THE BLOG
10/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

UN Meeting This Weekend on Kosovo Status

Frozen at just 46 recognitions, Kosovo independence is going back to the UN today , with the Serbs and Russians asking for the issue to go back to negotiations, and asking that this time the U.S. not dictate a predetermined outcome to those negotiations.

The justification that continues to be used by our leaders and the State Department for Kosovo's independence lies in the well-debunked myths about the Serbian "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" against Kosovo Albanians. After reading a recent post about the Albanian "journalist" who was fined for contempt of court at the Hague, Balkans analyst Nebosja Malic thought the journalist's name sounded familiar.

Indeed, the name "Baton Haxhiu" is familiar. According to a UK Independent article from 1999 that Malic dug up, this former editor of Pristina-based newspaper Koha Ditore -- found in contempt for revealing a protected witness's name in the witness-killing trial this year of Kosovo politician Ramush Haradinaj -- died in 1999. Killed, of course, by Serbs. Here is Nebojsa's amusing note, followed by an excerpt of the article:

The anonymous Albanian writes how his entire neighborhood was ethnically cleansed (but where was he, then?) and how Baton Haxhiu was killed. All very touching, and all completely untrue. Like that Rajmonda story that Canadian journalist was suckered into reporting, only to be told after the war that "Hey, it was all in good clean KLA fun. Lying for the Cause is perfectly acceptable, and in any case, what'cha gonna do, admit to the world you were suckered?"

So, the fake court fines a man supposedly killed by Serbs (who's very much alive) because he helped the "court" acquit a Serb-killer by publishing the names of witnesses. I swear to God, this is why I can't write fiction; one just can't make this up...

They came with no possessions except sadness in their eyes

Independent, The (London), Mar 31, 1999

Tuesday afternoon

MY PARENTS' house filled up with people last night. They were unknown to us and desperate to find a place to stay overnight. They are from Dragodan, a part of Pristina where only Albanians live. [That would be the whole of Pristina today.]

In the afternoon, police entered every house in the neighbourhood - my father tells me there are around 600 - and expelled everyone. It took two hours. They just came in and cleared everything. We have no reports of anyone being killed, though there was some harassment. Armed men in black masks and blue police helmets came and said: "You have to leave." The same thing occurred in another part of town, I saw it through my windows. People were running down the hill. They came with no possessions; they were not even allowed to take their IDs. They had almost nothing, except a sadness in their eyes. Even the pride that is well known among Albanians seemed destroyed. Four families came to our building...

Tomorrow it will be a whole week since I have been able to see the town, and my friends; since I have stayed in the dark. The only view I have of the world is the computer in front of me, which I can use until 6pm while I have electricity. I look through the curtains, but do not pull them back. I wonder where my friends are and all the people I knew in this town. I am forbidden to do the job which I have done for years. I know my life is in jeopardy because of it. My friend was killed yesterday, for one reason: he was a journalist. Baton {Haxiu} was the editor of Koha Ditore {the leading Kosovo newspaper}, an excellent guy. His "thing" was exclusive stories and he always knew what was up. What hurts me the most is that I had news that he was in a safe place. I sent a message to his family that he was OK, that they shouldn't worry. Now I have such a feeling of guilt.

Thank God his parents' phone is not working, because I wouldn't know what to say. I really hope that it was a quick death, one bullet. I hope he wasn't beaten. No one expected it would be this bad. Not even Baton - even though we had war, even though we expected retaliations. We always thought that this would happen in the villages. No one dreamed Pristina would look like this. I have decided I won't stop. I feel the need to continue, even behind the shadow. The television screens are full of images of refugees that have left. Well, they have survived and they might come back one day. But what about us - the people that remain inside the town that has really become a camp? Some 300 vehicles full of people left this morning from Pristina. They have decided to escape, heading south for Macedonia. Who knows if they will be able to pass the border safely? But they are desperate to leave, and to be as far away as they can from this mess. I don't feel that way yet. I don't think about dying. I will think about it tomorrow. For most who remain and intend to stay, they think differently. They feel that this is the price to pay for Kosovo...

