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  Sunday, November 1 2:46pm PST

Saatchi & Saatchi
Kosovo, After the Deadline
Reports of continuing atrocities show it's time to send in NATO troops, says Croatian peace activist

The following report was issued this morning by the KIC, the press agency of the self-proclaimed Kosovo Republic, which is seeking independence from Serbia. 

"CAMOUFLAGED SERBS CRACK DOWN ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN PRISHTINA, Oct 29 (KIC) - Serb forces cracked down brutally today on a group of women and children between Lëbushë and Isniq villages of Deçan, western Kosova. The Albanians were picking chestnuts in a forest.

Witnesses said that camouflaged Serb forces with painted faces were hiding in the forest. Several women and children sustained severe body injuries, including Jeton Zeqiraj (16), Ms. Cyme Zeqiraj (40), Mërgim Zymeraj (16). Jeton Zeqiraj was beaten unconscious.

A teenage girl was captured by several Serbs, who forced her into the woods. It is suspected the Serbs raped her, witnesses said. Sources said that several Albanians were rounded up by Serb forces in the forests above Isniq village. People said that the apprehended Albanians were taken to the Serb Monastery."

The report graphically confirms that the intimidation, murder and rape of Kosovo Albanian women and children by Serbian troops has continued beyond the so-called final (Oct 27) deadline given by NATO to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. While the KIC is a partisan organization, it has proved reliable till now in its reports of events in Kosovo. Meanwhile, NATO has confirmed that its military action orders remain in place.

It's a situation that infuriates Vesna Terselic. She is from Anti-war Campaign Croatia, a network of organizations working for peace in the Balkans. In 1997 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. Recently she won the Right Livelihood Award, which is sometimes thought of as an alternative Nobel peace prize.

As with an earlier interview published on this website with Miki Jacevic, the aim of this interview, at the State of the World Forum in San Francisco yesterday (Oct 30), was to gain an insight into what should be done to protect the people of Kosovo in the present, extremely dangerous situation.

Ms. Terselic was clearly somewhat frustrated at the question, not because she did not have an answer, but because the questioning and interest of the international media has for her been too little, too late.

The risk of the current situation developing in Kosovo had been obvious for more than 15 years, she said, since the Serbian government began imposing what amounted an apartheid regime in the heart of Europe. Throughout this period Kosovo Albanians had remained committed to a non-violent protest movement against their oppressors. But while European nations were fully aware of what was going on, they did nothing.

In Ms. Terselic's view, the time to have intervened to support a constructive peace dialogue and provide a negotiation space in Kosovo was then, before the bloodshed.

"Where were the media five years ago?" she asked. "Now there is a fire, and everyone is asking me what to do. I am enraged and helpless. It's bullshit."

Like Mr. Jacevic, Ms. Terselic wants ground troops brought in to protect the people of Kosovo. "There needs to be intervention by international institutions to protect the civilians in Kosovo," she said. "This would require enforcement. But first international institutions have to be clear about what political aim they want to achieve. During the recent outcry for air attacks, the political aim was completely lost from the sight.

"The [European Union and United States] Contact Group should offer precise proposals, and be ready to question the sovereignty of Yugoslavia over territory of Kosova, because a state which launches war against its own citizens can not any more claim that right.

"I hate tanks but they are needed to stop the bloodshed. I remember tanks standing on a crossroads in Bosnia-Hercegovina after the Dayton Agreement was signed. They had not been shooting, but had just positioned themselves in very visible positions, sending a very clear message."

Ms. Terselic said the best thing would be if international institutions were committed to enforce a protectorate, similar to the U.N. Transitional Authorities in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium.

So far as the current agreement was concerned, Richard Holbrooke had agreed to "peanuts", she said.

"At the same time the agreement was signed to send 2,000 OSCE [Organization for Co-operation in Europe] people who could not at all ensure demilitarization of Kosova, Milosevic was closing down independent media, prohibiting broadcasting of excerpts from international media, and in that way securing his position in the long run.

"Now it is essential for there to be pressure for independent media to get back their licenses, and for there to be continued support for anti-war organizations in Yugoslavia.

"It is also essential that international institutions stop seeing Milosevic as guarantor of stability in region. While he is clearly burdened with responsibility for starting war in Croatia and later Bosnia-Hercegovina, the right place for Milosevic is [at a] U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in Den Hague."

Ms. Terselic said it was clearly impossible for there to be any constructive dialogue in the meantime as under the existing agreement Slobodan Milosevic effectively still had a knife to the Kosovo Albanian's throat.


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