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[Emperor's Clothes]


Concentration Camps and Gangster/Terrorism in Kosovo

Article by Vanja Mekterovic and Vladimir Radomirovic
Translated by S. Lazovic

Introduction by Jared Israel
(Posted April 10, 2000)


by Jared Israel (April 10, 2000)

Last week we posted a story from the Belgrade newspaper 'Danas', charging that the KLA had set up small concentration camps all over Kosovo.

Now comes a second concentration camp report, in the Bosnian Serb newspaper 'Reporter'.

The writers point out that the earlier report on the existence of concentration camps is all the more credible because it originated from 'non-Belgrade' sources. Very true. I have posted the 'Reporter' article below. The 'Danas' piece can be reached by clicking on a hyperlink at the end of the 'Reporter' article.

The existence of KLA-run concentration camps (or dungeons) in Kosovo is not debatable; only the extent is debatable. Accounts have appeared, even in the Western press. Consider this one, published shortly after the KLA took over government functions in Prizren, in Kosovo, functions that include running the police station:

PRIZREN, Kosovo --
"German NATO troops on Friday found one corpse and 15 elderly people badly beaten in a former Serbian Interior Ministry police station and detained 25 members of the Kosovo Liberation Army in the latest step by NATO peacekeepers to reign in the rebel army. "

"The KLA guerillas, who were disarmed by the German troops, had apparently imprisoned and severely beaten the people, mostly Gypsies..."
--Austin American-Statesman, June 19, 1999

But is this practice widespread? Not merely widespread: inherent. I charge that putting people in concentration camp dungeons is a natural part of how the KLA governs. If I am correct, is it credible that NATO (or KFOR, as it is called in Kosovo) would be unaware?

Do I exaggerate? Please check out the following from the July 29, 1999, NY Times, hardly a pro-Serbian source:

  • "Tahir Canolli, 49, ran a furniture store in Pristina for nearly three decades. He, like many businessmen, hoped that when he returned to Pristina from the refugee camps in Macedonia, the harassment he experienced under Serbs would end."

Note to readers: the "harassment under Serbs" remark, pasted onto the article without benefit of support or explanation (how was he harassed and how do we know he was?) is an example of the Obligatory Bash which can be found in virtually all articles about Yugoslavia. No matter what the subject, and especially if the subject is KLA terror, the writer or editor offers at least one anti-Serbian side-swipe just to remind readers that however awful the KLA and NATO may be, 'Serbs' are worse. Note that 'Serbs' are here treated as an undifferentiated mass, only fitting for an Evil People. (For more on the Obligatory Bash see Footnote 5 at the end.)

"Instead, a group of KLA fighters arrived at his shop two weeks ago with a paper issued from 'The Ministry of Public Order' demanding the keys to his 1990 Audi 80 and his store.

'They were arrogant, brutal and rude,' he said, unfolding the stamped order that he now carries in his pocket. 'They told me that if I did not comply immediately they knew a cellar I might like to visit."'

A cellar? As in 'dungeon'?

The Times report ascends from the horrible to the surreal:

"Within hours, $50,000 worth of furniture was loaded onto trucks brought by the officials who had demanded his keys. The looters not only stripped the store of its contents but also ripped out the heaters, lamps and mirrors. [!] They carted away 24 large flower boxes that had been outside the building. The next day several flower boxes of the same design and with the same kinds of plants were placed outside the building where Mr. Thaci works."

Mr. Thaci was indulging his feminine side, yes? Now comes a bit of humor, perhaps unintended:

"Mr. Thaci's appointees said that such confiscations, especially of state-owned buildings, were part of their effort to determine property ownership. They also defended the decision to begin collecting money from businesses, a practice many shop owners have labeled 'extortion.'"

Ah, those troublesome shop owners! Always throwing around labels!

The article continues:

"Mr. Canolli has spent hours outside Mr. Thaci's ministries in recent days in the hope that he can reclaim some of his property or be compensated for it. But each attempt has been rebuffed.

"'I saw the K.L.A. police inspector who gave me the confiscation order driving my car, although it had no license plates,' he said. 'I went to his office but was told at the door that I should never come back or attempt to speak with him..'"(NY Times, July 29, 1999, my emphasis).

Which brings us back to the cellar, does it not?

