Date: Mon, 10 Aug 98 18:12:45 CDT
From: Kosova Crisis Center News and Information <>
Subject: At Least 27 Ethnically Cleansed Villages in Gjakova
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Article: 40899
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President Rugova Talks on the Phone with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

Kosova Information Center, Kosova Daily Report (Prishtina), # 1514, 7 August 1998

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—The President of the Republic of Kosova, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, had a telephone conversation today with the U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Rugova's Office said. Madame Albright expressed the strong U.S. support for peaceful policies advocated by President Rugova, as well as a political solution to the Kosova issue.

The President of the Republic briefed Madame Albright on the situation in Kosova. He thanked the U.S. Administration for its commitment to Kosova.

In view of the highly difficult situation in the country, Rugova pressed for action to end the violence and stepped up efforts to solve the Kosova issue.

President Rugova's Press Conference

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—The President of the Republic of Kosova Dr. Ibrahim Rugova said today after Rahovec and Malisheva, the Serbian offensive is going on in the Drenica region, driving out of their homes tens of thousands of the Albanians, who are in need of humanitarian care.

In many Kosovar lands, like in the regions of Drenica and Dukagjin, Serb forces killed tens of civilians and wounded many others, Ibrahim Rugova told a press conference in Prishtina today.

“Children, women and the elderly bear the brunt of the Serb offensive, and they have taken shelter in the mountainous forests in central Kosova”.

President Rugova recalled that the huge village of Junik, in western Kosova in the border area with Albania, is under siege by Serbian military and police forces.

The Serb regime has been killing and destroying Albanian farmsteads and property, at a time that” Serb-run jails in Kosova have been turned into camps where hundreds of Albanians are being held in pre-trial detention,” the President said.

Ibrahim Rugova called for international protection for the people of Kosova, appealing to the United States, the European Union, Nato, the OSCE, and the UN to provide this protection.

The best solution for Kosova and its citizens is an independent status, with all guarantees for local Serbs, and an international protectorate as an interim stage, Rugova said. “An independent Kosova would stabilize the region, in the first place Macedonia, Albania and Serbia.”

President Rugova hailed the introduction of a Resolution in the United States Congress, which calls for recognition of the right of Kosova to self-determination and independence. The Kosova friends, Engel, Moran, and others introduced the Resolution, he said at the end of his introductory remarks in the press conference.

The BBC correspondent asked for Rugova's comments regarding the U.S. efforts to finalize plan for a possible military intervention in Kosova. “We welcome intervention so as to halt the Serbian military machinery in Kosova. The unprotected people of Kosova should be saved, and the region stabilized”, Rugova said.

He said the United States and the West were serious about Kosova. There is a unified position amongst the Albanians, the President said, in reply to a question which implied the contrary was the case. “All the political parties and the people of Kosova stand for independence. It is but normal that there are differences regarding tactics and the steps that should be taken”, Rugova said, adding that there was “unity and a democratic order” in Kosova.

The UK is willing to come on board to create a unified front, the President said in reply to a question by a reporter.

The Kosova team for negotiations with the ‘Yugoslav’ side will be formed in the coming days, Rugova said, adding that this was not a big problem. “It is very hard, though, to talk under the circumstances.”

The negotiating position of Kosova in the wake of the Serb position has not weakened, according to the President. It will stronger, he said, reiterating his call for the Serb offensive to end first. The West can end the offensive, Rugova stressed.

Rugova Meets with Ambassador Chris Hill

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—The President of the Republic of Kosova Ibrahim Rugova received today for talks Ambassador Chirs Hill, the U.S. diplomat who has been mediating on the Kosova issue The most recent developments in Kosova were discussed.

The situation in Kosova is extremely grave, the President said, adding that the Serb military and police offensive against the Albanian people is going on.

The political solution has not alternative, Rugova and Hill agreed, adding that there was need for the creation of preconditions for the start of a political, negotiating process in pursuit of a resolution in Kosova.

President Rugova and Ambassador Hill took part in a regular meeting of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) branch leaders.

The U.S. envoy told LDK activists that the United States will continue to be engaged in search of a political solution for Kosova.

President Rugova thanked Ambassador Hill for his assistance to a search for a resolution to the Kosova issue.

