is a partial list of war crimes, violations of international humanitarian
law, or other human rights violations reported throughout Kosovo:
Displacement of Ethnic Albanian Civilians
Serbian authorities conducted a campaign of forced
population movement on a scale seldom seen in Europe since the 1940s.
They drove the vast majority of the ethnic Albanian population from their
homes. The Serbian regime's claim that this population outflow was the
result of voluntary flight in fear of NATO airstrikes is not supported
by the accounts of victims. Victims consistently reported being expelled
from their homes by Serbian forces at gunpoint, in contrast to the fighting
of 1998, when the bulk of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and
refugees fled to escape the crossfire or to avoid reprisals by Serbian
security forces. Many victims were herded onto trains and other organized
transport and expelled from the province. In addition, Serbian forces
expelled the majority of Kosovar Albanians from urban areas such as Djakovica.
Refugees say that those forced to remain behind were used as human shields.
Serbian forces also disguised themselves as refugees
to prevent targeting from NATO aircraft. Refugees claimed that on May
6, Serbian forces dressed in white hats and jackets with Red Cross and
Red Crescent logos moved with convoys of IDPs between Djakovica and Brekovac.
In order to conceal their military cargo, Serbian forces covered their
wagons with plastic tarpaulins taken from NGOs.
In contrast to 1998, when Serbian security forces
attacked small villages, Yugoslav Army units and armed civilians this
year joined the police in systematically expelling ethnic Albanians at
gunpoint from both villages and the larger towns of Kosovo. Serbian authorities
forced many refugees to sign disclaimers saying they were leaving Kosovo
of their own free will. Victims also reported that the Serbian forces
confiscated their personal belongings and documentation, including national
identity papers, and told them to take a last look around because they
would never return to Kosovo. Many of the places targeted had not been
the scenes of previous fighting or UCK activity. This indicates that the
Serbian expulsions were an exercise in ethnic cleansing and not a part
of a legitimate security or counter-insurgency operation, but instead
a plan to cleanse the province of a significant proportion of its ethnic
of Homes and Businesses
There are numerous reports from victims and the press of Serbian forces
going house to house robbing residents before burning their homes. In
addition, Kosovar Albanian victims claimed that Serbian forces robbed
them of all their personal belongings before they crossed the borders.
village in southern Kosovo. This scene is typical of villages where
buildings are being reconstructed this summer that were previously
destroyed by Serbian forces in southern Kosovo. Photo date August
Burning of Homes
Over 1,200 residential
areas, including over 500 villages, were burned after late March, 1999.
Most Serbian homes and stores remained intact during the conflict, and
Serbian civilians in many towns painted a Cyrillic "S" on their doors
so that Serbian forces would not attack their homes by mistake. The destruction
is much more extensive and thorough than that which occurred in the summer
of 1998. Many settlements were totally destroyed in an apparent attempt
to ensure that the Kosovar Albanian population could not return. Serbian
forces reportedly burned all houses previously rented to the OSCE in Vucitrn,
Stimlje, and Kosovska Mitrovica. Mass burnings of villages waned towards
the end of the campaign, by time many Kosovar Albanian homes had been
abandoned. Those homes that were still intact were sometimes taken over
by Serbian security forces.
Kosovar Albanians have reported that over 500 villages
burned from late March 1999. The following villages are confirmed as having
been mostly burned or entirely destroyed.
Novo Selo Begovo
Stanica Donje Ljupce
of Human Shields
Serbian forces compelled Kosovar Albanians to accompany
Serbian military convoys and shield facilities throughout the province.
The extent to which civilians were used to shield military assets is difficult
to measure, because Serbian units also escorted or herded Kosovar Albanians
in the course of military operations.
Beginning in mid-April, Serbian forces used Kosovar
Albanian men to shield military convoys from NATO airstrikes. Serbian
forces reportedly removed young Kosovar Albanian men from refugee columns
and forced them to form a buffer zone around Serbian convoys. Numerous
Kosovar Albanians claimed to have witnessed and participated in this activity
on the roads between Pec, Djakovica, and Kosovska Mitrovica.
In at least one instance--Korisa--Serbian forces
intentionally positioned ethnic Albanians at sites that they believed
were targets for NATO airstrikes. In other instances, unconfirmed reports
say Kosovar Albanians were kept concealed within NATO target areas apparently
to generate civilian casualties that could be blamed on NATO. In addition,
Kosovar Albanian reports claimed that Serbian forces compelled Kosovar
Albanian men to don Serbian military uniforms, probably so they could
not be distinguished by NATO and UCK surveillance.
Albanians have claimed that Serbian forces systematically separated military-aged
ethnic Albanian men--ranging from as young as 14 to 59 years old--from
the population as they expelled Kosovar Albanians from their homes.
Refugees reported early in April that Serbian forces
used the Ferro-Nickel factory in Glogovac as a detention center for a
large number of Kosovar Albanians.
According to refugees, a cement factory in Deneral
Jankovic had also been temporarily used as a detention center for Kosovar
Albanians. The prisoners reportedly were released in late April.
From May 21 to early June, some 2,000 Kosovar Albanian
men entered Albania after being detained by Serbian forces for three weeks
in a prison in Smrekovnica near Srbica. Serbian authorities were apparently
looking for UCK members and sympathizers among the prisoners. While detaining
the men, the Serbian authorities forced them to dig trenches and physically
abused many of them. After interrogations, the detainees were loaded on
buses and driven to Zhure, from where they walked to the border.
