To: Barack Hussein Obama, President of United States/
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations/
European Commission: Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) Department; and Enlargement Department (ELARG)/
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO/
Michel Platini, President of UEFA/
Robert Menendez, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/
15 October 2014/
Petition: Remove Serbia’s EU candidate status; end human rights violations against Albanians/
The United States and the international community must demonstrate leadership in addressing the human rights violations emergency facing Albanians today.
In 14 October 2014, 45 Albanian citizens were arrested at Belgrade Airport, including the Albanian Ambassador, Ilir Boçka. The group consisted of Albanian journalists, businessmen, and dignitaries and they were travelling to watch the Serbia-Albania soccer match being held in the afternoon. It appears because; one Albanian person was wearing a soccer scarf from his national team. The Serbian airport authorities did not give any explanation about the unlawful arrest. This is a direct violation of Article 2, 7 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on the basis of ethnic discrimination, free movement of persons and arbitrary arrest violations. This diplomatic scandal quickly escalated to grave human rights abuses against the Albanian team by Serbian violent acts during the soccer game.
We are profoundly concerned that we witnessed a state-of-war soccer game, where 5000 Serbian police forces, including the Serbian National Security, surrounded the Partizani Stadium in Belgrade on 14 October 2014, not allowing anyone with Albanian passports to enter the stadium. This level of security is unprecedented in the history of football. The Football Federation of Serbia among other discriminatory conditions: (1) denied tickets and entrance to Albanians from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Macedonia, etc; (2) did not allow the Albanian National Team “Kuq e Zi” to travel with their official fan club members. These particular racist policies adopted by Serbia are against UEFA’s policies of “Fair Play” and do not promote football in a spirit of unity and solidarity.
We are deeply disturbed that Serbian Police, Serbian soccer team players, and Serbian fans brutally attacked three Albanian players in their changing room. In fact, when it was the turn of the Albanian players to kick the ball. Serbian fans in the stadium threw bottles, rocks, chairs, and fireworks directly at the players while the game was going on. Neither game officials, nor any Serbian police stopped these violent acts. Photographs and videos made public reveal a number of occasions of threats, and physical violence made against the members of the Albanian national soccer team by the same armed Serbian police, who were supposed to provide security and control the crowd. The racist chants by the Serbian players and fans “Kill the Albanians” was equally irreprehensible. The Serbia-Albania game was halted by the English referee Martin Atkinson, due to the complete breakdown in order.
These are serious human rights violations, especially in the light of the fact that EU recently started Serbia’s accession negotiation on 21 January 2014. As these abuses continue today, (1) thousands of Albanians in the Presheva Valley in Southern Serbia have been arrested, tortured and killed and continue to suffer brutal human rights violations for decades; (2) tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed and persecuted by the Serbian authorities in ethnic cleaning campaigns in Kosova; (3) discrimination, racism and human rights abuses against ethnic Albanians in Macedonia (1 million Albanians), including the recent arrest of six ethnic Albanians sentenced to life imprisonment with little evidence. (which resulted in global-wide Albanian peaceful protests in both the United States and Europe); (4) racism and repression of Albanians in Montenegro: forceful expulsion of Albanians from their land and denial of the right to Albanian language and national symbols; and (5) Greece, an EU member, today refuses human rights to the ethnic Albanians of Chameria: 300,000 currently in Albania, 100,000 orthodox Cham Albanians in Greece, and over 200,000 expelled from Europe and USA. Greece denies their right to the property, the right of return to their native land, denying entrance of any Cham Albanians with Albanian passports to visit the graves of their forefathers; the right to the Albanian language. Greece has yet to abolish the state of war law with Albania. Additionally, 500,000 Albanian emigrants in Greece are denied the right to Albanian language, the right to work, the right to national identity, in many cases unlawfully arrested and killed. Between 1998-2002, 502 Albanian Roma children went missing from the Athens children’s institution “Aghia Varvara”, violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In the interest of peace, democracy, and human rights, we ask that you:
Take urgent measures to hold responsible the Serbian individuals who committed violent acts and physical abuses toward the Albanian players at the soccer game in Belgrade. We call on UEFA to immediately remove and penalize the Serbian soccer players who violated UEFA policy and violently attacked the Albanian players.
Urge the Serbian Government to remove from duty the Serbian police officers who committed police such brutality against the Albanian soccer team.
We call on EU Commission to remove Serbia’s candidate status.
Take action against the human rights violations facing the Albanian people living in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. We urge the United Nations to create a human rights mandate for the protection of ethnic Albanians in these territories. We urge that the 2001 Ohri Agreement is implemented to develop a multi-ethnic society in Macedonia, a state that continues to treat Albanians as second-class citizens.
We call on the United States Congress to create a bill that offers support and funding to address the needs and rights of ethnic Albanians around the world.
Put pressure on the government of Serbia through letters, meetings and statements to:(1) recognize Kosovo; (2) give a public apology to the citizens of Kosova for the Albanian ethnic cleansing; and (3) paywar repatriation.
We urge that United States to take the lead, as always, in the protection of Albanians, in collaboration with the EU and the international community. The Albanian people are peaceful, promoters of peace, who have protected the European civilization for decades; and is the only nation that saved every Jewish life from Hitler’s regime during WWII: today Albanians are suffering of injustice.
We kindly ask for your attention to these important matters, because they are crucial to the peace and regional stability in the Balkans and Europe.
Ermira Babamusta, Ph.D.
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Human Rights for Albanians.jpg