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Jewish World Review Dec. 8, 1999 / 29 Kislev, 5760

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
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Kosovo's Killers --
"THIS REPORT makes sobering reading." Thus begins a 300-page document titled "As Seen, As Told, Part II," which was released Monday by the Kosovo mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. True words.

The OSCE report covers human rights violations that occurred in Kosovo in the months following the June 12 entry into Pristina by the forces of KFOR, the 48,000-strong peacekeeping army that moved into Kosovo under the auspices of the United Nations. In other words, it covers what has happened in Kosovo since the forces for good assumed responsibility. The findings are not a surprise but a scandal.

The war in Kosovo was fought to force an end to ethnic cleansing there, and this great goal was partially met. The large-scale and systematic campaign by the Serbs to rid Kosovo of its ethnic Albanians--a campaign detailed in the OSCE report "As Seen, As Told, Part I," also released Monday--was halted. Most of the 1 million displaced ethnic Albanians returned to Kosovo.

But this did not mean an end to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. It meant the beginning of a new round of violence and terror, this time conducted by the Albanians, against their ethnic Serb, Croatian, Roma and Muslim Slavic neighbors.

From the foreword of the OSCE report: "The human rights violations . . . for the period June-October 1999 include executions, abductions, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and attempts to restrict freedom of expression. House burnings, blockades restricting freedom of movement, discriminatory treatment in schools, hospitals, humanitarian aid distribution and other public services based on ethnic background, and forced evictions from housing recall some of the worst practices of Kosovo's recent past."

The OSCE report is an exhaustive catalog of ethnically motivated evil in its various banal forms. A day-by-day chronology of all human rights "events" that occurred between June 12 and Oct. 31 runs to 135 pages of single-space type, covering murders (more than 150), shootings, house-burnings, beatings and various other acts of revenge-seeking and terror.

Many of the crimes were committed by free-lancers, and the Kosovo Liberation Army has declared itself against all such acts. But this declaration is perhaps not as convincing as it might be. The report lists many murders and other crimes committed by men wearing KLA uniforms or badges. It is clear that the violence aimed against non-Albanians in Kosovo is to a real degree directed by elements of the KLA.

It is also clear that the violence is intended not merely to inflict revenge but to purge Kosovo of its non-Albanians. There is much in the patterns of ethnic cleansing that is familiar here: execution-style murders that serve to frighten the target populations into flight; campaigns of house-burnings and beatings and intimidation; the systematic expulsions from jobs and denials of jobs to members of the target populations. At any rate, the effect has been to cleanse Kosovo of almost all but Albanians. Large numbers of Serbs and Roma people have fled Kosovo since June; the Yugoslav Red Cross listed 234,000 refugees in Serbia and Montenegro as of October.

Of course, the ethnic Albanians' cleansing efforts are not to be compared with those of the Serbs in Kosovo in the months and years before June 1999. That, however, is not the important point now. What the Serbs did to the Albanians was a great crime and what the Albanians did in return was a much lesser crime. But they are both crimes, and the latter has occurred, and is still occurring, under what is supposed to be the United Nations' rule of law. This is the point that matters.

In expelling the forces of Slobodan Milosevic from Kosovo, the United States and its allies took it upon themselves, as President Clinton said, "to protect the ethnic Kosovar Albanians and the ethnic Serbs alike." This, to put it mildly, we have failed to do. And this matters tremendously. The perpetuation of ethnic cleansing promises the next round in the Balkan cycle of blood. That this campaign is being waged under U.N. rule does immense damage to the United Nations and to the United States, which are seen by the Serbs and their co-religionists in Russia and Greece as enforcers not of justice but of victory for one side over the other in wars of ethnicity and faith.

It is therefore surprising that the OSCE report has been met with utter, silent indifference by President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright and all those others, in the media and in the ranks of right-thinking people, who once cared so very, very deeply about suffering in Kosovo. Actually, it is not surprising, is it?

Michael Kelly is the editor of National Journal. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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