CEOL - OSCE's Kosovo Report

BELGRADE, Dec 6, 1999 -- (Reuters) The first major official human rights survey on Kosovo paints a grim and detailed picture of a cycle of ethnic violence that did not come to an end with the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from the province.

Massive human rights abuses carried out by Serbian forces on ethnic Albanians were followed by revenge attacks against remaining Serbs after Belgrade pulled out its military in June, two separate OSCE reports showed.

The reports, to be published by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Monday, describe human rights violations in Kosovo over the last year.

"The evidence of recent violations...indicates that the cycle of violence has not yet been broken," Ambassador Daan Everts, head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, wrote in an introduction to one of the reports.

The first volume catalogued a campaign of killings, rape, torture, expulsions and other rights abuses committed between October 1998 and June this year when the territory was still under Serbian control.

"Everywhere the attacks on communities appear to have been dictated by strategy, not by breakdown in command and control," it said.

The second showed that human rights violations such as executions, abductions and intimidation continued on a smaller scale after the arrival of 40,000 NATO-led peacekeepers - but this time directed mainly at Serbs and other minorities.

Although many attacks since June were individual acts of revenge after years of Serb repression, the report said other incidents appeared to have been organized.

"The evidence in part points to a careful targeting of victims and an underlying intention to expel."

Witnesses testify to KLA role

It said the report was littered with witness statements testifying to involvement by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which waged a 15-month guerrilla campaign against Serb rule.

The KLA has been formally disbanded and is being transformed into a civilian Kosovo protection corps.

Everts said that the publication of the two reports did not suggest that the abuses in Kosovo in the past and the violations today were comparable.

"The sheer scale and the involvement of the (Serbian) state make the former of a structurally different order than the latter," he said.

Bernard Kouchner, the U.N. special envoy to Kosovo, took a similar line, saying in a foreword there had been a systematic policy of apartheid for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo for at least a decade, which was no longer the case.

Based on the work of OSCE human rights monitors and witness accounts, the first 433-page report showed how atrocities committed against Kosovo's Albanians had escalated after the start of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, launched to halt Serb repression.

"Summary and arbitrary killing became a generalized phenomenon throughout Kosovo with the beginning of the NATO air campaign against FRY (Yugoslavia) on the night of March 24-25."

Children and elderly targeted

"Among the most atrocious aspects of the conflict are the reports of the deliberate killing of children by armed forces."

Elderly and disabled people were widely reported as being either shot dead and then burned or as being burned alive, often in their homes, it said.

"Well over one million Kosovar Albanians were displaced, across the border and inside, and thousands killed," Everts said.

After Yugoslav forces left, the entire remaining Serb population was seen as a target for ethnic Albanians, according to the second OSCE volume, dealing with the June-October period after the 11-week NATO air war.

"One discernible leitmotif emerges from this report: revenge," it said. "The report repeatedly catalogues incidents throughout the area where vulnerable, elderly Kosovo Serbs have been the victims of violence."

Kouchner said the report showed the hurdles to overcome, but added the situation had improved dramatically since June.

"It took 15 years in Lebanon to achieve reconciliation," he said. "It cannot be done here in six months."

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