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News Archive 1999

HRW Kosovo Human Rights Flash #32,

Villagers of Hade systematically expelled from Kosovo
Five men executed

(April 29, 1999)

The entire village of Hade near Obilic in central-eastern Kosovo, with approximately 1,400 inhabitants, was systematically expelled from Kosovo yesterday. Villagers reported that Serbian security forces executed five male civilians in the village one week ago.

Human Rights Watch conducted seven separate interviews with men and women from Hade yesterday on the border in northern Albania. All of them reported that the police rounded up the entire village this morning around 8:00 a.m. and forced the villagers into at least ten buses, four of which took the villagers to the Albanian border at Morina, where they crossed into Albania around midday. Refugees reported no physical maltreatment along the route to Albania, although Serbian police took the refugees' money and identity papers.

All of the refugees interviewed yesterday said that military and paramilitary units had surrounded Hade one week ago, on Monday April 19, and killed five civilian men. The forces arrived first at the Mirena family compound on the edge of the village, four witnesses said. A teacher in the village, Milaim Mirena, 40 years-old, and his father left their house, with Milaim waving a white towel at the approaching forces. Two witnesses who were in the Mirena house heard Milaim tell the security forces, in Serbian, "we are surrendering ourselves." According to these witness, however, the security forces shot Milaim before he could even finish his sentence. Four different witnesses said that Milaim was hit in the stomach by a few bullets. They asked the police for help, but received none. Milaim died five hours later.

The other members of the Mirena family exited the house after Milaim was shot. Two witnesses said that the security forces then selected four men from the Mirena family, ranging in age from twenty-five to eighty. Some other young men were let go with the rest of the women and children. All of them fled into another part of the village, eventually settling into an unburned house with forty-six other people.

Two days later the Mirena family members went back to their house where they found the bodies of the four relatives who had been taken: Jakup Mirena, 80, Mexhit Mirena, 40 (Jakup's son), Ajet Mirena, 65, and Fitim Mirena, 25 (Ajet's son).

Four witnesses told Human Rights Watch that they saw the bodies. According to Mexhit's wife and sister, Jakup and Mexhit were in the barn, which was burned. There were dead animals including a burned cow that was on top of the bodies. The bodies were virtually unrecognizable, they said, with the skin burned off. Fitim's body was in the door of his own house, and only parts of Ajet's burned legs were found, also in the Mirena house.

The witnesses told Human Rights Watch that some of the security forces had grease paint on their faces, while others had hoods to cover their faces. All of them had shaved heads and wore green camouflage uniforms with a red eagle on the right shoulder. Some of the witnesses claimed that the forces were members of Vojislav Seselj's paramilitaries, although this could not be confirmed. The forces carried automatic weapons and pistols, and some of them also had hatchets. Two people interviewed together said that some of the soldiers had big knifes in their belts that were serrated on one side.

Hade is now empty and approximately one hundred houses have been destroyed, the seven interviewees reported. The villagers who arrived in Albania yesterday said that the buses followed a route from Hade to Obilic and then on to Pristina, which had very few people on the streets. From Pristina, the buses took a round-about road south through Urosevac, Prizren, and then to the village Zhur, where the villagers were unloaded and forced to walk the remaining five miles to the Morina border crossing.

Source: Human Rights Watch

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