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Kosovo Human Rights Report
Update 7 March 1998
G÷ttingen/Bozen, 7 March 1998
Since the last report from the Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft fŘr bedrohte V÷lker - GfbV) in September 1997, the general political situation as well as human rights standards have become dramatically worse. The peaceful solution of the conflict between the Albanian majority population and the Serbian apartheid-regime in the Kosovo region is becoming increasingly remote.
Since the 28th February 1998 the situation in Kosovo has escalated dramatically. In the regions between Skenderaj/Srbica, Kline/Klina and Gllogovc/Glogovac the Serbian police and black uniformed special troops - openly supported by the army and paramilitary - are attacking the Albanian population. According to reports of the Kosovo Information Centre, Serbian special forces ("PJP"), who were employed in the Bosnian War, are also in Kosovo.
On the weekend of the 28th February/1st March 1998, during a heavy attack in Drenica, four Serbian police and at least twenty four Albanians were killed, according to the lastest findings. Among them was a pregnant women, Rukia Nebihi, who was killed by a shot in her face, her husband was found later murdered.
In Likoshan/Likosane the Serbian troops began a massacre in which ten members of the Ahmeti family (Ahmet, Gani, Elmi, Hamiz, Driton, Naim, Lumni, Shemsi, Basri, Elhami) as well as their guests (Behram Fazliu and Shaban Muja) were killed. Eye witnesses reported that here, as in the small town of Cirez, helicopters and armoured vehicles with machine-guns held the streets under constant fire, before special troops entered private houses on foot and took fire.
According to statements from the Kosovo-Albanian journalist, Veton Surroi, chief editor of the newspaper, Koha Ditore, veterans from the Bosnian and Croatian wars are employed in Kosovo. According to a report from the Kosovo Information Centre, on 1st March 1998 the paramilitary Chechnik troops of the presumed war criminal, Zelko Raznjatovic Arkan, were observed in the area surrounding Polac, near Skenderaj/Srbica. These groups murdered thousands of Muslim Bosnians in the Drina Valley and Posavina (Sava Valley) in Bosnia.
On 4th March 1998, a protest demonstration in which over 100,000 people took part according to statements from the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, was disrupted by Serbian police using water canons, riot sticks and tear gas. Different estimates put the number of wounded between 100 and 300.
At dawn on 5th March 1998, troops of the military equipped police and, as reported by the exiled Kosovo government and in an article by a correspondent from the German daily Die Welt, army troops surrounded the Albanian towns of Llaushe, Ternavc, Kline e Eperme, Kline e Ulet, Polac, Kryshaefc, Dubofc, Lubovec, Galice, Beqiq, Drenica in the Skenderaj/Srbica region. The small towns of Prekaz, Llaushe, Polac, Morine and Mikushnice were shot at with heavy weapons, including canons and granades. After four hours of artillery fire, the Serbian troops penetrated Prekaz, Llaushe and Vojnik.
Refugees from the Albanian villages in Drenica, near Skenderaj/Srbica arrived in Vushtri/Vucitrn and in Mitrovica, who could not be cared for until now. All Albanian patients had to leave the hospital in Mitrovica. The relief organisation, Pharmaciens sans frontieres (pharmacy without frontiers), working in Kosovo, deplored the situation in which humanitarian help was denied entry into the war area blocked off by the police. Twenty two Albanians and two Serbian police are reported to have been killed during the attack on 5th March, however the Kosovo Information Centre reports of 50 deaths.
The national army distributed weapons to Serbian citizens in the villages of Gojbula, Mirace and Bukosh. UNHCR Speaker, Mons Nyberg reported that Serbian refugees from Croatia, who are living in Kosovo, have been called up to the army against international humanitarian law. In Kosovo, Serbian refugees from Krajina and the local Serbian population are being evacuated, as in Bosnia before the final "ethnic cleansing" of the Muslim population. Serbian snipers are in a threatening position opposite the office of the Kosova President, Ibrahim Rugova in Prishtina.
