Saturday, May 20, 2006
A shot gun divorce
Montenegro will vote this weekend in a referendum whether they wish to stay part of the federation with Serbia. Montenegran prime minister Mr Djukanovic had been a key supporter of Slobodan Milosevic, but increasing international pressure has led to him now supporting independence. Thus the West consecrates their rape of Yugoslavia by a shot gun divorce.
During the 1999 war I was in Budapest for several weeks, a city suddenly awash with Serbian refugees fleeing the NATO bombing. I remember speaking to one Serb woman, herself an activist opponent of Milosevic, who described why her father remained a solid supporter of the Serb government. He had grown up in the mountains during the second world war, when ethnic cleansing and racist murders by Serb and Croatian fascists were an everyday occurrence, He was the seventh son of a peasant, and he was expecting a future of poverty, frustration and ignorance. But Tito ended the ethnic violence, by building unity around the demands ratified by the 1943 Jacje conference in Bosnia where the partisan forces gathered to discuss what a post-war Yugoslavia would look like. The proclamation of an end to ethnic discrimination and redistribution of the land strengthened the military struggle by giving it a firm foundation of support in the countryside. In Tito’s Yugoslavia her father was not a goat herd, but because a university professor.
What a lot of lies we were told. During the build up to the 1999 war, U.S. and British officials at various moments claimed 100,000, 250,000 and 500,000 Serb killings of Kosovo Albanians, along with the lavish use of the word "genocide. But only 4,000 bodies have been found in one of the most intense forensic searches in history, and that includes the bodies of Serbs killed by Albanians, and the victims of 78 days of intense NATO bombing. And much of the killing of Albanians in Kosovo started after the NATO bombing commenced. However tragic and apalling the killings were, the NATO involvement did nothing to halt them, and instead exacerbated the racial tension.
We heard so much of the Serb atrocities, but the media in Britain were almost silent when in March 2004, up to 50000 ethnic Albanian rioters launched a pogrom against their Serb and Roma (Gypsy) neighbours. The pogrom followed delibertely inflammatory and untruthful broadcasts that the tragic drowning of three Albanian boys at the village of Cabra was due to them being driven into a river by a mob of Serbs. An account that the well respected agency Human Rights Watch concluded was completely untrue.
The account of the following pogrom in 2004 by Human Rights Watch is truly shocking. As they report “Once the violence began, it swept throughout Kosovo with almost clinical precision: after two days of rioting, every single Serb, Roma, or Askaeli home had been burned in most of the communities affected by the violence, but neighboring ethnic Albanian homes were left untouched.” NATO troops took 6 hours to respond to calls for help by Serbs in Pristina, despite elderly defenceless and disabled people being attacked in their homes by the mob of Albanian extremists.
It is important to note that according to HRW the ethnic cleansing of minorities by the NATO backed KLA/UCK started immediately after the Serbs withdrew: “Before the 1999 war, some 350 Ashkali families lived in Vucitrn, many of them engaged in the butcher trade. After the war, many of the Ashkali were attacked by ethnic Albanians. At least five Ashkalis from the town were abducted and “disappeared” and more than a hundred Ashkali homes burned. Almost the entire Ashkali community of Vucitrn fled, with only ten to fifteen families deciding to stay.”
In 2004 the Albanian supremacists came to finish the job, watched and not hindered by NATO troops: “the Ashkali recalled the terror they felt when their homes were set on fire with their families inside and no-one came to help them. Nejib Cizmolli, a thirty-seven-year-old Ashkali [man], recalled being trapped on the second floor of his burning home with eleven people, including children aged three, eight, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen”
If NATO was prepared to go to war with Serbia because of the alleged (and largely untrue) massacres of Albanians in Kosovo by the Serb army, then how could they collude in ethnic cleansing under their very noses, while they are administering the province themselves? In truth the war was always about dismantling Yugoslavia, and never about preventing ethnic cleansing. If the Milosevic government was truely promoting Serb racial supremacism, why did the large Hungarian minority in Vojvodnia stay loyal to Belgrade? Why were the Roma people in Kosovo protected by the Serbs but massacred by the KLA?
Edward Herman’s article in Z-Mag describes how the massacre claims about Srebrenica, were very convenient for the Clinton government, and the press were insufficiently sceptical about either the scale or the context of the massacre. Undoubtedly there were Moslems killed at Srebrenica, undoubtedly this was an appalling atrocity. Undoubtedly also, there were Serbian fascists involved in deliberate racists murders during the war, like Arkan's Tigers, and some Bosnian Serb commanders had a deliberate policy of atrocities.
But why do we never hear about the large scale and more indiscriminate massacre of Croatian Serbs in Krajina, including the killing of women, children and the infirm? Is this because the atrocities by Serbs could be pinned on those opposing the break up of Yugoslavia, and the Croatian fascists who murdered thousands and drove perhaps 200000 Serbs from their homes in Krajina, were in favour of a policy that suited western business interests?.