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CIAO DATE: 8/00
Gendercide in Kosovo
International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000
From the opening hours of the 1999 war in Kosovo, an overriding tactic was evident in Serb military strategy: the gender-selective detention and mass killing of ethnic-Albanian men, especially those of "battle age." Although the Milo_evié regime's genocidal assault on Kosovar society swept up the entire Albanian population, killing many and expelling hundreds of thousands to neighbouring countries, the most systematic and severe atrocities and abuses were inflicted disproportionately or overwhelmingly upon men. This article seeks to place the "gendercide" and other atrocities against Kosovar men in regional and historical perspective. "Gendercide," inclusively defined as gender-selective mass killing, is a frequent and sometimes defining feature of human conflict, and perhaps of human social organization, extending well back into antiquity. Likewise, it is a regular, even ubiquitous feature of contemporary politico-military conflicts the world over. In other research, both published and in progress, I am developing Mary Anne Warren's original framing of gendercide to fulfill its inclusive promise. Warren drew
an analogy between the concept of genocide and what I call gendercide. The Oxford American Dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate extermination of a race of people." By analogy, gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as "gynocide" and "femicide," have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. But "gendercide" is a sex-neutral term, in that the victims may be either male or female. There is a need for such a sex-neutral term, since sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences, and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice. 1
Warren, though, never develops the concept past female-selective killings and abuses (female infanticide, the witch-hunts in Europe, suttee or widow-burning in India, female genital mutilation, "the denial of reproductive freedom" [to women], and "misogynist ideologies"). My work on the theme attempts to supplement feminists' analysis with an inclusive framing that can also grasp the experience of non-combatant men in situations of war and social upheaval. Such an understanding, I contend, has powerful implications for policy and practice in the political, humanitarian, and mass-media spheres. It should also resonate with students of international war and security, genocide, and the gamut of "ordinary" repressive strategies that regimes employ to discipline and punish dissidence -or pre-empt it. Lastly, as I have argued for several years now, I believe the subfield of gender and international politics requires a rapid and sweeping overhaul of many of its central propositions and heuristic strategies. This is true both from the perspective of analytical nuance and from that of ethical and normative consistency. 2 I will return briefly to this issue in the conclusion.
Gendercide and Mass Killings of Men
The phenomenon of gendercidal killings of males has attracted no formal attention in the international relations literature, my own tentative efforts aside; but that literature does, perhaps, provide a paradigmatic case of gendercide against men. It is the "Melian Dialogue" that closes Book Five of Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War. After the various learned discussions that compose the "Dialogue" have concluded, negotiations are broken off, and the Athenian siege is commenced. At its conclusion, Thucydides reports dispassionately, "The Melians surrendered unconditionally to the Athenians, who put to death all the men of military age whom they took, and sold the women and children as slaves." 3
In other research I have deployed a wide range of case-studies of gendercide from the realm of twentieth-century conflicts and genocides. Contemporary examples can be selected almost at random from the panoply of civil and international conflict, though gendercide (still less, one-way gendercide) is by no means predominant in all cases of war and mass killing: 4
The variables underlying this overwhelmingly gendered concentration of direct state repression are straightforward enough. There is a military logic to the destruction of the "battle age" portion of a targeted community, whether as a sufficient measure in itself or as a prelude to "root-and-branch" extermination of the community. Many acts of mass killing also contain strong overtones of "elitocide" - the "decapitation" of prominent members of the community, and an area in which there is a strong correlation with gender (masculinity). If elites are mostly male, it is not a great leap to the proposition that male equals elite - just as men's "potential" as combatants may leave them vulnerable to mass slaughter in military sweeps, such as those conducted by Serb forces throughout the 1990s.
The conclusion, though, seems inescapable: the most vulnerable and consistently targeted population group in conflicts, through time and around the world today, is non-combatant men of a"battle age," roughly 15 to 55 years old. They are nearly universally perceived as the group posing the greatest danger to the conquering force, and are the group most likely to have the repressive "security" apparatus of the state directed against them. The "non-combatant" distinction is also critical. Unlike their armed brethren, these men cannot defend themselves, and thus can be rounded up and exterminated by the hundreds, thousands, or millions. If the Balkans wars of the 1990s have not reached the gendercidal levels of earlier twentieth-century gendercides, such as the Congo "rubber terror," the Nazis' extermination of Soviet POW's in 1941-42, and the genocides in Indonesia and Bangladesh 10 , they have nonetheless provided one of the most vivid and consistent examples of the phenomenon. The remainder of this article will examine gendercide as it has featured in the Balkans wars of the last decade, and the extent to which the pattern is also evident in the Kosovo war of 1999.
