Letters from witnesses
To my good friend Josef Martinsen
Testimonies regarding raped women in Kosovo during the war 1998-99
Hello Mr.Josef. I don’t know how to start to talk about those raped victims of the war that are tortured and forgotten by all, and they are not living, but surviving in difficult conditions.
Of those, 298 women have passed away, 11,800 women left Kosovo and 423 are registered as raped victims. In every single day or week a war raped victim died due to lack of financial condition to take care about their health by going to the doctor. I as a doctor had given the first aid to 786 raped victims that were raped in a brutal way. One of them was also FB that today has come on your behalf to ask about my opinion regarding the government. I have a negative opinion for this government because they ignore those raped victims by doing nothing. I have tried to have an appointment with Hashim Thaqi, Kadri Veseli ,Arban Abrashi but I could not. Even though I was hospitalized last year and I am presently recovering from health issues, I will continue to support and stay near my sisters, as I use to call them since 17 years ago, because nobody cared for them as I did. I would like to close this letter now hoping that someone from the society will help these women in these cold days of winter until the government does something for them.
Being a raped women in Kosovo is a very huge shame. We have never felt equal with other people Even though a lot of books were written by a lot of NGO-s, a lot of laws were passed, we have always seen people turning their fingers toward us even though what happened was against our will. The government doesn’t bother with us. They feel very comfortable in their luxury chairs and offices, because no one in their family had our destiny. Since the war, 17 years have passed, and I don’t know how many more years are needed to pass to make us feel equal, important in every part of life.
Fushe Kosova, Kosovo
Both Albanians and Serbs lived in the village of Vasilevë. 18 women were being raped here for three hours. The police took them and sent them to a gas station where Serb soldiers continued the atrocity and raped these women again. Their Commander was Radivoje Stajkovć from the village of Vasileve. I, Dr.Shukri Gerxhaliu gave first aid to these women.
Then, there was the violence in the village of Shipkovc where 7 women were brutally beaten and raped by the Serbian paramilitary forces. I kept these women hidden for 5 days in a house in a village called Doberllukë, where I also treated them. In 1999 incidents of large scale rapes were reported from every corner of Kosovo and there were raped victims in all of the villages of Vushtrri. I was the only doctor who provided first aid to the 786 raped women. The biggest incident of rape happened in Studime, where many Albanian women from various age groups were raped.
The village of Studime became a prison for beautiful Albanian women who were gathered here from other parts of Kosovo, for example Mitrovica, Skenderaj and Prishtina. On the 22nd of February 1999 these women were kept in the local school of Studime, where they were raped by the police, paramilitary and military forces. The women were kept there without food or drink – the only purpose of their being there was to undergo rape and brutality. This village saw 594 women being raped during the months of February-March 1999, 150 of whom jumped into wells not being able to carry their shame and as a result of torture and violence that the Serbs inflicted on them. Even now, 17 years after these atrocities, we still send flowers to these wells in remembrance of these heroines.
On the 3rd of March 72 more beautiful and young women were brought, F.B., F.C., R.Q., H.D., M.K., B.I., B.B., S.G., R.R. among them and a lot of other women who barely survived being raped non-stop for three days in a row. They had cuts on their faces and burns from cigarettes on their hands. These women suffered the most during these rapes because these actions were commanded by the great chetnik Zoran Pasić, a friend of Arkan. The most beautiful women were sent to him in Zveҫan, where the victims were critically wounded in the vagina and in the rectum, and there were also burns on their bodies and cuts on their faces. Some of them even had a shape of cross carved by knife in their vagina from the Serbian forces. I have testified about these women three times in EULEX and twice in the Hague. I even had pictures of these sexual victims and have spoken about them with every foreign person I met in Kosovo. Who can understand these women other than me? I have witnessed pain in their souls, the wounds in the heart and shame on their face. This shame hasn’t ceased in the past 17 years. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 raped females still alive. I provided health care for only 786 of them. There are many more in the mountain villages that dare not speak about what happened to them because they are afraid of the reaction of their families and friends. About 11.800 women fled the country during the war and they reported the atrocities to various associations in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania. Since the end of the war 298 women have already died in Kosovo due to the lack of care by the state and society. They didn’t even have money to feed their children, let alone their own medical expenses. The strength and courage of the still living 423 victims is commendable because they raise their voices about the violence and the horror that they went through even though no one is listening to them. However, even if the day comes for them to get a pension, they will have to go through much difficulty dealing with nine-member commissions. This, in my opinion, is insanity.