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Additional Reports


Gracanica's protectors: Swedish troops, Jan. 2002



Complete reports on the minority condition in Kosovo:

Reports on the Roma Condition in Europe:


Excerpts on the Roma condition, from the United States State Department’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia- Country Report on Human Rights Practices. March 4, 2002

Report excerpts listed below, specific to Kosovar/ Serbian/Montenegrin Roma:

  • Excerpts on the Roma condition, from the United States State Department’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia- Country Report on Human Rights Practices. March 4, 2002
  • Excerpts on the Roma condition from Prisoners in our Own Homes: Amnesty Internationals Concerns for the Human Rights of Minorities in Kosovo/Kosova. 29 April, 2003.
  • Excerpts on the Roma condition in Kosovo from the March- June 1999 overview of abuses against Kosovar Minorities, Human Rights Watch.
  • Excerpts detailing abuses against Roma immediately following the end of the 1999 war, from the Humanitarian Law Center, Belgrade.

www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001

On Police Abuses in Serbia Proper:

On May 7, in Ravno Selo, police arrested two Roma men and beat them with clubs in an attempt to force them to confess to stealing. The Humanitarian Law Center filed a complaint with the Municipal Prosecutor's Office in Backa Topola, Vojvodina; however, on May 25, the prosecutor's office dismissed the complaint. On May 11, in Backa Palanka, three police officers beat a Roma man. On May 25, unidentified police officers beat Nenad Filipovic in Kragujevac, first in the presence of his children and then at the local police station. Filipovic, an asthmatic, was detained for 5 hours and suffered an intense asthma attack but was forbidden to use his inhaler. In July police arrested an 11-year-old Romani boy and beat him on the palms and struck him with a nightstick during questioning; he later was released. On August 23, a police officer struck and threatened a 17-year-old Gorani boy in the open air market in central Belgrade . In late August, police beat a Rom, Dusan Jovanovic, reportedly because he touched their police car. In September police in Novi Sad broke the arm of a 14-year-old Roma boy and beat some of his friends.

In one instance, in May the County Court in Nis found two Serbian policemen guilty of incitement to racial hatred for attacking Dragisa Ajdarevic, a Roma boy, and the policemen were sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment.

There were incidents of official discrimination against the Romani population, and skinheads and police occasionally violently attacked Roma (see Section 1.c.). There also was societal violence against Roma. The European Roma Rights Center reported that on January 6, a Serb attacked and shot at a group of boys, believing that they were Roma. On February 2, unknown assailants beat a Roma boy, Cuci Nikolic, and put him in a makeshift jail. On March 1, a group of skinheads attacked a group of Roma in Belgrade with baseball bats, sticks and rocks. In June a Roma judge in Stara Pazova in Vojvodina received death threats and a swastika was drawn on the walls of his home. Also in June, two men attacked two Roma from Leskovac with a gun, hitting them in the head with it. On October 4, local youths broke into a night school in Belgrade and beat several Roma students. In November in Belgrade , local youths punched and threatened two Romani boys, aged 7 and 11. According to the HLC, police officers in the Zvezdara municipality station refused to take any action against the assailants and told the Romani family that the children had "asked for it."

Societal discrimination against Roma was widespread. For example, in Sabac, in western Serbia , Roma were barred from using a municipal swimming pool that is owned by the president of the local branch of the Serbian Radical Party. In July in Surdulica, unknown vandals wrote swastikas and slurs against Roma on buildings in the town. On October 10, a group of men threw stones at Romani houses, breaking some windows, in the Cukaricka Padina settlement in Belgrade . Local authorities often ignore or condone societal intimidation of the Romani community.

A Destroyed UN Minorities Bus

There were reports by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights that Roma women and children also were trafficked to Italy , where women and girls were required to work in the sex industry and the boys were required to beg and steal.

On Kosovar Roma IDP conditions in Serbia Proper:
There are an estimated 40,000 to 45,000 displaced Roma living in the country. Roma faced a dilemma during the Kosovo conflict, as many Kosovo Roma were perceived as Serb collaborators. Living conditions for Roma in
Serbia were, on the whole, extremely poor. Local municipalities often were reluctant to accommodate them, hoping that if they failed to provide shelter, the Roma would not remain in the community (see Section 5). If they did settle, it was most often in official collective centers with a minimum of amenities or, more often, in makeshift camps on the periphery of major cities or towns. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was in the process of identifying municipalities willing to cooperate in a program for resettling the Roma in more adequate living quarters.

