"Gendercide" Should Be the Focus
in Kosovo Crisis, Activist Argues

Released: 3 April 1999

[This press release supplements an earlier release on 29 March, also circulated to major media and human-rights organizations.]

"Gendercide" in Kosovo has reached staggering proportions, and must be the major focus of military and humanitarian efforts, according to Vancouver researcher and activist Adam Jones.

"Civilian men - especially young men - are being separated from their families in besieged communities, or stripped from lines of fleeing refugees, and led away to incarceration and mass execution. Thousands have already died, possibly tens of thousands," said Jones.

"They're taking to the hills in huge numbers, in terror of roundups, freezing to death. And hardly anybody is talking about it."

Jones, 35, teaches at Langara College, and will graduate with a Ph.D. in Political Science from U.B.C. in June. He said he first started posting eyewitness refugee reports of the atrocities to his website (http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/adamj) on 26 March. His continually-updated site now has the most detailed record available of the gender-selective slaughter in Kosovo. On 29 March he circulated a press release to major international media and human-rights organizations, using the term "gendercide" in its headline, and calling for urgent attention and action.

On 31 March, the German Defence Minister, Rudolf Scharping, finally expressed alarm at evidence of men "between the ages of 16 and 60" being "taken away immediately" from besieged communities and refugee convoys, for execution or internment in concentration camps. He explicitly compared the process to Nazi selection procedures at Auschwitz.

The following day, 1 April, Ian Traynor of the UK Guardian described "a genocidal cull of ... males" underway in Kosovo, and Human Rights Watch issued its first news flash on the gender-selective detentions.

Though the campaign of "gendercide" is increasingly out in the open, attention to it has been almost nonexistent in mainstream media and policy circles, Jones alleged.

"It's utterly amazing to me to watch newscasts where someone mentions dozens or hundreds of men being executed or led off to 'unknown' destinations, and then shifts back to weepy saturation coverage of refugee women and children, or meaningless tripe about three captured U.S. servicemen," he said.

"There are hundreds of thousands of Kosovars at mortal risk - overwhelmingly civilian men, I believe. Thousands have already died, possibly tens of thousands. Those that survive are being held in camps, where they're liable to be abused and tortured and killed. Or they're in the hills, desperately trying to escape the mass executions and incarcerations carried out by Serb paramilitary units.

"Anyone who knows something about human-rights abuses knows that twenty-four hours is a lifetime when it comes to detention, torture, and execution by state agents," Jones said. "In the case of Kosovo, it may be thousands of lifetimes a day. And the days are slipping away."

The refugees in Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia are "the lucky ones," argued Jones. "They're mostly women and children, which makes them attractive to politicians, the media, and humanitarian agencies. They're the focus of the humanitarian effort. My guess is they'll be taken care of fine.

"Meanwhile, a gender-selective slaughter of blood-curdling proportions is taking place in the territories these refugees escaped. And the refugees are telling us all about it," he said.

"But they're hardly being acknowledged. Imagine a commentator talking about the humanitarian situation in Europe during the Second World War, and saying, 'Oh, by the way, there are reports of some Jews in camps.'

"Actually, what we have here is worse, in the sense that we're not even acknowledging the victims as Jews. They're just 'Kosovars,' or 'people,' or 'ethnic Albanians.' The gender-specific and gender-selective dimension is being buried, along with thousands of men."

Jones rejected the argument that in a TV-fuelled age, refugee populations are simply more visible and "photogenic." "I think that's arrant nonsense. I've seen heartbreaking footage on the BBC of an elderly Kosovar man who'd escaped with an eyewitness account of thirty young men being executed while he hid in a ditch. He was brandishing a list with their names scrawled on it. That was on March 30th.

"It's still the hardest evidence we've got of the gender-selective executions that have occurred dozens if not hundreds of times in Kosovo, and are still occurring," Jones said. "But I haven't seen it broadcast or mentioned once in the North American media. Why isn't it being shown again and again? Why aren't we seeing the footage shot by Serb cameramen at Srebrenica, as thousands of men were being separated from women and children and led away to their deaths?"

(Jones analyzed the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995 and other gender-selective atrocities against men in a controversial feature article entitled, "Pity the Innocent Men". It appeared in in The Globe and Mail on 20 February, a little over a month before the Kosovo "gendercide" erupted.)

Asked what could be done to confront the "gendercide," Jones called for the release of satellite and spy data on the atrocities within Kosovo, so that the scale and character of the catastrophe can be better gauged. "NATO is delighted to show us their smart-bombs going boom on the nightly news," said Jones. "I want to see photos of the camps and sports stadia where men are being detained in their thousands. I want to know if the cameras are picking up evidence of mass graves."

More generally, he argued for an immediate refocusing of military and aid efforts towards the plight of the Kosovars still trapped in the province. "Just talking about the slaughter in Kosovo, and the systematic gender-selective dimension of it, would be a start. Cruise missiles blowing apart the the Interior Ministries in downtown Belgrade are a start. Killing the Interior Ministers, paramilitary commanders, and their henchmen in Kosovo would bring some measure of relief.

"There is evidence that such actions are being carried out on a small scale by special forces, such as the British SAS," Jones said. "I applaud that, and I think it should be expanded on an emergency basis, especially where large concentrations of detainees have been reported.

"I've been an opponent of U.S. and NATO intervention all my life, so I call for this kind of action through gritted teeth," Jones added. "But if you've been made to walk the plank off a pirate ship, and the only other vessel in the vicinity is another pirate ship - well, you hope the other pirates will help, even if only for their own selfish reasons."

Humanitarian organizations and NGO's should similarly reorient their aid strategies to address "the particular vulnerability of 'battle-age' civilian men in the Kosovo conflict and elsewhere," Jones said.

His articles on gender an international conflict, in peer-reviewed journals like Review of International Studies and Ethnic and Racial Studies, have generated considerable debate among academic feminists. Jones called himself "a staunch feminist," but decried the silence of other feminists in the face of the "gendercide" of Kosovar males.

"Whenever anyone asks me what we should be doing that we're not, I simply ask: 'What would we be doing or trying to do, if the tens of thousands of executed, tortured, and incarcerated Kosovars were predominantly young women?' I suspect it would overnight become the focus of the humanitarian and military campaigns," Jones said.

"At heart, our refusal to acknowledge the gendercide in Kosovo reflects our cultural conviction that men are disposable."

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