Exodus of Serbs Undermines Ideal of a Democratic Kosovo

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Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 10:22:23 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Exodus of Serbs Undermines Ideal of a Democratic Kosovo

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: International Helsinki Federation <office@ihf-hr.org>

Exodus of Serbs Undermines Ideal of a Democratic Kosovo

Exodus of Serbs Undermines Ideal of a Democratic Kosovo
Belgrade, Podgorica, Prishtine, Vienna, 20 July 1999.  The
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the
Helsinki Committees in Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia are deeply
concerned that the slow establishment of an international police force
(IPTF) and manipulation by the Serbian government are contributing to
an exodus of Kosovo Serbs.  While the Provisional Government of Kosovo
has called for an end to individual acts of violence that intimidate
ethnic communities, the persistence of acts of revenge undermines the
ideals for which many Kosovars and the international community have

"At least 10,000 Kosovars were murdered because they were Albanian,"
the three Helsinki Committees and the IHF stated. "Any violence and
discrimination against persons based on their ethnicity is an insult
to their memory and an attack on the future of Kosovo."

"Now the people of Kosovo must re-dedicate themselves to the
principles for which they have stood and for which the international
community intervened:  freedom, equality, and nondiscrimination."

The Helsinki Committees have received numerous reports of kidnappings
of Serbs in Kosovo.  Seventeen were reportedly kidnapped on 11 July. 
Three Serbs from Kosovo - Djordje Toskovic, Petrija Pilevic and Milos
Jevric - have been reported missing to the Helsinki Committee for
Human Rights in Serbia. According to some reports, as many as 132
Serbs are missing. Approximately 100,000 persons have left Kosovo
since the Peace Agreement was signed.  While many ethnic Serbs have
left for fear of retribution, others were identified with repression
in Kosovo and left along with the military forces.  Many ethnic
Albanians have taken over or plundered their dwellings. Serbian media
have reported that Serb workers have been dismissed from their jobs in
several major Kosovo cities.  The IHF and the Helsinki Committees call
on authorities and institutions to respect and protect the rights of
such workers in the context of programs to re-employ dismissed
Albanians.  Efforts need to be made to reinstate all workers unfairly

The Serbs who have left Kosovo face harsh discrimination from
government authorities.  They are not allowed to claim pensions
outside of Kosovo and children are denied the right to register for
the next school year.

Several thousand Roma have tried to leave Kosovo, some of whom have
reportedly been forced to return either by refugee camp officials or
Serbian authorities.  The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) has
documented killings, abductions, torture, rape and other abuses; more
must be done by KFOR to protect them from acts of retribution.  In
recent days, ethnic Albanians have also suffered violence that is
possible under anarchical conditions before the international
community has established full and efficient control.  The IHF
deplores the delay in the establishment of the International Police
Task Force.

We call upon the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the international
forces (KFOR) to prevent the maltreatment and exodus of Serbs and
other non-Albanians, and to create conditions under which those who
have fled may return safely to their homes.  The United Nations
mission must do more to gather information on missing persons and the
confiscation of property, in order to support eventual court
For more information:
Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director, IHF, 
+43-1-408 8822; +43-676-339 0506
Sonja Biserko, Chair, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, 
Slobodan Franovic, Chair, Chair, Montenegrin Helsinki Committee for
Human Rights, 
+381-86-53 191
Gazmend Pula, Chair, Kosovo Helsinki Committee, 
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Rummelhardtgasse 2/18
Tel. +43-1-402 73 87 or +43-1-408 88 22
Fax  +43-1-408 74 44 E-mail: office@ihf-hr.org
Internet: http://www.ihf-hr.org

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