venerdì, aprile 10, 2009

Horrors of KLA prison camps revealed

Dal sito della BBC riporto un servizio sui crimini compiuti dall'Uck, l'esercito di liberazione del Kosovo, durante il conflitto del 1999.

Credo che non vi sia nulla di cui stupirsi; la cosa che desta però maggiore rabbia è l'impunità, purtroppo sempre assicurata ai vincitori, soprattutto quelli delle guerre più sporche..

E quando ai perpetratori di crimini orrendi si permette financo di arrivare al vertice, politico e istituzionale, viene da chiedersi: "ma come abbiamo permesso che ciò accadesse"?

Ma non c'è risposta.

O forse è meglio non conoscerla.


The man spoke plainly as he explained the horrors he lived through in a Kosovo Liberation Army prison camp 10 years ago. He told me about how he watched people beaten with steel pipes, cut with knives, left for days without food, and shot and killed.

Factory used as prison by KLA
Civilians were detained by the KLA and kept in prisons where some were killed

"What can you feel when you see those things?" he said. "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."

As the man talked, his mother paced nervously in the nearby kitchen. She was panicked and tears were streaming down her face.

"They'll kill him, they'll kill him," she moaned, clutching one of her grandchildren.

But her son persisted. We spent hours in the family's sitting room as our source detailed allegations of possible war crimes by KLA officers in a military camp in the Albanian border town of Kukes.

It was a crucial interview for a delicate story I have been investigating for years.

Mystery of the missing

Soon after the war ended in Kosovo, I started looking into the thousands of civilians who disappeared during and after the conflict. Many Albanian victims were dumped in wells or transported to mass graves as far away as Belgrade.

Kukes map

But others - mainly Serbs - simply vanished without a trace. There were no demands for ransom, no news of any kind.

I had met sources who spoke vaguely about secret camps in Albania where Kosovo Serbs, Albanians and Roma were interrogated, tortured and in most cases killed.

I met another source who agreed to share important details about KLA prison camps. This man cut a very different profile.

He had returned from a successful career abroad to join the KLA in its fight for Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

The man was still proud of the goals he fought for, but he had become haunted by the treatment of civilians he had seen at a KLA prison camp. More than that, he said he felt angry and betrayed by KLA commanders who tolerated and even ordered the abuses.

"It didn't seem strange at the time," he told me as he described seeing desperate civilians locked in a filthy agricultural shed.

Now, looking back, I know that some of the things that were done to innocent civilians were wrong
Former KLA Fighter

He said the civilians were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.

"Now, looking back, I know that some of the things that were done to innocent civilians were wrong. But the people who did these things act as if nothing happened, and continue to hurt their own people, Albanians."

This man was one of eight former KLA fighters who revealed some of their darkest secrets from the war.

A soldier's story

Yet another source spoke of driving trucks packed with shackled prisoners - mainly Serbian civilians from Kosovo - to secret locations in Albania where they were eventually killed.

He recalled hearing two of the captives begging to be shot rather than tortured and "cut into pieces".

"I was sick. I was just waiting for it to end," the source told me. "It was hard. I thought we were fighting a war [of liberation] but this was something completely different."

A long silence over the atrocities has held strong throughout Kosovo

It has taken these men 10 years to speak to an outsider about the dark side of the war. They were breaking a code of silence that has held strong in Kosovo.

Very few Kosovo Albanians have publicly revealed crimes committed by their own side. And for good reason. Witnesses who have agreed to provide testimony for prosecutions of KLA commanders have faced intimidation and death threats.

Some have been killed, according to United Nations officials in Kosovo.

There is another reason. All the men we spoke with insisted they were Kosovan patriots and would take up arms again to defend the country's independence.

But that is precisely the point: independence - of a sort - arrived for Kosovo last year. Their wartime goal has been attained.

As one of the former KLA fighters told me: "Now is the time to be honest to ourselves and build a real state."

giovedì, aprile 09, 2009

Bosnia: a tearing sound

One more article from The Economist, a magazine not very confident in the Balkans'future.
Hoping they would mistake..

Could fighting resume?

A JOKE doing the rounds has it that nothing can succeed in Bosnia, not even a crisis. Pessimists note that Yugoslavs used to tell a similar joke in the 1980s. One diplomat believes that Bosnia’s gridlock has got so bad, and the political atmosphere so poisonous, that for the first time since 1995 the unthinkable of renewed fighting is thinkable once again. This does not mean a new war is imminent. But conflict is now a distinct possibility.

On March 27th Miroslav Lajcak, the new Slovak foreign minister, held a party for Valentin Inzko, his Austrian successor as the international high representative in Bosnia. He is the fourth man who is due to be the last in his job. Yet at least until the end of the year, his powerful office will stay open. After that Mr Inzko is meant to remain only in his capacity as the European Union’s special representative, with no legal powers.

Much of the panic over Bosnia revolves around whether this switch from a powerful high representative to a weaker EU envoy is sensible. And not just that. After the end of the war in 1995 Bosnia was flooded with 60,000 NATO-led peacekeepers. Today there are 2,000 bored, EU-led ones. By the end of the year that number may have shrunk to 200. The pessimistic diplomat suggests that this is all horrible, an appalling mistake that risks sending the wrong signals at the wrong time.

At Mr Lajcak’s party Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) greeted each other but then clustered in their own groups. Writ large, that is Bosnia’s problem. Its complex constitutional structure works well enough for day-to-day matters, but has ground to a halt on any issues of real significance. At least on March 26th an historic deal struck over the future of Brcko, an autonomous town within Bosnia, was endorsed by all sides.

Bosniak leaders, such as Haris Silajdzic, one of the country’s three presidents, want the Serb entity in Bosnia, the Republika Srpska, to be abolished, saying it was created through genocide. His nemesis, Milorad Dodik, Republika Srpska’s prime minister, responds with the threat of a referendum on secession. They need and feed each other, comments Milos Solaja, who heads the Centre for International Relations in Banja Luka.

In cafés and think-tanks there are suggestions that all sides are arming again, albeit discreetly through hunting clubs and security firms. There is no hard evidence of this. Indeed, Igor Radojicic, speaker of the Republika Srpska’s parliament, says that these “ridiculous” stories are spread deliberately by Bosniaks, who want to make sure that the high representative’s office does not close and to lure the new Obama administration to their side.

Most Bosnian Serbs say secession is not realistic. They just want to defend the autonomy they won in the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the war. Bosniaks believe that, by blocking as much legislation as he can, Mr Dodik is following the example of Milo Djukanovic, the Montenegrin leader, when he set out to prove that the loose federation of Serbia and Montenegro could not work. Meanwhile, the Croat-Bosniak federation is teetering close to bankruptcy, with vast sums going to so-called war veterans, who constitute a powerful lobby.

Little will now be done in Bosnia until the party congress of the leading Bosniak party in May. Sulejman Tihic, who has initiated serious talks with his Serb and Croat counterparts about the country’s future, faces a challenge to his leadership. He is charged with treachery by his Bosniak enemies. As the economic crisis worsens, Bosnian leaders will do what they do best, which is to play on fear. For now all agree that there is no appetite for war among ordinary Bosnians. But fear and anger could, if shaken up enough, turn into a deadly cocktail for their country.

(The Economist, April 2nd 2009)

lunedì, aprile 06, 2009

L'Italia piange i morti di Abruzzo

Bandiera della Jugoslavia che fu