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Carl Savich | Columns | serbianna.com
Kosovo in the 1980s: Murders, Rapes, and Expulsions
By Carl Savich
July 27, 2007

I. Introduction: Ethnically Pure “Kosova”

To understand the Kosovo separatist conflict of 1998-1999, the background must be analyzed and examined. Did the Kosovo conflict emerge sui generis? What was the context and background of the conflict? To understand that, the decade before must be analyzed, the 1980s. Kosovo in the 1980s is where the conflict arose.

From 1981 to 1989, 20,000 Kosovo Serbs are estimated to have fled from Kosovo. There was a massive campaign to drive out the Kosovo Serb population through ethnic murders, rapes, attacks, beatings, desecrations of churches, cemeteries. From 1982 to 1984, 10 rapes were committed, while 11 attempted rapes were committed against Serbian women by Albanian men. In this period, 286 crimes were committed against Kosovo Serbs, while 1,249 misdemeanors were committed against Kosovo Serbs.

A Kosovo Albanian Muslim leader, Fadil Hoxha, incited Kosovo Albanians to rape Kosovo Serb women. Kosovo Albanian Muslims engaged in a systematic and planned policy or campaign to expel Kosovo Serb Christians from Kosovo.  This ethnically and religious motivated campaign of genocide against Kosovo Serbs has been largely suppressed and censored in the US and the West. Through the infowar technique of “emphasis”, these human rights abuses have been de-emphasized and buried and spin doctored away.

A systematic and planned campaign of ethnic and religious terror whose goal was genocide has been erased and deleted from the historical record. How was this done? What really happened in Kosovo during the 1980s that set the stage for the Kosovo conflict of 1998-1999? Do we know? Can we know?

II. Arson or Accident?: Pec Patriarchate Burned

On March 16, 1981, the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate was burned in Pec in Kosovo-Metohija. The fire had started on Sunday. Was it arson or an accident? Could a candle have started the blaze? Was the attack ethnically and religiously motivated, a hate crime meant to terrorize the Serbian Orthodox population and to drive them out of Kosovo?

Why is it important? The Pec Patriarchate had been the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the 13th century to the abolition of the Pec Patriarchate in 1766. The Pec Patriarchate was regarded as the spiritual center of the Serbian Orthodox and had been the seat of the Serbian Patriarchs since 1346.

The fire burned large areas of the monastery complex, a series of structures. It was started simultaneously in two separate locations. The konak, or residential living quarters, and religious artifacts were destroyed. The fire destroyed the winter church of the monastery complex.

In the period between 1960 and 1981, the Albanian separatists plundered and destroyed the Serbian monasteries of Devic and at Decani. Christian churches were targeted by Albanian Muslim separatists to destroy evidence of the Serbian cultural and religious presence in Kosovo.

Andras J. Riedlmayer, the director of the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard's Fine Arts Library, stated in his 2002 testimony at the Hague that he had heard of the 1981attack on the Pec Patriarchate but dismissed it as an accident: “That period was not part of our study, but yes, I've heard reports of that. I've also read that police at the time claimed that it---the fire at the konak---was accidental.”

The New York Times reported on the burning of the Pec Patriarchate in the story “Sacred Serbian Site Damaged by Blaze” by Marvine Howe:

Arson or Accident?: The Pec Patriarchate burned in 1981.

“Before daybreak on March 16, the Patriarchate of Pec, which had survived invasion and occupation by the Ottoman Turks, was heavily damaged by fire. A whole wing of the complex was demolished, including the living quarters of the Patriarch, the nun's refectory, a sick ward, a workshop …”

No one has ever been arrested or charged for the attack. No independent investigation has ever been conducted. The konak was rebuilt on October 16, 1983. The causes for the fire remain unknown. It becomes an epistemological game. Some “claim” or “allege” arson while Albanians “claim” an accident. What is the real story? It all depends on whom you ask. The answer is a function of self-interested motivations and concerns. Was it “arson” or was it an “accident”? Serbian sources “claim” it was purposely set on fire by Albanian Muslims in a terrorist attack to drive out the Kosovo Serb population. Albanian sources and their supporters in the US “claim” that it was an “accident”.

