A recent post mentioned British journalist Eve-Ann Prentice, who died of cancer last year at age 55. More people should know the name Eve-Ann Prentice, so following is an excerpt from Andy Wilcoxson’s pre-published manuscript:
Eve-Ann Prentice, the British journalist who testified at the Milosevic trial that she saw bin Laden at [wartime Bosnian President] Izetbegovic’s offices, covered the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict for The Guardian and the London Times.
The difference between Ms. Prentice and most Western journalists who covered the war is the fact that she covered it from inside Kosovo, while her colleagues chose to report the war from the sidelines - particularly from the refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania.
The problem with reporting from the refugee camps was that the KLA had minders in the camps to ensure that all of the refugees peddled the same line when speaking to journalists.
Unlike her colleagues in the refugee camps, Ms. Prentice took great pains to ensure that whenever she interviewed civilians, neither the KLA nor the Serbian security forces were present.
According to Ms. Prentice’s testimony, the vast majority of ethnic Albanian civilians she interviewed told her that they were under immense pressure to leave Kosovo and that most of the pressure was coming from the KLA.
Only one of the Albanians that she interviewed told her that he was afraid of the Serbian security forces.
According to Prentice’s testimony, “The KLA told ethnic Albanian civilians that it was their patriotic duty to leave because the world was watching. This was their one big opportunity to make Kosovo part of Albania eventually, that NATO was there, ready to come in, and that anybody who failed to join the exodus was not supporting the Albanian cause.”
Ms. Prentice wasn’t the only witness who came to The Hague and testified that the KLA was pressuring Albanian civilians to leave Kosovo during the war.
Alice Mahon, who served as a British MP from Halifax and a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels during the Kosovo war testified that “The KLA definitely encouraged the exodus.”
She told the Tribunal of one particularly dramatic incident when an ethnic Albanian woman, who came to Britain as a refugee from Kosovo, had a nervous breakdown in her office. This poor woman had been chased out of Kosovo by the KLA and was terrified at the thought of going back. Fortunately, Ms. Mahon was able to use her influence as an MP to allow this woman to remain in Britain.
Muharem Ibraj and Saban Fazliu, two ethnic Albanian witnesses from Kosovo, also came to The Hague and testified that the Serbian security forces encouraged Albanians to remain in their homes, and that it was, in fact, the KLA who forced the Albanian population to leave the province.
Fazliu testified that the KLA would kill anybody who disobeyed its orders. He said, “The [KLA] order was to leave Kosova in later stages, to go to Albania, Macedonia, so that the world could see for them selves that the Albanians are leaving because of the harm caused by the Serbs. This was the aim. This was the KLA order.”
Related is an interview with an Albanian who fled Kosovo, printed by the Emperors-Clothes.com website in March 2000:
Interviewer’s note — Columns of Albanian refugees marched across the world’s TV screens for months. They were all going to Albania. All the world could see them. What the world couldn’t, or wouldn’t see and won’t see, are the Albanians going to Serbia.
Agim K. (27), an engineer born in Pristina, is an Albanian by nationality. He and his family, flying [sic] from the terror of their compatriots, found refuge in Belgrade. I met him in the offices of the Red Cross of Serbia, where he was applying for help, and asked him to tell me his story. He agreed, under the condition that his last name and present address not be published for security reasons.
Q: Why and when did you and your family leave Kosovo?
A: We left Pristina on Friday, the 8th of October. We left because we were forced to. It was no longer a matter of wanting or not wanting — it was a question of survival.
Q: Who forced you?
A: No matter how unbelievable it sounds, the Albanians did. You see, my father was always a loyal citizen of this country. He was born here, and respected the laws and authorities of Serbia, not of Albania; and certainly not of a terrorist organization such as the UÇK. [KLA]
When the bombing started, the UÇK was mobilizing Albanian people, young and old, to fight against the Yugoslav Army. UÇK soldiers made constant threats: they wanted men to go to war, and their families to go to Albania or Macedonia as refugees. They went from door to door. A lot of the men joined of their own free will, but there were even more who joined out of fear. People were scared of retaliation against their families more than they were scared for their own lives.
