War's End Reveals Serb Atrocities
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 15, 1999 Fear, trauma, terror. A knock on the door. Get out or die. A bullet to the back of the head. Execution. Rape. People's homes, businesses -- even their identities -- torn asunder.
The human tragedy that has been Kosovo during the last two years is now being revealed in horrific detail.
British officials estimate 10,000 people died in the ethnic cleansing that swept the southern Serbian province. More than 100 suspected mass graves bear witness to the brutal deaths of men, women and children of all ages, they said.
Kosovar Albanian refugees have reported that mass executions occurred in at least 85 Kosovar towns and villages, according to U.S. State Department officials. Mass graves reportedly exist in Dobrosevac, Drenica, Glogovac, Lipljan, Kaaniku, Malisevo, Poklek, Pusto Selo, Radavac, Rezala and the Pagarusa Valley. Refugees also reported that Serbs systematically raped women in Dakovica and in Pec.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four other leaders, Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic and Vlajko Stojiljkovic. They are charged with planning, instigating, ordering, committing or otherwise aiding and abetting a campaign of terror and violence directed at ethnic Albanian civilians living in Kosovo.
The State Department last month announced a $5 million reward offered by the United States for information leading to the arrest or conviction of these men and others indicted by the tribunal. Congress authorized the reward under the War Criminals Rewards Program for the Former Yugoslavia.
The horror in Kosovo is "a story that has not yet been fully told. When it is, people all over the world will understand why it was that America believed it had to take action," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said recently while visitingservice members engaged in supporting U.S. units serving with NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.
Milosevic took the world to the "heart of darkness," Cohen said. Each day since the war's end, new horrors have been exposed -- torture chambers, evidence of disfigurement, executions and mass graves, he noted.
"All of that is going to remind people why we were involved in the first place," the secretary said. "If there's anything that's come out of this mission in Kosovo, it's that we have seen the triumph over tyranny."
Milosevic was engaged in mass executions, the secretary said. "It doesn't take a lot of courage to take heavy armor and start pounding people who are unarmed," he said. "His idea of justice [was to put you] on your knees and put a bullet in the back of your head and dump you in a mass grave."
Cohen said the United States and its allies could not let Milosevic's brutality go unchecked. NATO launched Operation Allied Force to stop the killing and restore stability in the land where the Serb dictator had unleashed such ethnic hatred, he said.
We could not claim to be part of a civilized community, Cohen said, if we were willing to see a tyrant like Milosevic kill thousands of people because of their ethnicity. "So we stood up for what was right and we prevailed," he said.