III. “We Want a Unified Albania”: The 1981 Riots

On April 3-4, 1981, ethnic Albanian demonstrations in Kosovo turned into an armed rebellion to create a Greater Albania. The demonstrations were motivated by separatism and secession. The rioters wanted union with Albania and expressed support for Albanian Communist dictator Enver Hoxha. The slogans the Albanians displayed during the riots were: “We are Albanians and not Yugoslavs”, “We are the children of Skanderbeg and the army of Enver Hoxha”, “We Want a Unified Albania”, and “Kosovo-Republic”. This is what the Yugoslav media reported. In the US and Western media accounts, the Albanian majority was supposedly seeking greater rights and freedoms. The ultra-nationalist placards were dismissed and spin-doctored or “air brushed” out of the picture.

There was never any secret what the objective was. Beginning with the demonstrations in 1968, Kosovo Albanians wanted the right to secede from Yugoslavia. They wanted to create an ethnically pure “Kosovo”, an ethnic Albanian statelet. In a Radio Free Europe report from December 3, 1969, this creeping secessionism was noted in the article “Cooperation between Tirana University and the new University of Prishtina”:

Kosovo Serbs flee en masse from Kosovo, June 20, 1986.

“With the establishment of the new University of Prishtina, the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo has chalked up another success in its quest for complete national equality. The founding of the university has been hailed in the province as a very important step for the future development of Kosovo. At the same time, Prishtina has announced that a substantial quantity of educational materials needed by the new university will be imported from Albania. Rilindja reports the signing of a 200 million dinar contract in Tirana for the supply of Albanian textbooks and other educational aids to Kosovo during 1970. This cooperation between Prishtina and Tirana could have a favorable effect on the development of relations between the two neighboring countries. In its quest for equality within the Yugoslav Federation, the predominantly-Albanian Autonomous Province of Kosovo has taken a new and important step with the founding of the University of Prishtina. This momentous event in the history of the province, an event which will have significant consequences for the future of the nationalities of Kosovo, took place on 19 November and was timed to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of ‘liberation’ of the provincial capital.”

The greater autonomy that was granted to Kosovo only resulted in greater aspirations for full independence from Serbia and Yugoslavia. The Communist Yugoslav regime created an atmosphere of rising expectations in Kosovo. The more the Serbs gave, the more the Albanians wanted, the more the Albanians took. It was an absurd and paradoxical cycle that was predictably going to lead to disaster.

The “Albanianization” of Kosovo continued during the 1970s and 1980s as ethnic Albanians took control over the political, economic, educational, and cultural aspects of Kosovo. From 1971 to 1981, Albania sent to Kosovo 240 university teachers, together with textbooks written in the Albanian or Shqip language. Albanians had the right to their own Assembly, to their own Executive Council, to their Presidency, to their own Supreme Court, to their own Constitutional Court, to their Ministry of the Interior, and their own University in Pristina. The “Albanianization” of the Kosovo police began after 1966.

Granting Kosovo greater autonomy only whetted the Albanian appetite to go for it all and create a Greater Albania, a “Kosova” statelet or “Republic”. The 1981 riots proved this and made it abundantly clear to all. As a result, Albanian Communist Party leader in Kosovo Mahmut Bakali resigned.

How were these Albanian ultra-nationalist disturbances and separatist riots explained in the US and the West? Eric Bourne dismissed the crisis in a Christian Science Monitor article of May 7, 1981. He described Kosovo-Metohija as a “onetime Serb colony” and “the problem child” of Communist Yugoslavia but conceded that it was Albanian “extremist nationalist riots” that had sparked the violence and that the “latest unrest repeated the demand that Kosovo be made a republic and incorporate Albanian populations in the neighboring republics of Macedonia and Montenegro.” The objective was a Greater Albania although Bourne was careful not to admit that. Bourne asked: “Since 1974, Kosovo has had autonomy in all domestic affairs. Why not then republican status? It seems a simple enough solution.” The only problem with it is that the next step is secession and an independent Albanian state of “Kosova”. How do you solve the illegal immigration problem in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas? It is “simple enough.” Give those states back to Mexico. Bourne’s solution is no solution at all, just mindless drivel. Bourne gives us a clear picture of what the US stance on this issue was in 1981. Bourne reports what the US government wants him to report.

