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Kosovo’s Original Sin

PRISTINA – Hundreds of people disappeared ten years ago in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that is now the world’s newest state. These are not missing persons like the Albanians whom Serbian police executed and buried in secret graves during the Kosovo conflict of 1999. These missing persons disappeared after the conflict, on NATO’s and the United Nations’ watch. Most were Serb civilians. Relatives of most report that they were abducted.

Kosovo, to a significant degree, owes its independence to a NATO military intervention undertaken in the name of human rights. And in the name of human rights, it is time for the truth to come out about the people who went missing after the conflict, and about why, for a decade, UN officials ignored appeals by the victims’ families and launched no criminal investigation.

Kosovo’s Albanian authorities have for years made no significant decision without receiving the imprimatur of the European Union and, especially, the United States. They should urge the Kosovo government to mount a credible investigation, for the sake of the victims and people in Kosovo who want their state to be ruled by law.

In 1999, the US led NATO into war against Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia to end gross violations of the rights of Kosovo’s majority Albanians. Serb nationalists had quashed Kosovo’s autonomy. Serb troops beat, killed, and jailed Albanians, whose leaders, following cues from Western embassies, urged nonviolence.