Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Report from Kosovo: Until NATO Restores Order, Revenge, Criminality Rule

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Report from Kosovo: Until NATO Restores Order, Revenge, Criminality Rule

Article excerpt

REPORT FROM KOSOVO: Until NATO Restores Order, Revenge, Criminality Rule

On a July visit to Kosovo, I stayed with some friends in the western town of Djakovica, the scene of a particularly high number of murders during the recent NATO intervention. I sat in the living room while an Albanian Kosovar I'll call Agron, a man with a sad expression built into his face, told me of what he had seen.

"On the second day of the bombing, the Serbs took our neighbor away," Agron said. "I still don't know where he is. I watched from the attic of the house, when three men in masks came and took the family out from next door. They killed four people in the yard. I was waiting for them to come kill me."

Agron then brought out a death announcement with 20 photographs on it. These were all cousins of his. First they were killed, and then the house they were in was set on fire.

Shortly thereafter I was visiting an Albanian family in Pristina, in an apartment building where both Albanians and Serbs lived on the same hallway. Some Albanian vigilantes had been threatening the Serbs.

The family I was visiting was on good terms with the Serbian neighbors, and the father, Ibrahim, tried to defend them. The vigilantes said, "They're Serbs, what are they waiting for? Why don't they leave?" Ibrahim told them, "You can't go around evicting people like this. My neighbors are innocent. If you can prove they committed any crimes during the bombing, I'll help you evict them myself."

The vigilantes left. I said to the daughter of the family, "I wouldn't want to be in their position," referring to the Serbs. She said, "Neither would I. I already was." The vigilantes came back a few days later when the father was not there, and broke into the Serbs' apartment. They hit the mother of the Serbian family on the head with a pistol and ordered the family to leave within a half hour. The Serbs packed up and left.

I observed this eviction and called KFOR (NATO's "Kosovo Force") when the vigilantes left. The British soldiers who arrived told me, "We have a complicated job. This is going on all day. I make 10 arrests every day, but there are always more people to take these bandits' place. Look out the window and you'll see what kind of situation we have here."

I looked out the window into the darkness and saw a house in full blaze two blocks away. Another Serb or Roma (Gypsy) family had been evicted.

During my several weeks in Kosovo, Albanians constantly told me, "There were no Serbs who stood up and opposed what was done to us." I also listened to their grievances against the Roma: "They were working with the Serbian police. …

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