PART I – “Out of the shadows of Slobodan Milošević towards reconciliation and forgiveness between Serbia and Kosovo”
PART II – “Assessment of HLC’s comparison of sources regarding war victims in Kosovo 1998-99”
OUT OF THE SHADOWS OF SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC TOWARDS RECONCILIATION AND FORGIVENESS BETWEEN SERBIA AND KOSOVO
- “Dobar dan”, welcome to this presentation about the truth and finding of the truth regarding the events in Kosovo 1998-99 and about how to open up for reconciliation and peace between Serbia and Kosovo, as peace today is absent.
- Those who represent the media are especially welcome, as it is this so-called fourth state power’s job to assess and look after the three other state authorities or powers; namely the legislative, the executive and judicial powers and make sure that they are doing their job according to national and international laws. The welcome is extended to our viewers following us on Web TV.
- What I am about to tell you, probably will not be easy to hear. However, as an eyewitness, I feel an obligation to disclose the information that should have been done by the governments in Serbia and Kosovo, but they failed to do so.
- The title of the first part of my lecture is “Out of the shadows of Slobodan Milošević towards reconciliation and forgiveness between Serbia and Kosovo”, while the title of part two is “HLC’s comparison of sources regarding war victims in Kosovo 1998-99“.
- My name is Josef Martinsen I am a Norwegian, 75 years old. My education and background are both from the Military – the Army where I served for 17 years and from the civil society where I served for 38 years.
- I had my last military job abroad in South Lebanon assigned by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as Company Commander at the Norwegian Battalion and as project leader for redeployment of our Battalion.
- After the military, my first employment was at a paper and graphic industry company as operational manager for over 6 years, then as independent consultant for 3 years related to logistics and operational systems for private banks. After that, I ended up in the Central Bank of Norway for a total of 10 years. I retired early (57 years) after holding a position of Assistant Head of Division at the Central Bank of Norway.
The Kosovo war victim case – the documentation
- In the summer of 1999, after being a retiree for one year, the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hired me as a coordinator for an emergency program in Kosovo called “Removal of human bodies from wells” which lasted from July 99 until March 2000.
- Based on the experiences from my work for the UNHCR and the NCA I wrote a book called “Dødsbrønnene i Kosovo”, in English “Kosovo: The wells of Death” published in 2005 by Sypress Publishing House in Norway and subsequently a year later the book was also published in Albanian, English and Serbian languages in Priština.
- From the summer of 2006 until 2010, based on a private initiative, I was researching the issue of 400 mass graves reported by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to the UN Security Council in November 1999.
- The result of my research became my second book, “What happened in Kosovo 1998-99 – A Documentation”, also published by Sypress Publishing House, Norway in October 2010.
- A year later a Norwegian film production company, Aminda Production released a documentary film called “The Process after a War” based on my two books.
These two books and the documentary film can be downloaded free of charge from www.kosovotrilogy.com (English, Serbian and Albanian edition).
The way forward for Serbia and Kosovo
- After sixteen years on the Balkans, I have experienced the results of hostility and wars, and what that can bring about for ordinary people, who always turn out to be the ones bearing the burdens.
There is a saying in English – “WAR IS HELL”, and hell it was on the Balkans, i.e. Yugoslavia, for ten years fellow citizens, even families and neighbors, fought against each other. The civil society totally broke down. Let me briefly show you an example with a picture from a main Norwegian newspaper (VG) from October last year. The article is in connection with the publishing of a book titled “Once brothers” by Vlade Divac. The picture dates back to August 1990 depicting two basketball players, Vlade Divac (left) and Dražen Petrović, who were both members of the Yugoslavian basketball team that beat the Soviet Union and became world champions in 1990. These two players turned from friends to enemies.
- I have also experienced how all people – regardless of ethnic groups – can live together peacefully and in harmony away from destructive political shadows.
- The political structures that people often put in power by elections can unfortunately backlash on the same people who elected them in the first place. In my opinion, this is exactly what happened in the former Yugoslavia and particularly in Serbia.
- Apart from those invited and present, this lecture is particularly addressed to the younger generation who has been deprived of the complete story of the events that took place in Kosovo, especially in 1998-99.
- As of Oct. 2013, I have been partly living in Serbia and in Norway.
I set up a web page in 2014 titled www.truth-commission.com (English, Serbian and Albanian edition) with the intent to promote truth finding and a process for reconciliation and forgiveness between Serbia and Kosovo.
- On 29 January 2015, I did a presentation of my documentation for the media and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) here at Medija Centar, Beograd.
