KosovaPress - The KLA And The Path To Peace (5)
The KosovaPress reports that follow in transcript record a Kosovar Albanian view of events from June 25 and 26 as Kosovars returned to their battle scarred republic. (See earlier transcripts in KosovaPress - The KLA And The Path To Peace (2) and KosovaPress - The KLA And The Path To Peace (1))
KosovaPress news agency reported from inside Kosovo throughout the period of air-strikes and was almost the only source of news from inside Kosovo during the period. (See also…Scoop Gold -Category: Miscellaneous Option: Military and Defence Issues for Kosovapress transcripts during the war.)
KosovaPress is a Kosovar Albanian press agency and is aligned to the KLA. Interestingly the KLA's views on disarmament are not surprisingly a little different than NATO's.
KosovaPress is available at http://www.kosovapress.com/
The Reburial of some of Kosova's Martyrs in Rahovec
Rahovec, June 26, (Kosovapress)
On June 24, in the cemetery of Ratkoc, martyrs Safet Latifi and Visar Hoti were reburied. They were buried next to the graves of the village's other martyrs, Sahit and Naser Krasniqi. These fighters were previously laid to rest in Zatriq, but their family asked for them to be buried in their home town.
Yesterday witnessed the reburial of the martyr Nazmi Hasani from Randobrava. Tomorrow the body of Rifat Dina known as Xha Jaho from Celinë will be laid to rest. Xha Jaho had been involved in the struggle for freedom since 1981 and died in battle on March 27 in his home town. Tomorrow will also see the reburial of Bedrush Gashi, member of the commando 124th Brigade, killed in battle in Drenoc.
Serb mines are still maiming Kosovars
Hani i Elezit, June 26, (Kosovapress)
Today in the afternoon in Maja e Shullanit, Muhamet Zylbehar Meliqi (aged 29), lost his left leg to a Serb mine. Upon stepping on the mine he was rushed to a hospital in Skopje. Meanwhile in Kaçanik, Rushit Luta (aged 16) from Kaüaniku, was severely injured by a mine.
Prime Minister Thaçi in Mitrovica
Mitrovicë, June 26, (Kosovapress)
Kosova's Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi together with the commander of the Shala operational zone, Rrahman Ramën, joined local leaders and hundreds of civilians on a tour of the divided city of Mitrovica, reaching the bridge which is barricaded by Serb civilians.
Three bus loads of Kosovar Captives reach Kosova
Prishtinë, June 26, (Kosovapress)
Under protection from Canadian military personnel and the International Committee for the Red Cross, three buses filled with kidnapped Kosovars entered Kosova from Serbia. The buses headed straight for Ferizajt. These men represent but a small fraction of those kidnapped by retreating Serb soldiers and who are still in Serb prisons throughout Serbia.
June 26, (Kosovapress)
Lipjan: In the village of Mirenë of Lipjan a body has been discovered. It is believed the body belongs to Azem Kadri Azemit from this village who disappeared earlier in the week.
Komoran: In Komoran today, for the first time since the beginning of the war the daily market opened for business.
Agim Çeku: The KLA will transform itself but not disarm
Prishtinë, June 26, (Kosovapress)
General Agim Çeku, KLA's Chief of Staff explained to Albanian TV the process of the KLA's demilitarization as stipulated in the agreement between KFOR commander, General Mike Jackson and the political commander of the KLA and the Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of Kosova, Hashim Thaçi.
Agim Çeku: The Kosova Liberation Army will transform itself and demilitarize according to the agreement in 90 days. This agreement preserves a place for the KLA in Kosova, including co-operating with KFOR. This agreement was signed by two equal parties, the KLA and KFOR, who will both play an equal roll in Kosova's resurrection.
The demilitarization of the KLA takes place in the context of the completion of the first goal, which was the eviction of Serb terrorists from Kosova. The KLA liberated Kosova with NATO and the people of Kosova. As long as there is not a criminal Serb force in Kosova that is conducting unspeakable crimes against defenceless civilians, the KLA is no longer needed in its present form and must begin a process of transformation, including reorganizing the military and political wings to reflect the realities on the ground in Kosova. A significant portion of this army can return to their civilian lives while the others will assume civic roles in a new government.
Question: Will the KLA disarm?
