Lying by Inertia

From Serbian daily “Blic,” March 19, 2004 (UNMIK summary)

A woman, representative of UNMIK Police told Blic on condition of anonymity that she could only repeat the statement given by the spokesman of UN Police Derek Chappell about the tragic death of three Albanian boys. Chappell said that three Albanian children drowned in the River of Ibar in an attempt to cross the river and that no Serbs with dogs had made them jump into the river. (emphasis NM)
When we mentioned to her that the world media continued quoting the statement by another UN Police spokesperson, Angela Joseph – who is, by the way, sharing the office with Chappell – and the person that reported about Serbs with dogs forcing the boys into the river, she told us that she could not comment on that.
Just to mention that it was almost impossible to make a telephone contact with UNMIK representatives. Whenever we said that we were journalists from Belgrade, local telephone operators, Albanians, would disconnect the line. For that reason we were forced to present ourselves as foreign journalists.
Blic tried to forward to the world media UNMIK’s official statement. Editor of BBC European news Bill Hayton thanked us for disclosing that fact to him and said that he “does not believe a 13 year-old-boy, but that he has not received any other news while he has to explain to the world public why the clashes occurred.” (emhasis NM)
In spite of the fact that we forwarded official information about the tragic accident in which three boys lost their lives and in spite of the fact that BBC and CNN initially expressed their intention to change their initial reports, they have not done so. Their viewers are still listening to the stories about evil Serbs and their dogs. Continue reading “Lying by Inertia”

Arab Press Snubs Powell

As Powell walked into a press conference in Baghdad today, an Arab journalist stood to read a statement of protest for the killing by American troops of two Iraqi journalists, cameraman Ali Abdul Aziz and reporter Ali al-Khatib at a checkpoint yesterday.

“We declare our boycott of the conference because of the martyrs,” Najim al-Rubaie of Iraq’s Distor newspaper said in a statement read at the start of the news conference as Powell and Iraq’s U.S. governor Paul Bremer looked on.

“We declare our condemnation of the incident which led to the killing of the two journalists…who were killed at the hands of the American forces.”

Cameraman Ali Abdul Aziz and reporter Ali al-Khatib had approached American troops at the checkpoint and secured permission to film at the Burj al-Hayat hotel, scene of a rocket attack.

“My brother had asked US forces if they could film the Burj al-Hayat hotel and they told him it was fine. Moments later, a Volvo did not stop at the checkpoint and the soldiers opened fire,” said the cameraman’s brother Haidar Abdel Aziz.

“My brother and his colleague wanted to leave, they ran to their car and an armoured vehicle opened fire on them.”

An American military spokesman claimed the journalists had “tried to run the checkpoint.”

After the statement was read, more than 30 Arab journalists stood and walked out of the conference.

I also regret the loss of life, the two journalists that they commemorated here by their action, I regret any loss of life,” Mr Powell told the remaining reporters.

The deaths of Abdul Aziz and Khatib are the second and third since The May 1 “Mission Accomplished” date, the first being Reuters’ Palestinian cameraman Dana Mazen, shot by American troops in August.

With the latest deaths, the Iraqi conflict has now claimed the lives of 16 journalists, 6 of whom were killed by American troops.

22 GIs Die in Iraq This Week as 2 U.S. Soldiers Killed Sunday

As the media focuses on the anniversary of the start of the war, very little attention is being paid to the accelerating death toll of US soldiers.

This morning, two US soldiers and three Iraqis were killed in a daytime rocket attack in Baghdad. Another GI was killed in an accident.

Thursday, a U.S. Army soldier from West Virginia died in Germany:

    A Parkersburg native who joined the Army to get an education and see the world died Thursday, one week after a homemade bomb struck his Humvee in Iraq.

Yesterday morning, two US marines were killed while on patrol.

Saturday morning “a U.S. soldier was fatally electrocuted while working on communication equipment at a U.S. military base in Baqouba, north of Baghdad” while “guerrillas killed a U.S. Marine near the restive town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.”

This brings the total killed to 22 since March 13, the grand total to 582 and total American deaths since the ineffectualy capture of Saddam to 124.

Two US soldiers were also killed Thursday in Afghanistan.

Pristina: All Serbs are gone

According to Orthodox priest Miroslav Popadic, special units of UNMIK police evacuated him and the last handful of Pristina Serbs to the besieged enclave of Gracanica.
Burned out of their ghetto, they had sought shelter in the parish hall basement next to the torched church of St. Nicholas. As of 9:12 PM (3:12 PM EST) on March 18, 2004, there are no more Serbs in Pristina.

Kosovo Ombudsman: “Intent to cleanse all Serbs”

Serbian Orthodox Church’s electronic information service carried the statement of Kosovo Ombudsman Marek Nowicki late Thursday. All emphasis mine:

Ombudsman office, Pristina, Kosovo
Statement to the Media, 18 March 2004

I once again take the opportunity to appeal to the Albanian part of the population of Kosovo, not only as Ombudsperson in Kosovo, but also as a man who has been living among and working with people from Kosovo for the last four years. Throughout these years, I have been trying to help you by raising your problems and questions with the responsible people in UNMIK and the local administrative structures. I tried to be a people’s advocate and at the same time the friend of all Kosovans.

I had done all of this because I had assumed that you, the people of Kosovo, had chosen to take a path leading to a prosperous future for you and your families, a future in which you would live in a society that would be based on openness, tolerance and the protection of the rights of others.

The recent developments have, however, suggested that not all members of the Albanian community in Kosovo really want this prosperous future. Instead, the current pictures of horrible violence and heinous criminal acts against members of the Serbian community and the international security forces create the impression in and outside Kosovo that there exists the intent to cleanse this land from the presence of all Serbs, in total rejection of the idea of a multi-ethnic cohabitation in Kosovo.

However, there is still time to turn back from this dangerous and violent path of action, which will and can only lead to a dead-end. I cannot do more than to ask you to reconsider your present attitude, in the hope that even if you do not agree to listen to others, you will at least take into account the concerns and serious objections of the Ombudsperson.

Marek Antoni Nowicki
Ombudsperson in Kosovo