Source: Association for Political Prisoners
Petition for the Release
Alice Mead, U.S. Representative
October 22 1999
of Albanian Political Prisoners held in Serbia
Mary Robinson (UNHCR) estimates that over 5,000 Albanians are being held in Serbian prisons, but no one knows for certain. The lack of cooperation by the Serb authorities regarding the numbers and conditions of the prisoners only increases the anguish and uncertainty of their relatives.
The UN Security Council Resolution on Kosova 1244 states that all points in the Ramboulliet agreement still stand, including unconditional release of both prisoners and kidnapped Kosovars. Furthermore, the conditions of their detention violate the Geneva Conventions of 1948 in terms of inhumane treatment, possibly including death, the destruction of their identity documents, forced confessions, not allowing contact with family members, lack of proper medical attention, denying access to lawyers, and obstructing their rights to a fair, public trial.
The Geneva Convention clearly states that prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities. Representatives of the Protecting Powers shall have permission to go to all places where prisoners of war may be, particularly to places of internment, imprisonment and labour, and shall have access to all premises occupied by prisoners of war. Representatives and delegates of the Protecting Powers shall have full liberty to select the places they wish to visit. The delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross shall enjoy the same prerogatives. (:Article 126)
In order to bring stability to Kosova, we must bring closure to this agonizing issue. Therefore, we urge the International Community to:
- Sign the petition supporting the actions of the Association for Political Prisoners in Prishtina in demanding their immediate release;
- Write Mary Robinson and Kofi Annan demanding the UN immediately take steps to initiate the transfer of prisoners to Kosova where their cases will be reviewed by a panel of European judges;
- Urge KFOR to set up a transfer prison in Kosova by December 1, 1999;
- Assist ICRC in providing safe family visits to Albanian prisoners;
- Insist that USAID act on the modest grant proposal that Association of Political Prisoners in Kosova submitted on September 28, 1999;
- Set up a fund for legal costs for families of prisoners;
- Ask the American Bar Association/Eastern European program to temporarily send a team of lawyers (from the area) to Prishtina to review the cases, go over the family interview sheets, and sort out the legal logjam. Have them submit an action plan both to the European Parliament and UNMIK Transitional Council.
We appeal to all of you in your capacities to do all you can to correct this condition of ethnic discrimination. With the possibility of Montenegro seceding and opposition party elections in Serbia, there may be a break-down of Serb society, jeopardizing the lives of the prisoners. Cold and non-sanitary conditions are another threat to these prisoners.
They must be released now!
Alice Mead, U.S. Representative
Association for Political Prisoners - Kosova
and Kosova Action Network
Click to download the complete Petition: Petition.zip
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