Agim Çeku: The agreement specifically used the word demilitarization in characterizing the KLA's transformation. There is never reference in the text suggesting disarming of the KLA. What it is meant by demilitarizing the KLA is a transformation from an offensive force to a defensive force that will defend the Albanian population inside Kosova and its territory. What is meant by transforming the KLA is that its organizational structure which is centered on the battlefield will now have to place itself in new administrative surroundings. Since there is no longer a need to fight barbaric Serbs and the danger is now external to the borders of Kosova, the KLA will have to adjust accordingly.
Question: Mr. Thaçi in a press conference said that the KLA will take on the shape of a national guard somewhat like what the US has, can you comment on this?
Agim Çeku: The KLA will transform in three phases:
The first phase: is the preparative phase, phase two: is the selection phase and three is the structural adjustments we expect will be needed.
In the first phase shall be completed in a month, leading to the transformative phase which will lead to the selection of each element of a new force.
This second, selection phase will consider the merits and contributions of the KLA's personnel which will lead to a structural change that could possibly take three or four directions.
A portion of the army will be organized into a police force and will be structured according to the needs of the Provisional Government of Kosova; a portion of the army will become this National Guard, modelled after the US and another portion, primarily that which is serving administrative duties for the KLA, will return to a civilian life where they are most needed.
The KLA contributed to the liberation and peace of Kosova and it must therefore be part of the growth of the nation. The KLA remembers the contribution of everyone of its soldiers and they will part-take in every institution created in Kosova, it is for this transformation that we are preparing now.
100 thousand Kosovars remain in Macedonia
Skopje, June 26, (Kosovapress)
The spokesperson of the UNHCR in Skopje, Maki Shinohara, declared that there remained more than 100,000 Kosovar refugees in Macedonia. In a statement given on "Voice of America" in Skopje, Ms. Shinohara said that more than half the refugees formally in Macedonia have returned to their homes in Kosova.
Shinohara said that the UNCHR's intentions were to start on Monday organizing the repatriation of Kosovar citizens by both bus and train. The return will be organized to shuttle people to Prishtina, Prizren, Ferizaj and Kaçanik but not to Peja due to the extensive damage to the city.
Shinohara also mentioned that by July 1, the air bridge from Skopje to third countries will be closed. The air bridge has until now transported about 100 people a day to third countries.
The UNCHR numbers conflict with those of the Macedonian Interior Ministry which insist there are still 190,000 in Macedonia raising fears Macedonia may try to expel large numbers of its own Albanian population.
Large convoys have been seen at the Kosova border with Macedonia as Kosovars wait to return home. According to the latest sources, more than 10,000 a day cross the Blace border post.
Two Italian Military Convoys Head for Kosova
Skopje, June 26, (Kosovapress)
This morning two Italian military convoys were seen leaving Greece into Macedonia at Bogorodice. The convoy was heading for Kosova but stopped for the night at the Petrovec airbase. The Italian forces will make up a special KFOR unit and the two convoys consisted of 40 heavy vehicles and 8 personnel carriers.
Corriere de la Serra: Who has seen Rugova?
June 26, (Kosovapress)
Rugova was yesterday reported to be holed up in his residence outside of Rome after failing to join European ministers to Prishtina as planned. The only one who met him in the last couple of days was his chief aid in Macedonia and Kosova. Reports have not been very enthusiastic for a leader who is proclaimed to be strong and popular. Adnani had gone to see the leaders of the KLA but he was sequestered by them. The difficult relations between Rugova and the KLA is an excuse for his failure to return to Kosova after the departure of Serb troops.
Within the four walls of Rugova's party, they label the guerrillas [KLA] as "Pol-Potist" and Thaçi as a "putchist"
But Saint Egidio is requesting a privledged entry for Rugova in Prishtina because time is against the reconciliation between Kosovars and the KLA who is becoming the partner of KFOR and the UN. To do something about this loss of influence, Rugova has sent to Prishtina Edita Tahirin, a representative of the LDK and Bujar Bukoshi. For only those two to come to Kosova to challenge the KLA was not enough in this tough game of naming the leaders of the community.
Tirana is not surprised by Rugova's hesitance, it has criticized Rugova for his failing to visit Albania and his last minute annulation of his expected June 7 visit with Thaçi. "The truth" reports a source in Tirana, "is that Rugova is closing his bankrupt account and completing his political suicide."
