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U.S. Department of State

  Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo: An Accounting
   U.S. State Department Report • December 1999

Executive Summary
Documenting the Abuses

The Refugee Interview Process
Postscript: Albanian Retribution and Missing Persons
Atrocities and War Crimes by Location
Appendix: List of Annotated Web Sites

Postscript: Albanian Retribution and Missing Persons

Ethnic violence in Kosovo did not halt with the end of the international conflict, the withdrawal of Serb forces, the deployment of NATO troops and the UN Mission, or the return of Kosovar refugees. This continued violence has affected both sides, but proportionally the Serbs and other minorities have suffered most heavily. Serbs have been subjected to kidnapping, murder, arson, grenade attacks, shootings, and a variety of other intimidation tactics, including bombing places of worship. NGOs have also recently documented abuses against Serb patients in hospitals in Kosovo and intimidation of Serb physicians.

Since June 10, between 200 and 400 Serb residents of Kosovo have been killed, thousands of Serb homes and apartments have been torched, destroyed, or looted,and according to Serbian Orthodox Church officials, more than 40 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been damaged or destroyed. In one of the worst incidents, on July 23, 1999, 14 Serb farmers were killed while working their fields near the village of Gradsko. On August 11, an international forensic team completed a site investigation at Llapushnica and confirmed finding a mass grave containing seven bodies. While none of the bodies had been positively identified at that time, preliminary indications suggest that the victims were Serbs.

The Roma population has also been the focus of retribution, being accused of collaborating in the expulsion of Kosovar Albanians. Historical animosity against the Roma community has also played a role. A July 20 statement condemning attacks on Serbs and Roma was released by the former UCK leadership, and former UCK leader Hashim Thaqi publicly denounced the July 23 Gradsko attack. There is no evidence that the former UCK leadership is orchestrating the violence. On the other hand, Kosovar Albanians have neither identified the perpetrators of these crimes, nor has the condemnation of these abuses by leaders of the Kosovar Albanian population been as broad, sustained, or effective as the circumstances warrant.

Prior to 1999, there were an estimated 200,000 Serbs in Kosovo. Today, some 97,000 remain, according to KFOR. This report documents all that we can now confirm about war crimes that occurred in Kosovo before the end of the conflict. Although this volume is far more detailed than the first edition, which was published before international investigators had physical access to alleged mass grave sites in Kosovo, this second volume still does not and cannot fully document the horrors that took place during the Spring of 1999 and before. Meanwhile, the question of violence and persecution against ethnic Serbs, Roma and other, as well as the question of Kosovar Albanian detainees and missing persons deserves a documentary approach and detailed reporting that the United States continues to support both financially and politically.

The United States is also committed to supporting NATO and UNMIK efforts to break the cycle of violence. In the long term, the solution will lie in developing robust and pluralistic Kosovar institutions dedicated to respecting the rule of law. With logistical and financial assistance from the U.S., the police academy in Kosovo recently graduated its first class, a group of Kosovars, selected and trained to enforce the laws and guarantee due process without regard to ethnic background. In addition, the U.S. and the international community are focusing resources and training on integrating former UCK members into the Kosovo Protection Force (KPC).

OSCE and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a joint report on November 3, 1999 on the situation of ethnic minorities in Kosovo, which observed that the overall situation remains tense. Movement out of Kosovo of persons from minority groups, particularly Serbs and Roma, continues. The report notes that fear is usually the major factor, but increasingly concerns about lack of access to humanitarian assistance, medical facilities, education, pensions, and employment are causing displacement. It states that this exclusion from such facilities and opportunities are either the direct result of a lack of freedom of movement brought on by the security situation or a consequence of real or perceived discrimination in the delivery of public services which are now predominantly, if not exclusively, Kosovar Albanian-run.

Finally, there is a further set of human rights issues emanating from Serbian authorities' actions in Kosovo. According to Amnesty International, as many as 23,000 conscientious objectors, draft evaders, and deserters from the Yugoslav Army during the Kosovo conflict may face trial before former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) military courts. At least several hundred conscientious objectors reportedly are imprisoned in the FRY, along with draft evaders and deserters. Meanwhile, at least 2,000 ethnic Albanians, and perhaps a significantly higher number, are reportedly held in Serbian detention facilities--some without formal charges against them. While Belgrade has released the names of approximately 2,000 of these detainees and released a few hundred in the past few weeks, ethnic Albanians claim that thousands more could be held in Serbian prisons. NGOs have documented that these detainees include women and children. The United States government calls upon Serbian authorities to release all imprisoned conscientious objectors, account for and unconditionally return detained Kosovar Albanians to their families in Kosovo, and suspend legal proceedings against both groups immediately.