- My lecture this time will deal with three elements that I think are of vital importance and essential for bringing peace to people in Serbia and Kosovo. I am doing this because I love the Balkans and the people living here, after 16 years in the area I consider it my second home.
- In my opinion, these three elements can pave a way out of the stalemate that has crippled relations between Serbians and Kosovo Albanians for so long.
The elements are as follow:
- The first element
the families of the victims of the war still missing, 1669 people altogether.
- The second element
the perpetrators and witnesses of war crimes committed in Kosovo and their situation today. They were ordered by their political and military leaders at the time to execute actions that led to war crimes against Albanian civilians.
- The third element
the younger generation in both Serbia and Kosovo, and their chance to choose a new path leading forwards, away from former hostility that was – in my opinion – based on myths that went centuries back in time.
- Solving the first element is, as I see it, the key for building normal future relations between Serbians and Kosovo Albanians.
- It is tragic that the families concerned are still waiting for an answer regarding the fate of their loved ones. This can be solved by cooperation and interaction.
- The second element involves the perpetrators of war crimes and witnesses to war crimes during 1998-99.
The Milošević-regime used a sinister method when it came to the cover-up of criminal acts like the random killing of civilians, in order to create a state of terror. Political and military leaders ordered these actions.
- The method consisted of moving dead bodies from the crime scenes to different locations, often far from the crime scenes, in order to hide evidence. The Milošević-regime was behind these actions, especially in 1998-99, that tainted and branded Milošević’s reign in Kosovo as aggressive and criminal.
- The credibility of these assumptions was proved by the court verdicts from ICTY in 2009 and testimonies made before the same court.
- When Milošević realized that he would have to leave Kosovo, he ordered the mass graves inside Kosovo to be reopened, see maps:
- The corpses, dead Albanian civilians, from reopened graves were loaded onto big trucks and transported to several places in Serbia; the corpses were dropped in new mass graves. The reason for these operations was to conceal evidence, since without corpses there is no evidence of war crimes.
- The second element is linked to the first element.
The perpetrators of numerous war crimes and witnesses to these war crimes are living in Serbia and Kosovo today.
- They are suffering psychologically and physically from the activities they were ordered to participate in without their consent.
- The military was compulsory for most soldiers and with a state of emergency declared by President Milošević all units within the police and the Special Forces were mounted. The possibility of choice did not exist and those who did not follow orders were regarded as deserters and traitors, thus subjected to harsh punishment, even execution.
- In 1989, I think Milošević must have had a mental breakdown or very bad advisors when he initiated the revoking of the autonomous status that Kosovo had been enjoying since 1974. This in turn sped up an ongoing process inside Kosovo among the Albanian population aiming for the status of a republic, equal with the six other republics in Yugoslavia.
- The population in Kosovo at the time consisted of approximately 80 percent Albanians and 20 percent Serbians, Roma and other ethnic groups, which indicated that the Serbian dominance in Kosovo was no longer desirable, especially after Milošević withdrew Kosovo’s autonomous status in Yugoslavia.
- The Albanian population started civil nonviolent disobedience actions that lasted for eight years (1990/1997) towards the harsh and hard-handed Serbian rule in Kosovo. The Albanians established a parallel civil administration with focus on education and health care.
- I mention these historical facts since they have been suppressed under Milošević’s regime and not much has been done after his reign to enlighten and inform the younger generation about crucial historical events.
- However, there have been a few people in Serbia from the early 1990s, who acted as “whistleblowers”, and took a stand and confronted the Milošević-regime concerning its policies and the atrocities committed. Some of these people were the following:
- Mirko Kovač (1938-2013), a Yugoslavian author who wrote a critical article regarding Milošević’ politics in the magazine “Srpska reč” in May 1992. You will find this article in my second book.
- Nataša Kandić (1946 – ), a human rights activist, founder and former executive director of the Humanitarian Law Centre from 1992 in Belgrade.
- Sonja Biserko (1948 – ) a former Yugoslavian diplomat for over 20 years, human rights activist from 1991 after resigning from her position as a diplomat at United Nations in Geneva due to Milošević’s policies.
- Svetlana Đorđević (1958 – ) a former taxi driver in Kosovo Polje, Kosovo between 1995-1999. Based on her diaries she wrote a booked called “Svedočanstvo o Kosovu” (2003) ISBN 86-8299-43-0 (Testimony about Kosovo), which was translated into Norwegian under the name “Hell mountain” (2008). Following the book’s publication in Serbia and an interview on B92 she experienced massive harassment also by Serbian police, which in turn made her to seek asylum in Norway in 2004.