Ambassador Hill to the Press

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Chris Hill, the U.S. Ambassador to FYROM, and an envoy for Kosova, spoke to the press in Prishtina after a meeting he had with President Ibrahim Rugova of Kosova.

“I had a good meeting with Dr. Rugova. We discussed the situation on the ground, especially the issue of displaced people, who have moved now in the northern parts of Kosovo. We also discussed where we are in the political process, and some ideas on moving that forward, to get the negotiations started, negotiations that will lead to some results in a short order of time. That was a good discussion,” Ambassador Hill said.

He told reporters he met also with branch chiefs of the LDK, “and talked to them a little about the situation out in the countryside, not just in Prishtina.”

Asked by reporters to comment on his meeting with ‘FRY’ President earlier this week, the U.S. diplomat said: “I talked to President Milosevic two days ago, and acquainted him directly with some of the observations that I had on the situation on the ground, including of what I was concerned about—the fact that the police are not creating any conditions for the return of people.”

President Rugova Receives Russian Deputy Foreign Minister

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—The President of the Republic of Kosova Ibrahim Rugova received today for talks Mr. Nikolai Afanasyevsli, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, and his aides.

The dramatic developments in Kosova in the wake of the Serbian offensive as well as the possibilities for a political solution to the Kosova issue were discussed in the meeting.

Albanian civilians are being killed and massacred in the ongoing Serb military and police offensive in Kosova, Dr. Rugova said.

Serbs are systematically destroying and burning Albanian settlements, which has resulted in huge numbers of people being displaced from their homes, he added. “This is massive-scale ethnic cleansing in Kosova, conducted by the Serb regime.”

The President called for an urgent international intervention to end the Serbian offensive and to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosova. The displaced population should be allowed back to their homes and the process has to be carried out with international guarantees, he said.

An independent and neutral Kosova, with all guarantees for local Serbs, is the best solution, President Ibrahim Rugova said. “This arrangement would bring stability to the entire region”, he said, calling on the Russian Federation to engage for a just and political solution to the Kosova issue.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Afanasyevsky said he was here, in Prishtina, as an envoy for President Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Primakov.

The Russian Federation stands for a political solution in Kosova, and maintains that there can be no military solution to the Kosova issue, Afanasyevsky said.

Afanasyevsky to the Press in Prishtina

The recent situation in Kosova was the result of “the offensive actions of armed groups of the Albanians and the reply of the Serbian security”, according to the Russian diplomat PRISHTINA, Aug 8 (KIC)—Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasyevsky spoke to the press after his meeting with President Ibrahim Rugova of the Republic of Kosova.

“We discussed with Dr. Rugova about the situation in the county”, he said at the outset, referring to Kosova as a ‘county’. His assessment was that the recent situation in Kosova was the result of “the offensive actions of armed groups of the Albanians and the reply of the Serbian security”.

Speaking in English, the Russian diplomat said the there is no military solution of “the problems in Kosovo”, and negotiations should resume for a political, peaceful solution to “the problems of Kosovo, including status of the county”.

Using language reminiscent of official Belgrade's rhetoric about the situation in Kosova, Afanasyevsky spoke of the need for the solution of “immediate problems of the population, resumption of normal life.”

With regard to the return of displaced persons, refugees, to their homes in Kosova, Afanasyevsky said “we received assurances in Belgrade, from President Milosevic and the Government of Yugoslavia and Serbia, that the return of these people is the first priority.” A reporter said there were no results from the Moscow agreement of mid-June between Milosevic and Yeltsin. “Are you satisfied with your diplomatic activities, because the situation has worsened since the Moscow agreement?”, she asked.

What happened in the past two weeks has created “serious risks for the peace process, for the perspectives of negotiations.”, the Russian diplomat replied.

He did not reply to repeated questions about reports on the existence of massive graves in Rahovec.

Asked to comment on President Rugova's remarks earlier in the day today that there is no chance for talks under the prevailing conditions in Kosova, Afanasyevsky said: “We are trying with our American and European colleagues to promote a formulation amongst the Albanian leaders of a platform, a unique platform, for the resumption of the negotiations. We hope that in the coming days it will happen. We hope that negotiations will resume…”

Seven Albanians Buried in the Radisheva Mountainous Forests Thursday

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Seven Albanians, killed 13 days ago, were buried yesterday in the mountainous forests of Radisheva, local sources said.

