Photographs on the fence

If you’re ever in Pristina, capital of Kosovo, you’ll want to swing by the Government building.

(It’s called the Government building because, well, that’s where the government is. The Parliament, the Prime Minister, the President, and half a dozen or so government agencies are all squashed into one huge building downtown. It’s sort of refreshing. Imagine being in London or Berlin and just popping down to “the government”.)

Why? Because there are these photographs. Between two and three thousand of them… closer to two, I think. The government building has a fence around it; and, since the building is pretty large, the fence is easily a couple of hundred meters long. And it’s covered with the photographs of Kosovar Albanians missing in the 1999 war.

It’s not a very cheerful display, obviously. But it’s certainly food for thought. And if you walk the length of the fence, you’ll spot some patterns.

– Instead of death dates, the photographs have “last seen” dates. Most of these are in late March or April — right when Operation Horseshoe, the Serbian government’s ethnic cleansing program, was going at full blast. There are none from before the war, and few from the last month or so.

– The missing are about 80%-90% male. That’s consistent with a common pattern in the Balkan wars, which was to kill all the men in a town but chase the women and children out. Also with the pattern of Albanian bodies excavated from mass graves in Serbia; these are mostly male as well.

– On the other hand, the age distribution is pretty flat. There are boys, teenagers, young men, old men.

– All occupations are listed: farmer, lawyer, electrician, doctor. If anything, there’s a slight bias towards white collar occupations. Again, consistent with what happened elsewhere in the Balkans in the ’90s.

– Everybody’s an ethnic Albanian. There are no Serbs, of course, but also no Gypsies, Turks, Bosniaks, or anyone else. Granted, the Albanians were the primary targets and victims of Horseshoe. Still.

Random thought: in most common law jurisdictions, it takes seven years for a missing person to be formally, legally, dead. Sometimes you can speed that up with a declaration from a court; but the general rule is, if Uncle Bob walks out for cigarettes one morning and never comes back, it’s going to take seven years before Cousin Carl can formally claim title to the farm. The Kosovo war was exactly seven years ago… started on March 24, 1999, ended on June 10.

No photographs have come down off that fence for a long time. The missing have stayed missing. No surprise, since Belgrade methodically destroyed the bodies of Albanians killed during the ethnic cleansing — some by dumping into the Danube, and some by incineration. Most of these people probably ended up as ashes at the bottom of a blast furnace.

– A digression on historiography. During the Kosovo war, wild estimates of the number of Albanian dead were bandied around… fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, “several hundred thousand”. After the war, Western journalists went into Kosovo and found that, not only were there not several hundred thousand dead, there were no mass graves either. So the pendulum swng the other way: in late 1999 and 2000, there were dozens of stories about how NATO had lied, many with the strong implication that Belgrade was innocent after all.

The third phase of the story has only come out gradually (although a few commenters — most notably NataÅ¡a Kandić, executive director of Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Center — had been predicting it since the war’s end). It turned out that Milosevic, learning the lessons of Bosnia, had set up a fairly elaborate mechanism to dispose of the bodies. The world didn’t start grasping this until 2001, when the Batajnica mass graves were opened. These contained the remains of dozens of Albanians; but they weren’t in Kosovo. They were in a suburb just outside of Belgrade, several hundred kilometers away.

Since then, about 500 dead Albanians have turned up in Serbia, in one place and another. And there’s been a steady trickle of eyewitness accounts of the disposal of bodies. Former Yugoslav Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said that he believed “about a thousand” dead Albanians had been taken to Serbia for disposal.

But this story has received much less play. As a result, I still meet people who think either that “hundreds of thousands” of Albanians were killed in 1999, or — more often — that none were. (Presumably because the Serb security forces, noted worldwide for their gentle handling of civilians, accomplished the ethnic cleansing without hurting anyone.)

Anyway. Two thousand or so photographs of dead Albanians. What’s the significance?

Well, Kosovo is currently negotiating its final status. Or, to be more accurate, the international community is forcing Belgrade and Kosovo to pretend to negotiate. The final destination is already known; Kosovo will be independent. All that’s left is to hammer out the details (not that the details aren’t tricky and important) and to find out whether the Serbian government can sign (probably not). But negotiations are ongoing. The big issue will be the fate of the northernmost sliver of Kosovo, which is still Serb-majority. Serbs want this to be part of Serbia; the Albanians (foolishly IMO) want it to stay part of Kosovo. This alone will probably be enough to derail the talks, but there are half a dozen other issues (autonomy for the Serbian minority in Kosovo, fate of state-owned enterprises, ownership of lands and business confiscated from Serbs) that could be just as destructive.

If you were a naive outsider, you might think, “Surely this is the time to turn down the dial on nationalism. Any negotiated compromise will involve disappointments. So let’s stop feeding peoples’ hatreds and fears, and start preparing them for a settlement that will let us move forward.”

But there are other ways to think about this. Such as, say, “Now is the time to strengthen our resolve, by remembering the wrongs that have been done to us, so that we will gain a full measure of justice for our people.”

So the photographs are still up. And I’d bet money they’ll still be up a year from now.

Kosovo: just because nobody’s paying attention, doesn’t mean it’s gone away.

44 thoughts on “Photographs on the fence

  1. Doug,
    So, just how many people were killed in the Kosovo war (both the Nato bombing campaign and the ground war)? From looking around various articles it seems that 10,000 ethnic Albanians and 3,000 Serbs is the most commonly cited figure. Is this correct? Is this including the ‘missing’ (presumed dead)? How many of these are military/KLA?

    With the Bosnian war the figures over the number of killed seem to have come down from around 200,000 to 100,000, of which roughly half were civilians (och which approximately 30,000 muslims and the rest Croats and Serbs). Is there serious research going on on this topic?

  2. So, just how many people were killed in the Kosovo war (both the Nato bombing campaign and the ground war)?

    The Red Cross and Amnesty International both estimate about 3,300 civilians killed in Kosovo, of which perhaps 2,500 were Albanians, 500 Serbs, and the other 300 other ethnic groups, mostly Roma.

    That’s in Kosovo. The question of how many people were killed in Serbia proper is much more fraught. The Yugoslav government claimed different numbers at different times, with a high of up to 5,700 civilian casualties. The best neutral assessment seems to be from Human Rights Watch, with came up with a figure of “about 500 dead, some larger number injured”.

    Note that neither of these figures include military casualties. NATO didn’t have any. The Serbs at one point acknowledged about 1,000 casualties, but didn’t AFAIK break that down into killed, wounded, etc.

    As for the KLA, it gets messy, because it’s hard to say at this late date who was KLA and who wasn’t. “Several hundred” seems a reasonable guess, with most of those coming from the ground action around Mt. Pastric — the only thing in that war that approached a classic battlefield action. (An additional complication: significant numbers of the KLA “troops” there were green recruits from the Albanian diaspora.)