Bourne and other US and Western journalists were not interested in the plight of the Serbian Orthodox “minority” in Kosovo. Not one whit. The US media did not get to experience the systematic terror campaign organized by Albanian separatists. The Serbian Orthodox Abbes Hilaria in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity near Musutiste had to keep a rifle to protect herself from separatist Albanian attacks to drive her out of Kosovo. The Albanian dominated police refused to provide protection from criminal attacks and looting directed at the monastery. She had to use a hunting rifle and to fire warning shots in the air to deter the attacks on the convent, Albanians blinded her cattle. She was photographed showing reporters her blinded cattle. The objective was to terrorize Kosovo Serb Christians to drive them out of Kosovo,

The series of ethnically motivated murders began with the murder of Danilo Milincic from the Kosovo village of Samodreza, near Vucitrn, on June 2, 1981. In 1941, when Adolf Hitler annexed Kosovo to Albania and created a Greater Albania, illegal settlers or “immigrants” came from Albania and forced the Milincic family out of Samodreza. In 1960, the father of Danilo, Slavoljub Milincic, was killed on his own property in Samodreza. He was killed by a gun shot. The murderer has never been apprehended. In 1982, his son, Danilo Milincic, was violently killed by an “immigrant” or settler from Albania, Ferat Mujo. Mujo killed Milincic in front of his own house. This was an ethnically motivated murder to drive out Christian Kosovo Serbs.

Monument to Kosovo Serb Danilo Milincic who was killed by Albanian attackers in 1982.

The second ethnically motivated murder was of Kosovo Serb Miodrag Saric on July 3, 1982 in the village of Mece near Djakovica, 40 miles southwest of Pristina. Saric was a 43-year-old Kosovo Serb, who was shot and killed by an Albanian neighbor, Ded Krasnici. The official Yugoslav press agency Tanjug reported on the murder. It was the second ethnically motivated murder of a Serb by an Albanian in Kosovo in 1982. The dispute reportedly began with a dispute over damage done to a field belonging to the Saric family. The Saric family had been threatened and coerced to leave Kosovo by Albanians. Saric was murdered because he would not leave his home in Kosovo. This was an ethnically motivated crime to drive out Kosovo Serbs and to create an ethnically pure “Kosova”.

On April 16, 1982, 21 Serbian priests and monks addressed an appeal to the Yugoslav government that focused on the human rights violations against Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo:

“It may be said without exaggeration that systematic genocide is gradually being perpetrated against the Serbian people in Kosovo! Because, if this were not the case, what do the theses about an 'ethnically clean Kosovo' mean which, regardless of everything, is being implemented without interruption? Or what do the words, often repeated in villages and hamlets, monasteries and churches and even in towns mean: 'What are you waiting for? Move away, this is ours!'"

Albanian separatists had targeted Serbian Orthodox Churches even after the end of World War II. In March, 1952, the Serbian Orthodox Church in the village of Duganjevo near Urosevac was destroyed. In 1949, the Serbian Orthodox Memorial Church in Djakovica was dynamited and blown up on a major Serbian Orthodox Christian holiday, St. Sava's Day. According to the report by the delegation of priests: “Various Albanian facilities were erected on the foundations of Serbian churches and cultural monuments if they were not completely destroyed."

IV. “[F]ound …with a broken bottle up his anus”: Sodomy or Homosexual Accident?

One of the most inflammatory and disgusting incidents against Kosovo Serbs occurred in 1985. Djorde Martinovic became a symbol of the human rights abuses committed against Kosovo Serbs. He became a “martyr” for Kosovo Serb Christians. In a painting by Miodrag Popovic, 1 Maj. 1985, Martinovic was shown being crucified like Jesus Christ by Albanian Muslim separatists. His case became symbolic of a perceived sense of Serbian Christian “martyrdom” in Kosovo. Wouldn’t you be outraged and angry if someone shoved a bottle up the ass of an American? In other words, this horrific attack came to symbolize Serbian grievances and a sense of victimization in Kosovo. For this reason, the story needed to be quashed. It had to be made to appear like it was all made up. Fearing a backlash, the Yugoslav government and the US and the Western media colluded in manipulating and censoring and falsifying the incident. What followed was a massive cover-up by the Communist Yugoslav government.

Djordje Martinovic.
On May 4, 1985, the Martinovic case appeared in the Yugoslav Communist political publication "Politika". The headline read: "A civilian employee of the JNA in Gnjilane, Djordje Martinovic, attacked and injured on a stake on May 1 on his own land Jaruga, two kilometers from Gnjilane. This crime was committed by Albanian terrorists".

What happened in the Martinovic case?  It all depends on who tells it. This is one version or “narrative” of the “storytelling”. Djordje Martinovic was ambushed by several Albanians who attacked him while he was working in the field on his own private property. He was placed on a stake or spike. He was then sodomized with a bottle, impaled with a bottle. The Albanian attackers forced the bottle in his anus. Martinovic managed to run to a nearby road where he was able to flag someone down. He was taken to the hospital in Pristina where he received emergency surgery. His injuries were serious.