On the Roma condition in Kosovo:
Of the more than 200,000 members of ethnic communities (including approximately 170,000 Serbs and 25,000 Roma) displaced after June 1999, few returned to Kosovo due to security concerns, although international agencies and NGO's initiated some small-scale organized returns projects. Violence, including rape and domestic violence, and discrimination against women remained serious problems. Religious tension and violence persisted, but at significantly diminished levels.

Grafitti in Pristina, 2003

On April 29, a 12-year-old Romani boy was reported abducted in Uroševac/Ferizaj; no update was available at year's end.  

Approximately 100,000 Serbs, 30,000 Roma, and 67,000 other minorities remained in Kosovo. Most of the Serbs and about 25,000 Roma who fled when Yugoslav forces withdrew did not return, except in individual cases, due to fears of ethnic violence and a to lack of economic opportunity, housing, and other basic services.

Although the number of murders and reported attacks on other minorities decreased, there were numerous incidents of violence against Roma and Ashkalija, including murder, disappearance, and beatings. For example, in an August 7 grenade attack in Stimlje/ Shtime on a Romani family, five persons were injured; reportedly the family recently had returned from refuge in Macedonia . In July Serbs in Zvecan reportedly attacked and beat a group of some 40 Ashkalija returning from Serbia to live in Kosovo Polje/Fushë Kosovë. Between February and June, at least six Romani houses were set on fire. Many of the remaining Roma in Kosovo were settled in enclaves and encampments and were almost wholly dependent on humanitarian aid to survive; others lived outside enclaves (see Section 2.d.). In Kosovo Polje/Fushë Kosovë, Podujevo, Lipljan/Lipjan, and Gnjilane/Gjilan, there was some degree of harassment by neighboring Albanians, especially in the latter two towns. However, there were areas, notably around Uroševac/Ferizaj, Djakovica/Gjakovë and Janjevo, where Roma, Egyptians, and Albanians reportedly lived together without major incidents. The UNHCR reported that Albanian Kosovar hospital workers discriminated against Roma.

Although there were some efforts to resettle Roma, Ashkalija and Egyptians in their prior homes, security concerns persisted (see Section 2.d.). For example, in November 2000, four displaced Ashkalija were killed after they returned to their village of Dosevac/Dashevc near Srbica/Skenderaj to rebuild their houses, which were destroyed during the war.     

Excerpts on the Roma condition from "Prisoners in our Own Homes": Amnesty International's Concerns for the Human Rights of Minorities in Kosovo/Kosova. 29 April, 2003 .

www.amnesty.org

The Roma were particularly targeted for attacks on life and property in 1999 – including killings and repeated cases of abduction – allegedly carried out by members of the KLA, who claimed that the Roma had participated in the mass violations of human rights against Albanians committed by Serb forces. Although Amnesty International has received reports that some Roma did take part in looting, and – often under duress – in the transport and burial of Albanian bodies killed by the Serb forces, Roma also appear to have been targeted because they had often worked in Serb-owned industries or as agricultural laborers for Serb employers.

Throughout Kosovo, Roma continue to face violent attacks and discrimination, and now often live alongside Serbs in enclaves like Gracanica/ Ulpjana - where they are marginalized by the Serb community - or in mono-ethnic enclaves protected by KFOR. Roma also face institutional discrimination in access to basic social and economic rights, and often survive on money from family members abroad or short-term manual work, small-scale agriculture and rubbish collection. Many of those who fled their homes in 1999 are displaced in Kosovo, while an estimated 45,000 are displaced in
Serbia or Montenegro , or live as refugees in Macedonia or elsewhere.

During 2000, some 254 individuals were reported murdered, 26 per cent of whom were Serbs and 19 per cent from other minority groups. In 2001, of 136 individuals killed 92 (68 per cent) were ethnic Albanians, 30 (22 per cent) Serbs, six (4.5 per cent) Roma, one Bosniak and seven persons of unknown or other ethnicity. For 2002, UNMIK reported a total of 68 murders, in which 60 (88 per cent) of the victims were Albanian, six were Serbs and two were of other minority ethnicities.

Amnesty International considers that the lack of progress in investigating such cases fuels the fear of repeated violence within minority communities, as does the failure of the authorities to accurately monitor investigations and the outcomes of such proceedings which have taken place. In February 2002, for example, UNMIK Police were unable to provide Amnesty International with any figures on the number of recorded crimes – believed to be ethnically motivated - which had resulted in the identification and arrest of a suspect, the indictment of any suspect, and the outcome of any criminal proceedings in such cases. Only relatively few reports of successful prosecutions, reported in the media or in UNMIK Police Press Briefings, provide concrete evidence that criminal proceedings have been completed.