Note that we are talking here about how the KLA treats Albanians - i.e., it takes their stuff and threatens them with dungeons, that is, with small concentration camps. Of course KLA members don't harbor racist feelings for other Albanians but they do harbor - and proclaim - their racial hatred for Serbs. So is it far fetched to believe that a) the KLA has dungeons and b) they have imprisoned some of the many Serbs whom they have kidnapped in these dungeons?

In the following article a couple of non-Serbian names are followed by [sp?]. This is because in translating names back and forth the original spelling sometimes gets lost. For instance, my own name (Jared Israel) is written 'Dzered Izrael' in Serbo-Croatian, using the Latin alphabet. Who knows how my name would end up if it were translated back to English by someone unaware of the original English spelling. Hence the [sp?] in a couple of places.

Here's the article from 'Reporter:'

-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes


Concentration camps in Kosovo:
KLA Archipelago

By Vanja Mekterovic and Vladimir Radomirovic
Translated by S. Lazovic
Reprinted from 'Reporter', April 5, 2000, Banja Luka, Republika Srpska:

  • "Sefko Alomerovic claims that Aljos Malja, the head of the KLA secret police, is running concentration camps for Serbs in Kosovo. Foreigners ask who is Alomerovic"

The question whether anything else can possibly shock us about Kosovo was answered last week. The news that Kosovo Albanians are keeping Serbs in concentration camps is all the more convincingly shocking because it is not coming from pro-Belgrade sources. This claim was first made by the well-known human rights activist Sefko Alomerovic, President of the Sandzak Helsinki Committee. He describes himself as "fighting the Serbian government for 12 years."

Alomerovic told 'Reporter' that the concentration camp story is not new:

"'As far back as September we talked about this at a forum in Sarajevo organized by the council of Bosniac intellectuals. We sent all the documentation to the Helsinki Committee. I gave endless interviews. Nobody reacted. Now suddenly everyone is denying our claims,' says Alomerovic."

Documents: The President of the Sandzak Helsinki Committee says the kidnapped Serbs are held in six locations, most frequently in boiler rooms, garages and basements of public buildings and private houses. Immediately following the arrival of KFOR [NATO in Kosovo] these were transformed into concentration camps which hold up to 50 people.

These people are moved when necessary. Alomerovic claims all the camps are run by Aljos Malja, head of the KLA secret police.

"Our member spoke on January 20 at 2:00 p.m. in Novi Pazar with two representatives of the International Red Cross, Nils Melzer and Joan Verhonig [sp?]. When we asked about concentration camps, they became excited and left the office. Fifteen minutes later they returned and insisted that we tell them where we got our information," says Alomerovic.

"Reporter" confirmed with the Belgrade office of the Red Cross that Melzer and Verhonig are indeed Red Cross employees. However, it was impossible to get statements from the two.

Alomerovic told "Reporter" that KFOR [NATO in Kosovo] and UNMIK knew about the Sandzak Helsinki Committee's charges. He says the Committee "has people who work for both KFOR and UNMIK." He says these people confirmed that KFOR offices in Pristina, Pec and Kosovska Mitrovica [in Kosovo] received the relevant materials from the Committee. "These are our people, people we trust," says Alomerovic. "They work in jobs like security and were able to hand-deliver the documents. Their testimony constitutes sufficient evidence that KFOR knows about the concentration camps."

Suzanne Manuel [sp?], the press representative of the UN mission in Pristina, told "Reporter" she had received no documentation from the Sandzak Committee.

"I checked with all representatives of UNMIK and KFOR but no one has heard of such documentation. There were reports regarding the existence of concentration camps or prisons for Serbs and other non-Albanians in June or July of 1999 but there is no evidence of this now," says Manuel, adding that she spoke with Italian sector Command "which also claims that there are no locations where Serbs are imprisoned."

Albania: In proving the stories about the concentration camps, Alomerovic states with disappointment that the Committee has problems on four fronts. "We have problems proving everything we claim to KFOR, UNMIK, the Serbian authorities and the Albanians. But when the Albanians and KFOR say that this is all Serbian propaganda, I personally don't buy it," he says and adds: "I don't know how KFOR imagines its role in Kosovo if that is their strongest argument."

KFOR officials deny the existence of concentration camps claiming that they control all territory in Kosovo and that it is impossible for concentration camps to exist somewhere without them knowing about them. Alomerovics claims and the denials of KFOR may be reconciled by the fact that in the northern parts of Albania there exist concentration camps for Serbs which KFOR does not control.

