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The Crisis in Kosova

by Muslim Women's League
April 1999

We are watching once again in horror as the Serbian war machine carries out senseless acts of aggression against the people of Kosova. Ethnic cleansing and genocide, reminiscent of the assault on Bosnia in the early 90s, are occurring on a defenseless population. Disturbing reports are now coming out of Kosova of rape camps, where Kosovar women are brutally attacked by Serbian military and para-military officers. Similar events occurred in Bosnia in which rape was used as a weapon of war, specifically used to demoralize, demean, torture and further traumatize Muslim women and their families. While independent reports are unavailable due to the limitations on journalists and human rights activists imposed by the Serb authorities, we unfortunately expect that these atrocities will be verified since there is ample evidence that the Serbian military machine is employing the same tactics used to carry out genocide in Bosnia. Incidents of rape perpetrated by armed forces are considered war crimes, subject to prosecution by the War Crimes Tribunal. Systematic rape as a weapon of war is considered a crime against humanity.

Relief work continues to concentrate on the overwhelming needs of the refugees who have left Kosova. Those still in the province are at the mercy of the elements, local communities and Serbian forces. Hopes for their survival are dismal. When survivors of rape and other concentration-type camps begin to emerge, they will present additional challenges to the relief workers who will need to deal with the severe psychological and emotional trauma that will exacerbate the suffering already experienced.

We will continue to monitor the media on this important issue and keep abreast of the efforts of relief organizations, including those that will be specifically dealing with the needs of rape survivors. For now, we recommend supporting Islamic Relief, which is serving over 20,000 refugees in Albania and Macedonia. In addition, Women for Women, a program established to sponsor and support Bosnian women, has been expanded to help refugees from Kosova. For about $60, basic needs of an individual woman and her family will be met for about 3 months. For more information about this program, contact Women for Women at (202) 822-1391 or via e-mail at wmn4wmn@aol.com.

Muslims need to be at the forefront of condemning and acting against the genocidal campaign against the population of Kosova. We need to lend as much support as possible for all avenues taken to address this crisis from both a military and humanitarian perspective. We must fulfill our duty to stand on behalf of those who are oppressed, wherever they may be.

And why should you not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women and children whose cry is, "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise for us from You one who will help!" (4:75)

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