In April 2002, the house of an Ashkalija family who had returned to Vucitrn/ Vushtrri was targeted in a grenade attack; in June a Roma house in Opterusa/ Opterushë was set alight in a revenge attack after the head of the family had shot an Albanian in self-defense – the family fled, and their house was subsequently burned. On 14 June 2002 , a Roma man reported to UNMIK police that men unknown to him had broken the door and some windows of his house and assaulted his wife, blinded her and then threatened to kill her if she didn't leave her home.

In August 2002, the house of a Roma returnee was set alight after the Albanian who had been occupying the house was evicted, and in September two attacks on Roma houses in Gjilan/ Gnjilane took place, causing minor damage and, on 11 September injuring one person, Ferka Avdullahu, whose family had returned to Gjilan/ Gnjilane on 5 September 2002. In September too, an Ashkalija from Uroševac/ Ferizaj was assaulted in Obilic/ Obiliq – reportedly in revenge for acts that had taken place during the war. Three displaced Ashkalija and one Serb who had been fishing in a nearby river were also beaten by security guards at the KEK power plant near Obilic/ Obiliq for no apparent reason on 14 September.

Ramadan Halilaj, Xhevdet Çufaj and Vehbi Maliqi are all Roma men in their early 20s who lived in the village of Brekovac / Brekovc, two or three kilometers southwest of Djakovica/Gjakovë. Before the NATO bombing Ramadan Halilaj – who was married with five children – and Vehbi Maliqi had worked as day-laborers for local Albanians, while Xhevdet Çufaj – who was married with four children – worked as a herdsman for local Serbs.

In June 1999, while Ramadan Halilaj and his family were eating lunch, six uniformed men, wearing KLA insignia and armed with automatic weapons, came to Ramadan Halilaj's house. According to Afrim Halilaj, Ramadan Halilaj and his five children, his three brothers - including Afrim Halilaj – and his father were present. The armed men took Ramadan Halilaj away for questioning, saying that he would return later. Ramadan Halilaj has not been seen since. His brother has no idea why he was taken, but thinks that it may be because he was the eldest brother.

Two days later, another group of uniformed men came to the house, threatened the family and ordered them to leave within half an hour. They demanded that the family hand over the arms which they claimed had been supplied to them by the Serbs; Afrim Halilaj claims that they had no such weapons. The men beat Afrim Halilaj's cousin, Xhevdet Çufaj, breaking his right arm. Afrim Halilaj believes that Xhevdet Çufaj may have been singled out because he had worked for Serbs as a herdsman.

As soon as the men left, the family gathered together and the 20 men, women and children headed towards
Montenegro , avoiding the main road by traveling through the mountains. When the group stopped to rest, armed men in civilian clothes suddenly appeared, and took four men away - including Xhevdet Çufaj and Vehbi Maliqi. Afrim Halilaj's children began to cry, and this is why he thinks they did not take him too.

Soon after, they heard the sound of shots, but were too frightened to go and investigate. Afrim Halilaj believes that these armed men – one of whom he recognized – had followed them from their home.

Afrim Halilaj has not been able to find out what happened to Ramadan Halilaj, Xhevdet Çufaj and Vehbi Maliqi. Amnesty International is not aware than any investigation has been opened into their case.

In Gjilan/Gnjilane and Orahovac/Rahovec, Roma and Ashkalija women told Amnesty International delegates that they were repeatedly subjected to verbal abuse – "Go back to Serbia", "Madjup" – if they ventured into the Albanian part of the town. Women reported being spat at, of men miming that their throats would be cut, and various other, often gendered forms of abuse, directed at them by groups of young Albanian men aged 15 to 25. Other forms of harassment reported to Amnesty International included, for example, Albanians emptying their rubbish into an area near a Serb flat in Priština/Prishtinë; the shooting of a dog belonging to a Serb family in Prizren; swastikas spray-painted onto the walls of Roma houses in Gjilan/Gnjilane.

