For general release: 16 April 1999
Note: This press release supplements two earlier bulletins of 29 March and 3 April, circulated to international media and human-rights organizations. Links to both can be found, along with extensive supporting documentation on "gendercide" in Kosovo and the former Yugoslavia, at the index page of the author's website.
After a brief lull, systematic "gendercide" by Serb forces has resumed in Kosovo, and the worst may be yet to come, says a Vancouver academic and activist.
Adam Jones cited a "new phase" in the Serb terror campaign, with an even more extensive uprooting of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and numerous reports of men being separated from women for mass execution. On April 16, the Chief of the British Defense staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, announced that "thousands of young men have been murdered," with mass graves "continually being discovered."
"We've known for a decade that the most sickening atrocities of these Serb campaigns are the gender-selective detentions and mass killings of males," said Jones. "Defenseless civilian men are seen as a potential threat to the occupying forces, and this time they're being slaughtered on an unprecedented scale."
He cited an internal U.S. government report, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Kosovo," which in The Washington Post's summary "paints an exceptionally grim picture of the consequences of the Yugoslav military's activities" in Kosovo. (Post, 10 April 1999.)
The report "lists six reported sites of mass detentions within Kosovo, three reported sites of mass graves that hold more than 180 people and 50 villages and towns where mass executions have reportedly occurred." Moreover, according to the Post, "As many as several hundred thousand ethnic Albanian men may have been detained or harmed by Yugoslav government security forces in the past three weeks."
"That's an astonishing figure - 'several hundred thousand men'!" said Jones, who has been posting news of the detentions and mass executions to his website since March 26. "Imagine if it were a few hundred thousand women incarcerated in rape camps for weeks on end. But it's the only time I've seen the figure mentioned in the media - even though we know that 'detaining' and 'harming' men means torturing and executing them, selectively and on a mass scale." He noted that the estimate was made before the Serbs launched their latest campaign of "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo.
Jones accused the U.S. government and NATO of covering up the mass killings of males earlier in the Kosovo crisis. "For the U.S. to have had information about mass detentions and mass graves, and to not display it to the world for the first couple of weeks of the crisis, constitutes moral cowardice of a piece with the Rwanda genocide in 1994, or Srebrenica in 1995."
(In the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica in July 1995, Dutch UN troops looked on as more than seven thousand Bosnian Muslim men were separated out for execution by Serb forces, or hunted down in surrounding woods. Meanwhile, the troops supervised the evacuation of women, children - and themselves, Jones alleged. The Dutch actions generated a scandal in Holland, but have received little attention in the Kosovo context.
Jones also claimed that NATO forces were standing by while Kosovo Liberation Army forces separated "battle-age" men from refugee columns that reached safety, press-ganging the men into military service.
"Any man who reaches refuge in Macedonia or Albania should receive the same assistance and protection from international agencies as any woman," said Jones. "What a savage irony - that some young men who succeed in escaping the 'gendercide' are being turned around and thrown right back in, while we watch passively. If any group of refugees deserves immediate evacuation to safe countries, it's these men in the refugee camps."
As for the reported rapes of women, Jones said he agreed with the UK Guardian's estimation that "the spectre of widespread rape had returned to the Balkans."
"There is no question that horrible acts of rape, including acts of gang rape, have taken place in Kosovo," Jones said. "We have a report of one mass killing of women after rape at a barracks in Djakovica. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has questioned the reliability of that report, but there's diverse and consistent accounts of younger women being separated from communities or convoys and raped. Some have apparently been executed when they rebelled, or when their captors tired of them. I've been warning of this possibility, and posting what fragmentary and second-hand information I could find, since the beginning of April. Anyone who's studied the Balkans knows to look for rape in these circumstances, to condemn it unequivocally as a war crime, and to confront it wherever possible.
"But many women refugees are pleading with us to devote more attention to their missing males. They've often witnessed the staggering atrocities against the men. They've seen corpses littering the roadsides, and Serbs burning the evidence."
Jones issued a renewed call for a rapid-deployment force inside Kosovo, with an emphasis on mobile Special Forces units capable of confronting the Yugoslav army and paramilitaries at ground level. "There's no other way to do it. You're not going to stop mass executions and get men out of dungeons by bombing from 15,000 feet.
"The British have already sent in an SAS [Special Air Service] unit. They're apparently doing exactly what thousands of NATO troops should be doing - tracking down the death-squads and eliminating them. Two hundred troops from each NATO country, with close air support, could make a profound difference - maybe even turn the tide. I'm fully convinced that the Rwandan genocide could have been halted with a thousand western troops willing to pay the price on the ground.
"In fact, this dawdling on the part of the international community is utterly reminiscent of Rwanda, where we tinkered with military logistics while the holocaust raged," said Jones. "I don't know yet whether the Kosovo 'gendercide' will be of a remotely comparable scale. But I'm beginning to fear it could be. And I fear terribly that we're going to be in the same position we were in six months after the Rwandan genocide - wandering around the mass graves and charnel-houses, uselessly scratching our heads."
Jones, who will graduate with a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia in June, also called for the imposition of a lasting political solution in Kosovo and Serbia. "None of the outside players has clean hands," Jones said. "I've opposed U.S. and NATO intervention in many cases and for many years.
"But the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic has placed itself beyond the pale. It needs to be de-nazified. This is a regime that has started four wars in ten years, and turned large swathes of southeastern Europe into a graveyard. All these wars have featured the same campaign of brutal 'gendercide' against males. Most have also featured widespread rape and other gender-selective atrocities against women. Taken together, they are the greatest stain on Europe's claim to civilization in the last half-century.
"We have to start asking what we can do, not wait around to wonder what we could have done."