    So how many killed altogether? We’ll never know for sure, but a rough estimate might be something like this:

    Serb military — 300?
    Serb civilian — 1,000 (about evenly divided between Kosovo and Serbia proper)
    Non-Serb civilian in Serbia (i.e., Chinese embassy employees and such) — 50?
    KLA — 500?
    Albanian civilian — 2,500
    Non-Albania civilian in Kosovo — 300

    That gives about 4,700 dead. Plus a much larger number wounded, of course.

    Then there’s the very fraught question of “excess morbidity”. That involves things like, you have a heart attack, but the bridge between you and the hospital has been bombed, so you die. Also, more controversially, stuff like depleted uranium and the like. I’ll leave that bide except to note that these issues are always out there.

    With the Bosnian war the figures over the number of killed seem to have come down from around 200,000 to 100,000,

    The best recent estimate is about 96,000. That’s from the Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo. And they’ve been doing it the hard way — tracking down casualties and alleged casualties one at a time.

    of which roughly half were civilians

    About 60%, yeah.

    (och which approximately 30,000 muslims and the rest Croats and Serbs).

    Hm, no. More like 60,000 Bosniaks and the rest Croats and Serbs.

    Is there serious research going on on this topic?

    Yes. These guys:

    http://www.idc.org.ba/

    and also the ICTY. The Sarajevo folks have the better estimate IMO, but they’re not too far apart — the ICTY estimates 102,000.

    There are also some academics doing independent research, but usually on specific incidents (i.e. Srebrenica) rather than the war as a whole.

    There’s a decent summary at the wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_war#Casualties

    N.B., you want to be careful with wikipedia when it comes to the Balkan wars. But those numbers are straight from the respective sources.

    @ Huib: thanks for the kind words.

    Doug M.

  3. Doug bear in mind that its the internationals, not so much the Kosovo Albanians who have ruled out the division of Kosovo.

    The Serbian government has ruled out the division of Kosovo too (although of course this is just to defend a position of supporting Kosovo remaining within Serbia, even if it knows this wont happen).

    The Kosovo Albanians have a similar reverse position as a negotiating position but its my belief that they (and Serbia) would consider a land swap. IMO this could still happen at a later stage – even after a potential crisis that may occur after independence the remaining Serbs sweep to Mitrovica and refuse to cooperate with Kosovo Albanian institutions.

    I didnt know about the photos actually but Im not surprised.

    I think another observation could be made by an outsider visiting Kosovo – the magic wand belief that as soon as independence is gained everything will be milk and honey. That hope is almost as dangerous as the fear and hatred – because as you would probably agree it cannot possibly be fufilled.

  4. So, just how many people were killed in the Kosovo war (both the Nato bombing campaign and the ground war)?

    I wrote a long response to this, with cites, and then lost it to a crash.

    So, short answer. (But all estimates are based on Red Cross, Amnesty International, or similar sources when possible.)

    Deaths (not just casualties):

    Serbia military — ~300
    Serbia civilian — ~1000, consisting of about 500 Serbs in Serbia and another 500 Serbs in Kosovo. (Note that the Serbs in Serbia all died from NATO bombs, while many of the Serbs in Kosovo were killed by Albanians.)
    Serbia civilian but not Serbs (i.e., Chinese embassy staffers, etc.) ~50

    KLA — ~400?
    Kosovar Albanian civilian — ~2500
    Kosovar civilian but not Albanian (i.e., Roma)– ~300

    NATO — 0

    These include many “missing, presumed dead” especially on the Albanian side. They do not include indirect casualties (like, you have a heart attack but the bridge to the hospital got bombed) or other forms of excess morbidity.

    The total about 4700 dead. The wounded would, presumably, total between three and five times that number.

    With the Bosnian war the figures over the number of killed seem to have come down from around 200,000 to 100,000, of which roughly half were civilians (och which approximately 30,000 muslims and the rest Croats and Serbs). Is there serious research going on on this topic?

    Short answer: yes, there is. The best estimate comes from the Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Center. They are counting casualties the hard way, one death at a time. They’re very methodical. Nationalists of all stripes hate them, which is what you’d expect.

    Their numbers:

    Total
    96,175

    Bosniaks 63,994 66.5%
    Bosnian Serbs 24,206 25.2%
    Bosnian Croats 7,338 7.6%
    other 637 0.7%

    Total civilians
    38,645

    Bosniaks 32,723 84.7%
    Bosnian Croats 1,899 4.9%
    Bosnian Serbs 3,555 9.2%
    others 466 1.2%

    Total soldiers
    57,529

    Bosniaks 31,270 54.4%
    Bosnian Serbs 20,649 35.9%
    Bosnian Croats 5,439 9.5%
    others 171 0.3%

    unconfirmed 4,000

    The ICTY’s Demographic Unit has a slightly higher number (102,000) with a somewhat different ethnic composition and a higher proportion of civilians — partly because they’re using different methods, partly because of different definitions. It gets tricky. Do you treat irregular units like Arkan’s Tigers as “soldiers”? What about people who’ve just grabbed guns to defend themselves?

    Still, the numbers that they have are pretty solid. And pretty interesting, in a gruesome sort of way. Notice, for instance, how military casualties are pretty closely proportionate to population, while civilian casualties skew much more heavily against the Bosniaks. That’s partly because of the bombardment of Sarajevo, and partly because the Bosniaks spent most of the war fighting on their own territory.

    Anyway. There are also various academics running around the region, though most are looking at particular incidents (i.e., Srebrenica) rather than the general demographics. But, yes, serious research is going on.

    To return to the photos on the fence: my estimate was that there were between 2,000 and 2,500 pictures up there. That means that pretty much all of the civilian Albanian casualties are on that fence. Pause to think about that. There must have been a concerted effort to put them up. People from all over Kosovo — not just Pristina — must have made a considerable effort to put up that display.

    So, it’s not just a display of grief (though it certainly is that). It’s also a display of national organization and determination. One might wish those qualities were put to some more constructive use, but there it is.

    Doug M.

  5. The existence of a plan to drive the Albanians out of Kosovo is not in doubt. You don’t drive a million people out of their homes in less than a month without some preparation first; and the ICTY collected a fair amount of testimony that, yes, the thing was organized and planned in advance. But whether or not that plan was named “Operation Horseshoe” is indeed an open quesion, and one surrounded by several layers of murk and mystery.

    The most convincing testimony on this point comes from one of the least convincing of testifiers. Ratomir Tanic — the creepy ex-spook who was part of Milosevic’s innner circle — sang like a canary at the Hague. Tanic was a dubious character in many respects, and a lot of his testimony has to be taken with a grain of salt. But on Horseshoe, where he had no personal interest one way or the other, I find him pretty plausible:

    “[Horseshoe] was a colloquial nickname for a completely different plan… when the term was used first, I really can’t say, especially as it was the colloquial term applied and not an official one.

    “It was an exercise plan of the Yugoslav army while it was the JNA, the Yugoslav People’s Army, and the plan provided for training and exercise in case of an aggression on Yugoslavia from south-east Europe, and if the Albanian population should take the side of the foreign aggressor, then it would come into force. The army of Yugoslavia would come into force if these two conditions were met. They would take seven defensive positions and they would be geared towards neutralising the Albanian strongholds, and this exercise – this plan was actually stored in an archive and then it was reactivated and would be reactivated with all the rest for taking action in Kosovo.

