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Kosovo/a team

Monthly report # 10
(December 1999)

Balkan Peace Team in Kosovo/a:
Rruga Nëna Tereze 72-A/9 or Vidovdanska 72-A/9
Prishtina, Kosovo
Tel/Fax: ++381-38-42 706

BPT International Office:
Ringstr. 9a
D-32427 Minden, Germany
Tel: ++49-571-20776

If you wish to use or require clarification of any of the information included below, please contact Balkan Peace Team Kosovo/a at the above address. Please forward this report to anyone you think may be interested.

I. Work of the team
1. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
- Human Rights Initiatives

2. Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedom (CDHRF)
Human Rights Conference, 12-14 December

3. Richardson Institute (RI), Lancaster University
4. Trip to Belgrade

II. Observations & impressions
1. Political Update
2. Political Prisoners Update
3. Ethnic Community Update
4. Security Update
5. Media

III. Team life
1. Visitors
2. Team Changes

I. Work of the team

1. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - Human Rights Initiatives
On 3 December 1999, BPT attended an OSCE press conference announcing the release of two human rights reports. The reports are an analysis of the findings of the OSCE's Kosovo Verification Mission (created in October 1998 as part of the international response to the events in Kosovo/a and known as the KVM) and the current OSCE Mission in Kosovo. They cover a period of one year -- from October 1998 to the end of October 1999.

The first report deals with the human rights findings of the KVM before it withdrew from Kosovo/a due to the impending NATO bombing which began in March, 1999. Evidence of human rights abuses perpetrated by Serbian forces during the NATO campaign are included in the report. This information was gathered following interviews with Kosovo/a refugees in Albania and Macedonia.

The second report documents the post-war period from mid-June to the end of October 1999, when more than 800,000 Albanian refugees returned to Kosovo/a. It documents the human rights abuses that accompanied the return of Albanians to Kosovo/a, highlighting the fact that the vast majority of the human rights violations during this period are the consequence of revenge attacks by Albanians on Serbs and other ethnic minorities in the territory.

The reports are available on the internet at The reports are comprehensive and run to more than 900 pages.

An international human rights conference, organised by the OSCE, was held in Prishtina on 10 and 11 December. The conference was organised to coincide with International Human Rights Day and to celebrate the 51st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. BPT was amongst the 500 guests attending the conference. The goals of the conference were: 1) To create an awareness of human rights, 2) To begin a process of dialogue and education toward the acceptance and inclusion of human rights, and 3) To recognise efforts in Kosovo/a toward securing respect for human rights.

The conference began with keynote speeches from Dr. Bernard Kouchner, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, and Daan Everts, Ambassador and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. These addresses were followed by a number of workshops held on various topics such as protecting minorities, post-conflict justice, preventing torture, housing and property issues, democratic policing, children's rights, detainees and missing persons, human rights institutions and women's rights.

The conference was also used as a forum to promote a human rights awareness campaign in Kosovo/a that the OSCE and the Council of Europe had launched on 30 November. The campaign aims to make use of media such as television and radio and to use posters and leaflets to raise awareness of human rights issues. The idea of involving local businesses, such as cafes and restaurants, in the campaign was also discussed -- as was the idea of having advertisements on sides of buses and big buildings.

The conference was closed with a speech from Adem Demaci, (who was billed as the Kosovar Nelson Mandela due to his 28-year imprisonment). Demaci has been an prominent figure within the Kosovo/a political scene during the Albanian struggle against the Serbian regime.

2. Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedom (CDHRF) Human Rights Conference, 12-14 December
Following the OSCE conference, the Kosovo/a-based CDHRF held its own human rights conference. It was also timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day and served as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Council. Because of BPT's connections with the Council since the early days of BPT's work in Kosovo/a, we were given an invitation to their conference. The conference was chaired by Adem Demaci (who was chair of the CDHRF from 1990-97) and heard speeches from Daan Everts of the OSCE, Natasa Kandic of the Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade, Sonja Biserko of the Helsinki Committee Belgrade, plus many other speakers from Kosovo/a, Serbia, and various international organisations concerned with human rights issues. The Serbian and Roma conference guests were well received and two of the visitors from Belgrade, who stayed at the BPT apartment during their stay in Prishtina, were made extremely welcome by Adem Demaci, which included having lunch with him.

