MINELRES: ERRC: Five Years of Ethnic Cleansing of "Gypsies" from Kosovo

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Tue Jun 15 14:47:34 2004


Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>


Five Years of Ethnic Cleansing of Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptians and
others regarded as "Gypsies" from Kosovo

June 10, 2004

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the ethnic
cleansing of Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptians and other persons regarded as
"Gypsies" from Kosovo. In the wake of the cessation of NATO action
against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in June 1999 and the
subsequent return of predominantly ethnic Albanians from abroad, ethnic
Albanians violently expelled approximately four fifths of Kosovo's
pre-1999 Romani population - estimated to have been around 120,000 -
from their homes. In the course of the ethnic cleansing campaign, ethnic
Albanians kidnapped Roma and severely physically abused and in some
cases killed Roma; raped Romani women in the presence of family members;
and seized, looted or destroyed property en masse. Whole Romani
settlements were burned to the ground by ethnic Albanians, in many cases
while NATO troops looked on. A number of Romani individuals who
disappeared during the summer months of 1999 remain to date missing and
are presumed dead.

Today, most Kosovo Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptians are refugees outside
Kosovo, or are displaced within the province. To date, according to
international administrators in Kosovo, not one single person has been 
brought to justice for anti-Gypsy crimes occurring since 1999 as part of
the on-going ethnic cleansing campaign. A number of EU governments have
disregarded international arrest warrants for persons wanted in
connection with crimes of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

International policy toward Kosovo, endorsed by the UN Security Council
specifies that Kosovo must become "a multi-ethnic society where there is
democracy, tolerance, freedom of movement and equal access to justicefor
all people in Kosovo, regardless of their ethnic background." As if to
emphasise how far from that target today's Kosovo is, in March of this
year, Kosovo's ethnic Albanians redoubled efforts to rid the province
of  minorities including Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptians. During the
upsurge in violence, nineteen people were killed, around 4,100 people
were forced to leave their homes, and for the most part are currently
displaced either in Kosovo itself or in neighbouring Serbia and
Montenegro. Around 360 of those forced to flee during recent violence
were reportedly Romani or from another group regarded as "Gypsies".

The latest wave of violence in Kosovo brought international media
attention to the province. However, even prior to the recent violence,
all was not well in Kosovo. The international administrators of Kosovo
had not managed to end once and for all grenade attacks and other
extreme forms of assault against minorities and their property. The
destruction of building sites targeted for minority returns was frequent
enough not to be listed as a major crime for the purposes of tracking
racially motivated crime. Racial discrimination was then close to total
and is still so today. And, as noted above, the organs of justice in
Kosovo have been extremely inefficient with respect to bringing to
justice those responsible for wholesale ethnic cleansing. At the same
time, in an effort to maintain the fiction that all was well in Kosovo,
as well as due to intense pressure for returns exercised by a number of
governments of EU Member States, international administrators downplayed
persistent indications that ethnic Albanians intend an ethnically pure
province.

Thus, the events of March 2004 frequently referred to as "renewed
violence", are more properly regarded as an intensification of an ethnic
cleansing campaign ongoing since June 1999. The ethnic cleansing by
ethnic Albanians of Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptians and others regarded as
"Gypsies" from Kosovo is the single biggest catastrophe to befall the
Romani community since World War II.

The ERRC urges that:

- Without delay, the security situation of Romani and Ashkaeli
communities throughout Kosovo be assessed and measures appropriate to
the specific situation of each community, as well as to local community
perceptions of the actual and potential risks in the given community,
are swiftly undertaken;

- Prompt and impartial investigations into all acts of violence to which
Romani, Ashkaeli and Egyptian individuals and other persons regarded as
"Gypsies" in Kosovo have been subjected are carried out; all
perpetrators of racially-motivated acts of ethnic cleansing are brought
swiftly to justice and victims or families of victims receive adequate
compensation; justice is done and seen to be done;

- The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
redoubles its efforts to bring to justice individuals guilty of the
persecution of Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptians and other persons regarded as
"Gypsies" in Kosovo;

- All governments honour the international warrants for the arrest of a
number of persons wanted in connection with crimes of ethnic cleansing
occurring in Kosovo;

- Sustained efforts be undertaken by all authorities in Kosovo and
involved in the administration of Kosovo to ensure that no discussions
of Kosovo's final status are embarked upon until such a time as all
stakeholders achieve durable and lasting consensus in practice that
Kosovo is a multi-cultural society in which all individuals can freely
exercise in practice all of their fundamental human rights;

- Any forced returns of Kosovo Romani, Ashkaeli or Egyptian individuals
to Kosovo are rendered impossible and impermissible until such a time as
authorities in Kosovo are able to demonstrate durable and lasting 
security and freedom from racial discrimination for all in all parts of
the  province.

- Any persons factually residing in a host country for a period of five
years or longer be provided with real possibilities for integration in
the host country if that person so chooses, including by making
available the possibility of acquiring the citizenship of the host
country.

- Suitable arrangements be made for the recovery of - or compensation
for - any and all property destroyed or confiscated by force or
coercion, including any property sold under conditions of duress.

The international community undertook military action in Kosovo and the
rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to reverse the "humanitarian
emergency" facing ethnic Albanians in early 1999. Failure to reverse the
humanitarian emergency facing Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptians, and also Serbs
and other minorities would mean that in practice, NATO acted, with UN
Security Council endorsement, in effect to assist ethnic cleansing. The
preservation of an international human rights order requires that this
status quo be swiftly ended. The ethnic cleansing of Roma, Ashkaelia,
Egyptians and others regarded as "Gypsies" from Kosovo cannot stand.


Further information on the situation of Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptians and
other persons regarded as "Gypsies" is available on the ERRC Internet 
website at: http://lists.errc.org/publications/indices/kosovo.shtml

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

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P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

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