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  Asia-Pacific
KOSOVO & Systematic Persecution by KLA
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)

The former Yugoslavia was engulfed by many conflicts and ethnic and religious differences tore away at the very fabric of this nation. Like all wars, atrocities took place on all sides but the mass media in general focused on Serbian atrocities, while neglecting brutal crimes committed against the Serbian community. This certainly applies to the glossing over of war crimes done by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

However, more and more evidence is coming to light about brutal KLA death camps and killing people for organs. Therefore, will former KLA members be charged with war crimes and will the "real truth" be told about international collusion? If not, then where does this leave Kosovo?

Before focusing on this important issue I fear a major cover-up. After all, the American version of history is that Kosovo should be independent because Albanians suffered greatly, therefore, Serbia does not have a moral right to keep Kosovo under Serbia.

Yet, if it comes to light that the KLA killed mainly Serbians, and also fellow Albanians, Roma, and other minorities, then where does this leave the American, British, and the Albanian version of events?

Remember, we are not talking about massacres taking place by opposing armies; on the contrary, we are talking about the KLA killing civilians for organs and for other brutal reasons.

Also, since the ending of the conflict it is clear that countless numbers of Christian Orthodox Churches have been destroyed and non-Albanian culture is on the wane. Added to this, thousands of people have been killed by Albanian nationalists and innocent Serbians, Roma, and others, have “been killed in silence” because it doesn’t suit the interests of America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who supported the KLA.

The BBC, a very liberal British network, highlighted the brutal deeds of the KLA during the airing of “Crossing Continents” and “Newsnight” which was broadcasted on April 9, 2009. Paul Mitchell, BBC correspondent, states that this provides “another side to the conflict which the world was not supposed to see.”

If we take this further, it also undermines the claims of America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who support the independence of Kosovo. After all, the findings show “a dirty covert war” and it raises further important questions, for example, how did the KLA develop overnight and where did they obtain their military hardware from?

However, I do not want to get bogged down by the justifications of either side in this article. Instead I want to focus on the disturbing findings of the BBC and others who hope to bring to light the past evils of the KLA.

Once more, before delving into this I wish to state that all sides in this conflict committed atrocities be they Albanian or Serbian. Also, the brutal civil wars which took place in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, witnessed many massacres and like all wars, you have no pure side because war always leads to atrocities and often it is the civilian population which is victimized the most.

Therefore, this article is not intended to be anti any one single ethnic group and of course many Albanians in Kosovo were also victims. Each ethnic and religious group suffered pain, irrespective if Orthodox Christian or Muslim, or if Serbian or Albanian.

However, the mass media mainly gave a one sided point of view, and this point of view was anti-Serbian. Yet the findings by the BBC and others highlight a different story and one which continues to be mainly ignored. This applies to the brutal killings and torture of innocent Serbians by the KLA and others were also murdered by this terrorist organization.

Yes, I stress terrorist organization for one simple reason. Throughout all of the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia it was clear that many Muslims remained in Serbia, after all, the Muslim community in Serbia is part and parcel of this independent nation which is multi-ethnic and multi-religious.

However, did the KLA protect Serbian Orthodox Christians, Roma, and other minorities? The answer is clearly no. Instead the KLA used a reign of terror against all minorities and persecuted fellow Albanians who were deemed to be traitors. Therefore, the KLA was a terrorist organization and clearly this organization was involved in major criminality including the killing of innocents in order to sell organs.

In the article written by Paul Mitchell, a former KLA prisoner states “I’ve seen a lot, people beaten, stabbed, hit with steel pipes, left without eating for 5 or 6 days. People had bullet proof vests on and were shot to see if it was working, thrown into tombs, beaten up and killed.”

The former KLA prisoner continues by saying “What can you feel when you see those things?” he added. “It’s something that is stuck in my mind for the rest of my life. You cannot do those things to people, not even to animals.”

Another Albanian who is suffering the aftershocks of this brutal conflict also bravely speaks the truth. He highlights that he drove trucks with prisoners who were shackled and he stresses that the majority were Serbian civilians and not only this, he drove them from Kosovo to Albania. He continues by stating “I was sick. I was just waiting for it to end. It was hard. I thought we were fighting a war [of liberation] but this was something completely different.”

KLA sites of systematic torture and killings were based throughout Kosovo and also in parts of Albania. For example Kukes and Burrel in Albania were used by the KLA with regards to military training, obtaining weapons, and for other factors. This in itself raises the role of Albania and NATO nations which took part in the bombing of the former Yugoslavia.

However, getting back to Kukes and Burrel and systematic torture and killing of innocents, it becomes apparent that these sites witnessed many barbaric atrocities. The International Centre for the Red Cross obtained information about brutal murders in Burrel in 2000. This applies to being informed by KLA fighters who stated that Serbian civilians were killed in 1999 in Burrel and these killings had an economic motive because organs were removed and then sold abroad.

Of course, this information would be very troubling for both America and the United Kingdom, because both these nations had sold the war in the disguise of “good” versus “evil.” However, if the good side, the KLA, is involved in killing civilians for harvesting organs and then selling these organs on to other nations, then what does this make America and the United Kingdom?

Also, the hard sell by America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who support independence, is that independence is justified on the grounds of Serbian atrocities. Yet if the KLA was found to be involved in killing civilians for organs then “the spin machine” collapses and “democracy” rings hollow.

The role of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is also criticized because of deeds which took place. UNMIK’s former head for Missing Persons and Forensics, Jose Pablo Baraybar, comments that “There were people that are certainly alive that were in Kukes, in that camp, as prisoners. Those people saw other people there, both Albanians and non-Albanians. There were members of the KLA leadership going through that camp. Many names were mentioned, and I would say that that is an established fact.”

More alarming, Baraybar openly admits that UNMIK was fully aware that the KLA had many detention centres and this in itself should have warranted a major investigation. Yet, claims Baraybar, “no proper investigation was ever carried out.”

Sian Jones, Amnesty International spokesperson was more scathing because Jones states that UNMIK “chose not to investigate.” Jones also adds that there were “lots of allegations, lots of victims but little true justice.”

Therefore, it is clear that important vested interests have a need to cover-up the real truth behind “this dirty war.” The United Nations, NATO, the role of Albania and major political leaders in nations like America and the United Kingdom, all come out of this in a terrible light. Also, it raises the issue of “war crime tribunals” and fairness and this terrible and tragic conflict questions the morality of major nations and institutions.

The issue of Kosovo remains because the majority of the international community does not recognize Kosovo to be an independent nation. If the truth really “came to light” and a full and major investigation took place, then clearly you would have many disturbing findings. However, world leaders from major nations do not have to worry about war crimes, and this is the problem, you still have a world of “real power” versus nations of “limited power” and we all know that the outcome is dependent on this sad reality.

The real tragedy of Kosovo, like all civil wars, is that innocents died on all sides. Yet it is clear that a major investigation is needed because killing innocents for organs is truly barbaric and you have enough evidence that this did take place. So will this disgraceful chapter come to light or will it be brushed under the carpet because of power politics?

If we judge past history then it would appear that it will be brushed under the carpet. However, when major powers want to ignore issues like this, it is truly sickening and the role of the mass media in general is also a loser because not enough was said or done at the time of this conflict. Once more the propaganda machine of “the rich and powerful won” and the real losers were the innocents on all sides.

However, one story was told, that of the persecution of the Albanians; but the other story, the persecution of Serbians, Roma, and other minorities remains untold. Yet the story of death camps and killing innocents for organs must be told and a true investigation is needed and this applies to everything and not just minor people who took part in this brutal war.



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. Website at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com where work is published.

 

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