Thursday, March 18, 2004

Kosovo in flames

Many on both left and right see Kosovo as Clinton's "good little war," but once it was over, most people turned to other interests. Maybe this piece will wake people up, but perhaps not: this story makes it sound like the Serbs caused this attack. In other circles that's called "blaming the victim"; but apparently it's OK in some situations.

CNN says, "NATO is sending peacekeeping units from Bosnia to Kosovo, which is experiencing the worst spate of violence since the end of the ethnic war there five years ago." I don't know where CNN has been sleeping, but violence has been going on more or less unabated since the end of the war.

A 1999 report from Amnesty International says, "Murder, abductions, violent attacks, intimidation, and house burning are being perpetrated on a daily basis." The same article adds:
Amnesty International is also concerned that the UN mission and KFOR appear reluctant to take steps to bring to justice members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Kosovo Protection Corps who commit human rights abuses such as unlawful detentions, beatings or evictions. At present there is no effective sanction for crimes committed in Kosovo.

Here's an Agence France Presse report about recent events in an online newspaper from Singapore. It's not so loaded toward the "both sides must end the violence" of U.S. media outlets. In the Washington Times, Kofi Annan is quoted as "called for an end to a new round of violence that has flared up in Kosovo between Albanians and Serbs." I don't like to overdo Holocaust similes, but that really is like someone in 1939 asking for "an end to the violence that flared up between the Nazis and the Jews."

Since 1999, the Albanian victors have evicted Serbs, Roma and moderate Albanians from the province. They made the Serbian language illegal; it is unsafe for a Serb to be seen on the street outside enclaves protected by outside military forces. Serbs have no access to jobs, hospitals or public schools or protection from the government from any depredation that might be visited upon them by their Al-Qaida-trained overlords. Further, the Albanians have been working to remove every vestige of a Kosovo's history and culture. Crucified Kosovo has "before" and "after" photos of 76 churches, along with the name of the country supposed to be protecting them. That's 76 churches in a province the size of Belgium.

In February, Bishop Artimije of Kosovo visited the United States in an effort to get national leaders to look at the problem. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered a speech he made at a local parish. He said:
The Serbian government reports that since the war ended in June 1999 there have been about 6,500 attacks against civilians in Kosovo -- 200 of them against ethnic Albanians -- resulting in 1,200 Serbian and 110 Albanian deaths. Artemije's report to Washington says that progress in Kosovo cannot be solely measured by the safety of the Albanians.

"While it is true that many hospitals have been restored, Serbs cannot seek treatment in them; numerous roads have been paved but Serbs lack the freedom to travel on them; tens of thousands of homes have been renovated but only about 100 of them are owned by Serbs. After the war, all mosques were repaired and many new ones built while over 100 Serbian churches still lie in ruins and not one has been reconstructed," he wrote.

Bishop Artimije arranged refuge in monasteries for Albanian Muslims threatened by Serb extremists before the war began. One of those, the 14th-century Decani Monastery is now under attack.

UPDATE: Havdala at Doves and Pomegranates has more to add on the subject, including this link to the Diocese of Raska and Prizren for some graphic photos as well as a lot of links to information about this sparsely covered atrocity, committed under the watchful eye of U.S. and European troops.

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