The Kosova Information Centre reported that at dawn on 6th March, newly arrived troops from Serbia encircled the neighbouring area of Llausha. The small town, in which predominantly women and children were staying, was shot at with "all types of weapons".
Since November 1997, the preparations for an attack by the Serbian police and army have been made. Large militarily equipped contingents, with tanks and helicopters, and armed Serbian police have been moving into Kosovo. Similarly to before the "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia in 1992, local Serbian civilians have been equipped with weapons by the regime and terrorise the population, supporting the (nonlocal) police troops by undertaking patrols and street controls.
In the region around Skenderaj/Srbica, special forces of the police and paramilitary have been observed, in part masked, since 17th February 1998. Armoured tanks have been patrolling the streets. On the night of 17th February, shooting practice of an imaginary target in the neighbouring hills took place from a police base in Pograxha near Kline/Klina, which lasted for hours.
Since the middle of February, indications of a immanent attack by the Yugoslavian army in Kosovo have been growing. Already on 21st January, the Macedonian President, Kiro Gligorov warned NATO of an outbreak of conflict in Kosovo and demanded the establishment of a "corridor" through Macedonia to Albania for "hundreds of thousands of refugees" from Kosovo. Also the democratic opposition in Serbia warned of an approaching military operation: on 11th February at a press conference in Novi Sad, Nenad Cnak, President of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, who already in 1991 organised a referendum against war in Croatia, and Miodrag Isakov, President of the Reform Democratic Party of Vojvodina, reported that they had "irrefutable evidence" of a mobilisation of the army which reminded them of the preparations for the Croatian War in 1991.
Physical mistreatment by the Serbian authorities
On August 12 and 14, Shaban Ali Morina (1949) from Gllareva village, temporarily employed in Austria, was taken for "informative talks" to the local police station of Klina. There he was provoked, physically ill-treated and was ordered to report to the police station every time he comes home for holidays from Austria. CDHRF Report No 367
On 4 September in Gllogoc, Muhamet Krasniqi (1969), an agricultural technician from Gllamnasella and an asylum seeker repatriated from Germany on 27 July 1997, was taken in for "informative talks". Four inspectors interrogated him on Ramiz Lladrovci's and his wife's whereabouts. He was subjected to severe physical ill-treatment and suffered bad injuries. He was released and received an order to report again to the police station on 11 September.
On 11 and 17 September, Krasniqi was taken in again for "informative talks" and was subjected to severe physical ill-treatment. He was subjected to interrogation about the murder of Liman Karanica, on his relatives' whereabouts and his stay in Germany. Muhamet suffered bad injuries on his back and hands and was ordered to report again to the police station on 22 September. CDHRF Report No 370/1
Afrim Suuka (1971) from Bllaca, Suhareka was repatriated from Germany on October 28. After arriving at Prishtina airport, he was sumoned to Suharek police station on December 9. At the police station, he was interrogated about his stay in Germany, the people he met there and was ordered to go back. He was very badly beaten with a rubber stick. CDHRF Special Report 1997
On 7 December, police prevented Nazmi Malaj from the village of ăubrel from returning to Kosovo. He was physically ill-treated and sent back to Switzerland. CDHRF Report No 383
On 15 December in Kamenica, police stopped Fatmir Ali Thaši (1962) from Mušiverc, temporarily employed in Switzerland, at the Prishtina airport. His passport was seized and he was kept at the airport for several hours. He was ill- treated nd later on released, but he was not given back his passport. CDHRF Report No 384
On January 10, at the Prishtina airport in Sllatina, police physically ill-treated brothers Hyzri and Hasan Sejdiu from Ferizaj, while they were waiting for the plane to Switzerland. Due to injuries suffered, they had to seek medical care. CDHRF Report No 388