This dispatch is from the 'Balkan Crisis Reports' of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, which can be found at www.iwpr.net. The author's name is withheld to protect against reprisals.

Imagine the gall, the chutzpah, the arrogance that it would take to invent a major casualty like this -- the killing of a prominent newspaper editor. How could anyone be so stupid and so arrogant as to think that such a big lie wouldn't be discovered? The answer: because that's exactly how Western reporting in the Balkans works. No questions asked. No retractions made. Canadian reporter Nancy Durham's piece in Brill's Content (see "Rajmonda story" above), about how she'd been suckered by the KLA was exceptional in that regard. As my friend said to his superiors at the Washington Post when the Albanians succeeded in getting us to bomb the Serbs for them (putting him on the to-be-fired list): "So how does it feel to be outsmarted by Albanians?"

Recall a similar situation in which some young observer sent out dispatches from the war zone and was dubbed by media as the "Anne Frank of Kosovo," or rather: Anne Frank with a laptop and scanner, as historian Carl Savich wrote. Savich adds, "The same MO is used. Someone deep inside Kosovo is secretly transmitting messages to the West, the free world, about atrocities going on in Kosovo. It was a tactic and gimmick that apparently was being used by both U.S. and British journalists."

You can still read Haxhiu's obituary in the UK Independent:

BATON HAXHIU was editor of the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore, and one of the most prominent and respected of Albanian journalists in Kosovo. Shortly after attending the funeral in Pristina on Sunday of the human-rights lawyer Bajram Kelmendi, Haxhiu was abducted by Serbian security troops and murdered. It is a measure of his personal courage that he chose to attend his friend's funeral even in the knowledge that his own life was in danger.
...
He was one of the first commentators to indicate that the current aim of the Milosevic government was to clear a large part of northern Kosovo of its Albanian population and to use the territory so "cleansed" as a bargaining chip in future international negotiations.
...
He was always on the move, visiting conflict zones, talking with military and political leaders, and engaging in much behind-the- scenes discussion...Haxhiu and the Koha Ditore offices were an accepted port of call for many of the diplomats who visited Kosovo during the current crisis. Whoever he spoke with, Haxhiu held fast to the view that an independent Kosovo was not only morally justified but also inevitable.

Throughout his career in journalism, Haxhiu collaborated closely with Dukagjin Gorani, who edited KD Times, the English-language section of Koha Ditore. Gorani's present whereabouts are unknown, as also are the fate of Haxhiu's widow and three-year-old son. It is, moreover, uncertain at this time whether Haxhiu's body has been properly buried or, as some reports suggest, is still lying beside the main Pristina- Skopje road. His cowardly murder is, however, hardly likely to have gone unnoticed among journalistic, academic and diplomatic circles both in the Balkans and elsewhere in Europe. Baton Haxhiu, journalist: born 1967; Editor, Koha Ditore 1998-99; died Pristina, Kosovo 28 March 1999.

No, his body definitely has not been buried properly. That is overdue indeed.

Savich adds:

It was during that time when the Western media claimed that Rugova and all the prominent Albanian intellectual leaders were all rounded up and murdered by the Serbian police. It turned out to be a major hoax. All the people were later shown to be alive. No one was killed. Rugova actually met with Milosevic in Belgrade soon after. Ironically, Rugova's closest aide and adviser was in fact murdered in 2000, but it was by the KLA, who opposed his moderate policies. The KLA may have wanted to kill Rugova himself but this was probably too risky a PR move and could alienate some of their American support.

To read further on how information from Albanian "journalists" was fed directly to international diplomats such as those who stopped off at Propaganda Central, the Koha Ditore offices, and then made its way into our press and U.S. policy, read Daniel Pearl's expose in the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, today that newspaper promotes as truth the debunked fabrications exposed in its late reporter's work.