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<nettime> Kosovo and Rape
bridget conley on Mon, 19 Apr 1999 06:27:44 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Kosovo and Rape


Originally posted to: International Justice Watch Discussion List
    <JUSTWATCH-L {AT} LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU>

In response to a request from a friend I compiled a series of reports
about rape in Kosovo. There were many more news reports than what I have
here, but I think this is representative of the overall reports. The
earliest mention of rape are of the "rape, pillage, and plunder" general
characterization of the violence in Kosovo (first report I have is March
30), but the information becomes horrifyingly and depressingly more
specific starting around April 14th. Reports from The Guardian, Scotsman,
Balitmore Sun, CNN (among others I didn't include) at this time, following
an announcement by Robin Cook that there are "rape camps"--earlier
announced by NATO, indicate that rape is not as systematic a weapon as it
was in Bosnia, but that there are widespread cases:

In an interview with the Guardian, Ms Hauser said that a woman had told
her that Serbs had raped almost the entire female population of a village.
'The woman told me of a village near Drenica in Kosovo where Serb forces
surrounded it and shelled it for 14 hours. They then came into the
village, executed the village leaders, and put everyone else in a
warehouse for days without food. They took 20 women out of the warehouse
for two days and two nights during which they were raped continuously and
then returned to the warehouse half-dead."

[...]

Ms Bamber said: 'Rape is a way of dragging people down to the very bottom
of the pit. It is the act of killing a person without dying. Women have to
live with the memory and they have to face their parents. It is also an
assault on a woman's identity because they can end up giving birth to a
child which is partly Serb."

The Baltimore Sun's reporting covers historical incidents of rape as a
weapon of war, and also points to other areas of the world where it is
being used today in such a manner. The article concludes with this
observation:

"Rape is used in war to destroy the social infrastructure of a society,"
said Zainab Salbi, president of Women for Women. "Rape is not unique as a
strategy of war. The only thing that has changed is that it has come into
the international arena as an issue of importance."

In an April 17th interview, CNN's Eileen O'Connor spoke with a woman who
had witnessed Serbs raping Kosovar Albanians:

O'CONNOR: Vasser is not a victim of rape, but an eyewitness. She says she
was told to leave by Serb police, so she gathered her young boys and left
the small town of Drina on the family tractor, lining up with other
families. Outside of Djakovica, they were approached, she says, by Serb
militia.

"They wore scarves," Vasser claims. The soldiers, with red and gray
kerchiefs on their heads and uniforms, rounded up the young women among
them. When she and others left the column to find them, Vasser says, she
saw the young girls lying in a field. The soldiers were raping them, she
claims.

Vasser and her neighbors were forced to return to the line. According to
her, the girls came back later with their clothes in shreds. The shame
that keeps violated women silent even in the West is especially acute here
among these Muslim families.

Bridget Conley
Binghamton University

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 1999 Southam Inc. The Ottawa Citizen March 30, 1999, FINAL
 A1 / FRONT

'People were mad with blood': A refugee tells Sam Kiley about her
harrowing flight from the savagery and betrayal of her Serb neighbours in
Kosovo.

KUKES, Albania


   KUKES, Albania - Her face reddened from weeping, her feet raw from a
35-kilometre forced march across mountains, Shipresa, 24, finally broke
down when she reached the grim sanctuary of her new home in northern
Albania.

Her ordeal sounded like some terrible, medieval tale of rape, pillage and
brutal tribalism.

In reality, it happened over the weekend, and at one point she had to
dodge Serb soldiers rolling grenades into the refugee crowds yelling
''This is for Clinton!'' and ''This is for Blair!''

Shipresa and her family fled with only the clothes on their backs, forced,
like tens of thousands of fellow ethnic Albanians, from their ancient
homeland in Kosovo.

Their nightmare began when her family was denounced as terrorist members
of the Kosovo Liberation Army by a neighbour, a Serb who enthusiastically
joined in the ghastly ethnic cleansing of their home town and exposed the
hiding place where she and 40 family members were concealed.

''The army and police came to the house many times and could not find us.
Then our own neighbour showed them where we were hiding. We thought we
would all be killed,'' said Shipresa, a medical student from Peja,
Yugoslavia.

The 15 men in her group, mostly well-educated ethnic Albanians, were at
first separated from their families. Then, for the Serbs, the fun started.

''They told us they were going to kill all the men. We cried and begged
then not to, we fell to our knees, we offered them money. They all just
laughed and shoved their guns in our faces,'' she said through the tears
streaming down her face.

The soldiers did not shoot. They just ordered the family to get out of the
country, she said.