The Albanians, residents of the villages of Radishev& and Kotorr in the municipality of Skenderaj ('Srbica’), were killed in defense of their homes in clashes with Serb soldiers and paramilitaries.

LDK sources from Mitrovica said Beqir Muj& Hajrizi (65) and his sons Azem Hajrizi (32) and Faik Hajrizi (28 from Kotorr, and Shyqri Azem Ahmeti (56), Haxhi Imer Ahmeti (56), Sabit Sadri Ahmeti (27) and Alban Muhamet Ahmeti (17) from Radisheva, were buried yesterday.

Albanian Boy Killed, Man Wounded, by Serb Snipers in Billush& Village of Prizren

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—A 12-year-old Albanian boy, Idriz Krasniqi, was shot dead by sniper bullet(s) in the village of Billush&, in the municipality of Prizren, on Thursday evening, around 19:00 hrs, the LDK Information Commission in Prizren said. Veli Gashi (55), who tried to help the Albanian boy, was also shot and seriously wounded.

The Albanian boy was getting back home from work in the fields, LDK sources said. He was reportedly shot by Serbs from a position called ‘Laku i Keq’, along the Prizren-Dragash road.

The killed boy was buried today in his native village.

Likoc and Other Drenica Villages Turned into Bonfire, Witnesses Claim

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Late Thursday afternoon, Serb forces began torching houses one after another in Likoc village, in the municipality of Skenderaj ('Srbica’), the local LDK chapter in Gllogovc said.

Likoc and the neighboring village of Rezall& were successively pounded with Serb artillery during the whole course of Wednesday and Thursday. Serb infantry troops entered parts of the village of Rrezall& earlier on Thursday to advance into the neighboring Likoc

later in the afternoon of the same day. Most of the local population was evacuated from both the villages, though it was believed that there were still some people holed up there, according to accounts of human rights activists.

The KIC sources in the area could not still authenticate the real consequences of the Serb offensive and possible casualties in the village.

The LDK Information Commission in Gllogovc said it has learned so far that a 16-year-old boy, Hamit Hamiti, was wounded yesterday in his native village of Likoc.

Today's reports from Drenica said the Serb offensive resumed in parts of central Kosova. A couple of Serb missiles landed in the Shtutica village today morning at around 7 a.m., witnesses said. At around midday, Serbs forces began shelling the villages of Nekoc and Kizhareke in Gllogovc municipality, south of Komoran village.

12 Villages Entirely Deserted in De^an in the Wake of Serb Offensive

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—The houses which were not burned or destroyed during the Serb offensive are begin torched by Serbs on a daily basis, local sources said.

This comes at a time the Serb regime demagoguery speaks of willingness to allow the displaced people back to their homes. There are 12 entirely deserted villages, and four partially deserted villages, in the municipality of De^an, LDK sources said. The villages had 2,400 farmsteads. Reports said 60 percent of them have been burned or destroyed, the rest having suffered damages. The LDK Information Commission in De^an said it had reports indicating 42 killed persons have not been buried at all. It is suspected they were interred in a massive grave.

Amongst the killed in the municipality of De^an 19 were women and 5 children. 92 persons are considered as missing in De^an, LDK sources said.

At Least 27 Ethnically Cleansed Villages in Gjakova

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Fighting in the Reka e Keqe and Dushkaja regions in the municipality of Gjakova resumed today (Friday), but the intensity was a bit lower, the LDK Information Commission in Gjakova said this morning.

An report circulated by the LDK chapter in Gjakova said that at 8least 27 villages in the municipality have become ethnically cleansed since the beginning of the Serb offensive in south-west Kosova. The entire Albanian population has left the villages of Koshare, Batush&, Molliq, Brovin&, Popoc, Morin&, Ponoshec, Shishman, Nec, Smolic&, Stub&ll, Berjah, Nivokaz, Dobrosh, Sheremet, Ramoc, C&rmjan, G&rgoc, Zhabel, Bardhaniq, Jabllanic&, Krelan, Rakovin&, Meqe, Zylfaj, Pnish, Goden. Thousands of residents, mainly children, women and elderly, have fled other villages in the area, the report said, adding that at least 40.000 people from this region fled their homes, many being still on the run and others sheltered in other parts of Kosova.