S., a 27-year old Roma business-woman living in Rahovec/Orahovac, is a founder member of a Romani women's group in the Kosova Women's Network (KWN), involved in the identification and development of income generation initiatives for Romani women who have been denied access to their pre-war employment. She lives with her older sister, C., and grandmother in the mahala, and they are able to survive relatively well on money sent by four brothers and a sister working abroad. The sisters told Amnesty International how members of the Albanian community had responded in 2001, when 14 Romani women went – for the first time since the end of the war – down into Rahovec to the Dom Kulturi for a performance connected with a Kosovo-wide campaign against violence against women. "The [Albanian] women [in the Dom Kulturi] said, Oh no! It is those who massacred us! They are here! We said, if we had massacred you, then you wouldn't be here. We have just come to see the play." After the performance insults were thrown again. According to the sisters, the women who insulted them were not people they had known in the town before.

Since then C. has seldom visited the town, afraid that Albanians will "throw words" again, although S. reported that freedom of movement for their community had improved since 2001. "It is much easier if we go to Gjakovë or Prizren, then no-one looks at us," C. added. S. confirmed that freedom of movement was much better for Roma in Prizren, where she was able to sell bed-linen, made by the Roma women's group.

A Roma woman informed Amnesty International that when she had taken her daughter to the hospital in Gjilan/Gnjilane, the doctors had only spoken to her in Albanian, which she had not understood, and had failed to provide her daughter with any treatment. She refused to attend the hospital again. Another interviewee reported that she had only been able to receive treatment at the same hospital after KFOR troops escorting her had threatened the doctor at gun-point to provide treatment.

H.B. is a 58-year-old Ashkalija male, forcibly evicted from his home in Obilic/q in June 1999, who now lives at the Plemetina collective centre, located in the shadow of the Korporata Energjetike e Kosovës (KEK) electricity power station. Some 7,000-10,000 personnel were formerly employed at KEK, the majority of whom were Serbs and Roma. H.B. had worked at KEK for 28 years until
18 June 1999 , when the new Albanian management had told him – and other Roma and Ashkalija workers – not to come back. He has been unable to find any other employment since then. Neither did he believe that he would now be entitled to a full pension.

Other Serbs and Roma formerly employed by KEK have lodged appeals against their dismissal, several of which have been taken up by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). On
3 April 2001 , Gani Bajrami, a Roma from Orlan/e, applied to return to his job at KEK. He had worked for KEK as a security guard at the Batlava hydroelectric dam from 1995 until June 1999, when he left work because of concerns for his personal security. He was informed on 19 April 2001 that, as he had not reapplied for his job before 1 July 2000 – up to which date former employees had been entitled to return to work - he could not be reinstated. On 21 December 2001, the Priština/Prishtinë Municipal Court (as a civil court of the first instance) nullified the KEK decision as illegal, and instructed KEK to return the plaintiff to work and to his previous duties within a period of eight days "under the threat of forced compliance". KEK appealed against the decision; at the end of February 2003 the appeal was still pending at Priština/Prishtinë District Court.

To date, the Norwegian Refugee Council – a small international NGO – is the only organization to have actively advocated in employment cases on behalf of minority communities. Throughout Kosovo, few former employees have been returned to their former positions: in Gjilan/Gnjilane, Roma community leaders submitted a list of employees to each of the companies which had formerly employed them, asking for restitution to their former jobs. No replies were ever received, and as far as Amnesty International is aware, no further actions were taken by the Roma community leaders.

Despite the human rights violations and abuses suffered by Roma and Ashkalija living in Serbia , and an increase in forcible returns from third countries, few of the pre-war population had returned to Kosovo by the end of 2002. In 2000, some 700 RAE had returned spontaneously, mainly from Montenegro , and in 2001, a further 286 - including the organized return of 127 individuals from Macedonia – had returned. But by 2002, although numbers remained relatively low, the rate of returns had almost doubled on the previous two years, with 362 Roma and 861 Ashkalija and Egyptian returning during the year.

Despite a number of successful returns, many spontaneous returns have been frustrated, or prevented, by continuing attacks. In Gjilan/Gnjilane in March 2002, Amnesty International delegates met a man whose brother's family had planned to return to two houses within the Roma mahala. He was salvaging what he could from the wreckage of one of the properties, both of which had been burned a few weeks after his brother had announced his intention to return, despite 24-hour KFOR patrols and floodlighting of the area introduced after two other houses had been burned following the house-holders' expressed intentions to return.