Like many of the other 70,000 Albanians driven from their homes in the
biggest humanitarian catastrophe since the end of the Second World War,
Shipresa and her family were then forced to walk the 35 kilometres to the
Albanian border, leaving behind centuries of Muslim heritage, their
professional lives and, in her family's case, their comfortable home.

Their route meant running a gantlet of Serb checkpoints. At each one, she
said, they were threatened, and what meagre goods they carried were taken
from them. That was the easy part.

The real fear was of summary execution, or worse. They told of how they
saw young men have their limbs hacked off by laughing and jeering
policemen, who then shot them in front of their loved ones at the
roadblocks, a brutal reminder of the tactics of Hutu extremists in Rwanda.

''People were mad with blood. They seemed clinically insane, psychotic,''
Shipresa said. The men in her family joined the trek to Albania and were
inexplicably spared the initial threats of murder.

But en route, as they tramped alongside tens of thousands of others, they
fell victim of a deadly game played by the Serbs with live grenades.

Young men, some of whom they knew and had grown up with, yelled: ''This is
for Clinton!'' and ''This is for Blair!'' and then rolled grenades into
the terrified refugees as they fled on Sunday.

''It was supposed to be the Christian day for religion. But these people
were like devils, cold with hatred, sometimes laughing, sometimes yelling
insults and throwing stones,'' she said.

''Three of our men were killed, in three different explosions, as we ran
to Albania. As we left our house, they burned it. As it burned, they blew
it up. They said that we would never be able to return because there would
be nothing to return to,'' said the devastated young woman, who now owns
only the clothes she was wearing and a windbreaker.

The scale of the Serb atrocities in Kosovo, which are not possible to
independently verify, is given credence by the fact that every refugee in
Kukes tells a similar story. They talk of mass rapes, or men being tied up
and then immolated in their homes, or random killings, and not a single
act of mercy or help from neighbours.

In the state-sponsored attempt at the genocide of Kosovo's Albanians,
ordinary Serb civilians -- backed by police and paramilitary thugs bused
in from the Serb Republic, where they honed their skills during the early
1990s -- have been turned into beasts, said Shipresa.

''I am now lucky to be alive, I suppose. But what sort of a life can we
now expect?'' she asked. Then she turned and ran for a bus that would take
her to a temporary home in an unknown village in a country she had never
visited.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 1999 The Scotsman Publications Ltd. The Scotsman April 7, 1999,
Wednesday Pg. 4

'SYSTEMATIC RAPE' OF FLEEING KOSOVAR WOMEN

Jenny Booth Home Affairs Correspondent

THE FIRST reports of the rape of ethnic Albanian women fleeing Kosovo have
emerged even as Belgrade declared a unilateral ceasefire - and urged the
refugees to return to the province.

Aid workers in Albania said they believed fleeing women were being
systematically raped - a technique of terror used many times in the
Yugoslav conflict.

The aim of rape is to torture and demoralise an already beaten people. An
investigation by the European Commission on Human Rights in January 1993
found that Bosnian Serb soldiers had been ordered to pursue a policy of
raping Muslim women in Serb-run concentration camps during the Bosnian
war.

Anne Warburton, the retired diplomat who led the EC investigation,
concluded that 20,000 women had been victims of such organised rapes.

At one women's clinic in Zagreb, she found evidence of 119 pregnancies
resulting from rape by Serb soldiers.

The rapes were deliberately carried out in circumstances of maximum
brutality, to show the utmost contempt. Women were gang-raped in front of
their children, denied abortions and told that they would breed a race of
Serbs, adding a horrifying twist to the concept of ethnic cleansing.

"It destroys the individual's spirit and life, and also those of the
family and of the community they come from," said Helen Bamber, the
director of the Medical Foundation, an organisation which cares for the
victims of torture.

"It does have a very serious effect on the community if many of its
members have been raped, abused or mutilated."

Rape is specifically banned by the Geneva Convention which sets out the
rules of war, but is very commonly used as a reward for soldiers, says
Agnes Callamard, the head of the secretary-general's office at Amnesty
International, the human rights organisation.

But although the Serbs have made the most systematic use of rape, they
have not always been the aggressors. In the vicious ethnic fighting in the
former Yugoslavia, women from all sides have fallen victim.

Last November, the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia convicted a Bosnian Croat, Hazim Delic, for 38 breaches of the
Geneva Convention including the rape of two Bosnian Serb women held in a
Muslim and Croat-run prison camp at the village of Celebici in 1992. It
was the first time rape has ever been ruled to be a torture.

