This article by the Communist League on Slobodan Milošević and what he represented is valuable. It uses the example of the Račak massacre, which has been alleged to be a hoax, but regardless it is an important work for those on the left who consider Milošević some kind of “socialist,” or those who have taken to denial of Serbian war crimes during the Yugoslav Wars in emotional response to imperialist aggression.
The Uprising Against the Serbian Fascist Regime
The Communist League
IN OCTOBER 2000, A POPULAR UPRISING IN BELGRADE FORCED THE MILOSHEVICH FASCIST REGIME TO RECOGNISE THE VICTORY IN THE RECENT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS OF THE OPPOSITION CANDIDATE VOJISLAV KOSHTUNITSA.
The uprising was welcomed by progressive people throughout the world, as well as by Miloshevich’s antagonists among the imperialist powers.
At the same time, the effects of the uprising should not be exaggerated.
THIS WAS NOT A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION.
KOSHTUNITSA IS NO MARXIST-LENINIST.
DESPITE HIS SUPPORT FOR PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY IN OPPOSITION TO MILOSHEVICH’S DICTATORSHIP, KCSHTUNITSA,
“… a self-proclaimed monarchist, . . . wants a referendum on the return of the house of Karadjordjevich, which ruled Yugoslavia from 1918 to 1941 and were kings of Serbia before that”.
(‘Times’, 10 October 2000; p. 1).
INDEED, KOSTUNITSA’S SERBIAN NATIONALISM IS LITTLE LESS EXTREME THAN THAT OF MILOSHEVICH.
Over recent years,
” . . . as Serbia staggered deeper into its bloodthirsty territorial wars in Croatia and then in Bosnia, Mr. Koshtunitsa did not decry the bloodshed. Instead, he lambasted Miloshevich’s failure to seize yet more territory and then to hold on to it. . .”
He has regularly called for a return to the ‘old’ Yugoslavia before Tito when all the power was in Serbian hands”.
(Marcus Tanner: ‘Nationalism is Alive and well in the Bosom of the New Serbian President’, in: ‘Independent on Sunday’, 8 October 2000, p. 15).
For example, in his inauguration speech as President, Koshtunitsa promised to try to
“… establish full sovereignty over … Kosova, where ethnic Albanians are fiercely against the re-establishment of Belgrade rule “.
(‘Daily Telegraph’, 9 October 2000; p. 1).
WHITEWASHING THE FASCISTS
THERE HAS LONG BEEN A CAMPAIGN AMONG RIGHT-WING IDEOLOGISTS TO WHITEWASH GERMAN FASCISM BY CLAIMING THAT THE HOLOCAUST AGAINST THE JEWISH PEOPLE WAS AN ‘INVENTION OF LEFT-WING PROPAGANDISTS’ –
However, this campaign suffered a severe setback in April 2000, when British ‘historian’ David Irving lost his libel action against the American author Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books, and Judge Charles Gray ruled in the High Court in London
“. . . that Irving had distorted and falsified historical evidence tar ideological reasons, that be was a Holocaust denier, that be was racist and anti-Semitic and was associated with neo-Nazis”
(‘Keesing’s Record of World Affairs’, Volume 46; p. 43,547).
It is, however somewhat horrifying to find ‘LALKAR’, a journal which calls itself ‘Marxist-Leninist’ and is edited by Harpal Brar, who is Chairman of the Stalin Society, attempting to whitewash the Serbian fascists led by the indicted war criminal Slobodan Miloshevich.
A headline in ‘LALKAR’ of September/October 2000 reads:
“ADMISSION THAT ALLEGATIONS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING OF KOSOVA BY SERBS WERE ALL LIES”.
(‘Lalkar’ , September/October 2000; p. 2)
This ‘admission’ is credited by ‘LALKAR’ to an article in the ‘Guardian’ for 18 August 2000.
But the ‘Guardian’ article concerned does not claim that the allegations of ethnic cleansing by Serbian armed forces were ‘all lies’. It alleges that NATO exaggerated the number of Kosovar civilians massacred:
“The final toll of civilians confirmed massacred by Yugoslav forces is likely to be less than . . . the number claimed by NATO governments during last year’s controversial air strikes on Yugoslavia”
(‘Guardian’, 18 August 2000; p. 3)
But it will surprise nobody that the NATO aggressors should have exaggerated the civilian casualties committed by the Yugoslav forces. Truth is the first casualty of any war of aggression. But it is a gross distortion to say (as ‘LALKAR’ does), that the ‘Guardian’ article states that the allegations were ‘all lies’. In fact, the ‘Guardian’ article goes on to say:
“The new details should not obscure the fact that the major war crime in the tribunal’s indictment of the Yugoslav president Slobodan Miloshevich and tour other serb officials is the ethnic cleansing of Kosova and forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people…
In three months of digging this summer, the tribunal’s international forensic experts found 680 bodies at 150 sites.- This was in addition to the 2,108 bodies found at 150 sites last year.
Evidence of the forced deportation of hundreds of thousands of people was overwhelming before the tribunal gained access to Kosova”.
(‘Guardian’, 18 August 2000, p. 3).
IN FACT, THE EVIDENCE FROM NON-NATO SOURCES OF THE ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE MILOSHEVICH FASCISTS IS OVERWHELMING.
