Staro Gračko massacre

Staro Gracko massacre
Locationthe village of Staro Gracko, Lipljan municipality, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
Date23 July 1999
9:13pm (Central European Time)
TargetKosovo Serb farmers
Attack type
Mass killing, mass shooting
Deaths14[1]
PerpetratorsAlbanian gunmen of the Kosovo Liberation Army[2]

The Staro Gracko massacre (Serbian: Масакр у Старом Грацком, Albanian: Masakra në Grackë e Vjetër) was the mass killing of 14 Kosovo Serb farmers in the village of Staro Gracko in the Kosovo municipality of Lipljan on 23 July 1999.[3] The killings occurred after Yugoslav troops withdrew from the region in the aftermath of the Kosovo War, and was the worst single crime in Kosovo since the conflict ended in June 1999.[4] The perpetrators of the killings have never been captured.[5]

Background[]

The Kosovo War ended on 11 June 1999 with the Yugoslav army (VJ) agreeing to withdraw its forces from the province of Kosovo after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign. As many as 40,000 Yugoslav soldiers subsequently left the province and were replaced by an estimated 50,000 NATO troops,[6] while 170,000 Kosovar Serbs fled to Central Serbia.[7]

Although the village of Staro Gracko, with a population of 300, was predominantly inhabited by ethnic Serbs[8] and was home to eighty Serb and two Kosovo Albanian families,[9] surrounding villages were inhabited by ethnic Albanians.[8]

Massacre[]

On 23 July 1999, at approximately 9:13pm, British KFOR troops heard gunfire and contacted a NATO reaction-force which hurried to the scene. The NATO soldiers subsequently discovered the bodies of thirteen Serbs next to a combine harvester by an open field.[10] A fourteenth body was discovered lying on a tractor nearby.[11] The farmers had been returning home after a day of harvesting wheat.[12] When their corpses were discovered, it was reported that the men had been grouped together in a circle and shot dead.[9] The bodies of some victims appeared to have been mutilated and disfigured with blunt instruments.[8] The farmers had requested NATO protection seven days prior to the killings, but their pleas were ignored.[2]

Aftermath[]

Massacre memorial

After the fourteen bodies were discovered, Canadian troops cordoned off the village. The bodies were then taken to a hospital in Pristina to be identified.[9] The United Nations stated that women and children were among the victims.[13]

Reaction[]

Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaçi condemned the killings, calling them "[a] crazy act designed to wreck the improving relations between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs." Bernard Kouchner, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that he was "horrified" by the massacre and promised to bring "the perpetrators to justice without delay."[9] Louise Arbour, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said that she was "gravely concerned" and called for "an immediate investigation into the massacre."[14]

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević blamed international peacekeeping forces for the massacre, while VJ General Nebojša Pavković threatened to send Yugoslav troops back into Kosovo if the United Nations were not able to control the province.[14]

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. ^ "14 Serb farmers killed in Kosovo, NATO reports". CNN. 24 July 1999. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b Sremac, Danielle S. (1999). War of Words: Washington Tackles the Yugoslav Conflict. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-275-96609-6.
  3. ^ "Massacre victims laid to rest". BBC. 28 July 1999. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  4. ^ "KLA leader fails to show for Kosovo advisers meeting". CNN. 21 August 1999. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  5. ^ "KiM: 13 godina od ubistva žetelaca". B92. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Wave of Yugoslav troops, trucks leave Kosovo". CNN. 11 June 1999. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  7. ^ Andrew Gray (12 August 1999). "Pristina's Serbs flee in thousands". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 1999. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ a b c Chris Hedges (25 July 1999). "Slaying of Serbs Sets Back Effort for Kosovo Peace". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d "Serb farmers gunned down". BBC. 24 July 1999. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  10. ^ Chris Bird (29 July 1999). "'This is what will happen to us all' — Gracko's Serbs bury 14 massacred farmers and fear for their lives". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  11. ^ Valerie Reitman (24 July 1999). "14 Serb Farmers Killed Near a Field in Kosovo". L.A. Times. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Serb funerals postponed in Kosovo". BBC. 26 July 1999. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  13. ^ Krieger, Heike (2001), The Kosovo Conflict and International Law: An Analytical Documentation 1974–1999, Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, p. 62
  14. ^ a b "West blamed for Serb deaths". BBC. 24 July 1999. Retrieved 8 August 2013.