Entire farmhouses leveled, wheatfields burned, the smell of charcoal from yet smoldering houses, smoke billowing from the villages—this is how human rights and LDK activists described the scorched villages in many parts of Gjakova.

Humanitarian catastrophe is looming over the Gjakova region, the local LDK chapter said. Thousands of refugees have been hiding in the open for day, lacking basic necessities. The situation in the town itself is appalling, swelled as it is by uprooted persons, and packed with Serb troops who have restricted the flow of goods to the minimum, the LDK chapter said.

Many Albanians Feared to Have Been Killed in Meqe of Gjakova

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Bodies of two men were taken Thursday by the Serb forces to the town morgue in Gjakova. They have not been yet identified, though it is presumed that the two killed men were Prek& Krasniqi and Prel& Krasniqi, residents of Meqe village. Sources in Gjakova said that at least two other male corpses were taken to the local morgue later in the day on Thursday, also supposed to be originating from Meqe.

The LDK chapter in Gjakova said it feared that more people have been killed in the village of Meqe during the Serb onslaught over the past two days.

Returned Albanians Flee Homes Again in the Wake of Serb Attacks

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—The village of Nerodime e Ep&rme and Nerodime e Poshtme in Ferizaj municipality have been under intermittent Serb fire since Wednesday. The villages were pounded with heavy artillery guns for over two hours on Wednesday—from 22:00 through around midnight.

Nerodime e Ep&rme and Nerodime e Poshtme villages have been for a couple of weeks attacked repeatedly by Serb troops. Part of the local population who had returned to the Nerodime villages was forced to move again in the wake of the recent attacks, LDK sources in Ferizaj said.

Local sources said that besides Serb troops attacking villagers in Ferizaj municipality, armed Serb civilians have been intimidating the Albanian population on a daily basis.

Abdullah Kashtanjeva (68) was beaten up brutally by a Serb in Nerodime on Wednesday, local sources said.

Zab&rxha Is a Ghost Village, Local LDK Leader Says

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Rexh& R. Salihaj, chairman of the local LDK sub-branch at Zab&rxha village of Klina, told the KIC that 50 houses have been shelled by Serbs in his village alone.

Mr. Salihaj who has been sheltered in a Vushtrri village said all the residents of his village were forced to flee amidst successive attacks by Serbs for months, which escalated last week. He said that the fate of six villagers of Zab&rxha, apprehended by Serbs several days ago, remains unknown.

The Serb have burned wheatfields, looted the villages and took away livestock.

Zab&rxha is now a deserted, ghost village with no life in it, the local LDK leaders said.

Volatile Situation in Suaharek&

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—A 60-year-old Albanian, Isuf Suka, was wounded in Bllaca of Suhareka Thursday when the village came under renewed Serb fire.

LDK sources said that at last 120 houses in the Bllaca village have been hit by Serb shells over the past two weeks. The local population has fled their homes, and has been hiding in the mountain forests around it.

Witnesses said Serb forces have been looting the abandoned Albanian homes, and setting some of them ablaze. The situation in the town of Suhareka has been deteriorating quickly, local sources said.

The area has been packed with Serbs and three new checkpoints have been set up around the town over the past two days alone.

Gunfire Reported in Mitrovica Thursday Night

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Machine-gun fire was reported in two Mitrovica suburbs, “Bair” and “Kroi i Vitakut”, local sources said. The LDK chapter in Mitrovica said it could not learn what actually happened in the too suburbs last evening. However, it noted that there have been stepped up provocations by Serb troops and armed civilians in the streets of the town.

Sources in Mitrovica said over 20 heavily armed Serb policemen raided the home of an Albanian, Bajram Avdiu (72), at Tavnik neighborhood. The same Serb expedition was involved later in raiding several other Albanian houses in the area, including Ismail Mustafa's.

Serb Policemen Smash Windows and Cars in Peja

PRISHTINA, Aug 7 (KIC)—Serb policemen smashed window shops and cars in the streets of Peja (’Pec’) last night, sources in the town said.

The LDK chapter in Peja said the Serb police offices driving in two cars, one Opel Ascona and a VW, drove for a couple of hours through 2the streets of the town, shouting and smashing windows.

Windows in over a dozen shops and several cars parked in the sidewalks were smashed, sources said.