Thanks to Nathan for pointing out this site
A Legacy of Resentment
from KOSOVO: Which way now?
an Amnesty International Briefing
(AI Index: EUR 70/59/98)
The ethnic Albanian community makes up more than 90 per cent of Kosovo's
population. For nearly 20 years, the mounting calls from within the community
for the region's secession from Yugoslav rule have been met with increasingly
draconian measures on the part of the authorities.
During the 1980s, faced with demands for Kosovo to become a full republic
of Yugoslavia or become independent, Yugoslav authorities violently broke up
demonstrations and imprisoned thousands, often after unfair trials and as
prisoners of conscience.
In 1989 Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic removed Kosovo's relative
autonomy within Yugoslavia, and made it an administrative region of Serbia.
Kosovo had been at the heart of the medieval Serbian kingdom; its integration
was part of Milosevic's heavily nationalist program, which was built on claims
of discrimination against Serbs in Kosovo.
The following year, in opposition to the Serbian authorities' rule of Kosovo,
ethnic Albanian political leaders declared an independent "Republic of
Kosova". A "parallel" political system was established - the main party was
the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), led by Dr. Ibrahim Rugova - as
well as parallel systems of health, education and other institutions.
Since the early 1990s, the pattern of human rights violation against ethnic
Albanians in Kosovo has become more widespread. Only very rarely have the
police been held accountable for their actions.
Some people have been singled out simply because of their ethnic
background. On a daily basis, ethnic Albanians are beaten with truncheons,
punched and kicked by officers who commonly express ethnic hatred against
their victims - in 1997, five people died in police custody as a result. Riot
police armed with automatic weapons and backed by amoured vehicles have
increasingly used excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations.
For years, the police have systematically raided the houses of ethnic Albanians
on the pretext of searching for arms, and many beatings have occurred.
Victims are sometimes even told to buy a weapon to hand in to the police.
Many ethnic Albanians have been specifically targeted for their alleged
involvement in the "parallel" society or because of their political activism.
Among the hundreds of ethnic Albanians imprisoned during the 1990s for their
non-violent activities was Ali Stublia, imprisoned in December 1997 for failing
to report soccer games he had organized in 1995.
The Serbian authorities have consistently failed to provide fair trials in political
cases, where those convicted have been given prison sentences of up to 20
years. Vistims are coerced into making statements incriminating themselves or
others, which are accepted as evidence in court. There are numerous other
breaches of international standards, such as the violation of the right ot
communicate freely with a defence lawyer.
Thousands of stories of people whose human rights have been violated have
been documented by Amnesty International and other human rights
organizations over the years. The scale of oppression and suffering has been
immense. That ethnic tensions rose to explosive levels, and the situation
degenerated into one of armed conflict, was not a great surprise to anyone in