7Truth in Media Activism: Letters to Editors

Nov. 3, 2000

To the New York Times...

A Hell Hole Called Kosovo: Get Us Outta Here!

Re. Progress in Kosovo," a Nov. 2, 2000 Editorial



November 3, 2000

Letters Editor

The New York Times

New York, NY

Subject: A letter to the editor re. “Progress in Kosovo” - your Nov. 2, 2000 editorial

Dear Sir,

In your Nov. 2 editorial, “Progress in Kosovo,” you’re lauding this weekend’s municipal elections in this Serbian province even though they were labeled as illegal by everyone with even a smattering of common sense.  Which includes the new Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, about whom you’ve also written flattering comments. 

And no wonder.  How can any municipal elections be legal when more than 200,000 Serb voters, who were forcibly expelled from their homes by the Kosovo Albanians under the NATO troops’ noses, could not and did not participate?  And when many non-Kosovo resident Albanians did?

Furthermore, your editorial makes an enormous leap of faith by stating that “Kosovo is generally a less violent place than it was last year.”  Except for the 79-day period last year when NATO was causing most of the violence by raining bombs and missiles on Kosovo, such a comment is pure hogwash.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read the enclosed excerpts from a recent report by Mark Ames, an American journalist who has just spent six weeks in Kosovo. 

I’ve had to edit out some of the profanities that were a part of Mr. Ames’ original text.  But for those of readers who are not squeamish about stuff like that, I do provide a link at the end to the article in its original form:


[…] “They call Mitrovica the Berlin of the 21st century. It is divided not so much in half as in eighths. On the south side of the filthy Ibar River, 130,000 Albanians control a near-perfectly ethnically cleansed area; on the North, about 18,000 Serbs, 2,000 Albanians, and another 1,000 gypsies, Turks, Gorani and Bosniaks (the latter two Slavic Muslim people) co-exist uneasily. Only about five or ten Serbs remain on the south Albanian side, half of them priests holed up in a monastery, protected by barbed wire, trip wires, tanks and troops. That’s 5-10 Serbs in a population of 130,000 Albanians.

That’s all they’ll tolerate; or rather, that’s all that KFOR can manage to protect. South Mitrovica used to have a massive gypsy quarter, at least 7,000 of them. If you walk up to the miners’ monument on the high hill on the north Serb side, you can look down and see what happened to Mitrovica ’s gypsies: an entire section of south Mitrovica, along the south bank of the river, of burned-out white houses, charred white, roofless, blackened beams like burnt ribs. Every last gypsy who wasn’t capped or torched had to flee the Albanian pogrom, right under NATO’s nose. Some live here in North Mitrovica. Others live in Serb-held Zvecan, most in tents. The remainder are scattered around Serbia.

It’s stories like this that not only muddy the once-simplistic moral mathematics of Kosovo fed to us by the Western media; in fact, the accumulation of similar tales turns peoples’ stomachs inside out, their sympathies upside down. You may have read about how members of the United States’ 82nd Airborne have been running amok in their sector, brutalizing the local Albanian population. What you probably haven’t read is the reason why: the soldiers couldn’t take the lawlessness, and the attacks on the totally defenseless local Serbs, and it drove them mad. Literally.

 The internationals working here for the UN administration, for the OSCE, for NGOs and news organizations, are the most demoralized, cynical group of people this side of the Moscow Times headquarters. Most came in hating the Serbs, and found themselves soon hating the Albanians at least as much, and now are just trying to save their sanity and get out of this hellhole before they’re dragged down with it.

 “We call the Albanians ‘rats’ and ‘cockroaches,’” one top UNMIK official told me. “If they gave guns to the internationals here, there’d be another genocide. Much bigger than what the Serbs did. Much worse.”

 His girlfriend, who works for the OSCE here, nodded her head and rolled her eyes, eagerly agreeing. “All the Albanians do is complain. They have no culture, they hate us, they have no respect for us at all. They leave garbage everywhere, they treat women like shit.”

 It’s a snotty complaint you hear over and over. The internationals are now just as snotty and racist as the Serbs were, but they lacked the historical basis for it. Like most of the UNMIK people here I know, they had desperately signed up to be transferred to East Timor.

 The growing tension between the internationals and Albanians isn’t all one-sided. On the contrary, the Albanians are clearly sick and tired of the internationals. Little of the money and reconstruction promised has come through. The UNMIK administrators are for the most part arrogant dropouts and half-assed middlebrows who couldn’t or didn’t want to land respectable office jobs back home, and now find themselves running entire municipalities, with budgets that never materialize, restless populations, and a totally out-of-control mafia, the KLA, running a far more powerful, parallel structure in every village, town and city south of the Ibar river.

 The KLA took power just as NATO moved in some 17 months ago. You can take your pick as to the reason why the KLA was allowed to take over the towns, in spite of all the evidence that they were and are a vicious Mafia/terrorist group: either NATO had no clue what to do and couldn’t stop them, or else NATO was returning the favor for KLA help on the ground during the bombing last year. The fact is that NATO would have had to go to war with the KLA to stop them, and everyone here knows that priority #1 here is “Don’t piss off the KLA.” The consequences would be a rapid undoing of the Western presence, a complete collapse, and bloodshed. That would mean pulling out of Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. military base that built since 1968, complete with a Burger King. No f…* way will we ever give up a Burger King, not on behalf of saving some Serbs or Albanians at least. […]

 The KLA’s parallel power structure was formalized at the end of last year when the UN set up its euphemistic “Joint Interim Administration Structure.” Under the JIAS, the UN “appointed” an “advisory” council of local political leaders to consult with and implement the running of each municipality, alongside the UN. A disillusioned OSCE worker showed me a list of the JIAS council running the southwestern city of Prizren: nearly all were members of the KLA’s political party, the PDK. There was one token member from another Albanian political party, one token Muslim Slav, and one token Turk.