Gendercide in the Balkans in the 1990s
Gender-selective massacres of "battle age" men have constituted the dominant and most severe atrocities inflicted on non-combatants in the modern Balkans wars. As the Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovié described the overriding Serb strategy in 1996, "Wherever they [the Serbs] captured people, they either detained or killed all the males from 18 to 55 [years old]. It has never happened that the men of that age arrived across the front-line." Citing Muratovié's comment, Mark Danner gives the most succinct and rigorous summary of gendercide (and "elitocide") in the Balkans. The genocidal assault, he writes, standardly proceeded as follows:
The four worst atrocities of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were variations on this gendercidal theme - targeting males almost exclusively, for the most part "battle-age" males. (These are also, by my reckoning, the four worst atrocities inflicted in Europe since those carried out by Tito's partisan forces in Yugoslavia in 1945-46. 12 ) At Vukovar in November 1991, between 200 and 300 Croatian men, "mostly lightly wounded soldiers and hospital workers," were pulled out of the hospital surroundings - some with the catheters still dangling from their arms - executed, and buried en masse outside city limits. 13 At Vla_ié (Ugar Gorge), on 21 August 1992, a convoy of prisoners from the Serb-run Trnopolje concentration camp were driven to Muslim and Croat territory. B.J., a Muslim man who survived the ensuing carnage, told Helsinki Watch investigators that after women, children, and four busloads of men had been evacuated, the men were separated from the remainder of the population, and 200-250 of them executed at a nearby ravine. 14 A more shadowy but largescale slaughter occurred at the strategic town of Bröko on the Drina River during the massive Serb offensive of 1992. Danner, who has investigated what little is publicly known about the events, summarizes them as follows:
During the late spring and early summer of 1992, some three thousand Muslims ... were herded by Serb troops into an abandoned warehouse, tortured, and put to death. A U.S. intelligence satellite orbiting over the former Yugoslavia photographed part of the slaughter. "They have photos of trucks going into Bröko with bodies standing upright, and pictures of trucks coming out of Bröko carrying bodies lying horizontally, stacked like cordwood," an investigator working outside the U.S. government who has seen the photographs told us. ... The photographs remain unpublished to this day. 15
The vast majority of gender-selective slaughters between 1991 and 1994 were naturally of a smaller magnitude, and went virtually unrecorded. But the litany of atrocities compiled in a brief section of the Helsinki Watch/Human Rights Watch report on War Crimes in Bosnia-Hercegovina brings home the pervasiveness and systematic character of the gendercide in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a way that more epic acts of carnage perhaps do not (all the accounts are from the 1992 offensive alone):
The campaign of gendercide was crowned by the massive slaughter of unarmed men at Srebrenica in July 1995. The town, an isolated Muslim enclave in Serb-dominated eastern Bosnia, was the first "safe area" to be designated by the United Nations, immediately after it surrendered to Serb forces in April 1993. But the designation, and the U.N. commitment, proved risible. In June 1995, Bosnian Serb forces, pushing for a resolution to the ethnic "anomaly" of the Muslim enclaves in eastern Bosnia, closed their noose around Srebrenica and the other safe areas. Their actions, including the impending bloodbath, were closely coordinated by authorities in Belgrade 18 and crucially assisted by paramilitaries dispatched from across the Drina. In scenes that further besmirched the reputation of the United Nations after its Rwanda fiasco, the U.N. high command and Dutch peacekeepers on the ground stood by and issued antiseptic communiqués as hundreds of men, mostly elderly and infirm, were separated from the huddled refugees and led away to mass execution. Human Rights Watch recorded the testimony of one eyewitness to the slaughter at nearby Nova Kasaba. The Serbs, he said,
picked out Muslims whom they either knew about or knew, interrogated them and made them dig pits. ... During our first day, the Cetniks [Serbs] killed approximately 500 people [men]. They would just line them up and shoot them into the pits. The approximately one hundred guys whom they interrogated and who had dug the mass graves then had to fill them in. At the end of the day, they were ordered to dig a pit for themselves and line up in front of it. ... [T]hey were shot into the mass grave. ... At dawn, ... [a] bulldozer arrived and dug up a pit ..., and buried about 400 men alive. The men were encircled by Cetniks: whoever tried to escape was shot. 19
Thousands of other men were hunted down in the hills around Srebrenica, in an orgy of killing that the Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladié dubbed "a feast." Mladié and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzié were subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for crimes against humanity. While neither has been brought to account, some 3,000 corpses have now been recovered by forensics teams. More than seven thousand men from Srebrenica are missing and presumed dead. Their women relatives regularly gather to protest the slow pace of the investigation, marching outside U.N. headquarters in Tuzla and maintaining a website for the "Women of Srebrenica" (www.srebrenica.org). Summarizing the catastrophe in 1997, David Rohde - who as a journalist with the Christian Science Monitor won a Pulitzer Prize for unearthing the first mass graves around Srebrenica - noted that the massacre "accounts for an astonishing percentage of the number of missing from the brutal [Balkans] conflict. Of the 18,406 Muslims, Serbs and Croats reported still missing ... as of January 1997, 7,079 are people [all but a handful men] who disappeared after the fall of Srebrenica. In other words, approximately 38 percent of the war's [known] missing are from Srebrenica." Rohde offered a blistering critique of the moral lapse on the part of the "safe area's" alleged guardians:
The international community partially disarmed thousands of men, promised them they would be safeguarded and then delivered them to their sworn enemies. Srebrenica was not simply a case of the international community standing by as a far-off atrocity was committed. The actions of the international community encouraged, aided, and emboldened the executioners. ... The fall of Srebrenica did not have to happen. There is no need for thousands of skeletons to be strewn across eastern Bosnia. There is no need for thousands of Muslim children to be raised on stories of their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers slaughtered by Serbs. 20
Gendercide in Kosovo, 1998-99
As tension and violence increased in the Kosovo police-state prior to the outbreak of the war with NATO, there were signs that mass killings of males would again be an essential Serb strategy in any fullscale conflagration. The first indicator was the broad-based campaign of state terror and punitive detention against younger ethnic-Albanian men. Women certainly numbered among the detained. 21 But as Julie Mertus noted shortly before the outbreak of the 1999 war, "while police ... routinely stop ethnic Albanian men, women and children can usually walk the street without police harassment." Thus, when Mertus cites the astonishing statistic that between 1989 and 1997 "584,373 Kosovo Albanians - half the adult population - [was] arrested, interrogated, interned or remanded" by the Serb police state, one can be reasonably certain which half. 22
The gendering of state terror throws important light on the immense demographic upheavals that rent Kosovar society well before the outbreak of fullscale war in March 1999. If we learn that the migrant flow of ethnic-Albanians worldwide, "one of the most numerous diasporas in the world"; 23 if we then learn that this diaspora was swelled in the 1990s by "several hundred thousands of ethnic Albanians, the majority young men," fleeing "police violence, together with economic hardship and the fear of military call-up to the Yugoslav Army"; and if we understand this, as Amnesty International urges us to do, as part of a policy by the authorities "to actively encourage their departure ... with the aim of changing the demographic balance," 24 then it becomes clearly evident that the campaign of gender-selective terror and physical repression was the harbinger of a fullscale assault on Kosovar society, including the unbridled mass killing of "battle age" men and the mass expulsions of women and other community members. 25 The harbinger, that is to say, of genocide.