Q: Did the UÇK come to your door, too?
A: Yes, of course they did. More than once. My father and me, we refused to join them. The soldiers said they would shoot us as traitors, burn our house. My father answered that they could kill us all, if that’s what they wanted, but he and his family wouldn’t be butchers and scavengers. Finally they left us alone, saying that they wouldn’t have to kill us, that the Yugoslav Army would finish the job for them.
Q: What did you do during the bombing? Did you stay in Pristina?
A: We stayed and spent almost three months in the cellar of our Serbian friends; they had the biggest and safest cellar in the neighborhood, so all of us neighbors hid there with them — about 15 to 20 people. No one paid any attention to nationality; we were all humans, helping each other survive.
Q: And after the bombing?
A: That’s when the real trouble started. After the war ended, and KFOR entered Pristina, the UÇK came back. But they were not alone — the borders were no longer guarded, you see; anyone could come in. All the worst scum from Albania invaded Kosovo. The UÇK was fully armed and no one cared to stop them; they could do whatever they wanted. And they did — this time real ethnic cleansing was at work. Serbs were killed on a daily basis in the city; abductions, rapes, burnings, threats; a circle of violence with no ending. What can I say? You could all see that. All the world could see, if only they wanted to. Me and my family tried to help our Serbian friends, the way they helped us during the war. But we couldn’t even help ourselves. To the UÇK we were worse then them — we were traitors! And since we wouldn’t join the mass expulsion of Serbs, the UÇK decided to make us leave Kosovo, or kill us.
Q: When did the threats start again? And how exactly?
A: The threats started again in July, I think. First only by telephone; later they began to come to our house, at night — four or five people usually, sometimes more, in UÇK uniforms. They had guns, knives. First they wanted me to work for them; I am an engineer and they needed qualified people. They wanted me to make diversions on power stations and phone lines. I refused. Then they started to break in our house several times a week, to beat us up: me, my father. My mother and younger sisters had to watch them do it, at gun point. We had no more sleep at night. This was a thousand times worse than anything Serbs did, or didn’t do, or could have done: our own people were torturing us because we wouldn’t be cut-throats.
Q: Didn’t you try to ask some protection of KFOR?
A: Yes, we did. KFOR said that there’s nothing they could do unless we called them while the assault was still going on. No, we couldn’t hope for any protection [from] their part. Then later, in August and September, the situation became even worse. One night, I remember, three men broke in. They didn’t even bother to put on masks — we could all see their faces. One of them put a knife to my sister’s throat. He said: “Next time I come, if I find you all here, I’ll rape her in front of you and then cut her throat wide open!” And my sister is just 13 years old. It was then that my father said, for the first time out loud: “I think we’ll have to leave, sooner or later.” Even I, who was up to that point strongly against it, had to agree with him. You see, all the time I kept thinking that the situation would get better, kept hoping there would finally be some law and order. But as time went by, I saw no improvement - just more killings, more blood. I don’t care so much for myself, but my family, my sisters, that’s something else.
Q: So you finally decided to leave? But why come to Belgrade, of all places?
A: Where else could we go? Besides, we have old family friends here: I lived in their house for five years while I was studying in Belgrade. We knew that we could count on their support. So when we finally decided to leave Pristina, Belgrade was the only logical choice. I knew, of course, that some people here would look at us with mistrust and disapproval, but that was to be expected wherever we went. And anything was better than Kosovo. There was no place there for us anymore. Still, I shall never forget the day we left — it was the worst day of my life. It’s hard, you know, when you have to pack all your life in one car, leave behind all you have ever known as your own, lock the house and throw away the key.
Q: Do you see, anywhere in future, the possibility for you and your family to go back to Kosovo?
A: I am sorry I have to say it, but no, I see no possibility for that, even in the distant future. The situation in Kosovo will remain unstable and unsafe in the years to come. There’s no life there for us. Even if things do get better someday, we’ll always be traitors for our compatriots. They want to live in some imaginary state, some Greater Albania, and they don’t even know this state will never exist. Me, I want to live in Yugoslavia.
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