- All these people made a substantial contribution towards enlightening the public but they were branded as traitors. They have not been recognized to this day. In my opinion, their work regarding the documentation and political awakening for over 20 years should be part of the curriculum in schools.
- One thing that strikes me when I look at this list of names is that women are well represented; they have demonstrated a high degree of civil courage in a turbulent time.
- After the war, there was no place to turn to for perpetrators and witnesses with psychological and physical problems related to the illegal and criminal actions they were ordered to participate in. The Initiative Truth Commission Serbia Kosovo will help find a place for these people with their need for help.
- The Initiative will also look for information about the still missing victims of the war in Kosovo. Both perpetrators and witnesses are welcome to share their knowledge about mass graves (containing 1669 persons) still not found.
- In order to solve the first element, we need help to find out where these dead bodies are still concealed.
Perpetrators or witnesses who know where the victims are buried are kindly asked to contact us by using the web page www.truth-commission.com
- There are people in Serbia who have recently been interviewed by a newspaper about mass graves that are already known.
An article about these graves was written by Marija Ristic, 23 April 2015 in BIRN publication.
- The third element is the younger generation in Serbia and Kosovo, who have been suffering due to unstable political conditions over the years. Normal possibilities to choose freely their future ways of life, such as working conditions or educational opportunities home or abroad have been almost nonexistent.
- In the former Yugoslavia, you could travel freely with a Yugoslavian passport; a well-functioning demand and supply existed related to work and education possibilities all over Western Europe.
- From the late nineteen-eighties and particularly after 1989 this possibility vanished, the political system under Milošević’s 15-year reign brought misery and hardship upon the people in general and especially the younger generation.
- After 1999 the political leaders in Serbia and Kosovo did not manage to find a mutual political path focusing on the future instead of the past. This situation prevented the youth from breaking the evil circle of a political “tit for tat” game that has lasted way too long.
- The younger generation in both Serbia and Kosovo now has a unique chance to change the political direction. Such a chance does not come often.
- The task for the youth is to break the current evil circle of the political “eye for an eye” game by informing their fathers and grandfathers about the need to acknowledge and recognize the facts on the ground so that damaged internal and mutual affairs can be restored.
- The youth today can achieve what their forefathers failed to accomplish, namely to create an environment for talks on all levels without being afraid of the man next door, who might turn on them in retaliation just because they happen to have a different view on the issues at hand.
- It is necessary to point out which issues are the obstacles for providing a better environment for reconciliation and truth seeking. The number one issue is finding the missing bodies of 1669 civilians.
- The youth can help persuade the older generation to open up regarding the whereabouts of the missing remains of victims of war crimes.
- An openness on both sides concerning the issue at hand can lead towards an environment where reconciliation can flourish.
- A good example of this is Fadil Muqolli, from the village of Old Poklek, who lost his whole family – wife, children, mother, father and siblings – fourteen in all. They were massacred among fifty-two people killed and burned in a single house.
- In an interview, Fadil told me that he was willing to forgive the perpetrators providing that the Serbian authorities recognized and acknowledged the atrocities committed by their forces.
- The region, he said, would never recover psychologically unless the governments involved understood the necessity of acknowledgement. Germany recognized and acknowledged the Nazi’s atrocities during World War II and that paved the way for normalization and a fantastic buildup of Germany and her neighbors.
- A general transformation of attitude among the population is much needed on the Balkans when it comes to other ethnic groups then their own. This can only be achieved by a massive engagement in the school system from kindergarten all the way to high school and universities. The focus needs to be put on correct contemporary history reflecting facts on the ground that all parties agree on.
- Facts on the ground documented by court decisions should prevail.
ASSESSMENT OF HLC’S COMPARISON OF SOURCES REGARDING WAR VICTIMS IN KOSOVO 1998-99.
Part two of my lecture, which is called “comparison of sources”, is tied to a section of the Humanitarian Law Centre’s presentation of Expert Evaluation regarding the Kosovo Memory Book and four other documentarists, myself included, dealing with the same subject, namely victims of the war in Kosovo 1998-99.
“The Kosovo Trilogy 1998-99” is my documentation of what happened in Kosovo based on my research and international documentation in the aftermath of Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo in mid-June 1999.
The most significant and probably the most horrible of what happened in Kosovo 1998-99 is the planned killing of thousands of innocent civilian Albanian women, children and men found in approximately 400 mass graves scattered around Kosovo and Serbia.
These mass graves have been my focus from the autumn of 2006, since they had been forgotten first and foremost by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), then by other NGOs operating in Kosovo, and last but not least, by the local government in Kosovo.