The evidence from executions and mass killings in the 1998-99 period also points in a gendercidal direction, though with important qualifications. The victims of mass killings in the Serbs' 1998 offensive included women, elderly, and child victims - nearly always members of prominent or "suspicious" ethnic-Albanian families. The assault on the Deliaj clan in September 1998, for example, left "the bodies of 15 women, children and elderly members" of the clan "slumped among the rocks and streams of the gorge below their village ... shot in the head at close range and in some cases mutilated as they tried to escape advancing Serbian forces." Six more elderly people were shot or burned to death elsewhere in the village of Gornje Obrinje. But four miles away from this clan killing, at Golubovac, a mass murder was being carried out along clearly gendered lines. What happened was related by one man, Selman Morina, who miraculously survived (thirteen other men did not):
They [Serb police] brought us to the garden where the execution took place. Until the execution, our hands had to remain behind our heads. ... We were then lined up against the fence, laying flat on our belly, face down, with our hands behind our heads. They beat us with sticks and stones, and with everything they could find. Those who didn't move were just beaten on the back, but when someone moved they were beaten all over their bodies. ... We were executed one by one. Each person was fired on twice with a burst from a machine gun. We had nowhere to escape. ... Each person was shot twice. One person was shot a third time. I heard the police say "One is still alive," and they kicked him once and shot him again. They kicked me too, but I didn't move and then they didn't touch me again. I survived because I remained totally dead. From the time of the bullets, none of us made a noise. Then, I heard them go out in the garden and leave. I heard some more machine gun fire outside the compound, and understood they left. 26
A resident of the village of Poklek, Fazli Berisha, described special police entering and ordering the village's population to congregate in the house of village resident Shait Qorri. Berisha
said he saw 60 or 70 women and children ordered out of the house as Serbian forces burned neighboring homes. The women were told to walk across a field to Vasiljevo, a neighboring village, he said. "Hajirz Hajdini and Mahmut Berisha were brought out moments later and told to walk in the opposite direction," he said, referring to two men. "As they walked away they were shot by the police. Sefer Qorri, 10 minutes later, was brought out of the house and told to walk in this direction. He was shot in the same spot." The villagers said they later found the body of Ardian Deliu, a 17-year-old [male] youth, near Vasileva, about two miles away, but they said nine men remain missing. 27
The largest known act of mass killing in the prewar period 28 is also the one often presented as having forced the West to take action against the Serbs. It occurred at the village of Racak on Saturday, 16 January 1999. The international monitors who investigated the slaughter provided the most detailed accounting of the victims:
Twenty-three adult males of various ages. Many shot at extremely close range, most shot in the front, back and top of the head. Villagers reported that these victims were last seen alive when the police were arresting them. ... Three adults [sic] males shot in various parts of their body, including their backs. They appeared to have been shot when running away. ... One adult male shot outside his house with his head missing. ... One adult male shot in head and decapitated. All the flesh was missing from the skull. One adult female shot in the back. ... One boy (12 years old) shot in the neck. One male, late teens (shot in abdomen). 29
This was the atrocity described somewhat incomprehensibly by The Washington Post as a "massacre of dozens of women and children." 30 What had occurred was more succinctly captured by Peter Beaumont and Patrick Wintour: "As the [Serb] forces entered the village searching for 'terrorists' from the Kosovo Liberation Army they tortured, humiliated, and murdered any men they found." 31 It was a pattern that would be repeated many hundredsfold when NATO used the Racak incident and the Serbs' refusal to sing the Rambouillet agreement as an excuse to threaten air strikes, and the Serbs seized the opportunity to launch their "final solution to the Kosovo problem." 32
The scale and ferocity of the Serb offensive's opening blast took the world by surprise, and rapidly made plain that even the gendered norms of atrocity were prone to being violated on occasion. In particular, family affiliation and perceived political identification led in a number of recorded cases to the indiscriminate slaughter of women, the elderly, and children along with "battle age" males. In a number of cases, men were absent altogether, believing, in the words of a survivor of one of the massacres at Djakovica, that "they wouldn't touch the women and children." 33 The Serbs did, and perhaps twenty defenseless people died.
Nonetheless, literally from the first hours of the Serb offensive, it was clear that the Serbs would be preoccupied above all with the physical extermination (sometimes "only" the detention and torture) of younger ethnic-Albanian men, accompanied by the mass expulsion of most of the remaining Albanian population. What followed was memorably referred to as "a genocidal cull of ethnic-Albanian males" (by Guardian correspondent Ian Traynor). 34 On 26 March, two days into the NATO bombing campaign and five days into the broader Serb offensive in Kosovo, State Department spokesman James Rubin relayed "ominous indications that men of fighting age were [being] separated from their families." A UNHCR spokesperson described women of a village, Goden, being "told to take the children to Albania"; before they left, the women "witnessed the killing of 20 men." 35 As the weeks wore on, the chillingly consistent refugee testimonies began to mount. "They collected all the people," ran a typical survivor's report. "They separated the women from the men. They told the women to leave. They put the men against the wall. And they killed the men. I don't know what else to say. My brother was killed, three of my cousins, and the son of one of them. They were all killed." 36
Perhaps the most wrenching testimonies came from the massacres at Velika Krusa (25 March) and Izbica (28 March). The massacre at Velika Krusa reached the outside world by the route such news usually travels: locked inside the mind of a man who had crawled out from under bullet-riddled corpses and been transported to freedom. Selami Elshani spoke from a bed at the Central University Hospital in Tirana in mid-April, "using his elbows to avoid leaning on his heavily bandaged hands." 37 He and his family had moved to Velika Krusa after their house was burned out during the Summer 1998 Serb offensive. The day after the NATO bombing started, 25 March, ten "battle-age" men of one extended clan decided to escape the town and hide in a nearby riverbank. "We had to leave, because we knew the Serbs wanted the men," Elshani explained. Along with other fleeing men, they were captured and mown down by five paramilitaries with Kalashnikovs. Then the paramilitaries moved around scattering straw, soaking it in gasoline, lighting it. Elshani, unhit and buried under bodies, "was mad with fear. I had to come out of the fire or die burned alive. It felt like an hour in the flames even though it was a very short time. It was horror for me." He eventually escaped and found refuge in his uncle's house, from where he was surreptitiously evacuated to Albania.