    “[The army leadership] didn’t want to use the plan at all [during the Kosovo War], because there was no external aggression or Albanian rebellion, or rather, that they should take the part and go to the side of the foreign aggressor, because it didn’t exist.

    – From Tanic’s testimony at the ICTY.

    Certainly NATO overplayed the importance of “Operation Horseshoe”. This, in turn, fed into the three-part narrative described above: exaggerated claims driven by NATO; postwar debunking leading to extreme skepticism; post-postwar re-evaluation.

    Possibly when discussing Kosovo, I shouldn’t say “Operation Horseshoe”, since that name is legitimately open to question. But it seems simpler than saying “the Serbian plan to drive the Albanians out of Kosovo, whatever it was called, if indeed it had a name”.

    Doug M.

  6. Doug,
    Thank you for the answer to my question regarding the deaths in the Kosovo conflict. Now I have a couple of follow-up questions:

    1. Do your figures conflict with the 10-12,000 figure I had or is the difference mainly due to including wounded in the casualty figure?

    2. Do you have a link to your sources or link to other discussions about the figures?

    Regards,
    Oskar

  7. 1. They conflict. It sounds like your figures are based on the ABA-CEELI study from 2000. Those seemed authoritative at the time, but now appear to be high. Best guess is that they included a lot of people who were missing but not dead.

    Note that nothing worked in Kosovo in 1999… the phones were down, the mail had stopped, the roads were in ruins, the trains had stopped running. So some people stayed missing for months.

    2. Had, but lost. I spent something like fifteen minutes writing a long comment, only to see it disappear at a keystroke.

    Here’s one:

    http://www.hrw.org/press/2000/02/nato207.htm

    for the figure of 500 civilian deaths in Serbia.

    I should probably bookmark, but my bookmark file is pretty messy already. Still, you can verify with a few minutes of googling.

    (N.B., neither NATO nor the Yugoslav authorities can be considered a reliable source. Big surprise, I know.)

    Doug M.

  8. “The existence of a plan to drive the Albanians out of Kosovo is not in doubt. You don’t drive a million people out of their homes in less than a month without some preparation first; and the ICTY collected a fair amount of testimony that, yes, the thing was organized and planned in advance.”

    There was testimony of the KLA making prepartions for evacuations before the bombing.

    German reporter Franz Josef Hutsch (who had extensive military background as well) said the KLA was ordering villagers to evacuate:

    “Hutsch testified that in the course of the Rambouillet talks in February and March 1999, KLA leaders he was in contact with expected NATO to intervene and were stepping up their logistic preparations for war, bringing in supplies of new weapons and military equipment, deploying their forces, and defining their key objectives. Hutsch claims there was even a “priority list of villages to be evacuated” which were in fact evacuated when air strikes began on 24 March 1999. The witness mentioned several Albanian villages in the area between Orahovac and Suva Reka that were evacuated on KLA orders.”

    -TESTIMONY ABOUT THE WAR THAT WAS “STAGED” IN KOSOVO

    http://www.sense-agency.com/en/stream.php?sta=3&pid=5748&kat=3

  9. Most of the people killed by NATO bombs in Kosovo were Albanians. Half of the Albanian population stayed, and crowds were there – in Pristina, for example – to cheer NATO soldiers as they arrived.

    NATO struck an Albanian convoy killing 86 civilians, including children. NATO bombed some Albanian refugee encampments in Kosovo. Apparently they were Albanians trying to return/check on their homes during the bombing. NATO also hit a civilian bus of mostly Albanians and there were other incidents. There were at least 200 Kosovo Albanian civilians killed by NATO bombs.

    The entire KLA leadership was indicted for crimes against other Albanians. Many Albanians were killed because they worked for the Serbian government. Especially targeted were Albanians and their families who were in the police, but also forest rangers and the like were murdered too.

    The KLA kidnapped, tortured and killed Albanians it suspected of collaboration with the Serbs or who were rivals.

    Some of those kidnapped have not been found, so they are among the missing.

    Albanian witnesses to KLA crimes have been liquidated or are too afraid to testify.

    Kosovo Roma have complained that some of their people, murdered/kidnapped by the KLA, have been put on the lists of murdered and missing Albanians.

  10. Nate, you’re a bit garbled, so I’m not really sure what you’re on about here.

    Hutsch is an interesting guy, but he had some blind spots. One of which is that he consistently overestimated the strength and organization of the KLA.

    His story is also rather implausible on its face. There was only a short window — less than 24 hours — between the time the Albanians signed at Rambouillet, and the time they left. (Remember, most of the time at Rambouillet was consumed by internal bickerings among the Albanian delegation.) The Albanians signed on 18 March, and everyone went home on 19 March.

    And there could be no bombing until (1) the Albanians signed, and (2)the Serbs refused to.

    So, to belive Hutsch, we have to believe that the Albanians signed, then rushed off and told Hutsch “NATO will bomb, and we’ll evacuate _these_ villages”. And then, hm, packed their bags and flew home.

    I don’t think Hutsch is a liar, BTW. Though he testified in Slobo’s defense (hawk, ptoo), I don’t think he’s one of the professional ideologues who infest the region. But I don’t find this particular story very credible.

    Most of the people killed by NATO bombs in Kosovo were Albanians.

    [patiently] Yes, Nate. We know that. Go back and read the first comment.

    Note that this does not mean that most of the people killed in Kosovo were killed by NATO bombs. They weren’t.

    Half of the Albanian population stayed

    Um… and half of them got ethnically cleansed. Right.

    (Actually it was more like 4/5 of them got ethnically cleansed. But several hundred thousand were IDPs, not refugees — still running from place to place inside Kosovo, or stuck waiting at the borders.)

    NATO struck an Albanian convoy killing 86 civilians, including children. NATO bombed some Albanian refugee encampments in Kosovo.

    One of the interesting things about having these discussions is, if you talk to both sides, you pretty quickly realize that they don’t talk to each other. At all.

    Kosovar Albanians at least have some idea of how Serbs think, because they all speak Serbian as a second language, and they had to live under Belgrade’s rule for a decade. But Serbs tend to be astoundingly ignorant of Albanians.

    Case in point: if you ever actually talk to Kosovar Albanians, you’ll find complete unanimity on this point. They all would have stayed if they could, despite the bombing. Nobody fled from the NATO bombs.

    They all know about the casualties from the bombing, including the bombing of the refugee convoy. And they all accept it as an accident of war. Without exception, they’re all deeply grateful to NATO. (And to Bill Clinton. His picture is everywhere.)

    This came as a bit of a surprise to me. But then, I didn’t know just how awful Milosevic’s rule had been there.

    That figure’s way too high, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. The Albanians still love NATO. (And Bill Clinton, of course.)

    Doug M.

  11. “Nobody fled from the NATO bombs.”

