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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2003 > June

Kosovo: June 4 Incident in Obilic

Stephan M. Minikes, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Statement to the OSCE Permanent Council
Vienna, Austria
June 5, 2003

Released by the U.S. Mission to the OSCE

(As delivered)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today is really a very sad day in the PC [Permanent Council] in that we have had a number of incidents here, specific incidents that we have been discussing of the abuses of the most basic human rights, of a lack of decency, of an absence of the rule of law, of an absence of a respect for life, and of an absence of a functioning judiciary.

We often sit here and we talk about progress made, and much progress is made, but we often talk about generalities. Yet human rights really begins at its most basic level at home, in the family, in our local communities, and that's what many of these cases are all about, including the present incident on June 4th in Obilic, Kosovo. And while we understand that UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] police are conducting an investigation, this brutal murder of three unarmed civilians, asleep in their own home, aged 80 and 79, in the case of the husband and wife, and 55, in the case of their son, is one of the most horrifying renewed examples of the lack of tolerance and inability of communities to respect ethnic differences.

The case that we have here in Kosovo represents a full-scale assault on the very values that America and her European partners hold so dear, and that we fought for in Kosovo in 1999. The act sends a very clear message to the United States and to the American people that there are elements in Kosovo today that see violence as a legitimate tool of politics with the goal of terrorizing people, of striking fear in the hearts of ordinary citizens, and of an effort to achieve unjust goals by any means necessary.

The people who stand behind these criminal acts of intimidation, whether they actively engage in the acts themselves, or simply offer up support by doing nothing to condemn or to prevent these acts, are hurting Kosovo's progress towards final status very severely. Mr. Chairman, we believe it is incumbent upon all of the leaders in Kosovo to publicly speak out against this horrific violence, and we reserve the right to return to this issue when additional information is available. Thank you.


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