Where Are All the Bodies Buried?: NATO Commits Acts of Aggression
By Michael Parenti
Originally published in Z Magazine
Images and captions added by Color Revolutions and Geopolitics
In March 1999, NATO forces launched an 11-week nonstop aerial attack upon Yugoslavia that violated the UN charter, NATO's own charter, the U.S. Constitution, and the War Powers Act. Yugoslavia had invaded no UN or NATO member. The Congress had made no declaration of war. No matter. The "moral imperatives" and humanitarian concerns were heralded as being so overwhelming that legalities would have to be brushed aside. Here were mass atrocities perpetrated by the demonic Serbs and their fiendish leader, Slobodan Milosevic not seen since the Nazis rampaged across Europe; something had to be done-so we were told.
|Political map of the Balkans region in 1999 (click here to enlarge)|
Just before the end of the air campaign, British Foreign Office Minister Geoff Hoon said that "in more than 100 massacres" some 10,000 ethnic Albanians had been killed (averaging 100 victims per massacre). Though substantially reduced from the 100,000 to 500,000 bandied about by U.S. officials, this was still a considerable number. A day or two after the bombings stopped, the Associated Press, echoing Hoon, reported that 10,000 Albanians had been killed by the Serbs. No explanation was offered as to how this figure was arrived at, given that not a single war site had yet been investigated and NATO forces were just beginning to roll into Kosovo. A few weeks later, the New York Times reported that "at least 10,000 people were slaughtered by Serbian forces during their three-month campaign to drive the Albanians from Kosovo." The story went on to tell of "war crimes investigators, NATO peacekeeping troops, and aid agencies struggling to keep up with fresh reports each day of newly discovered bodies and graves."
Forensic experts from other NATO countries had similar experiences in Kosovo. "French investigator denied providing any such information to Kouchner or anyone else. To this day, it is not clear how he came up with his estimate.
The Kosovo-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, staffed in part by KLA officials, first promulgated the figure of 10,000 missing, purportedly based on interviews with refugees. The U.S. State Department and Western media echoed the council's estimate. But the number had to be taken on faith because the council would not share its list of missing persons.
|"I heard there were 100,000 dead..." "Oh no, not me....I heard there were 500,000 dead"|
That same edition of the London Times reported that Stratfor, a private research team, basing their analysis on reports from forensic teams involved in the exhumation of bodies, determined that the final total of those killed in Kosovo came to "hundreds not thousands."
In July 1999, the Washington Post reported that 350 ethnic Albanians "might be buried in mass graves" around a mountain village in western Kosovo. Might be? Such speculations were based on sources that NATO officials refused to identify. Getting down to specifics, the article mentions "four decomposing bodies" discovered near a large ash heap, with no details as to who they were or how they died.
By late August 1999, the frantic hunt for dead bodies continued to disappoint NATO officials and their media minions. The Los Angeles Times tried to salvage the genocide theme with a story about how the wells of Kosovo might be "mass graves in their own right." The Times claimed that "many corpses have been dumped into wells in Kosovo...Serbian forces apparently stuffed...many bodies of ethnic Albanians into wells during their campaign of terror." Apparently? When the story got down to specifics, it dwelled on only one well in one village-in which the body of a 39-year-old male was found, along with three dead cows and a dog. Neither his nationality nor cause of death was given. "No other human remains were discovered," the Times lamely concluded.
An earlier New York Times story (July 18) told of French investigators who pulled the decomposed bodies of eight women from wells in the destroyed village of Cirez, acting on reports from local residents. Unconfirmed reports, from 44 villages in the district around Decani, of 39 dead bodies in wells, had yet to be investigated. As far as I know, there were no further stories about bodies in wells, which would suggest that no more bodies were found.
The worst allegation of mass atrocities, a war crime ascribed to Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, was said to have occurred at the Trepca mine. As reported by U.S. and NATO officials, the Serbs threw 1,000 or more bodies down the shafts or disposed of them in the mine's vats of hydrochloric acid. In October 1999, the ICTY released the findings of Western forensic teams investigating Trepca. Not a single body was found in the mine shafts, nor was there any evidence that the vats had ever been used in an attempt to dissolve human remains. Additional stories about a Nazi-like body disposal facility in a furnace "on the other side of the mountain" from the mine motivated a forensic team to analyze ashes in the furnace. "They found no teeth or other signs of burnt bodies."
The war crimes tribunal checked the largest reported grave sites first, and found most to contain no more than five bodies, "suggesting intimate killings rather than mass murder." By the end of the year, the media hype about mass graves had noticeably fizzled. The designated mass grave sites, considered the most notorious, offered up a few hundred bodies altogether, not the thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands previously trumpeted, and with no evidence of torture or mass execution. In many cases, there was no certain evidence regarding the nationality of victims; and no report on cause of death. All this did not prevent the Associate Press from reiterating the charge, as late as November 30, 1999, that "10,000 people were killed in Kosovo."
No doubt there were graves in Kosovo that contained two or more persons-which was NATO's definition of a "mass grave." As of November 1999, the total number of bodies that the Western grave diggers claimed to have discovered was 2,108, "and not all of them necessarily war crimes victims," according to a story in the Wall Street Journal (December 31). People were killed by bombs and by the extensive land war that went on between Yugoslav and KLA forces. Some of the dead, as even the New York Times allowed, "are fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army or may have died ordinary deaths"-as would happen in any population of over two million over the course of a year. No doubt there were despicable grudge killings and executions of prisoners and innocent civilians as in any war, especially a civil war, but not on a scale that would warrant the label of "genocide" or justify the death and destruction and continuing misery inflicted upon Yugoslavia by the Western powers.
|Merely reporting the "news"...certainly not an instrument of "perception management"...definitely not...not at all...|
No mass killings means that The Hague war crimes tribunal indictment of Milosevic "becomes highly questionable," argues Richard Gwyn, in the Toronto Star. "Even more questionable is the West's continued punishment of the Serbs." In sum, NATO leaders used vastly inflated estimates of murdered Kosovo Albanians as a pretext to intrude on the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, destroy much of its infrastructure and social production, badly damage its ecology, kill a substantial number of its citizens, and invade and occupy a large portion of its territory in what can only be termed a war of aggression.