(IPS) VIENNA --
Albanians in Kosovo suffered
systematic "humiliation and discrimination" from Serbia for
10 years, but ethnic cleansing occurred only after NATO
began bombing Yugoslavia in March, the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said here on Dec. 6.
In a two-part report, the OSCE states that Serbian forces committed massive human rights violations between March and June 1999, which in turn caused a "climate of vindictiveness" among ethnic Albanians, which led to the current "unchecked violence" in the province.
The report said the United Nations and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) have not reacted promptly to the spiral of violence against ethnic Serbs, Gypsies and Muslim Slavs, orchestrated by the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
"Only a strong law enforcement system can prevent the climate of vindictiveness that perpetuates violence. The absence of such a robust response has contributed to the lawlessness that has pervaded Kosovo, leaving the violence unchecked," the report said.
However, the organization clearly blames the Serbian side for the current campaign against non- Albanians, whose "leitmotif," it said, is simple revenge. "Desire for revenge is only human, but the act of revenge is unacceptable," the report said.
The first report -- "As Seen, As Told" -- comprises the findings of the OSCE mission in Kosovo between October 1998 and March 20 this year, when it abandoned the territory.
The NATO bombardments started on March 24 and lasted for 78 days, destroying most of Yugoslavia's infrastructure and leaving some 2,000 civilians dead.
Yugoslav generals had warned that an attack from NATO would unleash a massive retaliation against KLA "terrorists" and their supporters.
to the OSCE, some 800,000 ethnic Albanians fled to
neighboring Albania and Macedonia during the bombardments.
More than 2,000 people -- mainly ethnic Albanians -- were killed in that period, according to findings published by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), some 234,000 non-Albanians have left Kosovo since June.
"The report presents probably the most extensive and systematic survey to date of human rights in Kosovo in the first half of 1999. A grim catalogue of violations is described, illustrated by the experiences of hundreds of individuals and communities," an OSCE press release said.
"Examining the actions of both sides to Kosovo's internal armed conflict, the report concludes that there was no semblance of balance in the human rights abuses committed. Overwhelming, it was the Kosovo Albanian population that suffered," the OSCE said.
The OSCE report also warns that intolerance is growing within the ethnic Albanian community in Kosovo since the province was occupied by NATO-led peacekeeping forces in mid-June.
Physical and psychological harassment is applied against people who are perceived as reluctant or not totally committed to the self-styled KLA-led parallel "government" in Kosovo.
Western journalists have reported that the KLA "government" officials have been systematically evicting ethnic Albanians from apartments and houses assigned to former KLA soldiers and officials. Most of the houses had been in turn been taken over from Serbs.
The French UN Administrator of Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, has complained that Western governments had pledged 6,000 police officers for Kosovo, but only 2,000 have actually arrived. There are more than 40,000 NATO troops deployed in the province.
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