This is where the plot thickens. He was then visited by Novak Ivanovic, an official from the civil branch of the Yugoslav Army, the JNA. Ivanovic then told him that he had not been sodomized by ethnic Albanian Muslims in an ethnically and religiously motivated hate crime. This is only what appeared to be the case on the surface. He told Martinovic that he was a homosexual and that he had inflicted the injury on himself. It was a self-inflicted injury. The bottle was a dildo Martinovic used in homo-erotic self-gratification. Once the exercise in homosexual auto-eroticism went awry, Martinovic decided to blame the Albanian separatists. That was quite a story.

After a year passed, Novak Ivanovic gave an interview in the publication "Intervju" admitting that the whole homosexual “explanation” was concocted and fabricated on the orders of a General of the Yugoslav Army or JNA. The homosexual angle was a hoax. This is the part of the story that never seemed to reach the US and Western media. The US media stuck with the discredited homosexual angle because it could be true even though shown to be false.

Martinovic obtained the signatures of five doctors in Pristina that attested to the fact that such an injury could not be self-inflicted. He was operated on by British surgeon Peter Holly twice in London who also confirmed that a self-inflicted injury was not possible. A Slovenian doctor in Yugoslavia, in an effort to buttress the Communist regime, however, had argued that a self-inflicted injury was possible. This injury became politically charged. The Communist regime did not want to acknowledge that a Kosovo Serb, a Serbian Christian, was sodomized in an ethnically and religiously motivated hate crime. To do so would only strengthen Serbian “nationalists” within Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Communist regime then falsified the evidence and the facts, indeed, made up its own “reality”. This was all done in the name of preserving Yugoslavia and in covering up any Serbian grievances.

We would call this “reality control” today, PR and spin. We are no strangers to “reality control” in the US and the West. This perhaps best explains why these outlandish and outrageous lies and fabrications were accepted in the US and the in the West as etched-in-stone facts and as truths. Who would believe Djordje Martinovic anyway? He is a Serb. He is a Christian. And he is a homosexual too. Or is he?

Yugoslav interior minister Stane Dolanc, who was from Slovenia, made the “official” conclusions on Television Ljubljana in 1987: “The Djordje Martinovic case is over. My police have shown that the injury was self-inflicted and there is no legal recourse. Djordje is the first Serbian Samurai who has committed on himself hara-kiri." Preposterous? Outrageous nonsense? Not so to the US and Western media. It could happen?

In the May 22, 2004 article “Chronicle of an enduring enmity” in the Guardian Unlimited, Nicholas Lezard recalled the Djordje Martinovic tragedy in the context of the broader conflict between Christianity and Islam. Lezard reviewed the book Infidels by Andrew Wheatcroft, which analyzed centuries of confrontation and conflict between Christendom and Islam. Lezard queried: “How could we have imagined this conflict could ever have gone away?” Lezard then wrote about the Martinovic sodomy in the context of Christian-Muslim relations:

“When the Serb Djordje Martinovic claimed in 1985 that two Albanians had shoved a bottle up his bum, some newspapers pointedly referred to the old Ottoman punishment of impalement, even though it was possible Martinovic had performed the deed himself for private reasons.”

He could also have been the victim of an alien abduction. Lezard played the spin game too. Anything is possible, especially when you want to engage in a bit of “reality control” and spin. The key to the game is to create ambiguity and uncertainty. Then the game is won. It becomes a farce of he said/she said. Facts are suspended and meaning is deferred. Ultimately, we get to decide the facts for ourselves. We create our own “reality”. That is where all the fun is. Ignorance is, indeed, bliss. Who needs reality when we can manufacture and create our own reality? This is the key in understanding the Kosovo conflict.

In 1990, a court in Belgrade found the Yugoslav government liable and that Martinovic be awarded 100,000 Marks in damages. He never received that award. The court did, however, exonerate Martinovic. But no one noticed. Or cared.

Djordje Martinovic died on September 6, 2000 in Citluk near Krusevac. His wife was Jagodinka. He had three sons, Srecko, Dragan and Gradimir, and one daughter, Olga.

V. Rape as an Instrument of Terror

Albanian separatists in Kosovo used rape, sexual assault, against men and women in Kosovo. From 1982 to 1984 alone, 10 rapes against Kosovo Serb women committed by Albanian Muslim men were reported by the police in Kosovo. There were 11 attempted rapes against Kosovo Serb women by Albanian Muslims.

