A Trip to Multiethnic Kosovo

By the Austrian-Yugoslav Solidarity Movement

In early May a delegation of the Austrian-Yugoslav Solidarity Movement (JVSB) came to Kosovska Mitrovica in order to:

* express our demand to free the political prisoners from UNMIK incarceration

* express our support to the remaining non-Albanians in the Ghetto of Kosovska Mitrovica

* investigate the local situation without media manipulation.


Pictures and a map of the demarcation line between the multi-national North and the albanised South can be found under: www.vorstadtzentrum.net/joesb


Hunger strike of the political prisoners

As reported in our declaration of April 24th, 2000, the event that triggered the decision for the hunger strike was the release of the Albanian Dzeljalj Ademi, who had injured 22 civilians and 14 KFOR soldiers in an anti-Serb hand-grenade attack, while the non-Albanian prisoners remain incarcerated for months without trial. The prisoners demand investigations for a trial. The most blatant case is a 16-year old boy who was arrested for genocide last summer.

Another case worth mentioning is a Serb man called Jaksimovic from the vicinity of Orahovac, who was stopped by UNMIK at a road block. An Albanian whose hand had been injured by gunfire and who was at the site by chance, claimed that Mr Jaksimovic was the person who had injured him, and Mr Jaksimovic was immediately arrested by UNMIK soldiers. One of Mr Jaksimovic's fellow travellers who is Albanian heard that the other Albanian was told by passers-by to point at "the guy with the beard" (i.e. Jaksimovic) and to claim that he was responsible.

In general the accusations are completely arbitrary and politically motivated. The witnesses are arbitrarily selected and their testimonies are first of all determined by their loyalty to the aims of the KLA , as the comport of the judges. The few Serb judges that had existed all resigned, because their personal safety could not be guaranteed. They also protested against the partiality of the UNMIK judicial system. The discrimination between Albanians and non-Albanians proves, that Serbs and Romanies are being held in prison for political and ethnical reasons and not for concrete offences of law; they are political prisoners of the UN.

Two of the hunger strikers are in a critical state. One of them fell into coma. Nevertheless UNMIK does not allow doctors nor journalists to visit the prisoners. Now also relatives of the prisoners started a hunger strike. They organise daily protest manifestations in front of the prison, in which thousands of people participate. The JVSB representative expressed his solidarity with the gathered crowd.

As delegates of the aid organisation Humanitas we tried hard to get permission to see the prisoners. The local UNMIC police commander, Sven Erik Larson, actually told us that most accusations of the Serb and Romany prisoners against the UNMIK judiciary are justified. Nevertheless he did not grant us permission to visit the prisoners, but sent us to Pristina. In Pristina our demand was refused by Edita Ryan, who is the competent NGO liaison officer and who called Humanitas an organisation that illegally operates in Kosovo.

We call upon everyone to join our campaign for the release of the political prisoners and to step up pressure on UNMIK by organising further visits to the prison of Kosovska Mitrovica.

Kosovo impressions

In fact the North of Kosovo which is not under KLA control is the only multi-national part of Kosovo - even after the war. Here are some concrete examples:

Kaplan Beruti in Svecan. The chief presiding judge of Kosovska Mitrovica, the Albanian Kaplan Beruti, who is actually responsible for the arbitrary incarceration of the Serbs and Romanies who went on hunger strike, is living in Svecan, north of Kosovska Mitrovica, a village that is predominantly Serbian, and he lives there without KFOR protection. His children go to a local school.

Serb refugees in Albanian houses in Banjska: On the premises of this monastery in the northern mountains there are several week-end cottages owned by Albanians. Now Serb refugees from the South live in these houses. We asked about the former owners and were surprised to hear that they are living in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica and that they were even paid rent for these houses.

Albanians in daily life: Asking several Serbs about the Albanian flats and houses in Kosovo Mitrovica that are under tight KFOR protection, we were always told that there is a significant difference between KLA followers whose flats serve as KLA bases, and Albanians who are loyal to Yugoslavia. The latter can live there without any problems. 

The impressions from the southern part of Kosovo are completely different. Destroyed Romany quarter: At the road from Kosovska Mitrovica to Pristina only 10-20% of the houses seem to be burnt. The Romany quarter of southern Kosovska Mitrovica is completely devastated, burnt down and razed to the ground. UCK racist national ideology obviously was fully realised here.

