Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
21.05.2000 | The Group ‘Human rights protection network’
Politics and human rights

The war in Yugoslavia and human rights The war in Yugoslavia and human rights


On 17 May in Moscow the press conference devoted to the topic ‘The war in Yugoslavia and human rights’ was held in the National Institute of press. According to the data of the UNO Supreme Commissariat in charge of refugees, about 1.4 million of people stay now in refugees’ camps. One third of all private property of the refugees is destroyed during the military operations. In refugee camps in Macedonia ten public organizations work, among them ‘Amnesty International’, ‘Physicians without borders’ and ‘Human rights watch’. The duty of the latter is to collect documents about human rights abuses.

Most questions the journalists addressed to Holly Cartner, the executive director in charge of Europe and Central Asia of the organization ‘Human rights watch’. ‘The scale of crimes against ethnic Serbians is impossible to estimate for the time being. Among refugees there are peaceful citizens from the districts supporting the liberating army of Kosovo. We interrogated 700 refugees, many of whom were eye-witnesses of executions without court decision, they witnessed the destruction of houses and attacks at members of humanitarian organizations. All this is a grave abuse of the rules of war. We are worried by the growing losses among peaceful citizens, especially from ‘cluster bombs’, which are so small and attractive, that it is impossible to prevent children to pick them up. The NATO violates humanitarian rights, we condemn bombardments and military actions, in the course of which peaceful citizens perish or loose their property. We also consider Russia to be the only country which can positively influence the situation in Kosovo’.

The opinion of Russian human rights protectors concerning the Yugoslavian question was verbalized by Oleg Orlov, the chairman of the human rights protection center of ‘Memorial’ and a member of the directorate of the international union of ‘Memorial’, and also by Liudmila Alekseeva, the president of the international Helsinki Federation and the chairman of the Moscow Helsinki group. Liudmila Alekseeva recollected the events of twenty years ago and defined her position as follows: ‘The international Helsinki Federation appealed then to representatives of 39 countries in order to ensure the security of European countries by the efforts of the alliance countries. It was assumed that all articles of the Helsinki agreement of 1975, including the articles listing all human rights, would be fulfilled. The members of the Federation promised to interfere into the relations between a state and its citizens if the state abuses human rights. Basing on this principle, the NATO started bombardments. Now we stand before a question: who is guilty, the principle or the NATO? Nonetheless, we cannot justify the situation in Serbia. On 7 – 8 May there was a meeting of the executive committee of the international Helsinki Federation. We were all astonished how harmoniously the representatives of Kosovo, Monte-Negro, Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia worked together, creating the appeal to the world community. I hope that journalists soon will have the chance to meet them’.

The directorate of the international human rights protection society ‘Memorial’ issued two declarations directed to their Western colleagues: ‘On events in Yugoslavia’ and ‘On double standards in the international policy’, where we explained our position of condemning both the NATO and Miloshevich’s regime.

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