    Not according to Paul Watson, a Pulizer Prize winning journalist who was in Kosovo from the very beginning of the bombing – unlike you.

    Some excerpts of his interview in mid-April 1999:

    Q: Also, how much damage has been inflicted on Pristina altogether?

    A: The very center of the city is devastated. The government buildings have been hit. The main special police or ministry of interior police headquarters has been hit. A residential area, the oldest street, in fact, in Pristina which was ethically mixed. In years past it had Jewish residents next to Serbian residents, next to ethnic Albanians, next to ethnic Turks. That took a direct hit. The post office was hit, etc.

    Q: The people who are still leaving, are they being chased out by Serbs? Or are they, in fact, fleeing the bombing?

    A: I am certain that it’s a mixture of both. I have spoken personally to people who said that they were ordered to leave their homes by police in black masks. I’ve also spoken to people who are simply terrified. One should also remember that there are many Serbs who have left this city. There are many–there was a convoy of ethnic Turks who left the city…

    http://www.counterpunch.org/watson.html

    [Yeah and I guess you'll try to discredit him as well as he doesn't say everything you, with your all seeing eye, despite not being there at the time, nor being an investigator, knows exactly what went down]

    Those “police in black masks” could very well be KLA/Albanians who didn’t want to be recognized by their people.

    You don’t take into account that the Albanians could be lying to you and refrain from blaming the U.S., NATO, KLA for various reasons such as

    1) kissing up to their sugar daddy the U.S. and its minions/representatives, i.e. y-o-u!
    2) direction/fear of the KLA
    3) politically correct to blame the Serbs for everything (reports of that convoy bombing, for instance had Albanians – or perhaps dishonest reporters/editors who changed the claims – blaming the bombing and stafing by NATO of that convoy on the Serbs)

  12. Doug I think there is much more unity amongst Albanians than amongst Serbs (no this isnt my way of doing the 4 S’s bit).

    I dont subscibe to the theory that the Kosovo Albanians were running from the bombing (although it was a factor) but nor do I believe that the JA could have gone from house to house in half of all households in Kosovo. In some cases I do believe that it was impressed on Kosovo Albanians (by the KLA or others) to do the right thing and leave because it would ensure their national goal.

    Also there were obviously war crimes comitted by Serbian forces and paramilitaries and anybody sane would run for their lives before the latter turned up.

    As usual the truth is little bit of everything. Think that if one isnt too jaundiced in ones opinion and uses a little bit of ‘people’ pyschology its not too hard to estimate what went on. For example it is obvious if somebody tells a person that they wouldnt run if (NATO, JA, US take your pick) bombs were coming in their direction that they simply are not telling the truth.
    Bombs have a nasty habit of not knowing the difference between civilian and military targets.

    A couple of other points. Kosovo Albanians over the age of 30 know some Serbian but those under 25 know very little because they werent taught Serbian. Kosovo is a very young population, so thats many people.

    The point you make about Kosovo Albanians living under Belgrades rule for a decade could be applied to Yugoslavia too.

    In any case as you know during that decade Albanians were using their own parallel structures and not learning Serbian.

    Serbs are ignorant of Kosovo Albanians its true but there are practical reasons for that. Serbo – Croat was the official language of Yugoslavia and job opportunties were to be had not by learning Albanian but by speaking good Serbo Croat.

    Still despite the mostly mitigating tone this message seems to emphasise from a Serbian perspective, there is no doubt in my mind that the Serbian leadership persued a dumb, destructive and criminal policy with regard to Kosovo.

  13. Doug I think there is much more unity amongst Albanians than amongst Serbs (no this isnt my way of doing the 4 S’s bit).

    Maybe. On one hand, the political scene in Kosovo is pretty fragmented right now. Other hand, not as fragmented as Belgrade! But it’s not like they’re speaking with one voice.

    [running from the bombs]

    Well, let me narrow this down a little. I mentioned in another thread that the very precise NATO strike on the Pristina post office at the beginning of the war made a deep and lasting impression on the Albanians. That said, I don’t doubt that Albanians did move away from military targets.

    But the Serb nationalists want to believe that Albanians were fleeing _out of Kosovo_ to escape the bombs.

    That’s just ridiculous. Most of Kosovo is rural, and most Albanians are part of large extended families. I was in Pristina on a holiday, and I watched the city empty out, as everybody went back to the countryside to visit Grandma and the cousins.

    Kosovo’s small, but it’s not that small. And 99% of it wasn’t a military target. So nervous Albanians worried about the bombs wouldn’t run for the Macedonian border, so they could be interned in a squalid refugee camp. No. They’d go stay with Uncle Hashem in the old family compound in the village.

    Of course, if Serb paramilitaries have been through the village already, that option’s less attractive.

    Anyway. Did people move away from military targets? Of course they did. Did Albanians flee Kosovo because of the bombing? Hell no.

    What gets me about this is that these guys refuse to acknowledge crimes that were gross, blatant, and committed before the eyes of the world.

    You can argue the pros and cons of bombing vs. continued diplomacy and I’ll sit still and listen. You can point out that NATO and western governments lied and I’ll agree. You can tell me that the KLA was a violent and often criminal organization and I won’t think of arguing.

    But “the Albanians fled Kosovo because they were afraid of NATO bombs”… Jesus. That’s just a Big Lie. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t map to any reasonable human experience; it doesn’t even map to Serbs’ own experience (hey, remember those Serb refugee colums going into Hungary and Romania to escape the bombing of Belgrade? Hmm, me neither.) But people believe it.

    Why? Well, I think it scratches several itches at once.

    1) Nothing can be the Serbs’ fault.
    2) NATO was incredibly careless and violent, blowing up their own “allies”.
    3) Albanians are really cowards, who may stab you in the back but run away as soon as there’s real danger.

    Anyway.

    Albanians knowing Serbian: this is a little complicated, because a lot of Kosovar Albanians speak and understand Serbian perfectly well, but are reluctant to admit it.

    Still, a few data points. Under the UN administration, everything official has to be printed in both Serbian and Albanian. Kosovo still gets TV and radio broadcasts from Serbia and Montenegro. (More than from Albania, because of the mountains.) And there’s a tremendous amount of business quietly going on between Kosovo and Serbia. Neither side wants to discuss it, but Serbia is Kosovo’s biggest trading partner. So, there are still plenty of reasons for a young Albanian to pick up some Serbian.

    Parallel structures: yes, but they couldn’t construct a whole parallel society. All police and government officials were Serbian. If you wanted to register your car, buy or sell land, appear in court, check into a hospital, or have any other contact with government bureacracy, you had to speak Serbian.

    Doug M.

  14. Doug,
    I’ve done a bit of Googling and managed to find a lot of references to people killed by NATO, but nothing on the total number of casualties, including those who died from the ground war (which must have been the majority).

    I would be very grateful if you or anyone else who finds something on this could publish the link here.

  15. Those “police in black masks” could very well be KLA/Albanians who didn’t want to be recognized by their people.

    What, in the middle of Pristina before the Serbian withdrawal? I would think that, had the KLA had that kind of control of the streets, there would have been no need to drop bombs.