Many other eyewitness accounts of separation and mass execution of males could only be related by survivors - overwhelmingly the women, elderly, and children whom the Serbs terrorized and pushed over the border to Albania, Macedonia, and Montengro. Of these, none was more dramatic than the testimony of an anonymous witness turned up by Human Rights Watch to the slaughter of "more than 120" unarmed ethnic-Albanian men at Izbica. The 20-year-old woman, interviewed a month after the massacre, lost her father, a cousin, and her uncle in the slaughter. She described her family's terrifying escape to Albania, and the merciless culling of "battle-age" males, including the elderly and adolescent boys:
The Serbs arrived late in the evening during the Muslim celebration of Bajram, on March 26 or 27. There were about fifty of them. ... At about 11 a.m. they separated the women from the men. We asked them why they were doing this and they told us, in a very scary voice: "Shut up, don't ask, otherwise we'll kill you." The children were terrified. The Serbs yelled: "We'll kill you, and where is the United States to save you?" All the women had covered their heads with handkerchiefs out of fear of [rape by?] the Serbs, hiding their hair and foreheads. ... They said: "You've been looking for a greater Albania, now you can go there." They were shooting in the air above our heads. ... About 100 meters from the place we started walking, the Serbs decided to separate out the younger boys from our group. Boys of fourteen and up had already been placed with the men; now they separated out boys of about ten and up. ... We stopped moving when we heard automatic weapon fire. We turned our heads to see what was happening, but it was impossible to see the men. We saw the ten-to-fourteen-year-olds running in our direction; when they got to us we asked them what was happening. They were very upset; no one could talk. One of them finally told us: "They released us but the others are finished." ... The automatic weapon fire went on non-stop for a few minutes; after that we heard short, irregular bursts of fire for some ten minutes or so. My father, my uncle and my cousin were among the men killed. ... Then ten Serbs caught up with us. They said lots of obscenities and again told us: "Now you must leave for Albania - don't stop, just go." We had to leave. ... My father had given me his jacket because I had been wearing another jacket that said "American Sport" on it and he was afraid; he wanted to cover that up. Because I was pushing the wheelbarrow and wearing a man's jacket, they thought I was a man. They told me to stop and then to come over to them, but I was too afraid. It was the scariest moment of my life. Then they shined a flashlight in my face and saw that I was a woman. One of them said, "Let her go." 38
Some wartime commentary suggested that Serb atrocities were mostly limited to the early days of the war. It is true that Serb atrocities during the war do appear to have exhibited variations across time and space. But the gendercidal massacres at Meja, more than a month after the onset of the bombing campaign, belie the claim of an initial murderous "spasm" followed by a decline in savagery:
Shortly before dawn on April 27, according to locals, a large contingent of Yugoslav army troops garrisoned in Junik started moving eastward through the valley, dragging men from their houses and pushing them into trucks. "Go to Albania!" they screamed at the women before driving on to the next town with their prisoners. By the time they got to Meja they had collected as many as 300 men. The regular army took up positions around the town while the militia and paramilitaries went through the houses grabbing the last few villagers and shoving them out into the road. The men were surrounded by fields most of them had worked in their whole lives, and they could look up and see mountains they'd admired since they were children. Around noon the first group was led to the compost heap, gunned down, and burned under piles of cornhusks. A few minutes later a group of about 70 were forced to lie down in three neat rows and were machine-gunned in the back. The rest - about 35 men - were taken to a farmhouse along the Gjakove road, pushed into one of the rooms, and then shot through the windows at point-blank range. The militiamen who did this then stepped inside, finished them off with shots to the head, and burned the house down. They walked away singing. 39
The gendercidal atrocities near Vucitrn (2-3 May), as well as the mass killing of some 100-120 male inmates at the Istok prison in apparent revenge for a NATO bombing raid (22 May), also attest to the basic consistency of the Serbs' genocidal strategy throughout Operation Horseshoe. 40 To what extent did those in the Yugoslav regular forces condone and facilitate the atrocities? "In general," according to Steven Erlanger, "the army held the ground; special police units and paramilitary units, sometimes with long hair, beards and bandanas, like actors in Hollywood movies, cleared the villages, often killing those who resisted leaving; the civilians were channeled along certain roads toward buses or the border; bodies were often cleared out by other police units; and then the army checked through the villages again." 41 Paramilitaries and other thugs also appeared to have a droit d'assassin once preliminary clearings were over - that is, the right to carry out summary detentions and executions in the field. Rade, a Yugoslav reservist, remembered an attack in which "Albanian snipers attacked us from the roofs and two of our men were killed":
... We started shelling the houses. The houses were burning, Albanian women and children were running on the road. Men, we could see, were running towards the forest. We started to follow them and we caught three. We asked them who was firing and they were pretending that they did not understand. We tied them up and took them to the command for interrogation, but local Serbs intercepted our patrol and in front of us they killed all three. ... Once we wanted to free a group of Albanians, men. The paramilitaries came and said they recognised two members of the KLA. They were swearing at us, calling us "stupid Tito partisans." They took the Albanians and disappeared off to an unknown destination. 42
There are recorded instances of mercy being extended or quarter granted by regular forces, and of interventions to quell the worst paramilitary and police excesses. A Kosovo father and his son who were caught by Serb forces near Pristina said that after being forced to lie on the ground, a Yugoslav Army officer freed them "because they were not involved in politics." 43 Sometimes members of the security forces would also show restraint. Witnesses to the massacres at Glogovac in the KLA's heartland identified one deputy police chief, "Lutka," who "did not behave brutally, unlike many of the paramilitaries, although he was involved in thefts, and he was a principal organizer of the forced depopulation in early May." 44