Ms Bamber and her colleagues at the Medical Foundation feel that the use
of rape as a tool of oppression is on the increase. They care for torture
victims from 91 countries - in the vast majority of them rape is used.

Women are the main victims, but well documented cases of abound of men
being raped by soldiers, often with batons .

Children are victims also.

Ms Callamard welcomes the fact that at last international law is starting
to catch up with the fact that while war is waged by men, its most
brutalised victims are women.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 1999 Burrelle's Information Services CBS News Transcripts
View Related Topics CBS THIS MORNING (7:00 AM ET) April 14, 1999

VATICAN CRITICIZES USE OF THE MORNING AFTER PILL BY SOME KOSOVO
RAPE VICTIMS

HATTIE KAUFFMAN, co-host:

The Vatican is criticizing the use of the morning after pill by some
Kosovo rape victims, calling it tantamount to abortion. UN aid workers
have distributed the pill in response to persistent reports of the rape of
Kosovar women by Serb troops. One UN worker called the Vatican's
opposition unconscionable.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 1999 Guardian Newspapers Limited The Guardian (London)

April 14, 1999 Guardian Home Pages; Pg. 1


Serbs have rape camp, says Cook Nicholas Watt, Ian Traynor in Berlin and
Maggie O'Kane in Belgrade


    THE Government seized on evidence yesterday that young ethnic Albanian
women were being herded into an army camp in Kosovo and subjected to
systematic rape by Serbian security forces. Robin Cook, the Foreign
Secretary, accused the Serbs of stepping up their 'brutal atrocities" by
separating women from their families as they fled Kosovo and forcing them
to endure rape at the camp in the village of Djakovica, close to the
border with Albania.

Women who have made it across the border have given harrowing accounts of
their ordeal to aid workers, Mr Cook told the daily briefing at the
Ministry of Defence.

'The story has come forward from a number of women and, sadly, I have to
say it does seem to have the ring of corroboration."

Mr Cook added: 'Understandably it surfaced rather slowly . . . because
many of these young women would be reluctant to admit the experience they
have been through."

Aid agencies agreed that Serb forces had resorted to rape as a tactic
during the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that a
22-year-old woman was shot dead on Monday night as she ran from a Serb
soldier who had singled her out as her family fled Kosovo.

UNHCR said it had no evidence, however, of a rape camp at Djakovica and it
suggested that Nato could have compiled details only from its spy
satellites. One international observer went so far as to question why Mr
Cook had presented details of the camp as 'fresh evidence" yesterday when
the Pentagon had given a detailed briefing on the camp last week.

The observer, who wanted to remain anonymous, wondered why Mr Cook had
raised the issue only a day after Nato attacked a train in Serbia, killing
10 civilians. Nato was deeply embarrassed by the bombing, which handed a
propaganda victory to the Serb authorities, and yesterday the alliance set
up an inquiry to find out what had gone wrong.

In his briefing about the alleged rape camp, Mr Cook accused Serbs of
completing 'the pattern of brutality of Milosevic's forces in Bosnia",
where at least 60,000 women overwhelmingly Muslim were systematically
raped. However, there are striking differences between the two wars.

Serb operations in Kosovo are being carried out in the main by regular
Yugoslav army troops, unlike the paramilitary forces that were largely
responsible for the rapes in Bosnia. Many of the rape camps in Bosnia were
set up with the help of local Serb militia groups, and Muslim women were
often raped by their neighbours. In Kosovo the Serb population is
overwhelmingly in the minority and feels threatened by the Kosovo
Liberation Army.

In 1992, the Guardian identified 19 locations in Bosnia where rape took
place over a prolonged period and where women were held indefinitely for
that purpose. According to hundreds of personal testimonies, the rapes
took place at factories, schools, sawmills and furniture stores. There is
no evidence of a similar pattern emerging in Kosovo.

However, there was unanimous agreement yesterday that the spectre of
widespread rape had returned to the Balkans. Serb forces pick off young
women as a way of asserting their power and of attacking the ethnic
Albanian population by impregnating women with a Serbian child.

Monika Hauser, a Cologne gynaecologist who has just returned from the
refugee camps in Albania, spoke yesterday of the chilling accounts of
rapes from young women who had fled across the border.

Ms Hauser set up the first rape crisis centre in Bosnia six years ago and
founded the Cologne-based Medica foundation which specialises in the
treatment of war rape victims.

In an interview with the Guardian, Ms Hauser said that a woman had told
her that Serbs had raped almost the entire female population of a village.