Kosovar Albanians have provided
accounts of summary executions and mass graves at about 500 sites throughout
Kosovo. In just one example, Serbian security forces reportedly locked
an entire family into a house in the Drenica area and burned them alive.
In addition to random executions, Serbian forces apparently targeted members
of the Kosovar Albanian intelligentsia including lawyers, doctors, and
political leaders. Survivors reported that Serbian forces burned bodies
exhumed from mass graves in an apparent attempt to destroy forensic evidence
of war crimes. Detailed information on these 500 sites are provided below
in the section entitled, Atrocities and War Crimes by Location.
of Mass Graves
Kosovar Albanian refugees
claim that Serbian forces exhumed bodies from mass grave sites from the
outset of the conflict, apparently in an attempt to minimize evidence
of atrocities. Reports indicate that in some instances Serbian forces
re-interred bodies of executed ethnic Albanians in individual graves,
while in others corpses were burned. Moving bodies from mass graves to
individual graves has impeded the location of execution sites and hampered
the ability of forensic investigators to discriminate between "regular"
graves and graves containing massacre victims.
One of the most egregious examples is also one of
the best-documented. In April, Serbian forces massacred Kosovar Albanian
civilians in a field near Izbica, in north-central Kosovo. After the massacre,
local Kosovar Albanians buried the victims in individual graves, an event
videotaped by a local dentist from a nearby village. The videotape was
smuggled out of Kosovo by the UCK. In May, the Department of State showed
how the location of the videotape could be corroborated from overhead
imagery. Serbian forces, during their retreat from Kosovo in early June,
destroyed the graves at Izbica along with other graves of their victims--a
fact that the Department of Defense confirmed through imagery at a press
briefing in June.
Retribution. Pristina Orthodox Cathedral. Serbian Orthodox church
officials claim that over 40 churches have been damaged or destroyed
in acts of Kosovar Albanian retribution since the end of the NATO
bombing campaign. This Orthodox cathedral in Pristina was under construction
prior to the bombing campaign. In July 1999, a bomb exploded inside
the church, probably as an act of retribution. This and many other
churches in Kosovo are being protected by KFOR troops, such as those
in the armored personnel carrier shown here at the side of this church.
Photo date August 1999.
According to Kosovar Albanian reports, Serbian forces
in Lipljan, probably in early May, exhumed the bodies of ethnic Albanians
who had been executed on April 18. After moving the bodies to a building
in the village, Serbian forces reportedly ordered the surviving family
members to rebury them in individual graves.
Similarly, Serbian forces exhumed the bodies of at
least 50 ethnic Albanians in Glogovac and transported the bodies to the
nearby village of Cikatovo on May 15, according to refugee reports. The
bodies were then buried in individual graves.
Kosovar Albanians reported in mid-June that Serbian
police excavated bodies from a mass grave in Kacanik and moved them to
a local cemetery. Residents indicated that the bodies might be those killed
by Serbian police in early April.
reports by Kosovar Albanian refugees reveal that the organized and individual
rape of Kosovar Albanian women by Serbian forces was widespread. According
to Kosovar Albanians, Serbian forces systematically raped women in Djakovica
and Pec. Kosovar Albanian women reportedly were separated from their families
and sent to an army camp near Djakovica, where they were raped repeatedly
by Serbian soldiers. In Pec, Kosovar Albanians said that Serbian forces
rounded up young Kosovar Albanian women and took them to the Hotel Karagac,
where they were raped repeatedly. The commander of the local base was
said to have used a roster of soldiers' names to allow all of his troops
an evening in the hotel. A victim who escaped her captors reported that
Serbian forces used a second hotel in Pec, the Metohia, for raping Kosovar
Albanian women. In addition to these three specific accounts, numerous
Kosovar Albanians claim that during Serbian raids on their villages, young
women were gang raped in homes and on the sides of roads. There are probably
many more incidents than have not been reported because of the stigma
attached to the survivors in traditional Kosovar Albanian society. Medical
facilities have reported abortions among refugee women who reported being
raped by Serbian forces.
of Medical Neutrality
Serbian forces systematically
attacked Kosovar Albanian physicians, patients, and medical facilities.
Violations of medical neutrality by Serbian forces include killings, torture,
detention, imprisonment, and forced disappearances of Kosovar physicians.
In March and April, Serbian health care providers, police and military
expelled Kosovar Albanian patients and health care providers from health
facilities as protective cover for military activities. The NGO Physicians
for Human Rights has received reports of the destruction of at least 100
medical clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals.
There are multiple reports of Serbian forces confiscating
identity and property documents including passports, land titles, automobile
license plates, identity cards, and other forms of documentation from
Kosovar Albanians as they were forced out of villages or as they crossed
international borders into Albania or Macedonia. Physicians for Human
Rights reports that nearly 60 percent of respondents to its survey observed
Serbian forces removing or destroying personal identification documents.
Physicians for Human Rights also reported that the intent to destroy the
social identity of Kosovar Albanians is also reflected in the number of
places of worship, schools, and medical facilities that were destroyed
by Serbian forces.