With regard to this Alomerovic says: "Ther*e is information but the only fact which we have is the statement of an Albanian who told an activist of Amnesty International that he saw a large number of imprisoned people in Kukes and Tropoja but that he did not know their nationality. In addition to this, it is good to keep in mind that uncontrolled groups are constantly crossing the border and thus territory which is controlled by KFOR."

According to the data of the newly founded Association of Families of the Kidnapped in Kosovo and Metohija "in the territory of the province since 1998 1,200 people have been kidnapped". The president of the association, Ranko Djinovic, said on Wednesday at a press conference in Belgrade that 75 percent of the kidnappings occurred after the arrival of KFOR and UNMIK. He, too, claims that kidnapped people are being kept in mobile concentration camps located in the regions of Klina, Pec and Djakovica.

"Reporter" was unable to get more precise information from the government committee for war crimes in Belgrade. As explained by judge Ilija Simic, one of the reasons is the great fear of relatives for their kidnapped loved ones. "It is a very sensitive subject," said Simic, affirming that "the committee does have some data but not complete insight into the documentation".

"At this moment we still cannot make a public statement of any sort. We have very bad and serious experiences from Bosnia. As far as the kidnapped are concerned, they are generally kept in houses, and as soon as they are found out, they are moved. The same thing was done by Muslims in Bosnia. We have very little information and are having a difficult time collecting more," said Simic.

Exchange: Zivorad Jovanovic, the well-informed owner of the private detective agency Ozna in Kragujevac, which took part in an exchange of imprisoned Serbs from Kosovo with Albanians from prisons in Serbia, also shared his knowledge with "Reporter". He, too, believes that the majority of kidnapped Serbs are located in concentration camps in the north of Albania "which are run by the KLA. A somewhat smaller number is located in regions bordering with Albania and in Drenica," said Jovanovic, expressing the fear that a negligible number of the kidnapped are still alive. "The Albanians are tired of constantly moving them from one place to another," he said and added that "some people are still located in private jails because the Albanians are hoping that they will be able to exchange them for their relatives who received heavy prison sentences". However, he also cited "five or six recent cases of fraud where Serbs paid from ten to fifteen thousand marks to free their relatives. O! ! One father paid 30,000 marks ransom for his soldier son but he has not seen his son".

Despite everything, in the story of the concentration camps the two extremes are irreconcilable. Alomerovic refuses to accept that the issue is a matter of opinion, claiming that many foreign reporters said that everyone knew about the existence of concentration camps in Kosovo. "The concentration camps are a secret known to all," says Alomerovic categorically. "To claim there are no concentration camps is to claim that these people were killed. If someone accepts that a thousand people were killed, and claims to control all territory in Kosovo, then he is claiming that he is a possible accomplice in their murder".

Rewriting of reports

"I cannot either claim nor deny that concentration camps exist because I know nothing about it," Sonja Biserko, the president of the Helsinki Committee of Serbia, tells "Reporter". "We have experience with such information because it appeared very frequently during the war and after the war in Bosnia. Just remember Srebrenica," said Biserko.

When asked why the Helsinki Committee in Serbia does not know whether concentration camps exist, Alomerovic responded that "first they have to find Kosovo on the map. Every year they rewrite their reports. Unlike our Committee, they work in offices and organize round table discussions. This is not a good way of keeping up with what is happening out in the field."

Biserko responded that her committee performed numerous interviews with Serbs and Romanies in Kosovo and that in them there was no mention made of concentration camps.


In the office of the International Red Cross Committee in Belgrade, "Reporter" was told that between January 1, 1998 to February 1, 2000 the disappearance of 4,434 people from Kosovo was reported. The fate of 2,987 people remains unknown. Of that number, according to the data of the International Red Cross Committee, 346 people were kidnapped by armed Albanians.


Footnotes and Further Reading

1) For more on the same topic, see 'We have seen five concentration camps in Kosovo,' at

2) For Emperor's Clothes articles on Yugoslavia, see

3) The July 29th Senate hearings on Serbia are truly amazing. The highest US officials discuss quite openly spending vast sums to subvert the political process in Serbia. They make clear they consider key 'opposition' politicians to be their property; ditto with the so-called independent Yugoslav media. This is well worth reading. See: "HEARING OF THE EUROPEAN AFFAIRS SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE," at

4) The city of Orahovac has become a giant concentration camp for Serbs and Roma ('Gypsies'). See 'The Women of Orahovac Answer the Colonel' or go to

5)  For a discussion of the Obligatory Bash please see:



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