'The woman told me of a village near Drenica in Kosovo where Serb forces
surrounded it and shelled it for 14 hours. They then came into the
village, executed the village leaders, and put everyone else in a
warehouse for days without food. They took 20 women out of the warehouse
for two days and two nights during which they were raped continuously and
then returned to the warehouse half-dead."

Ms Hauser said that women found it difficult to recount their stories
because of the trauma they suffered. 'We're receiving a lot of stories of
rapes since most of the 300,000 in the camps in Albania are women and
children. But these women are in shock, traumatised and it's very hard for
them to speak out."

Medica, which runs a centre for counselling and treating traumatised women
in Zenica in central Bosnia, has just started working with an Albanian
women's organisation in Tirana where it is establishing a mobile treatment
and therapy operation.

Anna Biermann, of Medica, said: 'We treat traumatised women, provide
medical and gynaecological examinations and also collect evidence and
documentation which gets passed on to the International War Crimes
Tribunal in The Hague."

International health organisations are so concerned by the growing reports
of rape in Kosovo that the International Society for Health and Human
Rights is to hold a meeting on the issue in Austria on Friday.

Helen Bamber, the director of the Medical Foundation, who will repesent
Britain at the meeting, described rape as a 'quick way of humiliating
people".

Ms Bamber said: 'Rape is a way of dragging people down to the very bottom
of the pit. It is the act of killing a person without dying. Women have to
live with the memory and they have to face their parents. It is also an
assault on a woman's identity because they can end up giving birth to a
child which is partly Serb."

Kosovan Albanian women feel a particular sense of shame after they have
been raped, according to Lyndall Sachs, a spokeswoman for UNHCR. 'Many
women face being killed after they have been raped because of the shame it
brings on a family," Ms Sachs said. 'It is a very sensitive issue."

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 1999 The Baltimore Sun Company THE BALTIMORE SUN April 15,
1999,Thursday ,FINAL TELEGRAPH ,20A


U.S., Britain accuse Serbs of using rape as weapon of terror'; More and
more refugees call sexual assaults widespread in Kosovo; WAR IN YUGOSLAVIA

Ellen Gamerman


   WASHINGTON -- As refugees flee Kosovo with accounts of rape by Serbian
police and paramilitary forces, diplomatic officials vowed yesterday to
prosecute those cases as war crimes and to hold Yugoslav leaders
personally responsible for instances of rape by their troops.

Meanwhile, investigators for the international war crimes tribunal in The
Hague have arrived in Albania to gather evidence of war crimes.

The tribunal is building a case for indicting top-level Yugoslav
officials, including President Slobodan Milosevic, for war crimes stemming
from the "ethnic cleansing" campaign in Kosovo.

As the conflict wears on, more reports of rape are making their way out of
Kosovo: Women raped in front of their children and families, women raped
at a Serbian army camp near the Albanian border, women raped at random by
the roadsides while walking in lines of refugees.

U.S. and British diplomatic officials yesterday accused Milosevic's
paramilitary forces of an organized campaign to commit sexual assaults.

Clare Short, Britain's international development secretary, railed against
what she called " systematic" use of rape.

"I want to remind Milosevic and those who obey his orders that mass rape
has been recognized as a war crime," she said. "Records will be kept."

Rape -- long a fixture of war -- was successfully prosecuted as a war
crime for the first time only last year, in a trial before the Rwanda War
Crimes Tribunal. More convictions came later, stemming from the " rape
camps" established in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Rape can be prosecuted not only as a war crime and a human rights
violation, but also as a crime against humanity and as an element in a
campaign of genocide.

James P. Rubin, the State Department spokesman, said yesterday: "The
conclusion is inescapable that Milosevic's forces are using rape as a
weapon of terror in Kosovo."

One recent report detailed multiple rapes at a Serbian border post in
Monice, near Albania. Last week, the Pentagon alleged that troops in a
Serbian army training camp near the town of Djakovica in southwest Kosovo
had raped numerous young ethnic Albanian women, killing as many as 20 of
them.

The Belgrade government has dismissed the allegation of an organized rape
campaign, calling it a "monstrous lie" and "fabrication" through its state
news agency, Tanjug.

Sexual abuse in the civil wars that have followed the breakup of
Yugoslavia frequently was tinged with nationalism.

"In Bosnia, Serb paramilitaries that did these rapes would say point-blank
to women, You're going to have a Serb baby,' " said Martina Vandenberg, a
researcher with the humanitarian group Human Rights Watch. "It was an
attack on the woman's identity."

Many of the Kosovar Albanian women told of being strip- searched and
otherwise humiliated by Serbian troops, said Maha Muna, deputy director
for the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, who interviewed
the victims in Albania about the way they had been treated as refugees.

