The Boston Globe
Number of missing Kosovars is challenged
By Charles A. Radin, Globe Staff and Louise D. Palmer
Globe Correspondent

NATO and the State Department have repeatedly said that they had evidence that members of the Albanian intelligentsia were being executed. While some of those named were indeed killed, others turned up alive. Among them was Baton Haxhiu, who reportedly heard himself pronounced dead by NATO officials in Brussels. Haxhiu, the editor of the independent ethnic Albanian paper, Koha Ditore, was alive and in hiding.

US and NATO officials have repeatedly asserted they had evidence that Yugoslav forces are committing crimes against humanity and committing mass genocide. This week, they said, these forces had dug mass graves pointing in the direction of Mecca, using a satellite photo to underscore their point.

«Long neat rows of individual graves, 150 very neatly dug graves - these are not mass graves,» said MIT political science professor Barry Posen, a specialist in the history of warfare. «It's weird to think they would have a mass murder, recruit grave diggers, and properly orient the graves toward Mecca so as to give them some semblance of a proper Muslim burial.»

Posen said hunger for news has led to nearly unquestioning acceptance of official statements and superficial appearances by the Western media, allowing the politicians and generals leading the air campaign to use the refugees to justify the bombing.

«Because the press has not gone back to investigate and dispel `facts' that were staked out at the beginning that said there were already hundreds of thousands of refugees,» Posen said, «NATO is able to absolve itself and make great use of very tragic pictures of people in very tragic circumstances to say, `See, this is why we fought the war, to reverse this.'»

[...] said Robert Hayden, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and East European Studies, the State Department reports of 100,000 to 500,000 unaccounted-for Albanian men «are ludicrous - the story is just ludicrous.»

«NATO is running a propaganda campaign, there's no question about that,» Hayden said. «There have been lots of discrepancies in the official story, but what is interesting is that, until now, there has been amazingly little scrutiny of that story.»


This story ran on page A02 of the Boston Globe on 04/21/99.

© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

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