BBC - Protection demanded for Kosovo Serbs

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 10:35 GMT

The Kosovo Protection Corps is accused of attacks on ethnic Serbs.
There has been a strong call for more international action to halt attacks on Serbs in Kosovo.

In the second part of a major human rights survey on Kosovo, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has said that ethnic violence continues in the province with widespread revenge attacks on Serbs.

Apparently member states are more easily mobilised for war than for peace.

The OSCE ambassador to Kosovo, Daan Everts, has called for stronger international support for the forces of law and order in the province.

The first part of the OSCE report, covering the period of Serbian rule over Kosovo leading up to June 1999, gave a grim catalogue of mutilation, murder and rape carried out by Serbian forces on Kosovo Albanians.

Urgent need for more international police

Ambassador Everts called for what the UN has already been pleading for: more UN policemen, more support for training local police, and much more support for the local system of justice.

So far barely 1,800 United Nations police have arrived.

Ambassador Everts, said: "Apparently member states are more easily mobilised for war than for peace."

"There was no problem in rallying countries to be firm in the face of the Serbian repression. It is far less easy to mobilise similar forces, even 10% of such forces, to re-establish the rule of law."

The OSCE has said that the attacks on Serbs have been targeted and systematic with members of the Kosovo Liberation Army and its successor the Kosovo Protection Corps, often apparently involved.

The OSCE report does not say how far the leadership of these bodies are behind the violence.

OSCE monitors detail human rights violations such as executions, abductions and intimidation, directed against Serbs and other minorities.

They describe a tide of violence against the Serbs. They say that vulnerable elderly Kosovo Serbs are increasingly being targeted.

Young Kosovan children are also being used to carry out attacks because there's no detention centre to hold them.

One of the worst examples of systematic attacks on Serbs occurred in the US-controlled sector of Gnjilane, which had been largely untouched by the war, the report says.

Between June and October, almost 280 properties owned by Serbs and other minorities were either burned or destroyed in the area.

No comparison

Ambassador Everts did insist that there was no comparison between the violence now and the campaign against the Kosovar Albanians before Nato entered the province.

Part one of the OSCE report released on Monday outlines a series of human rights abuses committed between 1998 and June this year when the territory was still under Serbian control.

This, the report says, was the result of a deliberate planned strategy by the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The OSCE says Serb attacks increased after Nato began its bombing campaign, and summary and arbitrary killing spread throughout Kosovo.

Among the worst incidents, it says, were reports of the deliberate killing of children, and of elderly and disabled people being shot or burned alive.

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