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The Albanian American Civic League Condemns Human Rights Abuses in Macedonia

The Albanian American Civic League Condemns Human Rights Abuses By Albanian Fighters And The Macedonian Government For Its War Against Civilians.




For Immediate Release

Contact: Shirley Cloyes

Balkan Affairs Adviser


Ossining, New York, August 12, 2001—Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday, documenting the torture and sexual abuse of five ethnic Macedonian road workers by a faction of the National Liberation Army. On August 7, NLA fighters abducted the men on the Skopje-Tetova highway, while preparing for an ambush on a Macedonian military convoy that resulted in the deaths of ten soldiers the following day. The ambush was carried out in response to the Macedonian government’s killing of five NLA members in a police raid on a home in an Albanian neighborhood in Skopje. While the Macedonian government said that it had “encountered strong armed resistance,” Human Rights Watch described the killing of the NLA fighters as a “summary execution.”In its continuing war against the Albanian civilian population, the Macedonian government responded to the ambush by bombing Albanian villages near Tetova with helicopter gunships purchased from the Ukraine. At the same time, ethnic Macedonian civilians burned a mosque and looted and set fire to Albanian shops in Prilep, the hometown of most of the Macedonian soldiers who were killed in the ambush.


In its continuing war against the Albanian civilian population, the Macedonian government responded to the ambush by bombing Albanian villages near Tetova with helicopter gunships purchased from the Ukraine. At the same time, ethnic Macedonian civilians burned a mosque and looted and set fire to Albanian shops in Prilep, the hometown of most of the Macedonian soldiers who were killed in the ambush.The Albanian American Civic League condemns the faction of the NLA that tortured innocent Macedonian civilians, and calls on NLA’s political leader, Ali Ahmeti, who has publicly accepted the peace agreement, to denounce this heinous act and to call for the identification and isolation of the individuals who were responsible. The kind of brutality to which the ethnic Macedonian civilians were subjected is reminiscent of the barbarous acts that Albanians have been subjected to at the hands of hostile Slavic regimes for more than a century. Until recently, the NLA had been able to make the claim convincingly that it is not a terrorist organization because it does not attack civilians, but only police and military targets. Now, the NLA’s credibility is in question, and Ahmeti’s personal efforts to bring justice to the Albanian community in Macedonia and the reintegration of his troops into society have been needlessly compromised.


In its continuing war against the Albanian civilian population, the Macedonian government responded to the ambush by bombing Albanian villages near Tetova with helicopter gunships purchased from the Ukraine. At the same time, ethnic Macedonian civilians burned a mosque and looted and set fire to Albanian shops in Prilep, the hometown of most of the Macedonian soldiers who were killed in the ambush.The Albanian American Civic League condemns the faction of the NLA that tortured innocent Macedonian civilians, and calls on NLA’s political leader, Ali Ahmeti, who has publicly accepted the peace agreement, to denounce this heinous act and to call for the identification and isolation of the individuals who were responsible. The kind of brutality to which the ethnic Macedonian civilians were subjected is reminiscent of the barbarous acts that Albanians have been subjected to at the hands of hostile Slavic regimes for more than a century. Until recently, the NLA had been able to make the claim convincingly that it is not a terrorist organization because it does not attack civilians, but only police and military targets. Now, the NLA’s credibility is in question, and Ahmeti’s personal efforts to bring justice to the Albanian community in Macedonia and the reintegration of his troops into society have been needlessly compromised.The revelation of human rights abuses by at least one faction of the NLA has

AACL/Macedonia hurt the historic struggle of the Albanian people to put an end to anti-Albanian racism and genocide in the Balkans. Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, president of the Albanian American Civic League, expressed his grave concern for the image of Albanians, stating that, “The torture of these Macedonian workers allows the international community to persist in creating an unfair parity between state-sponsored terrorism in Serbia and in Macedonia, and the inhumane actions of a small group of Albanians in the Balkans.”