3. Richardson Institute (RI), Lancaster University
During the last month, BPT contacted potential participants from Kosovo/a and Macedonia on behalf of the RI. Unfortunately no BPT team members were able to attend the workshop due to the current workload. The Institute organised the workshop to explore the nature and needs of multi-cultural democracy and the role of civil society actors in peace-building, democratisation and inter-ethnic understanding in the southern Balkans. The workshop was held at the campus of the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), Blagoevgrad, from 13-18 December.

This is the fifth in a series of workshops that the Richardson Institute has organised. Previous workshops, held in Thessalonika, Bristol, Skopje, Belgrade and Pristina, have focused particularly on cross-community dialogue regarding the Kosovo/a issue. For this most recent workshop, RI invited representatives from civil society groups, student organisations and people previously involved in dialogue from Serbian, Macedonian, Albanian and Roma communities from Serbia, Kosovo/a, Macedonia and Montenegro. The Institute sought to facilitate a discussion of the role that civil society dialogue can play in peace-building and democratisation throughout the region.

4. Trip to Belgrade
In early December a team member travelled to Belgrade in order to clear out the team's flat/office and to meet with several colleagues and activists.

II. Observations & impressions

1. Political Update
On 15 December, Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and Rexhep Qosja (United Democratic Movement - LBD) agreed to join a Kosovo-UNMIK Joint Interim Administrative Council (IAC). The agreement stipulates that current Kosovo executive, legislative and judicial structures (i.e., Thaci's Provisional Government of Kosova and Rugova's Presidency of Kosova) be „transformed and integrated to the extent possible into the Interim Administration." This integration is scheduled to happen by 31 January, 2000 - at which point the new Interim Administration will be fully operational.

This (IAC) will consist of seats for three Kosovar Albanians (the above mentioned three) plus one Serb (yet to join) and four UNMIK representatives. The IAC's role will be to share the provisional administrative management between the Kosovar Albanians ,Serbs (if they join) and UNMIK. The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Bernard Kouchner, will retain legislative and executive authority. The IAC will try to achieve consensus on all matters. If consensus can not be reached, a 3/4 majority decision will be sought.

The Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) will continue its consultative role and will be broadened to „better reflect the pluralistic composition of Kosovo." If the KTC disagrees with decisions of the IAC, it can propose to the SRSG a different solution; the SRSG will then make a final decision.

There will be 18 Administrative Departments that will be jointly led by a Kosovo and UNMIK „Co-head of Department." On a local level, Administrative Boards shall be formed consisting of UNMIK personnel and members of the current Kosovo/a municipal structures.

The Kosovo/a Serb leadership that continues to boycott the KTC over the creation of the Kosovo Protection Corps has flatly refused to join this new administration. Momcilo Trajkovic, president of the Serb National Council, commented that there is „not a single Serb in Kosovo who will agree to join the phantom organisation which Mr. Kouchner is creating." The working of the new administration is not dependent upon Serb participation.

How well Thaci and Rugova will be able to co-operate in this structure remains to be seen. How well Kosovar Albanians are integrated into the administration is also a big question. There is a lot of trepidation amongst the UN staff over how this agreement will actually work. One problem is the integration of current UNMIK departments into the new and different Administrative Departments. This reshuffling of departments will most likely lead to more delays in such areas as civil registration -- crucial for the issuing of identity and travel documents as well as for eventual elections.

Before the war the LDK (Democratic League of Kosova), led by Ibrahim Rugova, had been the main political power within the Albanian community in Kosovo/a. Rugova still retains much of his popularity and is seen as the main rival to Hashim Thaci, former chief of the UCK/KLA.