Kosovo Serb Stojan Peric carries his 9 year-old daughter after she was raped by Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, 1983.
In 1983, Kosovo Serb farmer Stojan Peric was photographed carrying his 9 year-old daughter in his arms from a cornfield in Zitinje near Vitina, Kosovo where she was reportedly raped and sexually assaulted by Kosovo Muslim separatists. Do pictures speak a thousand words? Is seeing believing? The camera does not lie? Or does it? An image can mean many different things to different people. It is the viewer that imparts meaning to a photograph or an image. In other words, meaning can be suspended and deferred. I see what I want to see, or what the media or “experts” or US State Department hack tell me to see.

Was there a planned, systematic, and organized policy of rape as an instrument of terror in Kosovo? David Binder reported in The New York Times on November 1, 1987 that Fadil Hoxha, the political leader of Kosovo Albanians, had advocated that Kosovo Serb women be raped by Albanian Muslims. He was inciting rape against Christian women by Albanian Muslim men to create an ethnically pure Muslim “Kosova”. Can it get any more outrageous than that? How was this incitement of rape and genocide spun in the West? The spin doctors in the West concluded that Hoxha had “joked” at an official dinner in Prizren that Kosovo Serb women should be systematically raped. Can you “joke” about rape and genocide?

Who was Fadil Hoxha? He was one of the most prominent “Kosovar” Muslim political leaders in Kosovo during the Communist period. He had served as the president of the Assembly of the Kosovo Autonomous Province for two terms, first from July 11, 1945 to February 29, 1953, then a second term from June 24, 1967 to May 7, 1969.  In 1967 he was appointed to the Yugoslav Communist Party Presidium. In 1974 he became a member of the Federal Presidency of Yugoslavia. During 1978-79 he held the rotating position of president of the Federal Presidency. He was regarded as a “father-figure” for the Albanian Muslim separatists and secessionists.

How do you explain the incitement to rape and genocide by a top Albanian Muslim leader in Kosovo?

VI. Desecration of Christian Graves and Cemeteries

One of the most horrific human rights abuses against Kosovo Serb Christians was never even covered by the US or Western media. This was a crime committed by Albanian Muslim separatists against Kosovo Serbs.

On September 27, 1988, five Albanian Muslim “Kosovars” dug up the bodies of two Kosovo Serb infants, Radojko and Dragica Petrovic. They were twins who had died at birth. The Albanian Muslims then scattered the remains of the bodies all over the grave in the Orthodox Christian cemetery in Grace near Vucitrn. This attack occurred on an Orthodox Christian holy day, the Day of the Glorification of the Holy Cross. This was a horrific ethnically and religiously motivated hate crime committed by Albanian Muslims against Serbian Christians. This crime was well-documented and substantiated by the police. Needless to say, it was virtually censored in the US and Western media. How do you spin or manipulate such horrendous human rights abuses? When you cannot manipulate or spin the facts, you ignore or dismiss the incident entirely, in toto. That was what the US and Western media did in this instance.

Serbian grandmother Anna weeps at the graves of twin infants dug up by Albanian attackers in Grace in Kosovo, 1988.

Albanians systematically destroyed and desecrated Orthodox Christian cemeteries from 1981 to 1989. Gravestones and monuments of Orthodox Serbs in the Srbica cemetery were attacked in the summer of 1985. On July 18, 1984, Serbian gravestones in Slakovce, near Samodreza, were destroyed, desecrated, and vandalized. On October 8, 1985, in Begov Lukavac, the Serbian Orthodox cemetery was burned. There was photographic evidence of these ethnically and religiously motivated human rights violations and hate crimes. Nevertheless, in the US and the West, these human rights violations were censored, dismissed, and spun away as “claims” and “assertions”. None of the human rights groups in the US or the West paid any attention. The “international community” turned a blind eye.

Kosovo Serb Dmitrije Petkovic, who lived in a village near Pristina, was a target of these attacks. He explained in a December 4, 1984 Ilustrovana Politika interview: "It is clear that this is the work of Albanian irredentist to force us to leave Kosovo, but I, my wife Krstana, my four sons and two daughters are determined to stay on our land. No one will chase us away..."

The attacks against Serbian churches, cemeteries, gravestones, and monuments were not random and arbitrary and accidental. It was all part of a systematic, planned, and organized campaign to drive Kosovo Serbian Christians out of Kosovo. The implications were obvious. And yet the US and Western media and pundits, the “international community”, missed it even though it was right under their very noses. How do you miss such egregious human rights violations that amount to genocide? Is it possible?

Serbian gravestones destroyed in a Serbian cemetery in Srbica in 1985.

