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April 07, 1999 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-07

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 7, 1999

WAR IN Kosovo

0

Turmoil

in the

Balkans

Team begins.
inve stigations
of war crimes.

Los Angeles Times
MORINE, Albania - Some crimes
alleged to be taking place in Serbia's
Kosovo province are horrific: mutila-
tions, parents killed before their chil-
dren's eyes, a 2-year-old girl burned
alive.
Then there are the more common, if
numbing, acts - nearly half a million
people forced from their homes and dri-
ven for days in an atmosphere of terror,
whole towns and villages set ablaze,
possessions looted and cars stolen at
gunpoint, wedding rings stripped from
women's fingers.
Investigating such acts is the meat-
and-potato work of the International
Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, which has declared the cur-
rent Kosovo crisis within its jurisdiction.
This week, the tribunal launches its
investigation into the crimes and terror
that have accompanied the expulsion of
nearly half a million ethnic Albanians
to neighboring countries during the past
two weeks.
Two international war-crimes inves-
tigators began meeting with local pros-
ecutors and refugee officials in north-
ern Albania yesterday, working on pro-
cedures to locate and interview wit-
nesses who can help the prosecution in
any future war-crimes trials.
The investigatory team, one a profes-
sional police officer from Australia and
the other a veteran of South Africa's
post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, did not have to look far in
their inquiries - from where they stood
in this border post, they could easily see

a Kosovo village going up in smoke.
Midday, Serbian police ignited the
Kosovo village of Vernic, only a few
hundred yards from the border, within
view of international journalists and aid
workers. Smoke from a dozen burning
houses combined into an enormous
plume that blotted the sky. The sight
intensified the wailing and panic of the
refugees, who hurried to cross into
Albania.
Watching the spectacle, investigator
Tim Kelly, the Sydney police officer,
vowed that the probe will proceed as
soon as the witnesses among the
refugees have their immediate humani-
tarian needs addressed.
He said the tribunal is looking into
killings, summary executions, rapes
and persecution based on ethnic and
religious grounds.
"One of the clear issues is forceable
deportation of people," Kelly said. "By
all reports, that has happened on a sys-
tematic basis" in the Kosovo crisis.
"People having their documents taken,
the licenses removed from their cars -
that terribly contradicts Yugoslavia's
official line that they want the people
to come back."
The commission's main target will
be those people who directed the
crimes, he said. "You cannot prosecute
every soldier. You have to aim for the
people in command." Both men said
the Kosovo investigation have an
advantage over other war-crimes
probes because they will be taking
place within days of when the crimes
were committed.

Macedonian
border Closed
to Albanan
Los Angeles Times
DJENERAL JANKOVIC, Yugoslavia - Only
nine cars full of Kosovo Albanian refugees were left
waiting to cross into Macedonia yesterday, and
Aishe Rexhbogoj has slept in the driver's seat of
one of them for nine nights.
Rexhbogoj and her daughter Saranda were sec-
ond in line on the Yugoslav side of the border, stuck
living in a Renault because Macedonia has closed
its border.
Rexhbogoj would give up and drive back home,
as hundreds of other trapped refugees have over the
last couple of days, but she isn't sure whether it's
safe in Kosovo's capital, Pristina.
"I told the police, 'If you can guarantee our lives,
we will go back to our home,"' Rexhbogoj said
through the open door of her car.
What was a flood of Kosovo refugees a couple of
days ago has suddenly dried up at Djeneral
Jankovic, the main border crossing between Kosovo
and Macedonia.
Serbian police began telling refugees to turn
around and go back to their homes in Kosovo on
Monday night as Yugoslav authorities in Belgrade
prepared to declare a unilateral cease-fire in its war
with Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas.
Dozens of cars and tractors pulling wagon loads
of ethnic Albanian refugees were heading north
back into Kosovo along the main highway yester-
day after giving up at the Macedonian border.
On the other side of the border, the thousands of
people still trying to move into Macedonia are
trapped in a kind of no man's land by Macedonian
police, who have penned them in, standing shoul-
der-to-shoulder, surrounded by steel barricades and
a barbed-wire fence.
"They don't have the right to do that under inter-
national law," complained one of the men stuck on
the Yugoslav side of the border.
Rexhbogoj's two sons and her daughter-in-law
crossed into that no man's land to look for bread a
few days ago and never came back. She doesn't

ABOVE: A woman from
Decane, In western
Kosovo, holds her face
after crossing into Albania
at the Morini border cross-
ing yesterday.
LEFT: A young Serbian girl
takes part In a nighttime
vigil outside the U.S.
Embassy In Nicosia
yesterday. The vigil has
taken place every night
since the strikes began.
AP PHOTOS

A irlifts displace"
fleeing refugees

know where they have gone.
"I cannot return because half of my family is on
the other side," Rexhbogoj said through an inter-
preter. "I will not return without my children. The
Macedonians took people away in trucks and buses,
so maybe they are in Macedonia now."
According to relief workers in Macedonia, the
scene at Djeneral Jankovic does not appear to be
representative of the still very bleak refugee picture
at other border crossings.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees estimated that 50,000 people were backed
up at the Jazince border crossing west of Djeneral
Jankovic, about two-fifths of them on the
Macedonian side of the border and three-fifths on
the Yugoslav side.
A Macedonian news service reported yesterday
that Yugoslav authorities had shut the border at
Jazince.
UNHCR officials said refugees might have been
scarce at the Djeneral Jankovic crossing - called

Blace in Macedonia - because it has been virtual-
ly closed to by the Macedonians for days, except
for trains.
The UNHCR had reports that many people were
leaving clogged border crossings and moving to the
ones where they thought they had more chance of
getting through, said Kris Janowski, spokesperson
for the UNHCR.
Meanwhile, the UNHCR is still seeing floods of
refugees leaving Kosovo. For instance, 15,000 peo-
ple crossed into Albania in a matter of hours yester-
day. Those coming in said that there was an endless
line of cars trying to get out.
Yesterday, Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commis-
sioner for refugees, accused Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic of rechanneling the refugees in
order to create the most chaos.
The flight of Kosovo Albanians was "forced,
planned and directed" in an effort to destroy their
identity, Ogata told an emergency meeting of donor
nations in Geneva.