On January 15 in Ferizaj, at about 12.50, two unidentified persons kidnapped Bajram Shehu (1960) from Grema, a former political prisoner, temporarily employed in Switzerland. The next day, Bajram called a friend of his saying that he was OK. In a letter addressing the CDHRF written on the 27 January, and published in "Bujku" and "Koha Ditore", Shehu described the torture perpetrated by Serbian State Security. He has been subjected to torture since was "kidnapped" on 15 until 19 January 1998 on the pretext that he is a member of National Movement and KLA. CDHRF Report No 388
On 15 January, Ibush Sh. Jashari from Podujeva, an asylum seeker repatriated from Germany, was arrested and taken to the Security Centre in Prishtina. He was subjected to interrogation on his activity in Germany and was charged for "hostile activity". Ibush has been subjected to physical ill-treatment until today. Due to injuries he suffered, he had to seek medical help. Inspectors ordered him to report again to the police station. CDHRF Report No 389/Kosovo Daily Report 1323
Repression during deportation and interrogation by the police
On 15 August, Musli Smaili and his five member family from Klina e Poshtme were repatriated from Germany. Ever since, he and Mrs Smaili have been taken to the Security Centre of Mitrovica several times and interrogated about their stay in Germany. CDHRF Report No 371
On 17 September, Musa Smaili together with his wife Mrs. Smaili, from Kline e Poshtme, Skenderaj, were summoned to the police station in Mitrovica for interrogation on many occasions. They were arrested by the German police and held in isolation for three weeks, until mid August, and returned home via Prishtina airport together with their four children. The Serbian police have been questioning them about their four year stay in Germany, and have inquired after other Kosovo Albanians currently in Germany. Kosovo Daily Report 1233
On September 26 in Mitrovica, Muhamet Sahit Smakolli (24), a repatriated asylum seeker from Germany, was taken in for informative talks regarding his stay there. CDHRF Report No 373
In September, Nexhmedin Gashi (1959) from the village of Kryshec, was wanted by the police and was ordered to report to the local police station in Skenderaj. A month ago Nexhmedin was repatriated from Germany and ever since he was summoned for informative talks three times in row. CDHRF Report No 378
On 10 October, Din Zeqe Gashi from Sferka village in Klina, recently repatriated from Germany, was summoned to report at Serbian police station in Peja. He was initially summoned in connection with his passport, but, the Serbian authorities conditioned the issue of the passport with providing information about the Albanians living and working in Germany. They demanded that he fill in a questionnaire requiring personal data, addresses, and other information about the Albanians living in Germany, and their organizations. Kosovo Daily Report 1250
On October 17, the Serbian police arrested at his relatives home in Sllatina village of Viti, Rashit Rashiti, Swiss citizen of Albanian origin. Rashit Rashiti has been living and working in Switzerland since 1973. Since 12 October he has been on a short visit to his family in Sllatina village. Since he is considered a foreigner, Rashiti reported to the Serbian police in Ferizaj of his visit. Mr. Rashiti's relatives told local LDK information commission in Viti that they have no information about his whereabouts after his arrest. Kosovo Daily Report 1256
On November 26, a police squad went to the houses of Ramadan Asllanaj (1971) and Ajet Zeqiraj (1967) in the village of Gjinoc. The two had been repatriated from Germany on November 13. Police interrogated them on the activity of Albanian clubs in Germany. They were also questioned on the organization of demonstrations, on the UK Kosovo Liberation Army and its financing, etc. Ramadan was also interrogated regarding a gun. CDHRF Report No 382
Reported on December 4, three Kosovo Albanians, Martin Skeli, from Krusheva e Vogel, Gezim Maxharraj, from Klina and another person from Pograxha, Prishtina, recently repatriated from Germany were harassed by the Serbian police. Martin Skeli was ordered to report on Thursday and Tuesday at the Serbian police station. While in detention he was interrogated about an underground organization called the Kosovo Liberation Army as well as about Albanians currently living in Germany. Gezim Maxharraj was ordered to report, within a week, at the Serbian police station in Klina. Kosovo Daily Report 1293
Threatening and Intimidation of Family Members
