Gracko survivors blame NATO
Introduction by Jared Israel (August, 1999)
The letter below written by residents of Gracko, the Kosovo town where KLA terrorists murdered 14 Serbian farmers on July 23, 1999. KFOR is of course the latest alias for NATO. NATO is in turn very much under the control of the US government. So as the late Mr. Truman said, the buck stops there
We'd love to help but...
The letter notes that Gracko residents repeatedly begged the local British KFOR (that is NATO) forces for protection. KFOR repeatedly declined. Must beg off; previously engaged. Take a rain check?
In 'The Shame of NATO' (1) Serbian refugees from Kosovo report that NATO troops watched while the KLA drove them from their homes. We were told the same thing by the spokesman for Jewish residents forced out of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. (2)
It would appear that no matter who appeals to KFOR for help these preservers of ethnic peace are always too busy to combat terrorism. Too busy doing what?
Bordering on chaos
Wasn't it NATO that used the threat of continued bombing to force Yugoslav border guards to abandon their posts on the Albanian border? NATO cannot claim this was intended to protect ethnic Albanians in Kosovo; border guards guard borders. Northern Albania, which abuts Kosovo, is ruled by bands of gangsters and by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which draws recruits from criminal elements. The Yugoslav border guards played a crucial role in protecting Albanians and everyone else in Kosovo from criminal and terrorist attacks.
Having disposed of the Yugoslavs, NATO installed no guards of its own. The border is therefore open. Not porous, open. Is NATO too stupid to know that unguarded borders allow criminals to pass? Perhaps, but stupidity doesn't wash as an excuse. The Albanian border has been a bone of contention between NATO and the Yugoslav government for almost a year. Indeed, when the threat of NATO bombing forced the Yugoslavs to withdraw some forces in October of 1998, they were permitted to maintain troops in Kosovo precisely in order to protect the border.
NATO had to know that opening the border would guarantee an influx of KLA/criminal thugs. Since NATO insisted on getting rid of the guards we can only conclude that NATO desired the result of getting rid of the guards.
Now that the terrorist/criminals are in, NATO offers "helplessness in the face of overwhelming chaos" as its rationale for not stopping secessionist terror. Is it so unreasonable for NATO's critics to view this as a bit of public relations spin, intended to hide a practical division of labor? To conclude that NATO's presence is intended to prevent Yugoslav intervention and to lull some people into thinking they will be protected, in order to guarantee that they take no measures for self-defense? So that, much to NATO's surprise, the terrorists/criminals can attack with impunity? With the end result that the survivors flee Kosovo?
Just as the survivors of Gracko are reportedly fleeing.
All very puzzling...
NATO, the KLA and the media try to blame massacres like this on "mysterious forces" in Kosovo. These forces are never described very clearly, hence "mysterious," and NATO troops seem unable to get a handle on the problem; a stubborn mystery, and all the more so because the forces seem to be everywhere. Sometimes the mysterious forces are described as gangsters, though as the entire European press has reported, the KLA is itself comprised of gangsters. Sometimes the mysterious beings are "renegade elements in the KLA," though from what we have read, KLA leaders do not treat renegades gently. And sometimes we are told the terror is carried out by "middle ranking" leadership, as if the KLA were some corporation, like Coca Cola or IBM, suffering a management crisis. In any case, these "mysterious elements" are invariably called "extremists" apparently by way of contrast to the KLA leadership. You may recall that the KLA made a name for itself by carrying out drive-by shootings and lobbing bombs into children's restaurants in Pristina, but time and our media moderate all sins.
Farmers say it's not a few extremists
As the letter below notes, the killing of the 14 farmers is "not the [work of a few] extremists." Instead, the "planned ethnic cleansing of Kosovo...stands in the background of these and the similar crimes." Planned. That is the key word here. Planned.These Gracko farmers are no fools. The ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Kosovo residents has required planning and organization.
In other words, it requires a Kosovo-wide military/terrorist organization: the KLA. But is the KLA an independent force? Hardly. It has been trained by the MPRI, a US company whose field personnel are retired (?) CIA agents and military officers. The KLA's military chief is a Croatian officer, one of the main planners (along with the Pentagon) of the 1995 expulsion of 250,000 Serbian residents from the Krajina section of Yugoslavia. The KLA has been endorsed by Madeline Albright. (Since Albright is U.S. Secretary of State, her endorsement is official policy.) Congress just voted millions in military aid - for the KLA.
The KLA never won a single battle against Yugoslav troops; it is running most of Kosovo because NATO bombed Yugoslav civilian facilities for 78 days until Yugoslav forces agreed to withdraw.