Dr. Patrick Ball PhD, Executive Director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and Professor Michael Spagat, Head of Economics Department at Royal Holloway, University of London supported the presentation of the HCL and Nataša Kandić.
Dr. Patrick Ball made an important statement concerning documentations and methods used to collect or find data after warlike events.
The documentation based on compiling information – my method – from existing sources, i.e. the use of, for example, data collected by international organizations versus HLC’s method of documenting statements made by witnesses and victims’ family members, is normally regarded as equally reliable statistically.
HLC’S COMPARISON OF SOURCES:
Before going into detail concerning this comparison, I think it is worth mentioning that when I first came to Belgrade in October 2013 I visited HLC and Nataša Kandić and presented my two books and the documentary film.
After the presentation and handing over my two books and the DVD as a gift, I suggested that we could meet again and find ways to cooperate since both HLC and I were looking for the truth about the events in Kosovo. I was told to make contact the following week, but HLC did not respond to my approach later on.
Now over to the table that shows the comparison in detail:
See fig. 1 & 2
The four left side columns present the analysis of HLC’s documentation and the two columns on the right, with the text in green, present the findings of the four other documentarists. It is obvious that the documentations of the latter have 3.190 more names of victims than the KMB.
The left one of the two columns shows the following sources:
- Jusuf Osmani, his documentation is called “Serbian crimes in Kosovo 1998-99”.
Jusuf Osmani is a former director for the entity called “Archives Kosovo”. I do not know much detail concerning his documentation and his sources.
- LDK is the abbreviation for the political party “Democratic League of Kosovo”. I do not know anything concerning their documentation and their sources.
- Josef Martinsen, author of “Kosovo: The wells of Death”, “What Happened in Kosovo 1998-99 – A Documentation”.
Initiator and contributor to the documentary film “The Process after a War” by Evald Otterstad, Aminda Productions, Norway.
- KMDLNJ is the abbreviation for the “Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, Kosovo”. This organization has branches all over Kosovo and should thus be in position to know the most about civilian victims of the war and other things that occurred during 1998-99.
The right table shows a detailed list with the exact number of people, but without names. These people do not appear in the Kosovo Memory Book Database:
- 488 people found alive – no doc. of names
- 151 people found having a natural death – no doc. of names
- 184 people found having death not related to war – no doc. of names
- 715 people unknown – no doc of names
- 581 war victim – no doc of names
- 1.071 people being checked – no doc of names
What strikes me the most when I see this particular list is the lack of names, especially when I compare how accurate or precise the HLC usually is when they publish documents of their findings or their statements.
This time the HLC has failed to document the verifiable personal data of civilian victims mentioned by the other documentarists, even though they publicly claim that they are inaccurate.
This publication was published without prior consultation with the other documentarians, myself included.
In the present difficult state of affairs between Serbia and Kosovo all parties involved should do their best to find the truth and present it in an open and friendly atmosphere – we need transparency, not hidden agendas.
I myself made a request to HLC-Kosovo and asked for the names of those 3.190 persons presumably wrongly listed. I wanted to correct my documentation if any mistakes appeared in it.
However, they could not come up with a list of names.
After some exchanged e-mails, I received the names of 9 persons. Five of these people were still alive and 4 names were double listed or wrongly spelled. My documentation contains 10.592 names collected from international sources.
If these 9 names are all that is related to my documentation, I question the way the HLC has handled this case. Was the purpose to enlighten the public or was it to put a bad spotlight on the documentation of other people or groups?
Let’s look into the numbers of victims that HLC documented and how they present the numbers of victims.
The Kosovo Memory Book contains the names of 14.263 persons – a mixture of civilian, police, special police, and military, paramilitary and civilian militia victims of Serbian, Albanian and Roma ancestry.
In the lower part of the picture, I have included a handwritten calculation that reflects the text and numbers in the upper part of the picture.
In my opinion, this mixture of war victims conceal the fact that at least 9.002 innocent Kosovo Albanian children, women and men were deliberately murdered in the period between 1 January 1998 and 20 June 1999, whose bodies were found in 400 mass graves.
MY ASSESSMENT OF THE KOSOVO MEMORY BOOK
The special structure of the presentation strikes me when I study it closely because approximately 82% of the civilian victims, 9.002 persons listed as war victims are actually war crime victims, i.e. civilian Albanian children, women and men found in around 400 mass graves all over Kosovo and Serbia.
