Gëzim Alpion

Gëzim Alpion

Following allegations of organ trafficking in Kosova made by Carla Del Ponte, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in her 2008 book The Hunt: I and the War Criminals, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly appointed Swiss-born politician Dick Marty in June of the same year as its rapporteur to conduct an investigation. Marty’s draft report entitled ‘Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosova’, which was endorsed by the Committee on 16 December 2010, will be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on 25 January 2011.

Reading Marty’s 27-page document one wonders if the author and his followers have been living as hermits over the last two decades. Marty’s report is basically an endless catalogue of sensationalist speculations and insults.

Marty’s main concern is not necessarily the alleged trafficking of human organs or ‘the absence of a true civil society’ in Kosova. His report is part of concerted efforts by some European Serbophiles to speed up the rehabilitation of Serbia without first experiencing a necessary soul-searching that the Germans and the Japanese have gone through so that this nation too has a chance to confront its past and redeem itself.

Marty apparently believes that with Milosevic dead, Serbia is in the clear. Milosevic’s demise did not mark the end of Serbia’s chauvinistic policy. Marty and those who support and finance his gossip mongering expedition in the Balkans are doing the Serbs no favour in the long run by telling them that in the wars they triggered in the 1990s they were as much at the receiving end as their victims.

In order to exonerate the ‘victimised’ Serbs, following the failed example of his peer as a Swiss citizen, Carla Del Ponte, Marty is on the lookout for ‘bad Albanians’. As the only non-Slavic nation to suffer from the Balkan wars in the 1990s, Del Ponte and Marty apparently believe that it is easy and convenient to demonise the Albanians.

Marty, it seems, is not comfortable that the Albanian nation, that has traditionally been ignored by world powers, has now found strong and reliable allies in the United States, the United Kingdom and major West European countries, and that Albania and Kosova’s European integration is becoming a reality.

Marty is right to raise the issue of alleged mistreatment of prisoners of war; when properly documented, anyone perpetrating crimes, should be tried and punished according to international law. Marty seems to be strikingly ignorant of the sad truth, however, that war is not exactly a stroll in the park. Unfortunately, every war has its ugly incidents, and what someone like Marty preaches on human rights from the serenity of Switzerland or myself from England’s green and pleasant land would not hold sway among war survivors who have witnessed the raping of women, killing of their loved ones and mass expulsion from their ancient homeland because their only crime is being Albanians.

Marty’s main purpose is to denigrate the Albanian Kosovars’ fight for liberation from Serb occupation. This explains why, although a lawyer by training, Marty takes no prisoners. Marty conveniently ignores that the Albanians did not choose to fight; armed resistance was the last option they resorted to when it was obvious that their decades-long Gandhi-like resistance would never raise the consciousness of Serb colonialists.

Marty apparently has a strong disdain for farmers who resist tyranny, as it is clear from his remarks about the peasant status of the Albanian patriot Adem Jashari, who was killed by the Serb forces together with his extended family in March 1998. Marty’s phobia towards the ‘rustic’ is baffling given the contribution rendered by the peasant William Tell in establishing the Swiss Confederation in the fourteenth century.

Marty’s low esteem for Adem Jashari, Kosova’s William Tell, is linked with the fact that he was one of the founders of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) in 1996. Marty is bent on presenting Albanian Kosovars’ armed resistance as being from start to finish a ‘terrorist’ movement inspired and run by vicious gangs of criminals of the lowest kind. This explains why he never mentions that the KLA and other Kosova freedom fighting military units proved to be valiant NATO allies throughout the 1999 bombing campaign.

Marty is hardly telling Albanians anything they do not know by alleging that some of their politicians, including some former members of the KLA who turned to politics in the wake of the 1999 war, are corrupt. Being financially and even morally and politically corrupt while governing in the Balkans, however, and executing people with the purpose of extracting and selling their kidneys, are not the same. If Marty can prove that what he claims to have happened indeed did take place, such alleged monsters need to be apprehended and held accountable.

Even if he can prove this, however, Marty exposes himself to defamation charges by both Albania and Kosova with his report that appears to criminalise the entire Albanian nation. The only charge that Marty can possible levy against the ‘criminal’ Kosova Albanians is that having aspired for centuries for freedom and dignity they eventually decided to take control of their destiny in the 1990s.

Marty’s hostile attitude towards the Albanians epitomises the old Europe’s colonial mentality keen to see any freedom fighting movement as a terrorist activity because it results in a new geopolitical reality that undermines big powers’ economic and strategic interests.

Interestingly enough, Marty‘s patchy investigation does not go beyond Tirana’s Rinas Airport. Marty would do a great service to justice and human rights if his investigation went beyond Kosova and Albania. If cadaver kidney extractions indeed took place during the Balkan wars in the 1990s one would normally assume that there must have been very rich recipients outside the Balkans who were prepared to spend so much of their wealth to sponsor and benefit directly from this alleged criminal trade.

As it stands, Marty’s report is a tirade of unfounded accusations against the Albanian nation, and an attempt to cause frictions among Albanians in Kosova, and between the two neighbouring countries of Kosova and Albania. The publication of the report only two days before the announcement of the Kosova general election results is an attempt to undermine democratic processes in this fledgling state, sabotage Kosova’s international recognition and throw spikes in the road to reconciliation.

Kosovo’s independence is perfectly justifiable on many grounds including its overwhelming ethnic homogeneity and solidarity. All ethnic minorities taken together in Kosova have never reached at any time before the 1999 war 10% of the country’s overall population. In this respect, Kosova ranks just behind ‘monoethnic’ European societies like Poland and Norway and ahead of Slovakia, not to mention former Yugoslav republics, now independent states, such as Slovenia, Montenegro or Macedonia. Several centuries ago, Portugal became one of the early examples in modern times when a country gained independence on ethnic grounds, amongst other reasons.

As a new state Kosova needs all the help it can get from the international community to convince its ethnic minorities that they have a future together. Marty’s report will cause unnecessary anguish among ethnic groups in Kosova, especially among the Serbs who have historically been easily manipulated by political and religious warmongers in Belgrade.

Rather than swiftly endorsing Marty’s patchy, speculative, and sensationalist report, the Council of Europe’s Legal Affairs Committee needs to realise that Kosova’s independence is irreversible. The Albanians are not some ‘black sheep’ that a Swiss senator can keep out of Europe.

Europe has traditionally suffered from a short term memory span. One would hope that, as its newest state, Kosova will mark the end of the European amnesia. Lest we forget.

Gëzim Alpion (PhD, Dunelm, UK)

Department of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Birmingham, UK

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