  16. Alex, in the Serb nationalist mind, there’s no limit to either the power or the malevolence of the KLA. Terrorists, drug dealers, murderers of their own people: completely evil, utterly ruthless, and hyper-competent.

    The fact is, the KLA were a bunch of mopes. Tito’s Partisans could have eaten them for breakfast. They were poorly trained and internally divided. Their leaders were mostly former university students. And up until spring ’98, there weren’t more than a few hundred of them. When the bombing started, 90% of the KLA had been in the guerrilla business for less than a year.

    It’s not like the region lacks a partisan tradition. Ever heard of VMRO? Bulgarian terrorist organization of the ’20s and ’30s, right over the border in Macedonia. Now /those/ guys were competent and evil. At one point they killed off half the Bulgarian government by blowing up a cathedral in the middle of a ceremony. They financed themselves by every sort of horrible crime imaginable, and they also had a vicious knack for torturing collaborators. Very professional, very tough. Compared to VMRO, the KLA was a bunch of confused schoolkids.

    Cripes, even Enver Hoxha’s WWII partisans — who were mostly a second-rate imitation of Tito — could have kicked the KLA’s ass. The *Cetniks* could have kicked their ass.

    Schmucks; amateurs; mopes.

    But it’s embarassing to lose to a bunch of mopes. So, in the Serb imagination, the KLA becomes a superpowered hybrid of Al Qaeda, the Gotti Mob and SMERSH.

    So, sure they might have been on the streets during the bombing! The KLA was everywhere… like evil itself!

    Albanian civilians, of course, would have been completely unable to tell the difference between a KLA guerrila and a Serb paramilitary. Those black masks muffle speech so much, you know.

    Doug M.

  17. “it doesn’t even map to Serbs’ own experience (hey, remember those Serb refugee colums going into Hungary and Romania to escape the bombing of Belgrade?”

    The Serbs were blocked from leaving from what I heard. Only those with special permission could come to Hungary.

    Plus they didn’t have a hot civil war going, nor were their leaders telling them to leave.

    Even Rugova left – for Serbia!

    Speculation was rife that Serbs had killed him – but then he showed up on Serbian TV with Milosevic. Some Albanians were angry with him over this. He was threatened by a rival faction of the KLA.

    There were assassinations of members of his party after the war and he was always under heavy guard. The main commander of his faction of the KLA, Tahir Zemaj, was finally assassinated in Kosovo in 2003 after a few failed attempts.

    “What gets me about this is that these guys refuse to acknowledge crimes that were gross, blatant, and committed before the eyes of the world.”

    What are you talking about? What did you see – did you see Serbs chasing Albanians out with guns? NO. There were no Serbs beating, chasing, or seen threatening the Albanians.

    Seeing the ASTONISHINGLY GOOD CONDITION of the Albanians was not believing the hype – the hype that they were living out in the open, that they were beaten and thrown out of their houses, that they had to walk an considerable distance without motor vehicles, buses, trains, etc.

    The Macedonian medical personnel, where most Kosovo Albanians went, testified that there were essentially NO injuries for the Albanians. No one was hospitalized or treated for exposure, dehydration, malnutrition.

    Even in the photos of people walking, the children do not look tired, nor flagging, but alert and looking at the camera. Most men and boys sporting fresh haircuts.

    No one had the appearance of having slept in their clothes, missed a meal, a shower or bath, daily grooming, etc.

    They looked quite well-off for an allegedly poor Balkan country – the young in leather jackets, jeans, wearing watches, etc.

    There physical condition was that of those who decided to leave their homes and took their time getting out. They were lavished with incredible amount of food aid and attention. They were even picky about the food – passing over American bread because European was better.

    A woman who worked with refugees the world over says they did not look like the typical refugees in the least. She wondered why not even a fraction of the food went to truly starving refugees in Africa, for instance.

  18. This is an article written by the nutritionist who said that obesity was the main health problem of the refugees, and that there were ice cream vendors, car parks, chocolate cake, candy bars, vendors’ stalls, etc. where she was at:

    http://www.ennonline.net/fex/10/fa7.html

    Don’t let them eat cake

    Susane Jaspers is a Nutritionist specialising in emergency nutrition, food aid and food security.
    This article is based on her experiences in Albania and Macedonia where she found Kosovar refugees suffering from obesity not malnutrition.

    This time last year, I was cooking spaghetti for 300 new arrivals at a camp for Kosovar refugees in Albania. The camp itself, on the Adriatic coast, was like any overcrowded European camp site: rows of tents, car parks, vendors’ stalls and ice cream vans. I looked at the people I was about to feed, and saw plump-cheeked children, heavy men and heavier women. They did not look like the refugees I was used to, the victims of African crises whose skeletal limbs and emaciated figures haunt television viewers the world over.

    I worked as an emergency nutritionist, first in Albania and later in Macedonia. By July 1999, it became clear that the main nutritional problem amongst Kosovars was not undernutrition but obesity. This was confirmed by a nutritional survey in January 2000 in Kosovo, which found that whilst only 5.3% of adult women were undernourished, 23.6% were overweight, and 10.4% were obese. Amongst the elderly (both sexes), 32% were overweight and 16% were obese…

    The international community responds to any disaster with food aid, and the Kosovo crisis was no exception. However, the quantity and types of food provided to some Kosovars, whilst they were refugees, was exceptional. The UN used the same procedures to work out food aid needs as elsewhere, but numerous agencies decided to use private funds to purchase food. Meanwhile, many donor countries provided funding direct to NGOs to buy additional foods; and donations – ranging from Mars bars, Italian cakes, pain au chocolat, Turkish delight, as well as healthier alternatives such as milk, cheese, fruit juice, fresh fruit and vegetables…

    Nutritional surveys show no significant increase in the prevalence of undernutrition in Kosovars from December 1998 to January 2000. This could be interpreted as a successful relief operation, or alternatively, that people had sufficient fat stores to deal with a period of shortage.

    Two key questions that emerge from the food response to the Kosovo crisis. First: why was such an emphasis placed on food aid? And second: how can we justify the provision of high cost food items to Europeans who were not undernourished when in most African crises we cannot even provide undernourished populations with a basic survival ration.

    …The issue is one of equity and impartiality. As humanitarians, we claim to provide assistance on the basis of need. The aid community did not do this in 1999, when the need was clearly greater in places such as Somalia, Sudan and Angola.

  19. Doug your post touches on something of great concern to me – that many people (even with pragmatic opinions based upon best information or evidence they have to hand) fall into the trap of answering Serbian nationalists – or other nationalists for that matter.

    Why should we define our opinions and comments in response to an opinion we find exaggerated or based of untruths?

    The reason I write this to you is that the points was trying to make had nothing to do with Serbian nationalists but you felt the need to answer their claims. Some of the things you wrote I agree with but I think its much better to put your own view forward rather than take the easier (or superior???) route of debunking something else.