UNMIK official warns us of deadly danger: We went to the UNMIK office for NGOs in Pristina in order to obtain a permit to visit the prisoners of Kosovska Mitrovica. When the official in charge, Edita Ryan, saw our letter that was written in Cyrillic, she told us immediately that we must not show this letter to anybody, because this could be our death sentence; she also said that she was saying so "off records." She even discouraged us to have it translated into English within Kosovo.

Albanian taxi driver speaks Serbo-Croatian: Due to the many warnings we avoided speaking Serbian to the driver who brought us from Mitrovica to Pristina and back. When we realised that he was listening to Serbian radio and was cursing in Serbian, we started talking to him in Russian. He felt completely at ease speaking Serbian. When we got of the car, he urgently reminded us not to utter a single word of Serbian on the streets, because this was very dangerous.

There is a system behind the persecution of non-Albanians

The political and ethnic persecution of Serbs and Romanies by the UN judiciary is only the tip of the iceberg. NATO/UNO, based on the KLA, actually formed a regime that oppresses and discriminates against all non-Albanians in order to finally expel them and to deprive the integrity of Yugoslavia of its demographical legitimacy. While KLA and its successor organisation TMK respectively were demilitarised only very superficially (only heavy weapons), and there constantly are attacks against non-Albanians - these attacks claimed more than 1,000 lives since the beginning of the NATO occupation - Serb forces were completely stripped of their weapons, thus depriving them of the ability for self-defence. This means a death sentence for many of those who are determined to stay, because due to "lack of capacity" they are not granted KFOR protection. Only the convoys of fleeing non-Albanians are granted protection.

Re-settlement: Kouchner and other representatives of the so-called international community say that it is still to early to bring the non-Albanian refugees to the South of Kosovo; but at the same time in the North of Kosovska Mitrovica, KFOR is trying by means of force to bring Albanian refugees to their houses. There is proof that UCK fighters are also infiltrated, brought to the North of Kosovska Mitrovica: There were sniper attacks from the three Albanian tall buildings that were recently re-settled.

Elections: There is also proof that UNO/KFOR is not a neutral mediator, but a motive force. They plan to organise elections for a protectorate government on the base of the present ethnic composition, to preserve the expulsion of 300,000 non-Albanians and the settlement of an unknown number of Albanians from the North of Albania.

Yugoslavia is the only multi-national state of the Balkans

The war triggered by the KLA with the support of the west and transformed by NATO into a war against the whole of Yugoslavia, claimed a total of 2,108 victims counted on both sides. But just a year of NATO protectorate already claimed the lives of more than one thousand non-Albanians! In spite of ardent ethnic conflicts there had not been expulsions and "ethnic cleansing" under Yugoslav rule in Kosovo. Even when UCK fuelled the spiral of violence with their terrorist attacks since 1997, there were hardly any refugees. When the fighting subsided, most refugees returned. The "Horseshoe Plan" ("Potkovica Plan") turned out to be a secret service propaganda forgery. Only after the NATO bombardments started, refugees started to flee in large numbers. Now, under the rule of UCK and NATO, there actually is systematic "ethnic cleansing" that had earlier been attributed to Yugoslav forces. 300,000 non-Albanians have been expelled and the few that remained are constantly threatened, and KFOR refuses to protect them seriously.

In spite of the disintegrating tendencies and internal tensions, Yugoslavia still is a multi-ethnic state and as such is the only possible form of peaceful co-existence of the ethnically mixed peoples of the Balkans. It was the West that used the "right of ethnic-territorial self-determination" as a crowbar against Yugoslavia. That necessarily lead to a civil war. The Serb
people was and is the heart of Yugoslavia and had relinquished its ethnic interests in favour of this common state. So when now the other peoples of Yugoslavia revoke this federation, it is only just, when Serbia also defends her national interests. But the decisive difference between the Serbs and the other peoples is, that the latter became slaves of the New World Order, while the Serbian people is fighting against the new NATO tyranny.

This is why Kosovo has to remain a part of Yugoslavia, why the refugees have to return and why UCK and NATO have to vanish!

Jugoslawisch-Vsterreichische Solidaritdtsbewegung (JVSB)
PF 217, A-1040 Wien, Vsterreich


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