Caught in this difficult situation and facing rising pressure from his political allies, Rugova should go to Prishtina by next week. His home with its collection of minerals from all corners of the land that three months of war has ravaged awaits him: this is not a choice concerning either the Serbs or the KLA, but an indicator of feudal respect from a leader who had won the most votes in the last elections held in Kosova.
Working to identify the identity of those held hostage in Serbia
In the city of Gjakova another protest was staged by family members demanding the return of their loved ones held hostage in Serbia. They silently marched through the center of the city, among whom were journalists and members of the 137th "Gjakova" brigade. The names of a number of the Kosovars held hostage in Serb prisons were made known last night. The spokesperson from the 137th "Gjakova" Brigade said however that this number is only a fraction of those held in the prisons of Pozharevc and Mitrovicë of Sremi
A team has been put together to identify the names of the other Kosovars that are possibly held hostage in Serbia. Their numbers, at the moment has been counted to be 813 confirmed persons. KFOR has been repeatedly informed about this situation and have been asked to attend to this lingering tragedy.
The city has witnessed some of the most extensive damage in Kosova. The number of burnt houses in Gjakova has reached 1131 while this number is rising daily. According to sources in the 137th "Gjakova" Brigade, there is a need for assistance from international humanitarian organizations that can provide immediate help to those people still without adequate shelter. Concerning the war crimes committed by Serb forces, investigative teams are working on identifying the hundreds of corpses that litter the city. Bodies are discovered everyday throughout the devastated city and the numbers are too large to have a precise number at this stage. The situation is just as horrific in neighboring communities. Mass graves have been located in the surrounding villages of Korenicë, Mejë, Ujz, Babaj i Bokës, Bishtazhin, Cërmjan, and Kralan.
Two unidentified bodies found in Peja
Pejë, June 25, (Kosovapress)
Yesterday in the village of Kryshec in the Peja district, two unidentified bodies were found. The bodies were of two of men between 45 and 50 years of age. On these two bodies it could be clearly seen that they were killed with knives. The reason they could not be identified was due to the fact that their heads were crushed to the point where there were no longer any facial features. The two were buried yesterday in the village cemetery.
Elementary School opens
Deçan, June 25, (Kosovapress)
In Gramaçel of Deçan children began to attend elementary school. Middle school shall begin in a month in the effort to return traumatised children to a normal life.
The area has just begun to receive some humanitarian assistance which will be welcome to those suffered through more than a year of war.
A shortage of food in Han të Elezit
Hani i Elezit, June 25 (Kosovapress)
Large numbers are returning from their exile in Macedonia and the numbers are far larger today than in other days. 50 percent of the population has returned after waiting up to 10 hours at the Macedonian border.
Many have passed through other border areas and have put great strain on local resources resulting in a shortage of food. Until now, Han të Elezit has only received one truck of assistance which consisted of five tons of flour, oil and sugar. A delegation had come to Han të Elezit earlier to inquire about the needs of the community but there has not been any sign of help coming as a result of the visit several days ago.
Four more Martyrs buried
Rahovec, June 25, (Kosovapress)
On March 23, in the village of Deje, in the commune of Rahovec, Milaim Morina and Xhevdet Krasniqi from Deje were buried with high military honors. They heroically died fighting Serb forces on the battlefield close to Celina on April 27, 1999.
Meanwhile, in the village of Ratkoc yesterday, the bodies of Visar Hoti and Safet Latifi were returned. They died heroically on April 18, 1999 in the hills of Zatriç.
No one who wants to help the captives taken to Serbia
The regime in Belgrade has kidnapped several thousand Kosovar Albanians, taking them from concentration camps they had set up in Kosova during the war to imprison them inside Serbia.
Those who have been snuck into Serbia face continued abuse with reports that they are under going systematic torture and according to a Serb source, some have even been executed.
Among the prominent individuals who are missing since the end of the war, Professor Ukshin Hoti whose sentence expired on May 17 has not been found. But he is but one of thousands of Albanians who were kidnapped, most never even formally charged. Family members have no idea where these men and boys have been taken.