    ‘People moving from military targets’ sounds like PC talk or to defend some kind of (political) position. People move Doug from a bomb coming in their direction period, whether they are sitting in a bunker or anywhere else. I’d venture a guess that something like a quater of targets hit in Kosovo by bombs were not even military. Its so logical hardly think its worth discussing.
    Having said that I do not believe that Kosovo Albanians were running away from NATO bombs.

    My other point you didnt address but I’d be interested in your opinion of it (and I hope you wont answer it in the context of Serbian nationalist claims). Is it possible that independence supporting Albanians (ordinary or KLA, voluntarily or coerced) fled their houses believing that this could hasten an end of Serbian rule in the province?

    Again this seems logical to me and isnt proof that ethnic cleansing or the killing of Kosovo Albanian civilians didnt take place because it obviously did.

    As for Kosovo Albanians speaking Serbian, as I said it depends. Do you think that Kosovo Albanian education structures which begun teaching in the 1990′s taught Serbian? Other than state TV that most Albanians switched off there was very little exposure to the Serbian lanugage therefore most Kosovo Albanians under the age of 30, 25 certainly know very little Serbian. I know this from my own experience. But I’m not sure of your definition of ‘perfectly well’. Most Serbs dont speak their own lanugage perfectly well!

    Regarding trade in Kosovo. Yes, I know something about that too – and the boycott that some Albanian groups like Kurtis are advocating. Kind of reminds me of the ridiculous Serbian boycott of Slovenian goods which hastened the break up of Yugoslavia.

    Have you been to Serbia recently Doug? For sure you have probably had countless arguments with those purporting to be Serbs online (usually not from Serbia at all). Me too, but I find that contemporary Serbia is a different creature than the image which has become a stereotype.

  20. Inasmuch as they’re the ones presenting the arguments which have to be answered …

    ‘People moving from military targets’ sounds like PC talk or to defend some kind of (political) position. People move Doug from a bomb coming in their direction period, whether they are sitting in a bunker or anywhere else. I’d venture a guess that something like a quater of targets hit in Kosovo by bombs were not even military. Its so logical hardly think its worth discussing.

    A cite, please, on the proportion of non-military targets in Kosova/o. Why were Kosovar Albanians so unique among residents of the FRY in fleeing their country altogether, unlike their fellow citizens of other ethnicities?

    Do you think that Kosovo Albanian education structures which begun teaching in the 1990′s taught Serbian? Other than state TV that most Albanians switched off there was very little exposure to the Serbian lanugage therefore most Kosovo Albanians under the age of 30, 25 certainly know very little Serbian.

    A cite, please, on the rates of fluency in Serbian among Kosovar Albanians. Were there really no occasions for Kosovar Albanians to learn the language of the country that ran their homeland?

  21. Nate, I’m sure you’re aware that Kosovo is not very big. To drive to the border does not take months. To starve takes a while. You appear to be quoting a nutritionist who criticises the international community for sending too much food, as evidence that they weren’t scared of being shot. This is not logical.

    I would, however, point out that a Macedonian village shop would struggle to supply 50,000 refugees.

  22. Some of the things you wrote I agree with but I think its much better to put your own view forward rather than take the easier (or superior???) route of debunking something else.

    Well, you can find some of my opinions on my own blog.

    The Picture of Adem Jasheri

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000816.html”>And The Occasional Bomb

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000817.html”>The Saddest Thing

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000819.html”>A Pair of Timberland Boots

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000828.html”>Rashomon in the Balkans

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000864.html”>Rugova

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000827.html”>The Church Built in Anger

    a href=”http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000834.html”>UCK

    There’s more, but I don’t want to bore you.

    Doug M.

  23. “A cite, please, on the proportion of non-military targets in Kosova/o. Why were Kosovar Albanians so unique among residents of the FRY in fleeing their country altogether, unlike their fellow citizens of other ethnicities?”

    You forget that over 1/2 of the Albanian population stayed, if 800,000 left then there’d be almost 1,000,000 still in Kosovo. There were Albanian crowds to greet NATO as it entered. The people all looked clean and well fed and in weather suitable clothes – shorts, T-shirts, sandals, sneakers in June.

    You also forget that the Jews flew to Israel, after going to Belgrade to catch the flight; that Turks did go to Turkey to sit out the bombs; that there were many Roma intermingled with the Albanians and that there were some fights in the camps between them. For example, the Albanians claimed a Roma child had stolen some jewelry and almost killed him, according to the Roma.

  24. I’m sure you’re aware that Kosovo is not very big. To drive to the border does not take months. To starve takes a while. You appear to be quoting a nutritionist who criticises the international community for sending too much food, as evidence that they weren’t scared of being shot. This is not logical.

    But the media was hyping that people were being thrown out of their homes – after Serb soldiers, police, or paramilitary burst in – after being beaten up, AND that they had to walk most of the way and spent days and weeks hiding in the woods with no food, sleeping in the open, etc.

    Not one trace of such experience showed on any of the refugees. People, especially children, do show signs of weakness, fatigue, low blood sugar, dehydration – even after missing a few meals. And if they were doing a lot of walking, it would be worse. People would be dirty if they had to sleep out in the open – they would have matted, greasy hair, the men wouldn’t be cleanly shaven, the clothes would be torn and dirty.

    Dehydration would cause eyes to sink back in the skull – you wouldn’t have full, rosy cheeked children and babies – as seen in all the photos and footage. The Macedonian medical personal saw the bulk of the refugees and testified of their extraordinary good condition and health.

    Obviously the people were not roughing it on their way out of Kosovo, as the media hype claimed.

    At the camps, which were serving as propaganda – there was certainly enough money (a tiny fraction of what was spent on bombing) to put them all in hotels/motels – if they couldn’t stay in others’ homes, there may have been some sanitation and overcrowding conditions.

    But, again, there was no sign that the refugees were beaten by Serbs – no injuries whatsoever. No sign that they lived in the open to hide from Serbs. No sign that they missed more than one meal – if that. No sign that they didn’t put on clean clothes that day or didn’t have their daily showers or baths.

  25. You forget that over 1/2 of the Albanian population stayed, if 800,000 left then there’d be almost 1,000,000 still in Kosovo. There were Albanian crowds to greet NATO as it entered. The people all looked clean and well fed and in weather suitable clothes – shorts, T-shirts, sandals, sneakers in June.

    Signifying what about the Albanians who hadn’t been expelled, exactly?

    You also forget that the Jews flew to Israel, after going to Belgrade to catch the flight; that Turks did go to Turkey to sit out the bombs; that there were many Roma intermingled with the Albanians and that there were some fights in the camps between them. For example, the Albanians claimed a Roma child had stolen some jewelry and almost killed him, according to the Roma.

    Unsurprisingly, ethnic tensions in Kosovo werer and are high. How does this relate to the expulsion of half of the Kosovar Albanian population?

  26. Some of the things you wrote I agree with but I think its much better to put your own view forward rather than take the easier (or superior???) route of debunking something else.

    Well, you can find some of my opinions on my home blog, which is here. Just search for “Kosovo”.

