On Monday, Kosovo’s National Day of Missing Persons, Kosovo leaders have called for justice and against amnesty for crimes committed by Serbia during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo.
April 27 marks the anniversary of the Meja massacre in 1999, in which Serbian police, army and paramilitary units executed an ethnic cleansing operation by killing at least 327 Albanian men and boys. Entire villages fled to Albania during the day of the massacre. Serbian troops transported by trucks and buried the bodies of the executed civilians in mass graves in Serbia’s capital Belgrade.
President Hashim Thaçi accused the international community for keeping silent in front of the genocide committed in Kosovo, which he said amounted to amnesty for Serbia.
The President indirectly denied supporting an amnesty as part of a potential deal with Serbia.
“This genocide of the state of Serbia has not yet been punished by either local or international justice. This international silence is a kind of amnesty for the genocide of Serbia, but under no circumstances, at any time, will there be an amnesty for crimes and genocide committed by the state of Serbia in Kosovo. There is no peace without justice, and we will continue to seek justice together with the international community, so that this genocide and these crimes are punished by the local and international justice authorities,” Thaçi stated.
Baton Haxhiu, a close confidants of President Thaçi who is seen as his public surrogate in Kosovo, suggested during the weekend that the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia should include the dismantling of the Special Court indicting crimes committed by Kosovo Albanians during the war, an amnesty for war crimes, and determining the status of the north of Kosovo. The statement caused public outrage in the country.
Other political leaders who were part of the Kosovo Liberation Army also focused on the need for justice to be delivered and against any kind of amnesty for war crimes.
Former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj wrote: “Justice must be served – non amnesty for criminals!”
There is no amnesty, no forgiving. There is only accountability by Serbia for the genocide it committed,” stated Kadri Veseli, former Speaker of Parliament and leader of Thaçi’s Democratic Party of Kosovo.
Leader of the Democratic league of Kosovo Isa Mustafa said: “Serbia must return the bodies of the missing people and those who committed the crime must face justice.”
Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that criminals of the Meja Massacre are free and living in the Balkan countries despite their names having appeared in testimonies at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). “These people will be criminally prosecuted and sentenced for their crimes, as they deserve it,” he stated.
The Kosovo Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms issued a statement against any kind of amnesty for war crimes, independently of the ethnic background of criminals.
Serbia killed at least 8,676 Albanian civilians in Kosovo, 1641 are still missing, more than 850,000 were expelled from Kosovo to neighboring countries, several hundred thousands more were internally displaced, over 20,000 Albanian women raped by Serbian troops, nearly 40 percent (about 92 thousand) of houses were either damaged or destroyed.