The Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia (YIHR Serbia) alerted on Saturday of data manipulation by official Serb and Kosovo institutions during this week’s commemoration of the anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. They urged all institutions, as well as Serbian officials, to stop manipulating data on the number of victims of the Kosovo war and celebrating convicted war criminals.
„Several Serb officials presented inaccurate and incomplete data on the number of victims at several commemorative gatherings on the occasion of the beginning of the NATO bombing, thus showing disrespect for human lives,“ the YIHR announced yesterday.
They warned that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday (March 24th) that NATO had killed „2,500 civilians, soldiers, and police officers“.
On the other hand, the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on its official Twitter account that the Yugoslav Army and Serb police killed more than 15,000 Kosovo Albanians during the Kosovo war – the YIHR statement further reads.
The YIHR recalled that the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) and the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLC Kosovo) published in 2014 a list of victims of the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
According to this list, which is regularly updated, a total of 755 people lost their lives in NATO attacks – 454 civilians and 301 members of the armed forces. The civilian victims include 205 Serbs and Montenegrins, 221 Albanians, and 28 members of the Roma community. A total of 271 members of the YA/MIA and 30 members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were killed.
Also, in the Kosovo Memory Book, the HLC and the HLC Kosovo determined that from March 20th to June 14th, 1999, Serb forces killed 6,901 Albanians who did not take part in the hostilities. In the same period, KLA members killed 328 Serb civilians and 136 Roma and other non-Albanians who did not take part in the armed conflict. In the clashes between the YA/MIA and the KLA, a total of 1,204 members of the KLA and 559 members of the YA and the Serbian MIA were killed.
„In the same address, the President of Serbia said that NATO killed children from the Ahmetaj family while they were returning home to Prizren. According to the HLC and the HLC Kosovo, this family was part of a group of hundreds of refugees who were stopped by Serb forces on May 13th, 1999, and forced to remain in a Yugoslav Army facility outside of the village of Korisa. During the night, NATO bombed this military facility, whereby 78 people were killed in the attack, including 32 children,“ they said in a statement.
As an example of „unscrupulous behavior toward the culture of memory,“ this initiative cited another recent event:
„The removal of a wreath laid by the Student Club of the Faculty of Law in Belgrade on the monument ‘We were children’ in Tasmajdan Park, to lay a wreath of the state delegation led by Minister Kisic-Tepavcevic and Deputy Mayor of Belgrade Vesic, is an example of unscrupulous behavior towards the culture of memory, in which current state officials hold the center stage instead of victims.“
The YIHR also underlined that „it is a shame that after 22 years since the beginning of the NATO bombing, on a prime time slot on RTS, on Olivera Jovicevic’s ‘Upitnik’ talk-show, convicted war criminals Nikola Sainovic and Vladimir Lazarevic speak about the causes and consequences of the NATO bombing.“
„This is just one example in a series of promotions of convicted war criminals in public institutions and national TV channels,“ the Youth Initiative for Human Rights concluded.
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