Dear Prime Minister and dear Ministers,
On the occasion of the first day of the Serbian Chairmanship of the OSCE, YIHR Serbia is sending you two OSCE publications, which contain detailed descriptions of schemes and strategies of human rights violations, including the killing of more than 13 thousand people which occurred in Kosovo during 1998 and 1999.
In the public discourse in Serbia, suffering of people during these two war years is often mentioned, but it is not common that anyone, particularly not the representatives of the Government, mentions the victims that are not of Serbian nationality. The crimes committed by Serbian forces are not spoken about. Two days ago when Serbian Prime Minister paid a visit to Kosovo, he decided not to answer journalists’ question about Belgrade’s responsibility for the killing of Albanians in Kosovo during 1998/1999. He invited the journalists to address him with some more serious question.
We do not find this question foolish, on the contrary. We would like to hear that the Government of Republic of Serbia not only speaks about the systematic campaign conceived in Belgrade, but also to apologize for the participation in ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. We would have more confidence in our government if you spoke publicly about all the crimes which have been, beyond a reasonable doubt, proven during the considerable number of trials for crimes committed in Kosovo and if you would sometimes, during your public appearances, present the facts established by the Hague Tribunal and domestic courts.
There is a long list of things which you do not mention in public, and that you remain silent about every year in the period between March 24th and June 10th, when we remember the NATO intervention. Because of your silence our peers are confused and they do not know anything about the reason for which we lived under the bombs for 78 days. Neither you, nor the media, nor teaches at schools, inform them on this issue.
Even though we are young, we remember events from the end of the last decade of the last century. Each of us has someone in the family, neighborhood, or among friends, who was a conscript and went to Kosovo during these war years. These people have told us about the systematic “terrain cleansing” of the Albanian population. They told us that in Kosovo in 1998, and especially after the NATO bombing started, numerous regular army and police units, as well as those from reserve and specialized unites were deployed. Paramilitary and para-police forces were also present on the ground. The whole machinery was engaged.
This information can be found in the reports in front of you, and have been confirmed by the evidence presented at the trials of Slobodan Milosević, Milutinović et al.,Vlastimir Djordjević, Saša Cvjetan, members of various police units convicted of the crime which occurred in one pizzeria in Suva Reka. Additionally, relevant reports of mass graves with Albanian corpses in Batajnica, Perućac, Petrovoselo, Kladovo can be easily found through Internet research.
As representatives of the new generation, we would be happy if you, the representatives of the executive power in our country, apart from Max Weber and Bill Gates, sometimes quoted the OSCE, or any other report that documents massive human rights violations in Kosovo, which the Belgrade regime is responsible for.
You would distinguish from the crowd of your predecessors, if these reports served you as an inspiration to support the RECOM (Regional Commission) that would, among many other things, have the task to create an individualized, official list of those killed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia and thus get in the way of numerous malversations which are arising from the lack of this information.
We are addressing you in the name of a generation of young people, who cannot, in any way, be held responsible for what happened in the nineties of the last century in Kosovo, but we deeply believe that we have a responsibility to speak publicly about the crimes from the past, not to deny them, and to build relationships with peers from the region, that are primarily based on mutual trust.
We have studied this OSCE reports in detail, and we hope that during this year, while Serbia has chairmanship of this organization, you will find some time to skim through it.
Two volumes of the OSCE report on Kosovowere translated from English and published in Serbia by the Humanitarian Law Center:
- Report I: Human Rights in Kosovo, October 1998 – June 1999,
- Report II: Human Rights in Kosovo, June 1999 – October 1999.
Hoping that our proposals will meet your understanding!
Youth Initiative for Human Rights Team!