We have to ask: Who controls what we think and what we know about Kosovo? When do “claims” and “assertions” become “facts” and “true”. How does this process or procedure work? The answer is the US State Department, that is, the US Government. The media just parrots and mimics what they are told by their betters and experts at the US State Department. The media reports what the government tells them to report. To fully grasp the Kosovo conflict, however, an epistemological analysis is needed.

VII. Epistemological Analysis: Who do you believe?

Who is telling the truth? Who do you believe? What is the “truth” here? What are the “facts”? The Kosovo conflict is a classic case where epistemology is part of the issue. In other words, we never know what the facts are. We never know what the “reality” is. He said this and that. He claimed and alleged this and that. Some assert and maintain the following “facts”. According to this or that source, these are the contradictory “facts”. It is like an insane asylum. We are in a madhouse with a series of unending mirrors like in Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Which mirror reflects “reality”, “facts”, and the “truth”. We do not know. We cannot know. Images are reflected endlessly and infinitely. Are we losing our minds? Are we going mad? Someone must be playing with our minds.

Serbian Orthodox Abbes Hilaria carries a rifle to protect herself in Kosovo.

Croat journalist Krsto or Christopher Cviic wrote about the Martinovic sodomy in “A Culture of Humiliation” on June 22, 1993 in The National Interest:

“I keep returning to an incident from my personal experience that, to me at any rate, symbolizes and encapsulates the attitudes that have led to the present disaster. On May 1, 1985, a 59-year-old Serbian farmer by the name of Djordje Martinovic was found in a distressed condition with a broken bottle up his anus in his own province of Serbia, one with a large ethnic Albanian majority. Almost overnight, this elderly man, who supplemented his farm income by working as a storekeeper for the Yugoslav Army in Gnjilane, became the center of a fierce controversy that quickly grew into a cause celebre.

According to reports claiming to be based on Mr. Martinovic's own evidence and published in Belgrade, Serbia's capital, Mr. Martinovic had been attacked from behind by a group of masked men speaking Albanian, who then allegedly tied him up and brutalized him. The other version, in Kosovo's Albanian-language press and in the media in some non-Serbian parts of Yugoslavia, was very different. According to that account, Mr. Martinovic was a homosexual who had suffered an accident while in the act of self-gratification and, in order to avoid bringing dishonor on himself and his family in a very old-fashioned society, decided to invent the alleged attack.”

Cviic suspends his judgment and reports the attack as if no explanation can be found for it. It remains a mystery of mysteries? An enigma inside a conundrum? Cviic engages in all the journalistic tricks of manipulation and “reality control” and spin. For instance, he uses the passive tense in describing the attack against Martinovic, who is “found with a broken bottle up his anus”. This is a passive construction implying no active agency. He just woke up one day and found a bottle up his ass. A body was found not breathing. A corpse was found dead. Cviic is playing the journalist game. He knows consciously that it is a cynical game because he discusses it himself:

“I arrived in Kosovo shortly thereafter while researching a story on the national question in Yugoslavia for The Economist and was one of the first Western correspondents to write about ‘the Martinovic affair.’ The atmosphere I found there reminded me of Kurosawa's famous film "Rashomon" I had seen while still living in Yugoslavia in the early 1950s, in which a single violent incident is told in several completely different versions. I wanted to talk to Mr. Martinovic but could not: he had been taken out of the hands of the Kosovo authorities, whisked off to the Yugoslav Army's Medical Academy in Belgrade and kept incommunicado there pending further clinical and psychiatric investigations.

Albanians destroyed the gravestone of the Kosovo Serb family Stankovic in Kosovo.

Meanwhile ethnic Albanian officials in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, kept assuring me that the story of the attack was a complete fabrication and even provided me with graphic clinical details of the incident as recorded by the local Albanian doctors (including the exact size of the bottle). They argued that the Martinovic case was being exploited politically by the Serbian leaders in Belgrade as another argument in their campaign for the abolition of Kosovo's autonomy and its re-annexation by Serbia, on the grounds that this was the only way of protecting the local Serbs (by then 10 percent of the total population) from Albanian ‘terror.’ On the other hand, local Kosovo Serbs I talked to claimed to believe the attack version implicitly and interpreted the incident as another instance of the systematic Albanian campaign aimed at forcing the Kosovo Serbs to emigrate, leaving it to the Albanians. In Belgrade, meanwhile, the Kosovo farmer had become a hero to Serbian opinion as a martyr in the national cause. A famous Serbian painter not long afterwards made Mr. Martinovic the central figure of a crucifixion scene in a painting which, I was told, now adorns one of the rooms in the building of the Serbian Academy of Sciences in Belgrade.