The LDK is currently trying to rebuild the party and re-establish its political influence within Kosovo/a. This has coincided with harassment of some of its members and bombing of some of its premises. As with numerous issues in Kosovo/a, there are varying accounts of who is responsible for these actions against the LDK. Some argue that the attacks represent an organised campaign of politically motivated intimidation, while others believe the acts are being perpetrated by individual actors. Finally, some accuse Kosovo/a Serbs for the attacks..

Last month's celebration of Albanian Independence, 28 November, has demonstrated that Albanians in Kosovo/a are united on one issue - that being the future status of Kosovo/a. Following are a sampling of comments:

"For the first time we celebrate November 28 in a free Kosova." -- Ibrahim Rugova.

"Belgrade should forget thinking it has temporarily lost Kosova. They have lost it once and for all." -- Hashim Thaci.

"Hail to November 28, independence day." -- Koha Ditore, daily newspaper.

"Celebrate your Flag. It will wave for ever in a Free Kosova." -- Kosova Sot newspaper.

2. Political Prisoners Update
Dr. Flora Brovina, 50, Kosovo/a human rights activist arrested during the NATO bombardment by the Yugoslav forces and transported to a prison inside Serbia, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in Nis, Serbia on 9 December. The charges against her were conspiracy and aiding terrorists during the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia. Dr. Brovina denies the charges and at her trial stated :-

"I dedicated my whole life to children and children do not choose their ethnicity, children do not know what ethnicity they are if their parents do not tell them. With my patients, I have never divided them according to their ethnicity, according to religion or the ideological choice of their parents. I feel proud because of this and even if I was not an Albanian woman I would have done the same thing. I am one of the persons most involved in humanitarian work in Kosovo; I have sacrificed my health in order to help women and children. If I were free, I would have had much work, I would help those that are suffering more now; now it is not Albanians that are suffering the most, now it is others, and I would work with all my strength in order to help them, Serb, Roma people."

Trials against other prisoners continue as the six month deadline approaches whereby, under Yugoslav law, those held in detention either must be charged or released.

Teki Bokshi, an ethnic Albanian human rights lawyer working inside Serbia on the Kosovo/a prisoners issue, was arrested in early December some 10 miles outside of Belgrade by plains-clothes men in a grey Mercedes. The initial suspicion was that he had been arrested by Serbian police. It later emerged that Bokshi was not captured by state police but by rogue police with an official car. He was released later in December after his family allegedly paid 100,000 DM ransom money to his kidnappers.

It was reported during the second week of December that 25 children had been released from Serbian prisons. During the process of obtaining the release of the children, two more Kosovo/a Albanian children were discovered being held in detention. These two boys should be released as soon as proof of their ages can be produced.

On 10 December, demonstrations were restarted both in Pristina and other towns in Kosovo/a to highlight the plight of the political prisoners being held in Serbian jails and of those Albanians whose whereabouts are as yet unknown. The protest was timed to coincide with the OSCE human rights conference.

3. Ethnic Community Update
More than six months after the entrance of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), ethnic communities throughout the territory continue to experience frequent incidents of violence and property damage, leading to a continued exodus of Serbs and Roma from Kosovo/a. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that since the June deployment of KFOR, some 240,000 people have sought refuge in Serbia and Montenegro.

One of the most recent attacks against the Serbian community, for example, occurred on 27 December when a hand grenade was lobbed into a Serb cafe in the southern Kosovo/a town of Vitina, injuring 10 people, several seriously. Such violence is increasingly resulting in counter-attacks. For example, in the Serb enclave of Gracanica, Albanian buses have been stoned while passing through. In one of the Gracanica incidents, some 200 Serbs threw stones at a passing bus, seriously damaging the vehicle.

In an effort to facilitate freedom of movement for threatened ethnic communities, the UNHCR has established seven bus-lines linking various enclave areas. The buses are operated by international drivers and are escorted by KFOR.