But the grim likelihood is that orders to expel and exterminate Albanians found a fertile soil in which to take root - at whatever point in the chain of command. The genocidal strategy could successfully be implemented by the few, and ignored by the many. There was hardly any detectable sympathy for the Kosovar Albanians among ordinary Serbs. When atrocities could not be denied, they were dismissed "as an inevitable consequence of war, somehow beyond human responsibility," according to Chris Hedges. Vuk Obradovic, editor of the Vranjske Novine weekly, was quoted as saying that the Yugoslav regime had "created a situation where Albanians are no longer seen as equals," and as a result, "no one feels guilty for what happened." 45
Claiming the Dead
As the war proceeded, the observer was confronted with a series of imponderables in trying to gauge the scale of the gendercide and other gender-selective atrocities against ethnic-Albanian males. How many men had actually been separated from women and children, how many others had self-selected by fleeing to the mountains, and how many of the escapees had managed to elude the subsequent roundups? Of those who had been separated, how many had been summarily executed on the spot? How many had lived no longer than a few hours, perhaps a day or two, before being shot en masse like the men at Bröko and Srebrenica? Of those taken into custody, how many had been employed as "human shields" at military installations, and how many held in ordinary prisons? Of those held in prisons, how many were held in grossly-overcrowded quarters, and systematically tortured and starved? What was perhaps most striking was how little attention these questions commanded in the media, government, and NGO quarters. Neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post, the two leading "agenda-setting" newspapers in the United States, published a single story in the first two months of the war focusing on the broad pattern of gender-selective executions and other atrocities against Kosovar males (though both delved into the issue of the rape of Kosovar women at feature length). Neither the UNHCR nor the Red Cross apparently kept statistics on the "male deficit" in refugee flows, though many observers found the disparity surreal and "overwhelming." The Roving U.S. Ambassador, David Scheffer, was one of the most outspoken figures (indeed one of the very few) pointing to the deficit. He ventured numbers of first 100,000, and later (on 18 May) 225,000 Kosovar men between 14 and 59 years of age "unaccounted for." 46 NATO also presented satellite photographs claiming to show mass graves at Izbica and Pusto Selo, among other places. Controversial at the time, the photos now seem authenticated as sites of well-established gendercidal massacres. 47
As Yugoslav troops pulled out of Kosovo in June 1999, defeated if largely unbloodied, KFOR moved in, with its unprecedented retinue of forensics teams and human-rights investigators in tow. The scene that awaited them was described by one foreign observer as "a vast crime scene ... with mass graves around almost every corner." 48 "Nearly every village, every neighbourhood, every family has been somehow touched by the savage spasm of killing whose dimensions are only becoming fully clear now," wrote Laura King of the Associated Press. "What the people of Kosovo are finding as they return to their homes is nothing less than a giant charnel house." 49
One of the first sites focused upon by Tribunal investigators and international forensics squads was Velika Krusa, from which one intended victim - Selami Elshani - had crawled out alive. British sergeant Ron Turnbull, contemplating the scene of the carnage (the one-storey shed where a hundred men had been shot and burned alive), confirmed that the victims had been killed in a kneeling position, if the "low shots" whose marks were still visible on the wall. Julian Borger reported that "many of the corpses were found in a tangled heap," and that "some of the victims appeared to have huddled together in a vain attempt to escape the hail of bullets." 50 John Daniszewski of the Los Angeles Times reported at the end of June that "several hundred male villagers are still missing, and residents say they suspect that the men may have been buried by the Serbs in other, as yet undiscovered mass graves." 51
At Korenica, investigators found evidence of the calamity that had descended on the village on 27 April. It occurred after "Serb-led forces [had] pushed ethnic Albanians out of a cluster of nearby villages into Korenica," swelling the population to some 1,500 people. 52 Human Rights Watch investigators viewed the charred bodies of six men and reported the testimony (at second-hand) of Daniel Berisha, who claimed that
At Slovinje, The Globe and Mail's Paul Koring interviewed survivors of another massacre in which gender-selective atrocities had predominated, but more indiscriminate (and family-centred) killing had also featured. The massacre occurred on 14 April:
While both family-centred and generalized atrocities were hardly absent, the massive gender disproportion in the body-count (93 percent male victims at Slovinje?) could not be evaded. Even the massacre at Celina, which was depicted in media as a massacre "mostly of women and children," actually lay "at the epicenter of what is proving to be the heaviest concentration of mass graves in Kosovo." 55 While "more than 50 bodies, mostly women and children, [had] been exhumed so far from eight grave sites," residents of Celina and Nagafc "said Serb paramilitary troops ... [had] separated groups of men from their families and ordered the women and children to flee to Albania. Several villagers said they watched the men being shot to death from hiding places nearby, and that the bodies were later burned." 56 A survivor, 70-year-old Najdar Fazlici, said "that he and many of the men escaped being killed because they fled in the middle of the night for nearby mountains. Those who stayed or tried to run away later were chased around the village and into the fields, where they were immediately shot ... six here, a dozen there. After three days in the mountains, most of the escapees were rounded up as well. The women were sent to Albania immediately, ... but the men were forced to walk a gauntlet, where they were beaten, and then to crouch down and chant, 'Serbia, Serbia.' A few were shot even then." 57 The Agence-France Presse reported "a total of 119 bodies" exhumed at Celina, "buried throughout the village and its environs," with another "60 bodies ... still buried in the area, according to locals." 58 There was reason to believe these were overwhelmingly the corpses of the men described by villagers having been separated or ferreted out and shot. German Lieutenant-Colonel Dietmar Jeserich told The Los Angeles Times that an estimated 110 village men were still on missing lists. 59