When Amnesty International met L.M. – a 50-year-old Roma woman – she had returned to Gjilan/Gnjilane three months previously, and by March 2002 was almost at the point of leaving again. In her 50s, with five adult children who also wished to return, L.M. had lived in Gjilan/Gnjilane for 29 years before she had "left her city with a broken heart" in March 1999. After the bombing, she returned, believing that, as an Albanian-speaking Roma, "I would be free", but within a few months, "because of all the problems" she left again, moving to Bujanovac in southern Serbia . Assisted by an international NGO, she was now trying to return to her home. She reported how Albanians had moved into her property, demolished the house, and the adjoining two houses and reused the materials - "from three houses they have built a new house". Because the HPD do not accept claims relating to destroyed property, she was attempting to locate her former neighbors so that, despite the absence of any applicable process, they might make a joint claim for the restitution of their three properties. She told Amnesty International how she had been intimidated by local Albanians at a meeting with municipal officials, and that when she had visited the site of her house during a "go and see visit" - accompanied by 15 international staff and municipal officials - a group of Albanians had threatened the group with verbal abuse, one of them allegedly wielding an axe. Unable to regain her job as a nurse at the local hospital, LM was resigned to leaving again, "Because I have no life here."  

Along with domiciled Roma, the displaced Roma and Ashkalija community suffer from frequent ill-treatment and harassment by Serbian police, including repeated evictions from their temporary settlements, and suffer from racist attacks by non-state actors, who are very rarely brought to justice. They also face both practical problems and active discrimination when seeking IDP registration or acquiring legal identity cards, without which they are unable to gain access to health and social welfare services. Even where they gain access they then face routine discrimination. Roma children are also discriminated against in gaining access to education in both Serbia and Montenegro.

The return of Roma to overcrowded enclaves in Kosovo, where the majority of returnees live with relatives, and where communities are already dependent on an overstretched social welfare system, would place unbearable strain on public services unable to cope with existing demands, and where, without freedom of movement, Roma are unable to resume their pre-war occupations.

Excerpts on the Roma condition in Kosovo from the March- June 1999 overview of abuses against Kosovar Minorities, Human Rights Watch.

www.hrw.org

The province's Serb and Roma minorities- who many ethnic Albanians collectively regarded as active or complicit in atrocities by government forces-were immediately targeted for revenge. Thousands had already departed with the government's forces. Those who remained were forced to leave the province or concentrated in enclaves after widespread and systematic arson of Serb and Roma homes, beatings, detentions, and murders. As of July 2001, an estimated 1,000 Kosovo Serbs and Roma were missing and unaccounted for.1

The willingness of almost all Kosovar Albanians to remain silent about such attacks, either from fear of speaking out or because of a belief in the collective guilt of Serbs and Roma, has created a permissive environment for violence against minorities. Human Rights Watch interviews with Kosovar Albanians from all walks of life suggest a widespread acceptance of the view that wartime atrocities now mean that Serbs have forfeited the right to remain in Kosovo and to retain their property and goods, irrespective of their involvement in abuses. On the other hand, many of the same respondents privately expressed their revulsion at the violence perpetrated against minorities.

Generally unidentified groups of armed ethnic Albanians have carried out abductions of Serbs and Roma throughout Kosovo since early June 1999. In some cases, these forces have detained, questioned, beaten, and then released those abducted. However, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as of April 2001, approximately more than 500 of those abducted remain unaccounted for.

The rape of women from minorities has also been reported since June 1999. Roma women have suffered in particular. The European Roma Rights Center has documented three incidents of rape of Roma women by persons in KLA uniform. The center interviewed an eyewitness who reported that his sister and wife had been raped by four uniformed men in Djakovica on June 29, 1999 . They also interviewed the relative of a woman from Kosovska Mitrovica who had been raped on June 20, 1999 by six men in KLA uniforms.

The OSCE recorded the rape of a Roma woman in Prizren in October 1999 by several Albanian men.24 One of the perpetrators, who was subsequently arrested by KFOR, had allegedly raped another Roma woman in the area. The February Task Force on Minorities report also documented the rape of a pregnant Ashkalija woman in Uroševac in November 1999, and the rape and attempted rape of several Roma women that same month in the Djakovica area.25

Two Roma teenage boys aged seventeen and eighteen and a forty-eight-year-old Roma woman were also found shot dead in Pec on the same day.

Excerpts detailing abuses against Roma immediately following the end of the 1999 war, from the Humanitarian Law Center , Belgrade .

www.hlc.org

According to information collected by the HLC, 63 Serbs and Roma disappeared in Djakovica within a period of two and a half months.  Fourteen were released by the KLA after being questioned for a few hours or several days, two were able to escape, the remains of four taken from their homes were found, and the fate of 41 is unknown.

