PRISTINA: SERBS and Gypsies are being harassed, beaten and murdered in a systematic effort to force them out of Kosovo, a leading human rights group has claimed.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch also said that NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] seemed ill-equipped to cope with the attacks.
The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA] rejected suggestions that it was behind the persistent abuse of minorities, while NATO said things would be much worse if it had not moved in to restore order.
WEST AUSTRALIAN THURSDAY AUGUST 5 1999
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An 18-page report released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday [Aug. 3] included killings, abductions and abuse it said could not be fully explained by the desire of returning ethnic Albanians to exact revenge for past Serbian atrocities in Kosovo.
The reports have troubling implications for Western leaders, who justified their 11-week NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia by asserting that their goal was a peaceful, multi-ethnic Kosovo.
The ideal of a multi-ethnic Kosovo -- a place where Serbs, Albanians and Gypsies can live together -- is verging on collapse. NATO commanders have acknowledged that their forces are spread too thin to protect everyone.
The flight of Serbs from Kosovo over the past eight weeks is beginning to look irreversible. Less than 25 per cent of Kosovo's pre-war Serbian population of 200,000 remains.
The report said more than 164,000 Serbs and many Gypsies, often accused by Albanians of siding with Serbian forces, have fled [from] the province since NATO moved in.
Without Serbs, the ethnic Albanian drive for an independent Kosovo, an aspiration long resisted by the West, could well become unstoppable, Western officials said.
Human Rights Watch cited the gunning down of 14 Serbian farmers in a wheatfield on July 23 as examples of Serbs targeted for no other apparent reason than their decision to stay in Kosovo.
In New York, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said a $540 customs inspection fee imposed by Macedonia was blocking aid to Kosovo.
"The fee has brought UNHCR's [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] aid pipeline to a standstill and is contributing to a back-up of supplies," a spokesman said. "The fee penalises humanitarian agencies trying to provide assistance to Kosovo."
Before the fee, the agency sent up to 25 trucks a day across the border into Kosovo. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS, WASHINGTON POST and LOS ANGELES TIMES -- The West Australian, August 5 1999, p 20.
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Human Rights Watch is at: http://www.hrw.org/ A report about attacks on Serbs and Roma (Gypsies) is at http://www.hrw.org/hrw/reports/1999/kosov2/ which includes a supposition that the KLA had been persecuting people before the NATO bombing began, as follows: "It is also important to note that the KLA has been linked to earlier abuses against Serbs, Roma, and Kosovar Albanians during 1998 and during the first three months of 1999. Specifically, reports by the Humanitarian Law Center, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Human Rights Watch's own research indicate that dozens of Serbs, and a smaller number of Roma and Albanians, were detained by the KLA between mid-1998 and March 1999. At least 130 Serbs went missing during this time and are presumed dead."
COMMENT: Multiculturalism didn't work in Australia in the 19th century, so it was stopped then, and not revived until nearly all memory of its problems had been lost. It isn't working in any part of the former Yugoslavia. Other newsitems have pointed out that Jews too are being driven out of various parts of the former Yugoslavia. But the opinion-moulders in the West keep asking the unfortunate inhabitants to go back to their homes and resume their lives living among Croats, Serbs, Muslims, Albanians, etc., and to act as if terrible crimes had not been committed by evil elements in these and perhaps other groups. And they are expected to forget the past few years of horrors, as well as the history of hundreds of years of atrocities!
01 Oct 1999, (10kb) last revised 03 Jan 2000
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