In most cases, the gendercidal character of the massacres was total, or very nearly so. At Qyshk, near Pec, Italian troops interviewed survivors of a massacre of "44 Albanian men of ages ranging from 16 to 64." 60 At Rezalla, "a cluster of brick houses north-west of Pristina," The Guardian's reporters found "a large mound of earth ... beside the dirt road leading into the village. The ribs of a large animal, probably a cow, were protruding from the soil. But refugees returning home after three months living in the open said that until a fortnight ago, the pit contained the bodies of about 80 ethnic Albanian men from the area: one witness, a KLA member, said he had watched from a hill on April 5 when Serb paramilitaries shot the 80 men by the side of the road, and then forced other Albanians to dig the graves." 61 At the village of Bukos, The New York Times gathered testimony that "Serbian soldiers had killed 22 civilians - men ranging from 17 to 48 years old" on 2 May. 62 In Koliq, BBC reporter Ben Brown interviewed eyewitnesses to the slaughter of 64 men in April, killed after they failed to procure the necessary bribe money to paramilitaries; most had been "executed at point blank range with shots to the head." 63 A similar fate had been visited upon those fleeing Pristina along the "Road to Leskovac," according to a survivor, Hamit Zhujani, who described the events of 21 April 1999 to Valerie Reitman of The Los Angeles Times. Zhujani's tractor, according to Reitman,
was No. 80 in line along the road when he came upon a Serbian checkpoint in Makovac. The soldiers demanded money. Over the next mile and a half, he said, he handed over 7,000 marks, about $3,500. He was stopped, robbed or harassed by soldiers about 20 times along that stretch. When he ran out of money, the soldiers held a gun to his head. They were about to pull him from the column when his sister handed over 500 marks to spare him, he said. "They just randomly selected men and took them. All the time we heard gunfire," Zhujani said. "I saw 23 men separated from the column," said Ilmi Berisha, 65, who was hiding in the hills near his house in the village. At a farmhouse, "they made them sit, stand, sit, stand, then they killed them." ... Faton Krasniqi, 25, who also hid in the hills, said he saw Gypsies, who often handle sanitation tasks in the villages, taking four trailer-loads of bodies from the garage to three mass grave sites. ... Small cemeteries showed relatively fresh mounds of dirt, now covered with wildflowers and weeds, with old shoes and tattered clothes strewn about. ... A shoulder of a jacket stuck out of the dirt nearby. Insects teemed in the earth, and the fetid smell of death hung everywhere. Krasniqi said at least 80 bodies were dumped at this one site in Lukare, one of three similar mass graves in the space of a few miles. Berisha, the man who saw the executions, ... [witnessed one man] being pulled from the column. "I saw him. I heard his screams. I can still hear his screams," Berisha said. 64
At the village of Goden, twenty men had been "marched to the side of a barn and told to crouch down with their hands behind their heads. ... all 20 were mowed down by machine-gun fire. ... The men killed also constituted two-thirds of the village's adult male population ... making it unlikely that normal life will ever resume in Goden." 65 Numerous other Kosovar villages had been decimated by the "genocidal cull" of their male population. "So many [men] have disappeared, so many are afraid to come back, we know our village will never return to what it was before the war," said one resident of Korenica. "My sister has lost five sons. She is not that strong. No one is. I think that none of us here is very far from madness." 66
Compiling an accurate count of the dead and missing was hampered by the post-conflict chaos in Kosovo, and the under-resourcing of virtually every aid effort and organization that took to the field. "International officials admit that they don't even have a good guess on how many people are missing. There is also no system to centralize information on bodies that have been found. Investigators for the international war-crimes tribunal are already overwhelmed by the number of sites to examine." 67 Controversy over the death-toll increased with the announcement by the ICTY that it had recovered some 2,100 bodies in its first season of exhumations in Kosovo. Critics leapt on the figure to suggest that only a relatively small number of Kosovars had died at Serb hands during the war. The claim seemed absurd in the light of the ICTY's admitted resource constraints, and its apparent unwillingness to investigate some of the worst alleged atrocity sites; I have addressed the subject in detail elsewhere. 68
Whatever death-toll is eventually arrived at - if one ever is - there can be no doubting the gendercidal trend of the atrocities. The most comprehensive report on the human-rights dimension of the war was "Kosovo/Kosova: As Seen, As Told," issued by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in November 1999. The OSCE's conclusions about the gendering of the slaughter were commendably blunt. "Young men were the group that was by far the most targeted in the conflict in Kosovo," the organization wrote. "... Clearly, there were many young men involved in the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] ... but every young Kosovo Albanian man was suspected of being a terrorist. If apprehended by Serbian forces - VJ [Yugoslav army], police or paramilitary - the young men were at risk, more than any other group of Kosovo society, of grave human rights violations. Many were executed on the spot, on occasion after horrendous torture. Sometimes they would be arrested and taken to prisons or other detention centres, where, as described afterwards by men released from such detention, they would be tortured and ill-treated, while others would simply not be seen again. Others were taken for use as human shields or as forced labour. Many young men 'disappeared' following abduction." 69
The evidence elicited thus far from the Kosovo conflict suggests that a single category of ethnic-Albanian victims was the target of the worst and most systematic Serb atrocities: males, especially "battle-age" men between roughly 15 and 60. This campaign of "gendercide" can be seen as the continuation of longstanding Serb military strategy in the Balkans wars, of which the massacres at Srebrenica in July 1995 are the best-known and most substantial single example. In this article and other fora, I have argued that the "genocidal cull" of the male population is a pervasive and predictable feature of warfare, both ancient and modern; but it has received little or no attention in a wide range of literatures, ranging from international relations to comparative politics and genocide studies.
