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April 11, 1998
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 340
Who are the "Loyal Albanians"

Sitting Ducks

by Zoran B. Nikolic

Six male bodies were found in the remote Kosovo outback of Carevac on April 6. The Kosovo Information Center says that five were strangled while one had blood all over him. However, the investigating judge in charge of the case said that all six men were killed by automatic gunfire. Whatever happened, the inhabitants of nearby villages couldn't identify the victims so they had their fingerprints taken post-mortem. This often doesn't work in Kosovo because many ethnic Albanians don't have any identification documents, meaning most of them never had their fingerprints taken by police. This time, however, the judge got lucky.

All the victims were identified.

It turned out that they had left their homes three days before they were killed. Rumors have it that another 13 people were kidnapped that day. If so, their fate is a complete mystery. No one has claimed responsibility for the Carevac killings so far. The state-controlled media said the six victims were "loyal to the Serbian authorities. Two of them were neighbors of one who was mysteriously killed outside his own home and wanted the perpetrators caught. Salji Berisa and his family signed a public letter to the Contact Group, the CSCE and Bill Clinton, written by 63 ethnic Albanians who lent support to Serbian president Milan Milutinovic's declaration on Kosovo and deplored Ibrahim Rugova's  "policy of terrorism".

The letter, sent on March 22, has the following ending: "Long live Serbia and Yugoslavia". It is believed that 178 ethnic Albanians have signed the letter to this day. The number of ethnic Albanians killed by their compatriots for "collaborating with the aggressor" has risen to 21. Ejup Bagora, a policeman with the Serbian interior ministry, was the first ethnic Albanian victim of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Bagora was murdered by two assailants while getting off a bus in the village of Donje Ljupce on August 29, 1996.  Faik Belopoja was killed on December 26 the same year, although it has remained unclear to this day exactly what the nature of his "collaboration" was. During 1997, nine "loyal" Albanians were killed and another four have been executed in the course of this year.

What have they done to deserve this and to be called traitors by their compatriots? Malic Ceholi, killed on January 9 last year in Podujevo, was the only ethnic Albanian deputy of the Podujevo SPS branch. Heten Dobruna was a clerk in the Dobrunac municipality. Dalip Dugoli was a member of the Socialist Party of Serbia. Zenun Durmicaj was guilty of taking part in the Serbian elections. Others were killed because they were under suspicion that they cooperated with Serbian police.

Murat Dajaku was killed when the truck he was driving was ambushed, while a number of other victims were killed for the jobs they did. Mustafa Kurtaj, killed on Friday, February 23, was a postman. He was one of the two people who did this job in the Glogovac municipality. The so-called "Republic of Kosovo" still doesn't have a postal service.
The most dangerous vocation in Kosovo at the moment is being a forest ranger. Four of them were killed and another one only just survived after being stabbed with a knife several times. Even the ethnic Albanians whose family members are JUL deputies have reason to fear for their lives. Fadilj and Sali Zogaj were killed because their father was a forest ranger. There is an ongoing battle in Kosovo between rangers and poachers, which is hardly a political issue. Politics has, nevertheless, declared an open season on rangers, because the UCK will claim responsibility for anyone killed for "collaborating with the occupator" while the Serbian authorities will declare "loyal" every ethnic Albanian killed by his compatriots.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians are well advised to take part in protest rallies organized by their compatriots. All ethnic Albanians who didn't close their shops during the protests in March had their windows smashed. Hand grenades were thrown at two ethnic Albanian-owned cafes in Pec for the same reason. God knows what prompted the 178 ethnic Albanians to sign that letter, provided all the signatures are authentic. If they are, the UCK has been given the green light to execute them. State-controlled media say that 114 inhabitants of another village near the Albanian border signed a very similar letter and sent it to the U.S. Information Center in Pristina. If wise politicians governed Serbia, they would treasure every single ethnic Albanian loyal to the regime. They wouldn't just say out their names like that. This way, there is every reason for fear that the six Carevac victims won't be the last.

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