Kosovo remembers Dubrava prison massacre

slobodan M[ ... prisoners were told to line up on the sports field ... police started firing from the guard tower and the jail walls, using hand grenades, bazookas and automatic weapons ... about 20 officers opened fire ... total chaos with prisoners falling down all over the place. It all stopped some 20 minutes later, allegedly for the guards to reload ... ] — ISTOG, PRISTINA, Kosovo — The last Sunday was used by parts of the Kosovo-Albanian population to remember the 12th year of the Dubrava prision massacre in Kosovo. On 22nd. May 1999 reportedly 160 mainly Kosovo-Albanian political prisoners were murdered by Serbian paramilitary forces, police and military. Another 300 prisoners were wounded. 

Several survivors as well as representatives of the Kosovo government and  from different political parties gathered on the compounds of the Dubrava Prison nearby the Kosovar municipality of Istog, in order to honor the victims with a ‘moment of silence': The Kosovo parliament member (MP) and former Dubrava prisoner Nait Hasani stated, that "… we were called to this place, surrounded by a crowd of guards – and then the hunting started … they fired from three sides with grenades and machine guns … you saw nothing than flames, fire and blood …".

Another former Dubrava prisoner, MP Uke Thaci, is convinced, that the Dubrava killings were an "organized massacre through prison staff, police and army … it was a Serbian state planning …, because Serbian police and army were located within the prison facilities."  Further wisdoms told directly to NK to had been forced to stay at the prison yard like "living shields" during the NATO bombing. Others claim to have remained locked in the cells, while the Serbian guards left the attacked compound without securing the lives of the prisoners. One former Dubrava prisoner reported to have secured his live in the last moment by protecting himself behind a metal door from a hand grenade thrown by a uniformed Serb.

Encouraged by MP Hasani and MP Thaci, the parliament of Kosovo held a debate on the Dubrava massacre, whereas Kosovo-Serbian MPs left or stayed absent. During the parliament session the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) was approached with the request to support investigations on the incidents in Dubrava: Kosovo Justice Minister just recently announced the establishment of a Kosovo war crimes institute – but due to Kosovo’s still unreached UN membership, it formally can’t file charges at the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The reason for the NATO bombing of the Dubrava prison is said to be caused by its additional function as a base for Serbian paramilitary units. Without admitting the presence of paramilitary forces, Serbian supporters of Milosevic repeatedly claim, the killings were caused by both the NATO attack on Dubrava as well as an uprising of prisoners.  

With the NATO intervention ended a (at least) decades long ruling of a racist apartheid regime of Serbia in Kosovo. Particularly under the Milosevic presidency of Serbia respectively Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians faced a strong suppression, starting from the annulment of Kosovo’s autonomy status within Serbia and Yugoslavia in 1989:

Almost all workers of public enterprises (the main economic sector) were fired from their workplaces and the connected social and health care systems. Teachers and Professors of Albanian ethnicity were pushed out of Schools and Universities (and all cultural institutions), and – against the Yugoslav constitution – Albanian curricula were deleted and teaching in Albanian language was forbidden. Comprising about 90 percent of the Kosovar population Kosovo Albanians were forced to live in a parallel world and feel like foreigners in their own country.

Recently published figures of victims data by The Hague Tribunal reveal that only in the short time from March to June 1999 as many as 10,356 ethnic Albanians were killed in Kosovo. These figures in addition refer to a departure of at least 700,000 Kosovo Albanians from Kosovo in the same time. Further two thousand persons are still missing. 

"… the survivors sheltering in the remnants of the prison were hiding in the cellar of the kitchen and the sewers. The following morning … new soldiers or paramilitary units came to the jail, opened the drains and threw in hand grenades …"

KON / NK

This article was first published on Technorati – Politics

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