Kosovo - Mass Graves

Rick Sollom (rsollom@phrusa.org)
Tue, 11 Aug 1998 15:44:58 -500


Please find enclosed a letter from Physicians for Human Rights to
U.S. President Clinton regarding current atrocities and
evidence of mass graves in Kosovo.

_____________________________________________________

7 August 1998

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Your strong leadership three years ago this month brought an end to
the war and massive human rights abuses in Bosnia. Your
administration galvanized support among NATO allies to use its
military strength to bring about peace in the Balkans.

Atrocities reminiscent of the war in Bosnia are now occurring in
Kosovo. President Milosevic has unleashed his military, police, and
paramilitary forces against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and will not
desist until confronted with NATO's concerted military strength.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly urges you to uphold your
1993 pledge to intervene in Kosovo should President Milosevic ever
besiege this province and use whatever means necessary to stop further
bloodshed in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, the suffering of hundreds of thousands of civilians
continues, and increasing reports of human rights atrocities emanate
from the field. This week allegations of mass graves in Kosovo
surfaced in the press. Without conclusive forensic evidence of such
atrocities, many disbelieve the possibility that hundreds of civilians
from Orahovac were slaughtered and bulldozed into mass graves.

Yesterday, however, PHR received credible reports from a local health
and human rights organization that had just conducted interviews with
displaced families from Orahovac. They report witnessing 12 trucks
filled with cadavers being hauled out of their town immediately
following the July 21st Serb offensive. They further testify that Serb
forces killed more than 500 civilians during this fighting, who are
now believed to be buried in mass graves.

To avoid the Bosnian outcome where thousands needlessly died before
NATO finally took military recourse, the United States must lead the
international community in taking decisive action now that will save
countless lives.

We urge the United States government, by using any unilateral,
bilateral, or multilateral means available, to take the following
actions:

Act immediately and decisively to stop the fighting in Kosovo where
civilian populations are the target of brutal and systematic abuse.

Support the establishment of an international peacemaking force,
organized under NATO auspices, in Kosovo requiring all Serb forces
(army, police, special police, and paramilitary) to withdraw from
Kosovo at once and requiring KLA units to cease their military
activities.

Monitor with satellite photography possible mass grave sites in and
around the town of Orahovac; maintain aerial reconnaissance of
specific sites of reported mass graves to determine whether these
sites are tampered with in the future and immediately make public
these photographs.

Insist that Yugoslav authorities permit impartial forensic
investigations under the auspices of the International Criminal
Tribunal for Yugoslavia to gather evidence of war crimes and crimes
against humanity. Those army, paramilitary, or police officials
responsible for atrocities must be held accountable.

Secure with military force reported sites of mass graves to
safeguard material evidence that would be furnished to the ICTY.

Prepare for the delivery and distribution of needed humanitarian
aid, through respected local and international organizations, to the
hundreds of thousands of displaced Kosovars immediately once
appropriate military intervention brings a halt to the current
fighting.

Once stability is achieved in Kosovo, support the establishment of a
robust human rights monitoring mission under UNHCHR auspices that
would work in collaboration with local human rights groups to monitor
and investigate abuses.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

/s/

Leonard S. Rubenstein

cc: Madeleine K. Albright
U.S. Secretary of State