Tafaj (first name unknown), (F, under 18), Roma, from Djakovica - held in the KLA prison at the Paštrik Hotel from where she was taken to an unknown destination on 18 June 1999 .

A witness who was also held at the hotel stated that the Roma girl was taken away by a KLA man known by the nickname "Džifa" (Xhifa). A Roma woman, Afijete Zeciri (Afijete Zeqiri), 10 Roma men and an Albanian man were among those imprisoned at the hotel. Four of the Roma men were shot while the remaining six were released.

Source: HLC, witness statement

T.F. (M, 27), Rom, from Djakovica - abducted before 6 July 1999 .

Friends of T.F. saw when a group of KLA members stopped him in the town center and took him away to an unknown destination.

Source: The Current Situation of Roma in Kosovo, KOSOVO DAILY NEWS, 12 September 1999

Gunga, Arif (M, 27), Rom, from Djakovica - detained for two days at the KLA headquarters in the Paštrik Hotel in Djakovica, questioned and beaten. Gunga was questioned about Roma crimes against Albanians and cooperation with Serb forces. He was beaten and sustained serious injuries to his head and body. He fled Kosovo after the incident to Montenegro .

Source: HLC, witness statement

B.S. (M, 21), Rom, from Velika Slatina, Kosovo Polje Municipality - abducted on 20 June, held in a KLA prison at an unknown location for 10 days and released. B.S. recounted that he was in Priština on 20 June with another Roma man, helping to move a Serb woman to Lipljan. As they were loading the truck, B.S. noticed a young man in KLA uniform watching them from a window in the same building. The KLA man came down and said to B.S., "You, come with me. I see you're a good worker. I only need some information." B.S. refused, the KLA man left and shortly afterwards came back with an automatic gun. At that moment, an armored personnel carrier pulled up beside them, 16 KLA members surrounded B.S., forced him into the personnel carrier and drove him away. One hour later, they stopped outside a building with the number 25 and led B.S. into apartment number 3. A KLA man of about 40 asked B.S. if he had been in the Serbian army and he replied he had only dug trenches as a civilian. Five minutes later, KLA men led him out of the apartment, pulled a bag over his head, put him in a car and drove away. B.S. recalls that there were seven KLA members in the car with him and that the drive was a long one.

"When they got me out of the car, I saw we were in front of some building, like an abandoned army barracks. Two women of about 30 in KLA uniforms were waiting. The KLA took me into a room and started beating me. There were 10 of them. One punched me in the back; others kicked me and hit me with their hands. They beat me day and night, taking turns. I was alone in the room. There were always about 10 of them. I never left the room. I don't remember sleeping or eating anything. For nine days I was beaten. On the tenth day, they brought a Serb into the room, about 30 he was. He was all bloody from being beaten, his hands and feet were tied and he had a wide piece of tape stuck over his mouth. They took us both to the basement. There was a bread oven down there. They put the man in the oven and he screamed when they turned it on. Eight Albanians and I stood there while he burned, in front of our eyes. He screamed for a long time. He burned for two hours. They took me back upstairs where a woman in KLA uniform was waiting. I recognized her, her name is Aferdita and she's from Drenica. There were another two women with her. They stripped me, put me naked on a bed with wheels, stuck some wires to my body and covered me with a lid-like glass thing. Then they turned on the electricity. The jolts bounced me off the bed several time and then I blacked out. When I came to again, Aferdita dressed me and said, 'We're going to KFOR.' They drove me there."

Before leaving him outside the KFOR building, Aferdita threatened to kill B.S. if she saw him again and said he had to move out of Kosovo. After he made a statement, KFOR members drove him to Caglavica, a Serb village near Priština. B.S. does not know the location where he was handed over to KFOR and remembers only it was 6 a.m. when he was brought to Caglavica.