If the "logic" underlying such acts of gendercide is straightforward, so too may be the reasons for the general failure to acknowledge or analyze it. In a strictly I.R. context, the major theoretical "schools" - realist, neo-realist, liberal - have come in for sweeping criticism from feminist analysts for their failure to integrate the gender variable into their analyses of war and international conflict. However, the increasingly prominent feminist strand - which above all others should be attuned to the operation of the gender variable in such circumstances - may have a vested interest in overlooking gender-selective atrocities against males, since they distract from the desired focus on women's gendered suffering. As a result, the subject of mass and genocidal killings of males has attracted no attention in the feminist literature. In my broad though not exhaustive reading of the literature, I have literally come across not a single paragraph devoted to the subject. 70 Men as brutalizers and power-mongers have, however, received extensive notice in the literature.
The gender-selective slaughter in Kosovo, and the likely even greater atrocities inflicted on young East Timorese men in September 1999 71 , serve as reminders that the gendercidal trend remains pervasive (though not ubiquitous) in global conflicts, and is unlikely to decline soon. It is high time, both from a normative and an analytical perspective, to break the prevailing taboo - certainly one of the most powerful and hermetically-sealed in the social sciences - and to expand the analysis of gender and international politics to include "battle-age" males as the most vulnerable group of non-combatants in conflict situations, up to and including full-blown genocide.
Note 1: Mary Anne Warren, Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1985), p. 22. Emphasis added. For a more systematic and global-historical perspective on gendercide than is possible here, see my "Gendercide and Genocide," forthcoming in Journal of Genocide Research; and the educational website project I have co-launched, Gendercide Watch (www.gendercide.org). The inclusive term "gendercide" could usefully be supplemented with a reworked conception of "gynocide" - one that moves away from Mary Daly's bombastic use of the term in her Gyn/Ecology - and "androcide" for the gender-selective extermination of males. Back.
Note 2:The article is adapted from a book-length study, Gendercide in Kosovo, currently under submission. Readers may also be interested in my earlier research on these themes, such as "Gender and Ethnic Conflict in ex-Yugoslavia" (Ethnic and Racial Studies, 17: 1 , pp. 115-34) and "Does 'Gender' Make the World Go Round?" (Review of International Studies, 22: 4 , pp. 405-29). In undertaking the comparative project, I have benefitted enormously from the groundbreaking work of the scholars and students who constitute the emerging school of genocide studies. On a personal level, I wish to thank the following people for their encouragement and inspiration at various points in my engagement with these themes: Carla Bergman, Kal Holsti, Jo and David Jones, John Margesson, Hamish Telford, and Miriam Tratt. The article is dedicated to Dr. Ferrel Christensen (University of Alberta), without whose example and inspiration it could not have been written. Back.
Note 4:The trend seems more muted in current wars in Africa, for example - Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola - and the mortal victimization of women may be further heightened by the threat of AIDS that routinely accompanies the rape of civilian women. Back.
Note 5:Ben Kiernan, "The Cambodian Genocide - 1975-1979," in Totten et al., eds., Century of Genocide, p. 345, citing the associated research of Chanthou Boua ("Women in Today's Cambodia," New Left Review, No. 131, pp. 45-61). See also Anne E. Goldfeld, "More Horror in Cambodia," The New York Times, 4 June 1991: "Cambodia is a land of widows, where women head about 60 percent of the households"; John Pilger, "Playing a game of holocaust," Manchester Guardian Weekly, 12 November 1989: "Up to 70 percent of adults are women in areas such as this, where the killing was unrelenting. Many of the widows will describe, obsessively, their husbands' violent deaths and the cries of their smallest children denied food; and how they were then forced to marry a man they did not know." Back.
Note 8:"Columbian [sic] Militia Massacres 11," Associated Press dispatch, 9 November 1998. "The victims, most of them banana workers, die one by one or in massacres. ... In this macho society, women are protected and only the men are murdered, leaving about a thousand widows in the region, the Roman Catholic diocese estimates." Ken Dermota, "Workers caught in clutches of fatal conflict," The Globe and Mail, 21 September 1995. This area of Colombia, the region of Urabá in the northwest part of Antioquia province, is probably the most violent region in the most violent province in the most atrocity-ridden country on earth. I can think only of parts of northern Algeria that compare - an important counter-example, however, since the Algerian slaughter has in no way been "gendered" as strongly as in Colombia. Back.
Note 9:Martin van Bruinessen, "Genocide in Kurdistan?," in George J. Andreopoulos, ed., Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), pp. 156-57. Back.
Note 10:For case-study treatments of all these historical events, see Gendercide Watch < www.gendercide.org >. The case of the Soviet POWs, 2.8 million of whom were killed in just eight months of 1941-42 by exposure, starvation, and mass execution, is possibly the most concentrated act of killing in human history (exceeding the most murderous phase of the Jewish holocaust, and comparable to the 800,000 Tutsis murdered in Rwanda in twelve weeks of 1994). But there is no book in English on the subject. For a review of the fragmentary literature, see Jones, "Gendercide and Genocide." Back.
Note 11:Muratovic quoted in Mark Danner, "Bosnia: The Great Betrayal," New York Review of Books, 26 March 1998, p. 40; Danner, "Endgame in Kosovo," New York Review of Books, 6 May 1999, p. 8. Danner adds in the latter article: "Percentages of Bosnians actually killed varied widely, partly according to the strategic value of the target." Similar variations are evident in the Kosovo gendercide, as we will see shortly. Back.