    I never lived in Kosovo, BTW, but I was a regular visitor to there (and to Albania) for a while. I did live in Serbia for a couple of years. So perhaps arguing with nationalists is a nostalgia thing.

    Doug M.

  27. Not one trace of such experience showed on any of the refugees.

    I’m sorry, Nate, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Google, two minutes. Sources: UNHCR and Human Rights Watch.

    “KOSOVO: SEVERE FOOD SHORTAGES 14 May 99 – US and NATO officials are exploring ways to get food to the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who may be starving as they hide from Serb forces inside Kosovo, reports CNN. The deteriorating condition of refugees now coming out of Kosovo’s borders makes it clear that displaced people hiding in the hills and forests of are running out of food. Refugees arriving yesterday in Macedonia told of severe food shortages among ethnic Albanians remaining inside Kosovo. They also told of a heavy police presence and said that some Serb shopkeepers are refusing to sell food to ethnic Albanians. “It is hard to believe, but we ate leaves and flowers and we fed our children with them,” said one refugee man….

    “A US experiment to drop food packets from aircraft flying at a high altitude has been abandoned after NATO decided the idea was too costly and not practical for distributing food to so many people.”

    * * *

    KOSOVO HUMAN RIGHTS FLASH #30
    REFUGEES RECOUNT WEEKS ON THE MOVE

    (New York, April 26, 1999, 6:30pm EDT)—Refugees now arriving in Macedonia report that Yugoslav military forces chased them from village
    to village in Kosovo during the preceding three to four weeks. Refugees explained they were sometimes directed by Yugoslav troops toward aparticular town, only to later be forced to flee that town… Those who had been on the move for
    weeks, were exhausted, in shock and traumatized when they finally arrived in Macedonia

    Refugees from the Urosevac (Ferizay in Albanian) and Gnjilane areas of southern Kosovo told Human Rights Watch strikingly similar stories of
    their ordeal: weeks spent fleeing or being forced to move from one village to another…

    Most of the villagers escaped into the mountains, but the very elderly and disabled were left behind. One man told Human Rights Watch that
    when he fled with his wife and children he had been forced to leave his paralyzed father and elderly mother behind in their home. He had
    believed they would be safe because “[paramilitaries] wouldn’t touch a
    paralyzed man.” However, when he returned several hours later, he found both his mother and father shot dead in their home, his mother’s body
    had been mutilated, and that there were dozens of empty bullet casings on the ground. At least two other elderly people were also killed in Sojevo, according to three of the villagers interviewed by Human Rights Watch who buried them.

    [...]

    One woman who had just arrived in Macedonia told Human Rights Watch, “I traveled a lot, I was just escaping from one place to another. Everywhere we went they were following us. I have not slept in the same place for one month. This is our first night in peace for these four weeks. I would rather sleep here on this ground, than be there – just for some peace.”

    * * *

    Medical officials in Kukes told CNN that many of the refugees showed signs of beating by Serb forces and wounds caused by what the refugees said was shelling of their homes by Yugoslav army and police forces.

    “We have food coming in (but) we still need more ready-to-eat food,” Red Cross delegate Ellem Berg Svennes told CNN in Kukes.

    * * *

    MACEDONIA: UN GETS TO MALINA 23 Apr. 99 – UN relief workers reached the mountain village of Malina yesterday where several thousand Kosovo refugees had been stranded in freezing temperatures while Macedonian police turned back truckloads of aid, reports Reuters. Border guards this week repeatedly refused to allow convoys to travel to the village because the route passed through some 50 metres of Yugoslav territory. “We did take a full convoy of blankets, food, water and baby food,” said UNHCR spokeswoman Paula Ghedini, adding that relief workers were bracing for the arrival of 10,000 more people. Lindsey Davis of WFP said there were fewer refugees than expected in the village – a few thousand rather than the 6,000 reported earlier. Macedonian police had been ferrying them to nearby villages to relieve the pressure. A television crew earlier found refugees crammed into the village, many sleeping with animals in sheds, and some 350 living in the village school. They also saw Macedonian police evacuating refugees in trucks and wagons. Many of the refugees were elderly or children and nearly all of them were weeping. They had come from the southern Kosovo towns of Gnjilane and Vitina. Ghedini said earlier that one child had already died of exposure.

    * * *

    [via the BBC, April 6, 1999]

    Christian Aid spokeswoman Ama Annan, who arrived from Albania late on Monday night, said: “I was at a border crossing near the town of Kukes two mornings ago.

    “While we were there, in the space of one-and-a-half hours, we saw three people die.”

    ‘Weak and traumatised people’

    She said: “People are very weak and traumatised from the experiences they’ve had on the other side of the border.”

    Ms Annan said the refugees were hungry, thirsty and in need of shelter, but she said the Tirana government had a policy of bussing the Kosovars to central and southern Albania as quickly as possible.

    The appeal aims to raise funds for emergency aid
    She said the journey from Kukes to Tirana took 10 hours, on very poor roads, and this was worsening the refugees’ condition.

    * * *

    Etcetera, etcetera.

    And, again, if you go to Kosovo… well, pretty much everyone has a horror story from 1999. This is in sharp contrast to Belgrade, where most people got through the bombing with nothing worse than blackouts.

    I suppose everyone I talked to could have been lying. And hey — after the bombing was finished, there was a camp in Albania where everyone was well fed and fat.

    But if you seriously think most of the refugees reached the border clean, strong, and well fed… well, no. That’s just plain wrong. It’s inconsistent with the vast majority of eyewitness reports, including those from neutral observers like HRW, UNHCR, and Medecins Sans Frontieres.

    (Has there ever been any refugee exodus in the Balkans that worked like that? Ask a Serb who came through Operation Storm how the border crossing went. And that was a much gentler operation than the cleansing of Kosovo.)

    Doug M.

  28. “Refugees from the Urosevac (Ferizay in Albanian) and Gnjilane areas of southern Kosovo told Human Rights Watch strikingly similar stories of
    their ordeal: weeks spent fleeing or being forced to move from one village to another…”

    They told “stories” but nothing in their appearance shows it. Anyone can claim anything and output rumors. Remember Jamie Shea or some NATO spokesman was claiming around 100,000 Albanian men missing and believed to be dead.

    I challenge you to find a picture depicting people who actually look like they’d been living without running water or food and woods.

    The visual did not match the claims.

    The Serbs fleeing Operation Storm were heading for the hospitals at “an alarming rate”. They were bloody and their cars had windows smashed. There is no blood on the Albanian refugees. They can run their mouths on and on, but they had not a scratch on them.

    And HRW and many other organizations are bought and paid for by mostly U.S. money. They are easily manipulated, corrupted, staffed, or planted if need be to push the agenda.

  29. These are some photos by Peter Turnley he titles “Fields of Sorrow” (it looks like he gets Albanians to look at him and tear up) for propaganda purposes. Yet you will not see any scratches on the Albanians, they are not dirty, they are not thin nor malnourished looking. Most of the women over 30 are fat.