So in the real world the KLA is dependent on NATO. It is inconceivable that the KLA would be allowed to launch a campaign to drive hundreds of thousands of people from Kosovo without NATO's explicit (if private) approval.
All things come to him who waits
As we noted earlier, NATO has a scheduling problem. It gets daily requests from Serbs, Romas ("Gypsies") and other ethnic minorities in Kosovo, as well as from pro-Yugoslav ethnic Albanians just begging the troops to drop by, and of course the troops would love to oblige, but where to find the time? There are simply not enough hours in the day. Ethnic cleansing, now 90% complete, may offer a solution:
nobody left alive to protect.
A note on credibility: The letter below cannot be dismissed as biased due to source. Officials of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo have not generally taken a stance hostile to NATO (KFOR). Indeed some have advocated an approach of compromise and cooperation and have been criticized for doing so. NATO troops recently rescued an Orthodox Priest, Fr. Sava, from an angry crowd of Kosovo Serbians who wanted to "soundly thrash" the priest for meeting with US Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The Orthodox Church did not distribute this letter because it has an anti-NATO axe to grind. (If anything it has an anti-Milosevich axe.) Rather it has distributed this letter because it is true.
* * *
From the Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Church
PRAVOSLAVLJE PRESS/ July 24, 1999
Report from Staro Gracko village
The investigation carried out on the very spot, namely on the territory of Staro Gracko village (numbering 73 Serbian and 3 Albanian houses) in Lipljan municipality, has showed that the massacre of 14 Serbs who were threshing wheat, happened on July 23, 1999, between 20:30 and 21:30; the fields they were working in, border on districts of the Albanian villages - Bojance and Veliki Alas, and are near Bujanicka forest.
Ten days ago, Staro Gracko villagers requested KFOR captain in Lipljan, Mr. Alen, to provide them protection during the harvest, and requested the same that tragic morning, on July 23, 1999. The answer was always the same: "We do not have enough men, but we will visit the fields from time to time". In spite of that promise, the patrols never visited the fields. Sometimes KFOR patrols did not pass through Staro Gracko village for the whole day.
Fourteen Serbian peasants, among whom there was a boy aged 15, went to their fields to thresh wheat. Stevo Lalic heard shooting from the direction of the fields, and having been concerned for the harvesters and their not coming back, Lalic and Dragan Odalovic went to the fields to look for the men. At 200 meters distance from the place where reaping machine stood, they stopped and perceived that the reaping machine did not move, but worked in one place. On its platform, they saw a corpse of one of the killed villagers.
They returned to the village immediately (about 21:30) and quickly telephoned KFOR in Lipljan to inform it. They pointed out that they saw a man killed. KFOR translator, an Albanian woman, answered that no car was at disposal at that moment. The Serbs repeatedly telephoned for at least 10 times, but the answer of the Albanian translator was always the same. Having concluded that the phone calls were unsuccessful, Stevo Lalic immediately went to KFOR police station in Lipljan. Only then did KFOR send a transporter the scene of crime. They stopped 50 meters from the reaping machine that was working in the same place. KFOR soldiers ascertained that the man on the reaping machine was killed by 3 shots in the back. The searching of the territory being executed, 13 corpses were found lying everywhere, near the tractors and in wheat.
KFOR conducted an investigation, and the corpses of the killed were transported to the Clinical Centre in Pristina. Some of the relatives of the killed people went to the hospital in Pristina on Saturday, July 24, to identify the corpses. Some of them claim that certain bodies were mutilated, and one man's head was smashed. We believe that the autopsy will provide a more precise report on the event.
Ljubica Zivic whose two sons were killed said she became ill because of the sorrow of her loss.
“I cry and cry, but it doesn’t help. They are still gone,” she said.
Slavica Popović, whose family members was among the victims on July 23, 1999, said today that when she previously asked a KFOR officer to help find the killers, he responded by saying that she should "forget about it".
"So, he wanted me to forget about my brother, my father, my uncles, my neighbors and all the others. That was his answer," Slavica said.
She also recalled that then UNMIK chief Bernard Kouchner visited her family after the massacre to promise that "no stone would be left unturned in order to find the perpetrators".
"Where is Mr. Kouchner now, to come here and say what he has achieved. I wish he would stand before me and have a conversation with me," Slavica Popović said.
In June 2006 victims’ graves were vandalised and the graveyard mined. Despite the demining of the graveyard by NATO, relatives chose to commemorate the deaths in the village’s square.
Clip Massacre in Staro Gracko
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