Police searched for weapons in the houses of Ramadan Sadri Kastrati, Ramadan Rashit Kastrati, Ekrem Biškaj and Rufat Latifaj all from the village of Hogosht temporarily employed in Switzerland. Ramadan S. Kastrati as left an order to report to the Security Center in Gjilan whereas the others are to report to Security Center in Kamenica. As Ekrem and Rufat are in Switzerland police ordered their brothers Refik and Rexhep to report to the police. CDHRF Report No 365
On August 5, the police raided for weapons the home of Adem Robelli (86) from Lajšiqi village, and searched for his son Asllan (50) who left for Switzerland where he works a day before. Adem's next son Samidin (1959) who lives in Gjilan was also interrogated and was left an order to report to the police on August 6, 7 and 13. The police looked for weapons and said if his brother Asllan came again they will confiscate his passport. CDHRF Report No 366
At the home of Habib Peršuku (68) in Cecelia village, Vushtrri, the police searched for his three sons who are presently abroad, took Habib and after a while released him with an order to report again on August 12 together with his sons. CDHRF Report No 366
On 18 August, in Braina village, Podujeva, police searched for Beqir Musa, an LDK activist, who is currently living in Germany. CDHRF Report No 369
On 28 August, on 2 and 5 September, police searched for Besim Elshani at his house in Prizren, who is currently living in Germany. Police interrogated his mother and his brother Genc and threatened to take him hostage. CDHRF Report No 370
In September, about 40 policemen surrounded and raided the house of Mark Ndrecaj in Ramoci village, while the whole family were celebrating the Saint Mertur's feast. Policemen searched for Mark's son Princ, who is currently living in Switzerland. Apart from the panic and disorder they caused, policemen demolished the furniture and took hostage his brother Jak (21) instead, and pictures of Skenderbeu and President Rugova. In the end, they filmed the house. CDHRF Report No 370
Police searched for weapons at the houses of brothers Nehat (1966) and Ferat Arifi (1972)in Bilinica village. Nehat, retired worker in Switzerland, and Ferat, farmer, were summoned for "informative talks" to the Security Centre of Gjilan. CDHRF Report No 370
In September, three plainclothed policemen from Gjilan searched for weapons at the house of Selim Selimi (1933), farmer from Pozharani village, Vitia, and asked him on the whereabouts of his sons in Germany, in particular the whereabouts of Nexhat, who had deserted the Yugoslav army in 1991. CDHRF Report No 370
On September 10, police raided in search for weapons the house of Sejdi A. Berisha in the village of Broja, Skenderaj. He was arrested but released under the condition to report again with the other male members of the family: Imer (34), currently living in Germany, Skender (22), Mursel (15) and Avdi (9). CDHRF Report No 373
On September 26 in Mitrovica, a police inspector of the local Security Center, arrested Jahja Bajram Azemi (54), living in "Ibri" quarter, interrogated him and ordered to hand in his son Festim (20) and his nephew Fatlum (20), who are currently living in Germany. Otherwise, he was threatened with castration and liquidation. CDHRF Report No 373
On 8 November, police interrogated Bedri Kuši on the whereabouts of his brother Nexhmedin (1964), who is an asylum seeker in Germany. Later, police searched for weapons at his house in Dean. CDHRF Report No 379
In November, police raided the house of Ismajl Muharrem Cacaj (1961), an agricultural engineer, and asked for his brother Mustafa, an asylum seeker in Germany. CDHRF Report No 379
Police stopped Vehbi Shaban Haziri (26) from Kaqandoll, living in Zhabari i Poshtem, checked and ordered him to tell his brother Basri, who is currently living in Germany, to report to the police station in Mitrovica. CDHRF Report No 379
In Vushtrri, police arrested Shaqir Arif Haliti and fired bullets in the direction of Ramadan Riza Ymeri, both from Balinca. Ramadan managed to escape. Police searched for Fadil Ymeri, who is currently living in Germany. CDHRF Report No 379
On November 10, Besim Gashi from the village of Kopiliq i Poshtem, Skenderaj, was summoned for informative talks. As he is currently living in Germany his father had to report to the police. CDHRF Report No 382
On November 11, police searched for Murat Hoti (40) from the village of Polac. Murat, former employee of the territorial defence in Skenderaj, has been living in Germany for the last 6 years. CDHRF Report No 382