For example, as early as January 1999
“… the bodies of 45 ethnic Albanian civilians were discovered in the village of Racak, some 30 km. south-west of Prishtina Most had been shot in the head or the neck”.
‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 45; p. 42,750).
In March 1999, it was reported that Miloshevich had responded to the NATO bombing campaign by
“… ordering a major offensive in Kosova to drive out the ethnic Albanian population…
Today the region is facing a colossal refugee crisis as an estimated 150,000 ethnic Albanians flee the Serb security forces, heading for neighbouring Macedonia and Albania. Many refugees have been ordered from their towns and villages at gun point. Often, young men have been led away by Serb forces to an uncertain fate, separated from their families, who were driven out on to the roads
(‘Chronicle 99: A Year of News as it Happened’; London; 1999; p. 36-37).
In a statement issued in March 1999, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
“… accused Serb forces of an organised ‘campaign of ethnic cleansing’ in Kosova… The UNHCR claimed that more than 500,000 people had left their homes in the past year. . .
Most of the refugees were women, children and old people. Many of the refugees said that armed Serbs had separated them from the men, whose whereabouts they did not know. The refugees also claimed that the Yugoslav border guards had removed their passports and identity cards in order to hinder their return to Kosova.
By March 31, evidence was emerging that ethnic Albanians wore streaming out of Prishtina by car and train, the first clear sign that the mass exodus from rural areas had spread to the main urban areas where much of the population lived. The UNHOR on March 31 said that 3,000 refugees had arrived from Prishtina by train at the border with Macedonia. They had been forced to board the train at gunpoint”.
‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, volume 45; p. 42,848).
The statement said that interviews with refugees
“… paint a picture of total lawlessness and almost complete absence of any form of protection for ethnic Albanians in Kosova. It suggested that deliberate, violent ‘ethnic cleansing’ was the most prevalent human rights abuse reported by the refugees. The perpetrators it was claimed, work in large groups of VJ (Yugoslav army), MUF Serbian military police) and/or paramilitary groups. The reports indicate ‘a pattern of intimidation and harassment. combined with assaults, pillage, shelling, killings and executions, after which people flee or are simply told to leave”.
(‘Keesing’s Record of world Events’, volume 45; p. 42,903)
By late March 1999, there were consistent reports
“… by ethnic Albanian refugees arriving in Albania and Macedonia that Serbian forces and paramilitaries lied embarked on a systematic campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in northern and western Kosova”.
(‘Keesing’s Record of world Events’, Volume 45; p. 42,848).
The withdrawal of the Yugoslav forces from Kosova
“… allowed the entry into the province in mid- and late June(1999– Ed.) of forensic experts from the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (the war crimes tribunal) to investigate growing reports of Serb war crimes. By late June there was mounting evidence that the Serb forces had committed large-scale atrocities against ethnic Albanian civilians and, in some instances, had attempted to cover up the evidence.”
‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, volume 45; p. 43,017).
In November 1999,
“… it was revealed that forensic experts from 14 countries had exhumed 2,018 bodies in Kosova and identified 529 grave sites since the withdrawal of serb forces from the province in June”.
‘Keesing’s Record of world Events’, Volume 45; p. 43,286).
In March 2000,
“… a non-governmental human rights organisation based in the Yugoslav and Serbian capital Belgrade claimed . . . that as many as 1,400 ethnic Albanians were being held prisoner in Serbia.
The Humanitarian flaw Centre (HLC) estimated that some 2,050 Albanians between the ages of 15 and 73 had been transported from Kosova to Serbia between 1998 and June 1999. It said that around 600 had been freed, but that the rest remained in eight prisons throughout Serbia”. (‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 46; p. 43,476)
Also in March 2000,
“… Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based organisation published a report . . . which confirmed that gang-rape of Kosova Albanian women had been used as ‘an instrument of war’ by Serbian forces. ‘The 37-page report documented 96 cases of rape during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign of Serbia and concluded that the rapes were not isolated but organised with many Kosovars being sexually assaulted in front of their families”.
(‘Keesing’s Record at world Events’, Volume 46; pp. 43,476-77).
INDEED, THE ORGANISED ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE SERBIAN ARMED FORCES HAVE NOW BEEN CONFIRMED BY YUGOSLAV SOURCES.
According to the BBC World Service, since the overthrow of the Miloshevich regime,
“… Yugoslav television has been broadcasting pictures of atrocities committed by Miloshevich ‘s forces in their ethnic cleansing campaign”
(BBC World Service: 8 October 2000).
To sum up, as journalist Misha Glenny reports in the ‘Sunday Times’,
“Nobody will ever be sure how many people were killed, how many went missing, how many were tortured, how many were raped, as part of a policy designed to achieve ‘ethnic cleansing’, how many languished in degrading prison camps or how many became refugees in the four wars that tore Yugoslavia apart in the last decade of the 20th century.
In the final analysis, the numbers game does not matter, though 250,000 died in Bosnia alone. The fields of Bosnia, Croatia and Kosova are littered with mass graves; there is hardly a household that is not grieving a loved one today, hardly a person who has not been numbed by the horror.
It is the barbarity of the acts and the criminality with which they were done, and the fact that they were either ordered or condoned by politicians and generals in the Yugoslav army, many of whom have so far escaped prosecution, that is the big issue today”.
(Misha Glenny: ‘Callous Leader Steeped in the Blood of His People’, in: ‘Sunday Times’, 2 October 2000; p. 17).