B.K., a Gracanica Serb who had hired B.S. and T.S. (M, 21) described the abduction to the HLC:

"We had the moving of a Serb woman to Bujanovac scheduled at 7 a.m. on 20 June 1999 . We were loading her things onto the truck when an Albanian came out of the neighboring yellow multi-story building nest to the Zeta-Trans company and the bookstore. He went up to B.S. and pulled him aside so that we wouldn't hear what they were saying. They spoke quietly, in Albanian, but I heard the Albanian ask him his father's name and address. The Albanian knew B.S. from Velika Slatina. After a while, he went back into the building. We finished the loading at 9.30 and planned to go to Bujanovac together. Then the same Albanian came out of the building again, with another six or seven Albanians, all in black. The one who had talked earlier with B.S. ordered him to go with them to answer some questions. Then he turned to me, said the Roma in Velika Slatina had committed many crimes against Albanians and that he had to check whether B.S. was involved. I told him B.S. was my worker, that we all had to leave together and that I was responsible for him. He replied that we would all have to go with them then. The other Albanians said nothing. S.B. got out of the truck and we left. The two of them stood talking in the street so that I wasn't able to see in which direction B.S. was taken. I informed his parents as soon as I reached Gracanica and reported the incident to KFOR the next day. A few days later, B.S.'s father came to my store in Gracanica and said his son had been released and was all right."

Source: HLC, witness statements

Z.P. (M, 19), Rom, from Kosovo Polje - abducted on 21 June 1999 in Priština and released in the evening. Z.P. was in Priština to check up on the damaged house of a relative. He was outside the house when a group of Albanians seized him, pushed him into an Opel Astra car and drove him to the Roma cemetery where they beat him and threatened to kill him. Somewhat later, they took him to the KLA headquarters in a private house where he was held for seven hours. He was beaten and asked to identify Serbs who had committed crimes against Albanians. They released him in the evening and threatened him with death if he reported them to KFOR.

Source: Roma from Kosovo Testify, KOSOVO DAILY NEWS, 12 September 1999

Š.K. (M), Rom, from Priština ( 15 Kolubarska St. ) - abducted by the KLA on the night of 20/21 June 1999; released on 21 June 1999 after his family paid ransom. Š.K.'s uncle recounted that four KLA men came to their house that night. They beat up Š.K. and took him to the KLA headquarters, telling the family he would be released if they paid 500 deutsche marks. The family paid the ransom and Š.K. was let go the same day. The KLA then torched the house of Š.K.'s family and gave them five minutes to leave Priština. The family fled to Montenegro .

Source: HLC, witness statement

F.F. (M, 23), Rom - abducted by the KLA on 21 June 1999 in Priština and released several hours later. F.F. was stopped by KLA members in a street near his home and taken by force to their base in the Dragodan district of Priština. He was physically abused, questioned and ordered to name persons who had committed crimes against Albanians. He was released later that day.

Source: Abuses against Serbs and Roma in the New Kosovo, HRW, August 1999

Caca, Abdulah (M, 50); his son Caca, Abedin (26), Roma, from Prizren ( 14 Podrimska St. ) - abducted on 18 July 1999 . Mrs. Caca recounted that her husband and son left home in the morning of 18 July for the nearby village of Dušanovo (Dushanovë) where they had a metalworking shop. They did not return and she went to Dušanovo the next day to look for them. The shop had been looted. Some children playing outside told her four men, two of whom in KLA uniforms and wearing glasses, had come in a jeep the previous day about 11 a.m., entered the shop and ordered her husband and son to get in their Renault 4 car and follow the jeep. The two vehicles drove off in the direction of the Djakovica road.

Mrs. Caca then went to the KLA headquarters in the Culhan (Qulhan) neighborhood of Prizren where she spoke with a KLA commander called Baša (Basha). He told her he had no knowledge of her husband and son and that the KLA was not responsible for their abduction. Baša added that KLA uniforms were often abused, that the abductors might have been Serbs or criminals from neighboring Albania , and promised to let her know if he heard anything.

After some time, Mrs. Caca went to the KLA headquarters again. This time she spoke with one Osman, who also said the KLA had no reason to abduct her husband and son. Osman explained to her that the manner of their abduction differed from that of the KLA who, he said, would have also torched the Caca house and taken her as well. In the event she received a ransom demand, he said she should immediately report this to the KLA headquarters and refrain from handing over the money.

Mrs. Caca reported the disappearance of her husband and son to KFOR and the International Red Cross.

Source: HLC, witness statement

Bens, Afrim (M), Rom, from Prizren - abducted by the KLA after 20 July 1999 .

Source: HLC, witness statement

G.S. (M, 22), Rom, from Prizren - abducted on 14 June 1999 and held in a KLA prison for over 24 hours. G.S. was stopped in the street by KLA members on 14 June and taken to the former police station. About a dozen other KLA men were there, four of whom led G.S. into a room in which there was another Roma man of unknown identity. G.S. was beaten and threatened with death unless he admitted to looting Albanian homes. The KLA demanded that G.S. tell them the whereabouts of Luan Koka, a Rom who was on the Serbian delegation at the Rambouillet talks. They told him that Roma and Serbs together looted and torched Albanians homes and that he would be expelled to Serbia just as Kosovo Albanians had been expelled to neighboring Albania .