"One woman said she was lined up at gunpoint with the women in her
village, and they were told to stand, squat, stand, squat -- it felt as if
it went on for half an hour," Muna said. "She said, You cannot see the
scars, but it has left scars on my psychology, in my head.' "

Used to intimidate communities, undermine family allegiances and
traumatize a population, rape has been a tool of war since ancient times.

In World War II, thousands of women were raped by Russian, Japanese and
German soldiers. Japanese troops sexually abused thousands of Asian women
in "comfort camps.

An estimated 400,000 Bangladeshi women were raped by the Pakistan army
during the Bangladesh war for independence in 1971, according to Women for
Women, a Washington-based woman's advocacy group that was created in
response to widespread rape in the Bosnian war.

In Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations estimates that between 250,000 and
500,000 women were raped. Most recently in Bosnia, an estimated 20,000
women were raped.

"Rape is used in war to destroy the social infrastructure of a society,"
said Zainab Salbi, president of Women for Women. "Rape is not unique as a
strategy of war. The only thing that has changed is that it has come into
the international arena as an issue of importance."

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Content and programming copyright 1999 Cable News Network CNN LIVE
EVENT/SPECIAL 12:00 am ET April 17, 1999; Saturday 12:00 am Eastern Time


Strike Against Yugoslavia: Refugee Crisis Worsens; Serbs Continue to Push
Thousands More Kosovars Out; Reservists Prepare for Call to Arms

[...]

RANDALL: General Farrell, thanks very much. Thanks for being with us
-- Carol.

LIN: Gene, there are now allegations of systematic rape of young
ethnic-Albanian women by Serbian forces. Personal shame, Muslim culture and
matters of basic survival make it difficult for many suspected victims to
explain what happened.

CNN's Eileen O'Connor is in Albania with more on this story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is a Kosovar medical
student who can only be identified by a nickname, "Maya" (ph). Her family
remains behind as she goes from refugee to refugee, undertaking one of the
most difficult missions of this war: gathering evidence of war crimes
committed against the people of Kosovo, particularly rape.

MAYA, KOSOVAR MEDICAL STUDENT: Our case is that she see the woman and the
girls kidnapped.

O'CONNOR: Vasser is not a victim of rape, but an eyewitness. She says she
was told to leave by Serb police, so she gathered her young boys and left
the small town of Drina on the family tractor, lining up with other
families. Outside of Djakovica, they were approached, she says, by Serb
militia.

"They wore scarves," Vasser claims. The soldiers, with red and gray
kerchiefs on their heads and uniforms, rounded up the young women among
them. When she and others left the column to find them, Vasser says, she
saw the young girls lying in a field. The soldiers were raping them, she
claims.

Vasser and her neighbors were forced to return to the line. According to
her, the girls came back later with their clothes in shreds. The shame that
keeps violated women silent even in the West is especially acute here among
these Muslim families.

MAYA: There is some of them, but, actually, they don't want to speak.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Is that because they feel their families will be
shamed?

MAYA: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

O'CONNOR (voice-over): Often, victims who do come forward will describe
incidents stopping just short of rape. Velora Gegar (ph) claims she was
taken at gunpoint by Serb police several weeks ago before fleeing her
native land.

"They told me to take my clothes off," Velora claims. "I refused." Velora
says the Serb police held her by her hair and beat her, taunting her to
get the Americans to protect her. She says she still has back pains from
the blows of the rifle butts. Her cousin Jave says she witnessed, along
the way, four young girls taken away by Serbian militia wearing masks.
"They were sisters," she says, "between 19 and 25 years old. Only their
father was left in the line." Jave says, "We came here and I never saw
them again."

International doctors seeing refugees at makeshift clinics or local
hospitals in Kukes say that they have seen girls so traumatized they have
suspected rape, but cannot ask.

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: I'm a Western male surgeon. I can't relate to, you
know, to the -- it's inappropriate for me to try to do that.

O'CONNOR: In addition, women often cross the border and enter the
hospitals here, suffering from severe dehydration and exposure. Local
doctors are protective, for it is mere survival that is at stake now.

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Identity documents, they have no money -- they're
entire...

O'CONNOR (on camera): So for them, it's not really the time to talk about
rape. It's almost living is more important.

UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: This is not the time. They've got to live,
absolutely. We've got -- and we've got to think about that as part of the
overall peace.

O'CONNOR (voice-over): But sources among the international investigators
and doctors here say with so many similar stories, so many eyewitnesses,
it is difficult to have many doubts. The violation and rape of women has
once again become a weapon of choice for the Serbs.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Tirana, Albania.


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