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Attacks on elderly being condemned in Kosovo
OSCE Mission in Kosovo
28 October 1999
PRISTINA, 28 October 1999 -- Human rights teams of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which responsible for the human rights mandate within United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), have investigated an increasing number of murders, attacks and harassment. Elderly Serbs, in particular, are the victims. A pattern is emerging against those elderly who provide needed food and supplies to their housebound friends and against elderly people who have been singled out for property evictions.
The OSCE and UNMIK strongly condemn this deplorable pattern of violence and harassment. They call on political and community leaders to use their influence and to step up their efforts to actively discourage, stop and prevent this shameful behaviour.
An example of the violence is an attack in Zupa, where a 96-year-old Serb male was found bound and gagged with a gunshot wound to the head. The victim had been gathering food for a small isolated village of Serbs, many of whom were too afraid to travel to closest food shop run by Kosovo Albanians. In Kamenica, the remains of an 82-year-old Serb woman were found in her burnt house. She previously had been threatened and told to move out of the house.
Threats of eviction are not limited to Serbs. Elderly Kosovo Albanians report that young men and sometimes children bang on their doors and tell them to leave. These victims believe they are being evicted so that larger Kosovo Albanian families whose houses have been destroyed may move into their property. Many elderly Serbs tell human rights teams they are too afraid to leave their homes for fear of being attacked or evicted while they are out. Others told the OSCE that local Albanian food shops are refusing to sell food unless customers speak Albanian.
These attacks and intimidations are particularly deplorable in a society that traditionally respects and protects the elderly. Equally disturbing is the reluctance of witnesses, again because of fear, to assist in the investigation of these crimes by UNMIK Police and KFOR. OSCE human rights officers will continue to investigate violations of the human rights of the elderly and others in Kosovo. The OSCE urges all citizens to co-operate with the policing and security efforts of UNMIK Police and KFOR in solving and preventing such harassment and crime.
Building democratic institutions is the primary responsibility of the OSCE, within United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The OSCE Mission in Kosovo has specific responsibilities in the areas of police training, media affairs, rule of law and human rights, democratization and elections. More information is available by visiting the website at http://www.osce.org/kosovo
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