The Sofia Declaration
From 10-12 December, a Kosovo/a Serb delegation headed by Bishop Artemije of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo/a and by Momcilo Trajkovic of the Serb National Council met in Sofia, Bulgaria with representatives of the United States Institute of Peace. The delegates, who describe themselves as individuals representing a "broad spectrum of democratically-oriented political perspectives," issued recommendations for building multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo/a.

In one sentence of their Sofia Declaration, these leaders state their regret and express their condemnation of "ethnically motivated violence and crimes committed in previous periods as well as now." The delegates then pledge their co-operation with those "inside and outside Kosovo" who share the goal of creating "a democratic Kosovo, within a democratic Serbia, within a democratic Yugoslavia integrated in a stable and prosperous region linked to Europe." Additionally, the authors of the Sofia Declaration call upon the Kosovo/a Albanian leadership and the leaders of the international presence in the territory to assist in creating a more secure environment for Serbs in Kosovo/a, to work toward preventing the territorial division of the province, to facilitate the return of Serb refugees, and to "commit to non-violent means for accomplishing our mutual political interests - a stable, peaceful and secure Kosovo."

4. Security Update
Over the past few weeks, both KFOR and UNMIK have come under increasing criticism in the international media over the level of crime in Kosovo/a and their apparent inability to curb it. Since these damning criticisms, KFOR have stepped up its patrols and UNMIK has increased its presence in towns and on the border.

There have been numerous rumours of abductions and attempted abductions of young Albanian girls (presumably to be sold into prostitution rings in western Europe or on KFOR military bases in Kosovo/a). KFOR insists that all the investigations it has conducted regarding these allegations of abductions or attempted abductions have proved to be false. Despite KFOR's claims that these are unfounded rumours, a noticeable fear has descended upon the population -- both over the high crime rate and the rumours of abductions.

5. Media
Koha Ditore, independent daily newspaper, on 30 November published the results of an opinion poll on the media in Kosovo/a. The poll of a 1,000 ethnic Albanians was carried out during October by a Sofia-based private media and market research institute called the Balkan British Social Surveys (BBSS) Gallup International (RFE/RL Balkan Report, Vol. 3., No.51).

The results of the survey show that newspapers are the main source of information for Albanians in Kosovo/a, followed by radio and then by television. Despite the high number of TV satellite dishes to be seen in the towns and cities of Kosovo/a, it seems that TV is watched mostly for entertainment.

An optimistic sign is that newspapers that advocate moderate policies and opinions are the ones most widely read. A pessimistic sign is that when Koha Ditore ran an edition with a photograph of Momcilo Trajkovic (Kosovo/a Serb leader) on their front page following his shooting, the paper's sales dropped by 5,000 that day.

III. Team life

1. Visitors
In early December, Stefan White of the Austrian Peace Service, came to Pristina and stayed with BPT for a few days. BPT was able to assist Stefan in contacting and locating local NGOs that were interested in hosting an Austrian Peace Service volunteer next year. The local NGO's included the Humanitarian Law Center, Center for the Protection of Women & Children, Flora Brovina Center, Post Pessimists and Albanian Youth Action. The volunteers would be doing their work as an alternative to military service.

Also in December, Silke, Piet and Stefan, members of Forum ZFD (Forum Civil Peace Service) in Germany, visited BPT in Pristina. Pete and Silke are due to start a community project early next year in Prizren, south Kosovo/a, and will be based there for two years. BPT was able to help them by accompanying them to visit local NGOs, assisting them in finding their way around Pristina, and giving them information on the living and working environment in Kosovo/a. Due to the proximity of Dragash and Prizren BPT also looks forward to developing a friendly working relationship with Silke and Piet as BPT's develops its Community Center project in Dragash.

2. Team Changes
On 31 December, the Kosovo/a team said good-bye to long-time volunteer Erik Torch. Next month, the team will welcome three new volunteers - Barbara Allen, Kajsa Svensson, and Liz Abraham. The team looks forward to the arrival of our new colleagues.

Source: Balkan Peace Team

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