The Washington Post
SKOPJE, Macedonia - Several
thousand ethnic Albanian refugees
from Kosovo endured a second expul-
sion yesterday when the Macedonian
government ordered them aboard city
buses, drove them to the capital's air-
port and airlifted them - many against
their will - to Turkey and Norway.
The passengers included scores of
people who had been forcibly separat-
ed from relatives and friends by
Macedonian police amid the chaos at a
border station where tens of thousands
of others remained trapped yesterday
night within a cordon of police and sol-
diers. Some refugees were reported to
have expressed relief upon their arrival
in Turkey, but many others had said
before leaving Macedonia that they had
no desire to leave.
The forced expulsions of people who
only last week were forced at gunpoint
to flee the Serbian province of Kosovo
earned swift condemnation from refugee
workers, who said they had no way of
tracking those who left or reuniting
divided families because the
Macedonian government had not passed
along their names or hometowns.
"We're gravely concerned about
what's happening with these flights to
Turkey, because refugees are saying
they do not want to go," said Paula
Ghedini, spokesperson for the United

Nations Commissioner for High
Refugees. "The vast majority do want
to return to Kosovo someday" and fear
that being sent so far away will make9
that impossible, she said.
"Families are being separated more
and more because they are being put on
different buses going to different loca-
tions," Ghedini added. "We are still
asking for registration and destination
information," but the government has
been entirely unresponsive, she said.
The speed with which the
Macedonian government acted to expel
the Kosovo Albanians contrasted*
sharply with the slowness of its efforts
to alleviate the suffering of an estimat-
ed 70,000 refugees at the border. While
the government was awaiting word on
whether other nations would agree to
harbor some of the refugees, it provid-
ed them scant food and medical care -
some refugees were beaten by police
for protesting the dismal conditions.
One reason the logjam broke yester-
day, aid workers said, was the promise
by six countries, including the United
States, to accept a total of 97,000
refugees from the Kosovo conflict. The
Macedonian government evidently
wanted to act before Albania and the
Yugoslav republic of Montenegro -
which have also been swamped by
exiles - filled those quotas with
refugees from their towns and camps.

Guantanamo ready
to receive Kosovars

The Washington Post
As sickly and demoralized refugees.
continued to stream into Macedonia and
Albania, the U.S. Navy began gearing
up to receive 20,000 expelled Kosovars
at its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The ethnic Albanian refugees are to
be flown aboard U.S. military planes on
a strictly voluntary basis to the 45-
square-mile base, which is separated
from a hostile Cuba by. barbed wire
,fences and nninefields.
Base authorities yesterday readied
accommodations for about 1,300 peo-
ple but said it would take days to erect
the temporary quarters for 20,000 peo-
ple. The first arrivals are expected as
early as Friday.
U.S. officials said they are committed
to ensuring that the refugees do not
become permanent exiles, but also
warned that as many as a million people

strains in Macedonia, which has been
swamped by more than 120,000
refugees in the last two weeks.
U.S. officials said Guantanamo was
picked as the site to house the Kosovar
refugees in part because, unlike the
Pacific island of Guam or other alterna-
tives on the U.S. mainland, the base is
not considered U.S territory for the pur-
pose of claiming asylum in the United
States.
Under immigration law, a person
must be on U.S. soil to apply for politi-
cal asylum. "We wanted to make sure
we're sending a message that this is a
temporary solution to the problem,"
Atwood said in explaining the choice of
Guantanamo.
He said the message was meant both
for the refugees and for Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic, whose
"ethnic cleansing" campaign in Kosovo

,:

KOSOVO4
Continued from Page 1.
Liberation Army that has battled for independence from
Serbia, and seek to reach a political agreement on auton-
omy for the province within Serbia.
But the announcement did not say that Yugoslav forces
will shut down their air defenses, which remain a military
threat that has discouraged NATO from using the slower,
low-flying aircraft capable of attacking tanks and troop
formations involved in the deportation campaign under
way in Kosovo.
U.S. leaders quickly denounced the cease-fire as an
empty gesture by a tyrant who has waged war against
civilians. Cohen called the offer "absurd" and Clinton
administration officials said it would not affect their plans
to continue hitting an array of Yugoslav targets.
"Mr. Milosevic could end it now by withdrawing his
military police and paramilitary forces, by accepting the
deployment of an international security force to protect
not only the Kosovar Albanians - most but not all of
them are Muslims - but also the Serbian minority in
Kosovo," Clinton said at the White House ceremony.
Presidential Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, briefing
reporters shortly after Milosevic announced the ceasefire,
said, "A mere ceasefire is clearly not sufficient to meet
these conditions. NATO operations will continue until
either Milosevic accepts these conditions or we will seri-
ously diminish his capacity to maintain his grip and
impose his control on Kosovo."
Fourteen days of NATO attacks have badly damaged

41

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