|Geert Lovink on Mon, 29 Mar 1999 23:31:36 +0100|
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|Syndicate: IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 11|
From: Tony Borden <email@example.com> WELCOME TO IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 11, 29 MARCH 1999 BLOOD ON THE WALK. While the situation throughout the province deteriorates, our correspondent in Pristina sees burning and looting, and bloodstains on the sidewalk. TIRANA CALLS FOR GROUND TROOPS. While terror increases in Kosovo, and refugees mount in Albania, Tirana appeals for NATO to intervene with ground troops to halt the violence. Fron Nazi reports. ***************************************************** IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide inside analysis of the events and issues driving crises in the Balkans. The reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian; English-language reports are also available via e-mail. For syndication information, contact Anthony Borden <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The project is supported by the European Commission and Press Now. *** VISIT IWPR ON-LINE: www.iwpr.net *** To subscribe to this service, send an e-mail to <email@example.com>; in the body of the email write the message <subscribe balkan-reports>. To unsubscribe, write <unsubscribe balkan-reports>, Alternatively, contact Duncan Furey directly for subscription assistance at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. For further details on this project and other information services and media programmes, visit IWPR's Website: <www.iwpr.net>. Editor: Anthony Borden. News and Internet Editor: Rohan Jayasekera. Assistant Editing: Alan Davis. Translation by Denisa Kostovic and Alban Mitrushi. "Balkan Crisis Report" is produced under IWPR's Balkan Crisis Information Project. The project seeks to contribute to regional and international understanding of the regional crisis and prospects for resolution. The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and democratic change. Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH, United Kingdom Tel: (44 171) 713 7130; Fax: (44 171) 713 7140 E-mail:email@example.com; Web: www.iwpr.net The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR. Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting <www.iwpr.net>. ************************************************* BLOOD ON THE WALK While the situation throughout the province deteriorates, general chaos reigns in Pristina, with burning and looting, and bloodstains on the sidewalk. An IWPR Correspondent in Pristina * The situation outside the capital seems to be descending into a real nightmare, while in Pristina we have the same chaos we have had for days. Up to 30,000 Albanians have fled their towns and villages for Albania, and we hear that tens of thousands of Albanians have been taken out of their homes in Pec, in the western part of the province, by Serbian police and are being escorted in columns towards Rozhaje over the Kosovo border in Montenegro. Albanian sources say that more than 100 people in the town have been killed, dead bodies are lying on the streets, and after shelling and looting, the old part of the town has been destroyed. Gjakovica, it seems, is also aflame, and many people have been killed there, too. According to reports from Kosovapress, the news agency of the Kosovo Liberation Army agency, Serbian police entered the village of Cirez, where more than 15,000 refugees live in the open for more than two weeks, and forced them into a nearby military building-a possible NATO target. The actual events here, and the number of people involved, are hard to confirm, but everyone fears mass executions. In Pristina, the only people out on the streets are police and a great number of armed (Serbian) civilians wandering around the streets of the town, shooting in various directions. The looting, burning and general destruction continues. Shops are completely gutted, and everything taken. Cafes and restaurants--including the small hidden cafe where all the journalists used to meet--have been heavily damaged. Last night there were many explosions in the town--and not just from NATO bombs. This is the case especially around Dragodan, a residential part of Pristina, where there have been constant explosions. Albanians living in private houses there are particularly vulnerable. I don't sleep at home at night, but in the mornings when I come back, I can see lots of blood on the ground, though it is impossible to know who got wounded or killed the previous night. It seems that the authorities are trying to get people to flee. In many residential buildings, little papers were posted with the emblem of the Kosovo Liberation Army calling on people to leave their houses and go away from the towns. But some regional KLA commanders denied any links with the documents, and since the Albanian language in it has many mistakes, we expect they have been posted by the authorities. This isn't the first time counterfeit posters have been pasted around town exhorting the people to do one thing or another. The problem is that there's not much chance of going anyway. The bus station in Pristina is full, and buses are still travelling. But they only head north, towards Serbia, and only Serbs are allowed to board. Albanians are kicked off. Otherwise, there is no way to get out of town. The streets are full of paramilitary units controlling the roads, and no one would dare to try to pass. Some, through bribes and other means, have apparently found a way out, and almost none of my journalist colleagues are around any more. Even if you have some money, there's almost nothing to by in the shops. In those few that haven't been destroyed, there's very little to buy: no bread, no milk, no flour, no sugar. You need a fortune to buy a pack of cigarettes-and they are becoming increasingly scarce-or medicine. We had a better night with the phone lines last night, and we able to receive calls. But now only a few lines are still working, the mobile network is down, and we are afraid the whole system will simply be switched off soon. The Internet, through which I was able to file this report, belongs to a family linked to the Serbian government, and we expect it will also stop functioning. Meanwhile, on state-run media proudly proclaims that "Yugoslavia has entered history as the only state that shot down a NATO plane." The burnings and destruction that we see every night are, according to Serb TV, all caused by NATO. * This report is written by IWPR's correspondent in Pristina, whose name is withheld to protect from reprisals. TIRANA CALLS FOR GROUND TROOPS While terror increases in Kosovo, and refugees mount in Albania, Tirana appeals for NATO to intervene with ground troops to halt the violence. By Fron Nazi in Tirana NATO air strikes were intended to bring Belgrade to its knees. But Belgrade has responded by building an iron curtain around Kosovo and launching a wave of terror against the Kosovars. In the past two days, up to 30,000 refugees have crossed the border into Albania, into the towns of Kukes and Has. The stories they tell are of extreme violence, and immediate expulsions from their homes. Key figures in the Albanian elite have been killed, gone into hiding or escaped Kosovo. Others are reported to have been detained. According to Gazmund Pula, President of the Kosovo Helsinki Committee, "Twenty thousand people have been detained by Serb forces, but it is not known what has happened to them. Also, criminals have been released from prisons to assist the Serbian forces with their anti-Albanian campaign." Speaking from Kosovo, Pula added, "We know that 20 people were killed in front of students. . . . As to the journalists, activists, and political leaders, Belgrade has put a death warrant on their heads. Yesterday, the actor Hadi Shehu best known for portraying Albanian patriots, was killed in Pristina by the Serbs." Since the beginning of NATO air strikes, not only have the Serbian forces increased their activity against the Kosovars but also against Albania proper. Serb forces have launched bombs in the northern village of Tropaj, destroying four homes, while in the nearby village of Kamnic, Serb forces entered the village and began shooting indiscriminately. There were no reports of any serious injuries. Rexhep Meidani, the president of Albania, has appealed to the West to intervene with ground troops in Kosovo to stop the killing. At a press conference with journalists he stressed that there was "only one war going on in the territory of what has remained from Yugoslavia and this is the inhuman war of Slobodan Milosevic regime against an undefended population, against Albanians." Arguing that the terror in Kosovo will not end without NATO troops, he stressed, "It is essential to accelerate NATO actions and find a way . . . to intervene on the ground." Fron Nazi is an IWPR senior editor.