his military, police, and paramilitary forces against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and will not desist until confronted with NATO's concerted military strength.

    Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly urges you to uphold your 1993 pledge to intervene in Kosovo should President Milosevic ever besiege this province and use whatever means necessary to stop further bloodshed in Kosovo.

    Meanwhile, the suffering of hundreds of thousands of civilians continues, and increasing reports of human rights atrocities emanate from the field. This week allegations of mass graves in Kosovo surfaced in the press. Without conclusive forensic evidence of such atrocities, many disbelieve the possibility that hundreds of civilians from Orahovac were slaughtered and bulldozed into mass graves.

    Yesterday, however, PHR received credible reports from a local health and human rights organization that had just conducted interviews with displaced families from Orahovac. They report witnessing 12 trucks filled with cadavers being hauled out of their town immediately following the July 21st Serb offensive. They further testify that Serb forces killed more than 500 civilians during this fighting, who are now believed to be buried in mass graves.

    To avoid the Bosnian outcome where thousands needlessly died before NATO finally took military recourse, the United States must lead the international community in taking decisive action now that will save countless lives.

    We urge the United States government, by using any unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral means available, to take the following actions: - Act immediately and decisively to stop the fighting in Kosovo where civilian populations are the target of brutal and systematic abuse.

    - Support the establishment of an international peacemaking force, organized under NATO auspices, in Kosovo requiring all Serb forces (army, police, special police, and paramilitary) to withdraw from Kosovo at once and requiring KLA units to cease their military activities.

    - Monitor with satellite photography possible mass grave sites in and around the town of Orahovac; maintain aerial reconnaissance of specific sites of reported mass graves to determine whether these sites are tampered with in the future and immediately make public these photographs.

    - Insist that Yugoslav authorities permit impartial forensic investigations under the auspices of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia to gather evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those army, paramilitary, or police officials responsible for atrocities must be held accountable.

    - Secure with military force reported sites of mass graves to safeguard material evidence that would be furnished to the ICTY.

    - Prepare for the delivery and distribution of needed humanitarian aid, through respected local and international organizations, to the hundreds of thousands of displaced Kosovars immediately once appropriate military intervention brings a halt to the current fighting.

    - Once stability is achieved in Kosovo, support the establishment of a robust human rights monitoring mission under UNHCHR auspices that would work in collaboration with local human rights groups to monitor and investigate abuses.

    Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

    Sincerely, /signed/

    Leonard S. Rubenstein cc: Madeleine K. Albright

    U.S. Secretary of State (End text)

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