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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    TUE, 06 FEB 1996 19:24:07 GMT

    Meeting of non-governmental organizations for protection of human rights in Belgrade

    VIOLATION OF RIGHTS WITH BLESSING OF THE AUTHORITIES

    AIM Belgrade, February 3, 1996

    Representatives of non-governmental organizations for protection of human rights from Belgrade, Podgorica, Pristina and Novi Pazar, at their first joint meeting held in the premises of the Humanitarian Law Fund in Belgrade, agreed about a new form of operation. They founded committees which will deal with issues of violation of human rights in Kosovo, Sandzak and protection of women's rights.

    - My impression is - Natasa Kandic, Directress of the Humanitarian Law Fund stressed - that by means of this form of operation, through committees, it will be possible to exert more pressure on the Government and state agencies which ultimately bear responsibility for all cases of disrespect, limitation and jeopardy of human rights.

    The first to begin operation will be the Committees for Sandzak and Kosovo, because there, as Natasa Kandic notes, "violations of human rights are alarming and demand constant attention of non-governmental organizations".

    As one of the extreme examples of violation of human rights, the case of kidnapping in Strpci in March 1993 was given, when as claimed by the Montenegrin Helsinki Committee of Human rights, at least 19 men (18 Muslims and 1 Croat) were kidnapped from train No. 671. The formally initiated investigation was practically interrupted in June 1993. Kidnapping in Severin preceded this case, when 17 persons of Muslim nationality were taken out of a bus. Not even three years after this event was an official statement issued by the commission especially formed by the then president of the FR of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosic.

    According to the opinion of Natasa Kandic, all these cases have a few things in common which outline a matrix in compliance with which all disappearances and liquidations take place. Since every kidnapping is accompanied by torture and ends in liquidation of people, there is a sufficient number of elements to say that these are planned war crimes. There is also a sufficient number of data which indicate, as Natasa Kandic mentions, that these operations were not committed by independent action of paramilitary or any other formations.

    Sefko Alomerovic, President of the Helsinki Committee of Human Rights of Sandzak, claims that there are data which point to direct participation of the authorities in kidnapping of the Muslims. Apart from the already known facts on kidnapping in Strpci, Alomerovic added something new.

    - At the gathering in Prijepolje attended by Dr Zoran Arandejlovic, chairman of the Assembly of Serbia at the time, and a man called Ilic, a high official of the republican Ministry of the interior, representatives of parties from Priboj, municipality officials and relatives, a priest from Rudo also happened to be present. In the beginning of the meeting, priest Starovlah declared as an ultimatum that the Muslims should call Sefer Halilovic (one of the commanders of the Army of B&H) and tell him to return four kidnapped Serb combatants, and then he would bring the kidnapped men in an hour. Neither Arandjelovic, nor the man from the Ministry of police asked the priest anything, and they were not even surprised by his ultimatum either - Alomerovic says.

    Since Zoran Arandjelovic has never submitted a report from this gathering, nor explained how could a priest from Rudo as a foreign citizen give an ultimatum, according to the opinion of Sefko Alomerovic, this could not have been done without participation of the authorities.

    Adem Demaqi, President of the Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in Kosovo, jokingly calls himself the president of the "Committee for lamenting", since he believes that members of the Committee are not capable of even protecting themselves, least of all the people of Kosovo. That is the reason why almost half a million of the Albanians have left the country, and almost every year about 20 of his compatriots die of police torture. "We just register these cases and inform the domestic and the world public that all violations of human rights are committed in the form of ethnic repression against the Albanians", Demaqi stresses.

    The first targets of violation of human rights in autocratic and non-democratic regimes are the activists of organizations for protection of human rights, so local organizations will join the initiative of the UNO with their activities. Namely, ten years ago, the UN initiated the idea of a declaration which refers to the attitude towards activists and organizations for protection of human rights. These standards are expected to become part of legislature of member-countries. This declaration should be adopted at the next session of the General Assembly of the UN. Although the declaration is not legally compulsory, if adopted by a large number of countries, it will be a powerful moral and political instrument of exerting pressure, people in non-governmental organizations for protection of human rights point out.

    (AIM) Vesna Bjekic