 No Serb bothered participating, as it would give legitimacy to the KLA’s takeover and subsequent ethnic cleansing. Of Prizren’s pre-war population of nearly 11,000 Serbs, only about 200 remain, protected round-the-clock, like some endangered species.

 In the few days I spent in Prizren, I met two internationals (both women, both from English-speaking countries) who were under death threat from KLA-tied structures. One, a middle-aged woman, is supposed to wear a helmet and flak jacket at all times; she has a bodyguard on constant call. The day before I arrived for a piece I was going to write on the German occupation force (“Life Under the New, Improved Einsatzgruppen”), the KLA had set off a car bomb in Dragash, a Muslim Slav enclave outside of Prizren. The car bomb went off one house away from an American working for the OSCE, and in front of the house of an OSCE interpreter. The same day, a bomb had gone off just a couple hundred meters away from the UNMIK police headquarters in Prizren.

 When German soldiers arrived on the scene to investigate, two more bombs went off. It’s the oldest terrorist trap in the book, lure ‘em in and bomb ‘em all, although this was clearly a warning: none of the German soldiers suffered bodily injury, although four were hospitalized for shock.

 A few days later, the local leader of the PDK party (the KLA’s political arm) was arrested for planting the bombs. Although he’s in jail (along with another local PDK leader recently arrested for possession of illegal armaments), he’s still allowed to run in this Saturday’s municipal elections. As are all the suspected and/or convicted KLA dons. […]

 Nor will the OSCE likely rebel. Here I’ll quote from their own recently released report on the upcoming Kosovo municipal election campaign violations, including their laughable slap-on-the-wrist punishments, which the OSCE is empowered to do, against the PDK/KLA:

 “ECAC Case No. ME 2000/098 – Violence by PDK Supporters: On 21 September 2000, a group of supporters of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) attacked the Lipjan/Lipljan offices of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and officials who were present. The ECAC found PDK Lipjan/Lipljan to have violated Electoral Rule 2000/1 and fines the party branch 2,000 DEM. […]

 In the matter of written death threats received by nine members of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) in Kamenica/Kosovska Kamenica, the ECAC was unable to establish that the violation that took place was committed by a political entity or its supporters. The ECAC decided that sufficient evidence had not been produced and dismissed the complaint.”

 I love that last one. Some SUV-driving Eurofag telling nine terrified Albanians, “Nope, you didn’t get a death threat from the KLA. You’re just imagining it.” […]

 Yeah, this is a lovely f… place. Trash everywhere. Trash literally everywhere, in every ravine, gully, roadside, in rivers, streams, besides schoolyards…. Albanian leaders are trying to educate their people about the evils of trash, but they’ve got a long way to go. The entire south side is dusty, filthy, polluted. Power cuts and water cuts are frequent. The Serbs in North Mitrovica view foreigners, particularly Americans and particularly American journalists, as hostile at best, spies more likely.

 I’m the only American journalist living here. Every time I cross the Ibar River bridge, I feel like someone’s taped a sign on my back, “Shoot Me!” I feel like the world’s biggest idiot. As for the Albanians, their clannish culture means that you can never get too close to them, and you cannot even think of dating their women. The Albanians tolerate us, the Serbs are waiting for their turn.

 The province is filthy, ugly, completely polluted by NATO ordinance, run by half-wits and thugs, soaked in blood and doomed to be the permanent asshole of Europe, a stain on the Balkans. I can’t wait to get the f… out.

 It’s incredible to me that so much blood and so much bile could be spilled over such a pile of shit that passes for a province. But Europeans are like this, they’re weird, no, insane when it comes to land. It’s so grotesque that it’s almost comical…”

 For the full article in its uncensored edition, check out THE EXILE (Issue #21/102, Oct 26 - Nov 9, 2000) - http://www.exile.ru/ames/ames102.html. And then perhaps rewrite your editorial so that a smattering of common sense and truth about Kosovo makes an appearance in it?  Suggested title: “A Hell Hole Called Kosovo: Get Us Outta Here!”

 Best regards,

Bob Djurdjevic, Founder, Truth in Media, Phoenix, Arizona

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Also, check out... TiM Letter to Mclean's Magazine, CIA and KLA Ties, His Disgrace, Artemije, How Gen. Clark Misled the World, Death on the Danube, Reverse Fascism, Racism of the New World OrderDeath of the City, Cavorting with the Enemy (Albright), Toward a New Multipolar World in the New Millennium, Stitching Together the New World Order Flag

Or Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns: "Chinese Dragon Wagging Macedonian Tail,"  "An Ugly Double Standard in Kosovo Conflict?", "NATO's Bullyboys", "Kosovo: Why Are We Involved?", and "Ginning Up Another Crisis"

Or Djurdjevic's NEW DAWN magazine columns: "Washington's Crisis Factory,"  and "A New Iron Curtain Over Europe"