Four years after this bizarre and gruesome incident, in June 1989, Serbia re-annexed Kosovo, thus regaining full control over its police and judiciary. Intriguingly, the Martinovic file remained closed. The new Serbian authorities have so far failed--to my knowledge anyway--to do what they might have been expected to do in such a highly publicized case. They have not reopened the investigation with a view to catching the alleged perpetrators, bringing them to justice and vindicating the old man's honor. This suggests that the attack theory might after all have been an anti-Albanian fabrication, as the local Albanians had claimed from the start. But, whatever the true facts of the case, they do not seem to matter any more--at least not to the present generation of Serbs. The martyrdom of Djordje Martinovic, in the highly stylized form of the crucifixion in the Academy of Sciences picture, has become part of the Serbs' vision of themselves as perpetual victims of cruel historical circumstances--an idea born in Kosovo more than 600 years ago.

It was in Kosovo Polje (the Field of Blackbirds), not far from where Djordje Martinovic suffered his mysterious humiliation….”

Cviic uses ironic quotes or quotation marks when he uses the term Albanian “terror”. This is an obvious ploy that de-legitimizes the Serbian “claims”. Having a bottle shoved up your anus is not “terror” when you cannot prove it. The game here is pretty clever. We are in awe. It does get rather silly after a while once you figure out what is going on. Is there any reason we should suspect bias and self-interest here? Who is Cviic? He is a Croatian Roman Catholic. During World War II Croatian ultra-nationalists have been “accused” or alleged” to have murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbian Orthodox Christians. Cviic may be biased?

The absurdity of the Cviic “narrative” is that he tells you that you cannot believe anyone but then expects you to believe him. I would never lie to you. But those other people may. This begs the obvious question: Why should I believe you? The approach is paradoxical and contradictory. We don’t know who to believe. And, of course, that is all part of the game.

Julie Mertus takes this outlandish approach in Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War. Her “analysis” is so laughable and biased that one does not even need to read the book. Here is how the story ends: Everything the Serbs “claim” is merely “myth”; conversely, everything Albanians claim are “truths”. This is simplicity itself. Why didn’t I think of that? No, this is not a joke. This is supposed to be highfalutin historical scholarship and research. This is the best and the brightest at work. This is what they teach you in American universities and colleges.

Mertus would interview Albanian sources and their statements would be used as “truths” and as “facts” while Serbian statements would be dismissed as “claims”, “allegations”, and “assertions”. How are we supposed to believe what Albanian Muslims say? Don’t they have a stake in a Greater Albania or independent “Kosova”? Don’t they get all the Serbian property for free? Don’t the Albanian Muslims get to create a second Muslim Albania statelet? Why are they not biased and self-interested? Julie Mertus assumes her readers are too stupid to figure it out. It ain’t rocket science.

The “analyses” by Mertus, however, are what we have for the history of Kosovo in the 1980s. This is what the “history” will be for Kosovo. This mindless drivel is what will be accepted as the true and accurate account of Kosovo. This is more than a question of spin or bias. This is an issue of humanism. Are we that brain dead that we cannot tell when our minds are manipulated and screwed with?

In the preface to her book, Mertus admits that she is advocating the Albanian Muslim side in the conflict, but without actually saying it. What a big surprise. But is this what a “scholar” and an “expert” should be doing? In the guise of objectivity and analysis, she is totally biased and offers propaganda instead of analysis. The book is totally nonsensical and one-sided and prevents any understanding of what occurred in Kosovo during the 1980s.

Kosovo in the 1980s is essentially an epistemological issue. We never know what really happened. We suspend judgment and defer meaning. The approach that the US media used can be compared to the multiple viewpoints or perspectives approach of narration or “narrative” in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), a technique later “borrowed” by Akira Kurosawa in Rashomon (1950).

We never know who Charles Foster Kane was. We get contradictory appraisals of the man and his career. Who was Citizen Kane? After his death, there were conflicting and contradictory accounts.

Some “claimed” Kane was a fascist: The Chicago Globe called Kane “U.S. Fascist No. 1”:

“DEATH CALLS PUBLISHER CHARLES KANE
Policies Swayed World
Stormy Career Ends for "U.S. Fascist No. 1"

The Minneapolis Record Herald claimed he sponsored democracy:

“KANE, SPONSOR OF DEMOCRACY, DIES
Publisher Gave Life to Nation's Service during Long Career “

In front of a Congressional investigating committee, Walter Parks Thatcher recalled:

“Mr. Charles Foster Kane, in every essence of his social beliefs, and by the dangerous manner in which he has persistently attacked the American traditions of private property, initiative, and opportunity for advancement, is in fact, nothing more or less than a Communist!”