    Picture of Albanian woman in Macedonia – is heavyset. Not starving nor dirty nor injured, no evidence of roughing it in the woods>>
    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt05.JPG

    Picture of Albanian refugees in Macedonia – no starvation or weak with hunger evident, fat lady >>

    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt10.JPG

    Not thin nor dirty in this picture either, another very overweight woman>>

    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt03.JPG

    Crowd of Albanian refugees confronting Macedonian soldiers, no blood, not dirty, nor looking malnourished >>

    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt22.JPG

    Fat, clean, uninjured Albanians waving loaves of bread around>>

    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt09.JPG

    Well-fed Albanian teens (and overweight woman) without a trace of injury crying for the photographer – even the ones in the background looking at the photographer as they make crying motions (hand to face) for the photographer>> http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt01.JPG

    Healthy, well-fed, unscathed – not even a scratch >>

    http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue9904/images/pt07.JPG

  30. I’m sorry, but this “fat Albanians” subthread has exceeded my stupidity quota for this week. No offense. I do usually try to engage with my commenters, but there comes a point.

    Alex, I don’t think this guy knows enough to play the Soros card. So we default to the generic “those guys are bought and paid for” trope. (All those HRW reports on Iraq and Gitmo? Deep cover, man, deep cover.)

    Doug M.

  31. Obvious then you can provide no photographs of footage of the refugees which shows them bruised, injured or looking as if they’ve been living in the woods without shelter.

    I remember how, after the war, Ted Koppel was in Kosovo and talking to an elderly Albanian man. In the background you could hear gunshots and see smoke rising – it was the KLA unhindered, as they had full control of the province with NATO which did very little to stop their attacks in those days. Anyhow, Mr. Koppel asked what Serbs had done to him. The man looked perfectly healthy, by the way. The man simply took off his white Albanian cap and threw it to the ground. Then he picked it up and put it back on.

    Ted Koppel seemed disappointed, and asked something like “Is that all?”

    The Albanian man thought for a few seconds then started giving him a better atrocity tale. These people knew the western press and officials were really fishing for stories and some of the stories they got were fish stories.

    There was also, during that time, on another U.S. station, a bit about the Albanians looting Serb shops during those days. There was a footage which showed a Serb pensioner who had been robbed and he was sitting on the front steps of his home. Then it showed his back – HIS BACK WAS ENTIRELY DARK PURPLE – HIS ENTIRE BACK WAS A DEEP AND TOTAL BRUISE. I’ve never seen a bruise a small fraction of that size.

    Unlike the Albanians, the Serbs did show physical trauma on their flesh.

  32. Obvious then you can provide no photographs of footage of the refugees which shows them bruised, injured

    Yes, I can.

    I just don’t want to.

    Doug M.

  33. Woa, this thread took a very weird turn. Oh well, I guess it’s to be expected whenever the issue of Kosovo comes upp.

    However, since I’m really interested, I’d like repeat my request for information (sources; links) on the number of people killed in Kosovo during the war in 1999. So far, I’ve only been able to get the 10,000 figure, which seems to be some kind of even numbered assumption.

    Regards,
    Oskar

  34. The building is incredibly beautiful. It reminds of the historic times and of the palaces of king James and Charles.

  35. Hi Oskar,

    It might help if you narrowed it down. Military or civilian; Serb or Albanian?

    Here’s a good page of links:

    http://shr.aaas.org/kosovo/

    The 10,000 figure probably came from one of these three studies:

    http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/Kosovo/Reports/refugee.html

    See also _Killing and Refugee Flow in Kosovo, 1999_, by Ball, et al, which was delivered to the ICTY in 2002:

    http://shr.aaas.org/kosovo/icty_report.pdf

    – look at page 6 and appendices.

    Human Rights Watch:

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/kosovo/

    That one is book-length, but worth at least skimming. Your local library might have it in hardcover.

    The pesky human rights people are still at it, BTW:

    http://hrw.org/reports/2006/kosovo0506/

    (Hm, I see that one is available in German.)

    _Refugees_ magazine ran a lot of interesting articles on Kosovo. (It’s the official publication of UNHCR, and the title says it all. Very interesting reading, if you stay strong.)

    Here’s an issue from late ’99, with preliminary casualty estimates:

    http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/publ/opendoc.pdf?tbl=PUBL&id=3c6914bc5

    Hey, pictures! Note the luxurious refugee accomodations on page 6, and the girl faking her injuries on page 22-3.

    You also might find this interesting:

    http://www.kosovoforum.net/site/index.htm

    Those are from memory — I know there are more.

    Doug M.

  36. Hi Oskar,

    It might help if you narrowed it down. Military or civilian; Serb or Albanian?

    Here’s a good page of links:

    http://shr.aaas.org/kosovo/

    The 10,000 figure probably came from one of these three studies:

    http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/Kosovo/Reports/refugee.html

    See also _Killing and Refugee Flow in Kosovo, 1999_, by Ball, et al, which was delivered to the ICTY in 2002:

    http://shr.aaas.org/kosovo/icty_report.pdf

    – look at page 6 and appendices.

    Doug M.

  37. More links.

    Human Rights Watch:

    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/kosovo/

    That one is book-length, but worth at least skimming. Your local library might have it in hardcover.

    The pesky human rights people are still at it, BTW:

    http://hrw.org/reports/2006/kosovo0506/

    (Hm, I see that one is available in German.)

    _Refugees_ magazine ran a lot of interesting articles on Kosovo. (It’s the official publication of UNHCR, and the title says it all. Very interesting reading, if you stay strong.)

    Here’s an issue from late ’99, with preliminary casualty estimates:

    http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/publ/opendoc.pdf?tbl=PUBL&id=3c6914bc5

    Hey, pictures! Note the luxurious refugee accomodations on page 6, and the girl faking her injuries on page 22-3.

    You also might find this interesting:

    http://www.kosovoforum.net/site/index.htm

    Those are from memory and quick googling — I know there are more. The casualty estimates have been creeping downwards, much as they did in Bosnia, but I don’t have quick links on that. I’m starting to bookmark, though (I probably should have done so long ago) so if you find anything of interest, please pass it along.

    Doug M.

  38. _Refugees_ magazine ran a lot of interesting articles on Kosovo. (It’s the official publication of UNHCR, and the title says it all. Very interesting reading, if you stay strong.)

    Here’s an issue from late ’99, with preliminary casualty estimates:

    http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/publ/opendoc.pdf?tbl=PUBL&id=3c6914bc5

    Hey, pictures! Note the luxurious refugee accomodations on page 6, and the girl faking her injuries on page 22-3.

    You also might find this interesting:

    http://www.kosovoforum.net/site/index.htm

    Those are from memory and quick googling — I know there are more. The casualty estimates have been creeping downwards, much as they did in Bosnia, but I don’t have quick links on that. I’m starting to bookmark, though (I probably should have done so long ago) so if you find anything of interest, please pass it along.

    cheers,

    Doug M.

  39. I dont doubt the beauty of the building and its fence but who the hell is interested in watching the fucking govt and those public figures????