hurt the historic struggle of the Albanian people to put an end to anti-Albanian racism and genocide in the Balkans. Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, president of the Albanian American Civic League, expressed his grave concern for the image of Albanians, stating that, “The torture of these Macedonian workers allows the international community to persist in creating an unfair parity between state-sponsored terrorism in Serbia and in Macedonia, and the inhumane actions of a small group of Albanians in the Balkans.”While the Civic League laments the grisly treatment of the ethnic Macedonian road workers, it also condemns the ethnic Macedonian leaders–Prime Minister Lubjco Georgievski and his Interior Minister, Ljube Boskovski, in particular–for the war against Albanian civilians that they have conducted since the conflict began six months ago. Because the Western press and the U.S. and European governments have focused almost exclusively on acts of violence committed by the NLA, little attention has been paid to the fact that the overwhelming majority of ethnic Albanians, who support peace and the integrity of the Macedonian state, have been the war’s major victims at the hands of the Macedonian army and paramilitary groups.


hurt the historic struggle of the Albanian people to put an end to anti-Albanian racism and genocide in the Balkans. Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, president of the Albanian American Civic League, expressed his grave concern for the image of Albanians, stating that, “The torture of these Macedonian workers allows the international community to persist in creating an unfair parity between state-sponsored terrorism in Serbia and in Macedonia, and the inhumane actions of a small group of Albanians in the Balkans.”While the Civic League laments the grisly treatment of the ethnic Macedonian road workers, it also condemns the ethnic Macedonian leaders–Prime Minister Lubjco Georgievski and his Interior Minister, Ljube Boskovski, in particular–for the war against Albanian civilians that they have conducted since the conflict began six months ago. Because the Western press and the U.S. and European governments have focused almost exclusively on acts of violence committed by the NLA, little attention has been paid to the fact that the overwhelming majority of ethnic Albanians, who support peace and the integrity of the Macedonian state, have been the war’s major victims at the hands of the Macedonian army and paramilitary groups.While condemnation of the NLA’s use of the July ceasefire to expand the territory under its control and its record of human rights abuses in recent weeks has been vigorous, there has been no similar outcry against the Macedonian army. Since March, the army has forced 112,000 ethnic Albanians to flee into Kosova and other neighboring countries, has bombed Albanian communities with helicopter gunships (something that even the Serbian army did not do in Kosova), has shelled and burned Albanian villages to the ground, and has beaten, tortured, and imprisoned hundreds of young men. Neither has there been significant opposition to the arming of 20,000 Macedonian civilians by Interior Minister Boskovski and the formation of Macedonian paramilitary groups. The latter have abducted more than fifty ethnic Albanian intellectuals and professionals, stormed the parliament in June, shouting “Death to NATO” and “Albanians to the gas chambers,” attacked foreign embassies, and driven 10,000 ethnic Albanians out of Manastir and demolished the city.


The Civic League calls on the Bush administration to stop taking a backseat to Europe and to assume the lead in preventing the conflict in Macedonia from descending into full-scale civil war. Even if the peace agreement is signed by the four-party governing coalition, the ethnic Macedonian-dominated parliament is unlikely to approve it, because this would require a two-thirds majority vote. Only the assertion of the moral, economic, and military power of the United States can insure that the agreement is implemented and the conflict halted. The United States must immediately demilitarize not only the NLA, but also the Macedonian paramilitaries and civilians. It must then oversee the implementation of the reforms outlined in the peace agreement as the first step to remedying decades of institutionalized discrimination against Albanians, police brutality, and ethnic cleansing. “This is the only exit from the crisis,” said Arben Xhaferi, chairman of the Democratic Party of Albanians in Macedonia, in a phone interview. Otherwise, Macedonia, a segregated society that the West prematurely hailed as a multiethnic democracy, will be devastated by war and ultimately carved up like Bosnia.

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