Serbs usually accuse those they capture of being terrorists, a simple formality for they were simply residents who had an education, apparently the only reason they were targeted. As of now, the international community, which has negotiated with Milosevic once again for "peace" in Kosova, have completely ignored these thousands of hostages and their plight never played a role in the halting of NATO bombing. This problem first emerged in the Christopher HIll plan and the agreement between Holbrook and Milosevic, celebrated by the world, as they completely ignored the concerns of 90% of the population of Kosova. Albanians around the world must protest before the international community that will persuade them to demand from Milosevic to free these captives dying in Serbia.
The Presence of Serb police out of uniform throughout Mitrovica
Mitrovicë, June 25, (Kosovapress)
Two Kosovar families who were thrown out of their homes by Serb forces attempted to return yesterday in Mitrovica. In their home they faced a Serb police officer, now out of uniform who was armed with a revolver and an automatic rifle. He was living in the home alone, without family, and was supported by other Serb police officers who were from Mitrovica. The two families are now unable to enter their homes and have not received any help from French soldiers who were supposed to assure their return.
Serb paramilitaries threatening civilians with guns
Vushtrri, June 25, (Kosovapress)
The villages of Prilluzhë, Plemetin and Samadregjë in the commune of Vushtrri are facing the problem of a large number of armed Serb paramilitaries roaming the area, threatening the inhabitants who have attempted to return to their homes.
Germans find another mass grave
Prishtinë, June 25, (Kosovapress)
Until now, German troops have discovered 40 mass graves said the German Minister of Defence, Rudolf Scharping.
Scharping said the bodies were Kosovars since Serb forces did not bury their dead. They purposely tried to disguise their crimes by spreading the graves over a large area, according to the defense minister.
In Prishtina, NATO reports that 14 civilians have been killed in the last 24 hours in Kosova and one Italian soldier was killed after his weapon malfunctioned.
Jakup Krasniqi and Mehmet Hajrizi visit Drenica
Gllogoc, June 25, (Kosovapress)
Members of the Provisional Government of Kosova, vice Prime Minister Mehmet Hajrizi, and spokesperson Jakup Krasniqi, visited today the Jasharaj quarter and the family of Ilaz Kodra in Drenica.
In commemoration of the sacrifices made by the martyrs of the nation, the two representatives, along with the commander of the KLA in Drenica, Sami Lushtaku and his aid Shaban Shala, observed a moment of silence at the compound of the legendary Commander, Adem Jashari, murdered with his whole family in March of last year. Hajrizi and Krasniqi also visited today the family of Ilaz Kodra, the old commander of the 114th Brigade who also made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and people. Throughout the visit this evening to Gllogoc and Skënderaj, the representatives of the Government discussed with the commander of the KLA in Drenica the number of issues that plague the region.
During the course of this visit it is clear that the conditions of those who are returning to the region is extremely grave since most do not have adequate shelter; plastic tents are everywhere in Drenica, an indicator of the severe housing shortage.
The KLA leadership in this region have discussed with officials from the Provisional Government the need to mobilize all the resources of the government to bring immediate aid to the population still living in the open in order to relieve the effects of the massive destruction Serb forces levelled upon the region.
Shaban Shala and Sami Lushtaku have been actively engaged in addressing three fundamental concerns for the civilian population by mobilzing KLA's soldiers. They have worked to restore a reliable water supply, electricity and a health care system that can address the still dangerous health situation in the area. According to Shala and Lushtaku, they are also working together with KFOR to clear the area of its mines.
In addition to these extensive civic duties that the KLA has been forced to deal without the assistance of aid agencies, it is abiding to the agreement the KLA signed with KFOR towards its demilitaraization. Mr. Krasniqi noted that the work done by the KLA in the region is a perfect example of the kind of things the KLA has done during the war and its vital role in protecting and aiding Kosovars in the future.
Another Protest for the liberation of those Kosovars taken to Serbia
Prishtinë, June 25, (Kosovapress)
More than 500 protestors gathered yesterday in the center of Prishtina to demand the freedom of more than 10,000 Kosovars who were taken from Kosova to Serbia as Serb troops left. There are reports that they are being tortured in a number of locations throughout Serbia. The protestors passed through the capitol's main streets for around an hour to demonstrate their demands.
The protest ended in front of the office of Barbara Davis, chief representative of the UN High Commission for Human Rights who said that she will raise the issue to the proper authorities and do whatever is possible to free these captives from the hands of Serbia.