UN Envoy urges Kosovars to forgo revenge and speak out against violence: The Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), D. Bernard Kouchner today urged Kosovars to resist extremists seeking revenge and to speak out against violence. In an opening address to the Kosovo International Human Rights Conference in Pristina, Dr. Kouchner pleaded with Kosovars to give information to the police and not become silent accomplices to crimes and human rights violations. "We cannot let vengeance or retribution replace truth and justice," Dr. Kouchner said stressing that the majority of Kosovars deplored violence and wanted peace. "We must all unite to form a genuine coalition for law, order and justice."
Dr. Kouchner said that on Monday, together with KFOR commander General Karl Reinhardt, he would announce a detailed plan of action for order and the rule of law aimed at improving security for all in Kosovo. He warned that Kosovo was "in danger of being criminalized" and that human rights activists around the world who rallied to the cause of Kosovars in the decade of oppression are becoming more and more disillusioned and discouraged when they learned of ethnically motivated violence in Kosovo. Inflicting violence on others "gives your former oppressors a victory they do not deserve", Dr. Kouchner said. "Every Serb killed is a victory for Mr. Milosevic."
German bank donates $5 million: The German Bank for Reconstruction, KFW, will donate 10 million deutsche marks (about $5 million) to purchase tools and equipment for the Bardhi and Mirash lignite mines in Kosovo, according to a financial agreement signed today by KFW and UNMIK representing the Power Corporation of Kosovo.
Vehicle owners forced to remove newly issued license plates: UNMIK reported today that there have been reports that residents of Pristina were forced by unidentified persons to remove newly issued license plates from their vehicles. It seems that taxi drivers are being particularly targeted, UNMIK deputy spokeswoman Daniela Rozgonova said. She said these activities are illegal and impede UNMIK's efforts to establish law and order. UNMIK is registering more than 300 vehicles every day.
UNMIK Police reports two murders: UNMIK Police today reported two murders and other incidents in the past 48 hours. Yesterday, in Mitrovica, UNMIK Police and KFOR responded to a shooting incident in which an Albanian male was found dead near Breznica. On 8 December the body of a man who had been shot in the head was found near the road in the village of Belo Polje in the Pristina region, police said. In Pec, one person died and another was injured in an explosion when they tried to ignite an old cannon to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan, according to preliminary investigations. In Pristina, a woman was shot last night in the Dardanja area apparently during an attempted kidnapping. Also last night UNMIK police arrested seven Albanian males who entered a nightclub in Polje and demanded drinks and all the money in the club. In Mitrovica yesterday approximately 50-100 people surrounded the Zubin Potok UNMIK Police station and forcefully released a Serb male held there.
Democracy and institution building
Kosovo International Human Rights Conference opens: The two-day Kosovo International Human Rights Conference began in Pristina today. Organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), this is the first human rights conference to be held in Kosovo. More than 500 guests from Kosovo and throughout the world will participate in nine workshops conducted by international experts on human rights. The workshop will deal with issues of detainees and missing persons, democratic policing, post-conflict justice, protecting minorities, preventing torture, housing and property disputes, children's and women's rights, and human rights institutions. The Head of the UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner and the OSCE Head of Mission, Ambassador Daan Everts gave opening statements.