On 13 November and on 9 December, police raided the flat of Ilir Bajqinovci, "Bregu i Diellit" quarter, Prishtina. Police searched for Avni Bajqinovci (1963) who is currently living in Germany. CDHRF Report No 383
On 18 November in Mitrovica, four policemen went into the houses of brothers Bahtir (61), Tahir (56) and Xhevat (47) Rexhep Sadiku, teacher at "Frang Bardhi" Secondary School, "Ura e Gjakut" quarter, and searched for Tahir's sons Nexhat (24), former pupil of Secondary Military School in Belgrade, Esat (21), and Xhevat's son Skender (21), who are currently living in Germany. CDHRF Report No 380
On January 10, ten policemen in search of Teuta Hamiti (32), who is currently living in Switzerland, went to the house of her father Bislim Rame Hamiti (61) in Mitrovica. CDHRF Report No 388
On 22 January, in Mitrovica, twelve policemen searched for weapons at the house of Hashim Habib Avdiu (37) and searched for his brother Gani (35) under the pretext that he had left an automatic gun before leaving for Germany. CDHRF Report No 389
On 25 January, in Vushtrri, two uniformed policemen and a plainclothed one searched for Ajet Ali Mernica, who has been living in Germany for 4 years. They threatened Ajet's father Ali with arrest if he did not give the correct address of his son. CDHRF Report No 390
On 25 January, in Peja, two security inspectors searched for brothers Naser (36) and Enver Iberdemaj (33) from Nabergjan, who have been living in Germany for 10 or 11 years. Inspectors threatened their mother Zelfije (62) and left them orders to report to the police station on 2 February. CDHRF Report No 390
Quellen: Kosovo Daily Reports des Kosovo Information Centre in Pristina, Reporte des Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms in Prishtina, Jahresbericht 1997 der International Helsinki Federation in Wien
1. The civil servant of the German Minister of
Interior, Adling, who attests to the reliability
and faithfulness to contracts of the Serbian
("Until today, only very few individual cases of
violations of human rights could be verified. On
the whole, we can assume that the Yugoslavian
Government is observing their contract
obligations in the Returns Agreement."),
dismisses the work of the exposed Albanian human
rights activists, who work with limited means and
are themselves politically persecuted:
"The Council for the Defence of Human Rights and
Freedoms CDHRF is, in fact, basically the best
informed human rights organisation in Kosovo.
However, in the past few months, strong doubts
about the quality of their documentation have
arisen. The council is being increasingly
politicised, and the careful and objective
documentation of individual cases of violations
of human rights is too brief as a result. In
contrast to a representative of the UNHCR, the
General Secretary of the Council admits the
documentation of cases in which violations of
human rights have not taken place in reality.
The Council are aware that these reports only
serve the aim of achieving recognition as
political refugees abroad in the west." German
Home Office Text, reference A 2wb 125610 JUG/0,
27th October 1997.
2. A senior officer of the German Foreign
Ministry, Wolf-Ruthart Born, told the GfbV on
12th January 1998: "At the third sitting of the
Board of Experts in Belgrade from 9th to 11th
December 1997, the Yugoslavian side gave an
official statement regarding the ample cases
named in the last sitting. ... It may be noted
that every individual case was carefully followed
up. The directly concerned authorities have
...clearly perceived the lasting interest of the
Federal Republic of Germany in the observance of
the human rights of repatriates. The Yugoslavian
side disputes, however, a violation of human
rights in every individual case."
2. A senior officer of the German Foreign Ministry, Wolf-Ruthart Born, told the GfbV on 12th January 1998: "At the third sitting of the Board of Experts in Belgrade from 9th to 11th December 1997, the Yugoslavian side gave an official statement regarding the ample cases named in the last sitting. ... It may be noted that every individual case was carefully followed up. The directly concerned authorities have ...clearly perceived the lasting interest of the Federal Republic of Germany in the observance of the human rights of repatriates. The Yugoslavian side disputes, however, a violation of human rights in every individual case."