Of the 1.436 (13%) listed Serbian civilians, I would guess, approximately 700 are civilian combatants (police, special police, paramilitary, civilian militia). The facts around this issue will be up the historians to find.
Of the 3.097 listed military war victims (Serbians, Roma and Albanians) 2.059 are Albanians.
This mix of victims draws a veil over the fact that the vast majority of the victims are war crime fatalities and should be presented as such. This significant fact shouldn’t be camouflaged. I would advise the Humanitarian Law Centre to change their presentation and to present war crime victims as a separate group, a distinction that these victims, in my opinion, deserve.
My personal thoughts at the end of this lecture
Let there be no doubt about the fact that the murdering of more than 9.000 innocent civilian Albanians during 1998-99 and the ruthless expulsion of more than half of the Albanian population in the winter and spring of 1998-99 did happen and I cannot find any justification for these actions. The time has come for recognition and acknowledgement.
Questions and Answers
|Predrag Miletić: “If it’s easier for you I can do it in English.”
Josef Martinsen: “Yes, of course. Can you say your name?”
Predrag Miletić: “Yes, of course. My name is Predrag Miletić and I come from the HLC. I came especialy to your presentation, and I was also on your presentation last year.
|I must not say, but I highly admire your work and all that you are doing and your passion for all that you are doing here in Balkans. As you said, this is your second home.|
|I would like to say something regarding your remarks on HLC and the last years presentations and everything you said. First of all, Kosovo Memory Book is now available, the list is available on our website.|
|Our only intention with all the other names of four other documentarists that you mentioned was to compare our list with other four lists. We didn’t have any bad intentions.|
|We just wanted to check if we slipped any name. All the names that are not in the Kosovo Memory Book are the names that we still didn’t check.|
|We didn’t publish all the names of those 3190 persons that you were mentioning that we put in other register because there is always possibility that some of these names could appear as a war victim, because our research is still ongoing. We are supported for another two years for this research, and we are now doing the checking of all the names that we aren’t sure. There is one observation about what happened in KMB. I think that is a great book and a great effort to make the list of all the names of the victims in Kosovo.|
|But there are some categories of victims that were listed as closed because there was no available information on this person’s status, or they were closed for some other reason (found alive, etc.). We didn’t close any case as “not victim” before we tried to research and check it in the field. All the four documentarists you’ve mentioned didn’t have possibility to check every name you were publishing. You just made a compilation but we have researchers in the field and we are trying to check every name and to determine the person’s status. There is also the problem of methodology. All the four methodologies of all the four sources are different, your methodology and our methodology, that’s the reason why there are some differences between our four lists.|
|I must say again that from book that you have compiled “What happened in Kosovo?” we succeeded to confirm around 10 or 15 names that we didn’t have before.|
|Without your book and without the list you’ve compiled we might never succeed in collecting all those names. Even if there was only one name that we succeeded to confirm upon your book it’s a big success for all.|
|It’s just the way our project was going. We also started from the zero. We had some documentation from before, but also trying to collect from as many sources as we could, as you saw on the last years presentation.|
|I must also say just one more thing and I will finish. There is another guy from Norway, his name is Kristian Kahrs and he is very malicious.|
|I have to say that he was very malicious in his attempts to say that your book was a falsification and I think it is very bad what he was saying. We do not agree with him.|
|His text on your work was for me very, very bad and I don’t agree with his observations of your book because you say in one part of your book that you have a date of killing or the date of exhumation, if the date of killing was not available. If he read that, he would know that, but he didn’t read obviously. He was trying to say that you have more names in year 2000, but those were exhumations not killings.|
|We don’t stand on his observations and I regret on his texts on your work and I highly admire what you are doing. It was just a comment, not a question but thank you once again.”|
|Josef Martinsen: “Thank you for your remarks. I will first say that I regard the work that Natasa Kandic had done during twenty years as very highly.|
|She has done a remarkable job in finding out what’s happened during all the four wars in the Balkans, the last one she took on was Kosovo.|
|So, I have no hard feelings for Natasa Kandic. The only thing we reacted on and that was used by people who didn’t like my work and maybe not your work either,|
|They used this as an excuse to say that we falsificate names. It is good that you mentioned that. We will have it in mind.|
|But I must say that still I don’t understand why you put up those four other documentarists and you named those 3190. People had to assume that there was something mysterious or something wrong here, maybe they try to falsificate things. So you see, that is the reason why I reacted as I did.|
|Ok, other questions? If not, you can have coffee and you can look at the things that I have laid out there, There is a copy of my lecture in English and Serbian, so if you want it you can take a copy.|
|Thank you so much for your attention.”|