The next morning, a KLA man came with a list containing the names of 10 to 15 local Roma, including G.S., and demanded that he point out those who were "Serbian spies." When G.S. said he knew none of the names, the beating continued. He was then made to clean up the building and, when he finished about 10.30 p.m. , was told he could go. The KLA threatened to kill him if he went to the hospital or reported them to KFOR.

Source: Roma from Kosovo Testify, ERRC, 2 August 1999

B.T. (M, 21), Roma, from Prizren - abducted by the KLA in morning of 18 June 1999 , held for five days and released. B.T. was taken to the building of the former police station, beaten on the way and accused of stealing and killing Albanians. He shouted to draw the attention of people in the street, none of whom reacted. He was held for five days, physically abused and questioned about persons who allegedly committed crimes against Albanian civilians. Asked how he had acquired the 9,700 Dinars he had on him, B.T. replied that he sold cigarettes. Claiming that he must have stolen the money, the KLA men took it. Before releasing him, they threatened to kill him if he reported them to KFOR.

Source: Roma from Kosovo Testify, ERRC, 2 August 1999

M.T. (M, 24), Rom, from Prizren (Terzi Mahala (Mahalla e Terzive) neighborhood)) - abducted by the KLA on 27 June 1999 , beaten and questioned for several hours before being released.

M.T. recounted that KLA members came to his home on 27 June and ordered him to go with them because their commander wanted to see him. When he refused, one of the men put his pistol to the head of M.T.'s wife and said he would shoot her unless he agreed to go with them. Before leaving with M.T., they told his wife her children's throats would be slit if she told anyone about her husband being taken.

M.T. was taken to the basement of the school for deaf-mute children where another Rom, P.L. was being beaten and questioned about his son. The KLA gave P.L. three hours to come back with his son and let him go. Then they began to beat M.T. and question him about weapons in his neighborhood, if he had killed any Albanians or raped Albanian women. They demanded that he write down the names of Roma who had looted Albanian houses and asked if he knew where the Roma leader Luan Koka was. Before being released about 5 p.m. , M.T. was threatened with death if he told anyone what had happened.

Source: Roma from Kosovo Testify, ERRC, 2 August 1999

M.L. (M, 19), Rom, from Prizren (Dušanovo neighborhood) - abducted by the KLA on 27 June 1999 and released after several hours of questioning and physical abuse. M.L. stated that three KLA members came to his home on 27 June and ordered him to go with them to the KLA headquarters to be questioned. They drove him to the school for deaf-mute children where they beat him and demanded that he tell them where he had concealed an automatic rifle. They asked how many people he had killed, how many houses he had torched and where the Roma leader Luan Koka was, threatening to kill him unless he told them everything he knew. M.A. was beaten for four hours and, before being released, threatened with death if he told anyone what had happened. Before he left, the KLA members told him there was no place in Kosovo for Roma.

Source: Roma from Kosovo Testify, ERRC, 2 August 1999

Z.G. (18), Rom, from Uroševac (25 Maja St.) - abducted in late June 1999, held in the house of a KLA member for one day and set free by an elderly Albanian woman. Z.G. stated that he was in an Uroševac cafe with his brother when six KLA members came up to them: Becar, Feta and four known locally as "Kozanci." All were in uniform and armed with pistols and knives. Z.G.'s brother was able to get away while Z.G. was taken to Becar's house. He described what happened there:

"They demanded that I give them the names of people I had killed, what I stole and everything else I did. I said I hadn't been mixed up in anything like that. They tied me to a chair and hit me with baseball bats. First they hit me on my right ankle, then in the stomach. They demanded the names of Serbs and Roma who did such things. I didn't know what to do so I gave them the names of people who lived abroad or had already moved out. Then they left. An old Albanian woman came, untied the ropes and said, 'Son, I know you're feeling poorly. You saved my son so run now- and good luck to you.' I ran to the Serb cemetery and from there to the railway station where the Serbs were staying."

Z.G. fled Kosovo to Serbia four days later.

Source: HLC, witness statement

According to information collected by the HLC, 63 Serbs and Roma disappeared in Djakovica within a period of two and a half months.  Fourteen were released by the KLA after being questioned for a few hours or several days, two were able to escape, the remains of four taken from their homes were found, and the fate of 41 is unknown.



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