In New York's Union Square, where a boycott of Kane newspapers is advocated, a speaker declares:

“The words of Charles Foster Kane are a menace to every working man in this land. He is today what he has always been---and always will be---a Fascist!”

Kane described himself as follows: “I am, have been, and will be only one thing--an American.”

Who was Kane? We never find out. The problem is that we do not know which “narrative” to accept as factual or truthful or even accurate. In a multiplicity of viewpoints, who can you believe? Who is telling the truth? Who is pulling your leg? We never find out in Citizen Kane.

But do we know what the facts and the truth are in the Kosovo conflict? How do you connect the dots? Who can you believe?

VIII. In the eye of the beholder?

We never find out who Charles Foster Kane is or was. Does a sled with the word “Rosebud” explain who or what Kane was? We have multiple viewpoints and perspectives but we don’t know which one to give credence and priority to. There are also differing layers and depths to what we see or perceive. In Edgar Allan Poe’s detective story The Purloined Letter, the purloined letter is in plain sight, right in front of the Parisian police. The police see the letter in plain view. But they also do not see the letter. They see the letter but they ignore it or dismiss it. Their senses tell them that the letter is not what it seems or appears to be. How do we give meaning to our perceptions? Can our perceptions be tricked or deceived? Are we guided by pre-determined assumptions and impulses?

Who do we believe? What do you believe? How near or far should we be? How do we figure out who he is, who he really is? Similarly, we never find out what the actual situation in Kosovo is or was. Everyone has their own opinion or assessment. If Serbian sources are cited, they are prefaced with the terms “according to”, “claims”, “alleges”, “asserts”, “reports”. They are usually self-motivated or self-interested allegations which are little more than “myths” and “propaganda” and spurious “claims”. Information from Albanian sources, on the other hand, are facts, etched is stone facts, chiseled in marble and granite “truths”, to be taken at face value truisms and self-evident. Serbian “claims” or “myths” are juxtaposed to Albanian “facts” and “truths”. Serbian myths were juxtaposed against Albanian truths. Whatever the Serbs “claimed” or “reported” or “alleged” or “said” was deemed a myth. Conversely, anything and everything an Albanian Muslim said or wrote was etched-in-stone, chiseled-in-granite, gospel “truth”, a priori true and factual because an Albanian or Shqiptar had uttered them. Laughable? Psychotic and delusional? If it is psychotic and delusional, then this applies to the foremost US “experts” and “scholars” and think tank pundits and “analysts”.

A Serbian mother in Kosovo in the 1980s with a rifle to protect her children from Albanian Muslim separatists.

The key here is to foster ambiguity and uncertainty. The objective is to create a smokescreen or a diversion. Like in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter, C. Auguste Dupin has someone fire a pistol as a diversionary tactic in the street so that he can switch “the purloined letter” unobserved. The diversion in this case is to conceal the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide being conducted by the ethnic Albanian population and leaders in Kosovo. Without the diversion, the evidence becomes overwhelming that human rights abuses against the Serbia population are cumulative and egregious.

There is a suspension of disbelief in the Kosovo crisis. We delude ourselves into believing that we do not understand what is going on. We know perfectly well what is going on. In 1941, after Adolf Hitler created a Greater Albania, Kosovar Albanian Muslim political leader Dzafer Deva from Kosovska Mitrovica declared: "The freedom has come. Yugoslavia is no more. The Greater Albania has been created. Serbs ought to be expelled from the Balkans or killed." The Kosovo crisis was always about separatism and secession.

From 1981 to 1989, an estimated 20,000 Kosovo Serbs were driven out from Kosovo. Many were settled in refugee camps in Belgrade. Kaludjerica, near Belgrade, was a town settled by Serbian refugees from Kosovo in the 1980s. Kosovo Serbs were murdered, raped, beaten, attacked, and terrorized to leave their homes and property in Kosovo. Serbian churches, gravestones, cemeteries, and religious and cultural and historical monuments were vandalized, desecrated, and destroyed. Serbian priests and nuns were attacked, beaten, and abused. Why was this systematic, planned, and organized campaign of genocide against the Serbian Orthodox Christian population of Kosovo suppressed and censored in the US and the West?


Carl Savich
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