Monday, 14 April 2008

Ignoring inconvenient war crimes

The wars in former Yugoslavia and in particular the insurgency and counter insurgency in Kosovo are understood largely through a narrative which has been imposed by NATO and proliferated by the US and other influential countries through the organs of the UN. This interpretation holds that Greater Serbian irredentism was overwhelmingly the aggressor in Yugoslavia causing Serbs to commit unspeakable war crimes against largely innocent peoples who simply wished to participate in Europe’s second ‘springtime of the nations’.

A great deal of time and energy has been expended attempting to bring Serb war criminals to justice, and rightly so. However, less resolute have been attempts to prosecute those from the various other belligerent sides in the wars, who were guilty of committing atrocities against Serbs. Recently former Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, was exonerated for crimes committed by the Kosovan Liberation Army of which he was one of the most feared leaders. Many witnesses were too frightened to give evidence against this terrorist godfather. One of his colleagues, Hashim Tha├ži, is currently Prime Minister of a government which has been recognised by many western countries as that of a sovereign independent state.

Carla Del Ponte, who was chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, has complained bitterly that the UN protectorate in Kosovo prevented her from pursuing prosecutions against ethnic Albanian war criminals. Such prosecutions would have been inconveniently at odds with the perception of Serb only aggression which the authorities are attempting to promote. They would also have made more difficult the project of eventual Kosovan independence which Nato presented from the beginning as a fait accompli to the Albanian separatists.

Del Ponte’s new book ‘The Hunt – Me and War Criminals’, contains startling allegations that the Kosovan Liberation Army ran a grotesque operation harvesting organs from Serb prisoners, who were then killed. Investigators came across the clinic in which this took place and where 300 Serbs were then being literally butchered before their organs were spirited into Albania itself, to raise money on the international organ market. The prisoners’ kidneys were being removed before their deaths. Many were begging to be killed before this process took place.

Much of the protest at these allegations seems to arise, not from the substance of the claims, but because of the inopportune timing of Del Ponte’s book. Human Rights Watch assessed the evidence as “sufficiently grave” to warrant a serious investigation.

Of course, although there is evidence that this crime has been committed, it has not been proven as yet. But that is in any case the point. It is manifestly correct to investigate rigorously war crimes which have been perpetrated by any side in a conflict. It is not right to investigate the crimes of one side and ignore those of the other. There is no doubt that the war crimes of Serbs have been pursued with more rigour than those of the Kosovan Liberation Army. Clearly this is partially because members of that organisation are crucial within the government which Nato wishes to promote as that of an independent sovereign state.


Hernandez said...

There’s no doubt the KLA committed some terrible atrocities. However, it should not be forgotten that the overwhelming number of war crimes were committed by the Serbs. The KLA were the lesser of two evils but as you say it doesn’t mean they should escape fair punishment.

Chekov said...

That's not true hernandez. That's simply not true.

Hernandez said...

Would you equate the KLA with the IRA? Likewise the Serbs to Unionists?

Chekov said...

Not directly no. Although both organisations are undoubtedly terrorists. Both organisations have garnered public sympathy by disingenuously presenting themselves as victims. The KLA are certainly not 'the lesser of two evils'. Nor is it true to say that 'the overwhelming number of war crimes' in Kosovo were committed by Serbs. If you're basing this on evidence produced in 'Another Bloody Love Letter' I think its worth remembering that Loyd actually attached himself to Bosnian units in earlier wars. Perhaps he did the same in Kosovo. He certainly does not constitute an impartial observer.