Note 12:"The first massacre of innocents" in the Balkans conflict, in June 1991, was also apparently gendercidal in character: the killing of five civilian Croats - all men, including a 70-year-old - by Serb paramilitaries. In another harbinger of the atrocities to come, the men had been tortured before they were killed. Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War, third revised edition (London: Penguin, 1996), p. 101. Back.
Note 15:Charles Lane and Thom Shanker, quoted in Mark Danner, "The Killing Fields of Bosnia," New York Review of Books, 24 September 1998, pp. 63-64 (n. 2). Danner adds: "In the matter of 'precise details,' a partly declassified Defense Intelligence Agency cable, which offers 'a list of prisons in Bosnian territory, with the number of prisoners as of July 1992,' under the rubrics 'Location,' 'Number of Prisoners,' and 'Number Liquidated,' includes 'Bröko-Luka' and lists the 'Number Liquidated' there as over 3000. The list, presumably compiled in July or August of 1992 - the date, like much else, is blacked out by the government censor - includes one place where the 'Number Liquidated' exceeded 2000 (Ivornik 'Bratsvo' Stadium) and three where it exceeded one thousand." Back.
Note 18:In mid-July 1999, the international war-crimes tribunal at The Hague issued a ruling that Bosnian Serb forces under Mladié were operating under "a direct chain of military command" from Belgrade. Accordingly, it redefined the Bosnian war as "an international armed conflict." See Ian Traynor, "Belgrade 'directed Bosnian Serb forces,'" The Guardian, 16 July 1999. Back.
Note 21:Mertus cites the case of a 21-year-old female student who was "sent to prison for thirty days after her youth group organized a party in a private house to honor five young local Albanians [men] who had been killed by police in 1982 and 1984. ... They picked on her at the police station because she spoke no Serbian. ... Later, the student would tell me about the police who threatened to shoot her at the border with Albania, the inspectors who beat her with a stick across her hands and legs, the 'bad feeling' she had when they called her an 'Albanian whore' and the hopelessness she felt when she heard women screaming in another cell and could do nothing to help them. Her story, she would say, is 'nothing special.'" Julie A. Mertus, Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started A War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p. 167. Back.
Note 25:"Press-ganging" by the Yugoslav Army was particularly feared. As the 1990s wore on, "Albanian recruits reported greater harassment in the military; the number of young Albanian soldiers dying under suspicious conditions rose." Mertus, Kosovo, p. 156. Back.
Note 28:In October 1999 the BBC reported the discovery of a mass grave in Kosovo holding "an estimated total of up to 90" bodies. "Peter Koehler, the head of the German forensic team, indicated that the grave could date from July 1998 ... [which] would make it one of the earliest mass graves in Kosovo." "Kosovo mass grave uncovered," BBC Online, 12 October 1999. Back.
Note 29:"Charting a Massacre: The Monitors' Report," excerpts from Special Report: Massacre of Civilians in Racak, The New York Times, 22 January 1999. The standardly-cited death-toll for Racak is 45; the monitors arrived after a number of autopsies had already been carried out. Back.
Note 30:"Accounts of Serbian Atrocities Multiplying," The Washington Post, 22 April 1999. I have addressed the issue of media coverage of the gendercide in a separate article, "Effacing the Male: Gender, Misrepresentation and Exclusion in the Kosovo War," currently under submission to Journal of Men's Studies. Back.
Note 46:Eric Schmitt, "Mass Graves Being Dug Up, NATO Says," International Herald Tribune (from The New York Times), 19 May 1999. Sandwiched in between was a U.S. State Department report citing estimates "from a low of 100,000, looking only at the men missing from among refugee families in Albania, up to nearly 500,000, if reports of widespread separation of men among internally displaced within Kosovo are true." "U.S. Says Thousands of Kosovo Albanian Men Missing," Reuters dispatch, 19 April 1999. The assertion attracted some ridicule to the limited extent that it was noted in the media. But if the upper reaches of such estimates strained the credulity of some, they were not entirely outlandish. The roughest of demographic calculations - dividing the 1.8 Kosovar ethnic-Albanians estimated to be present in the territory in March 1999 as one-third "battle-age" men, one-third "battle-age" women, and one-third children, youths, and elderly - gives a total "battle-age" male population of around 600,000 (although it is unclear to what extent this figure may have been affected by the forced out-migration of younger ethnic-Albanian men referred to earlier in this article). Patently, very few of these men were getting through, at least in the refugee convoys to Albania. There were repeated reports of largescale killings and disappearances, and most of the men who could not be placed in these categories had fled to unknown destinations and fates in the hills. It should also be noted that a few months after the Kosovo war, a very similar situation arose in East Timor, the population of which was estimated at 850,000 at the onset of the post-plebiscite violence. And yet a flurry of news reports in October 1999 cited anything from 300,000 to 600,000 Timorese missing or "unaccounted for," months after the arrival of the U.N. intervention force. While the strong possibility existed in Timor - as in Kosovo - that most of those targeted had reached temporary safety in the hills, there were also widespread accounts of murders and "disappearances," suggesting that some of the missing might be dead or at mortal risk. A term like "unaccounted for" did not seem inappropriate in these circumstances, and nobody denounced as "propagandistic" the humanitarian agencies that were bandying about the dizzying totals. Tens of thousands of Timorese, perhaps as many as 200,000 or 300,000, remain "unaccounted for" even at the time of writing (February 2000, i.e., half a year after the Indonesian military's attempted "final solution" to the Timorese "problem"). Since October 1999, the subject has again attracted virtually no attention in mainstream media, which have limited themselves to parroting the United Nations' self-serving claims of "hundreds" killed in East Timor. While there is no way of stating with certainty that the number is in the thousands or tens of thousands (as I strongly suspect that it is), a figure in the hundreds would be nothing short of miraculous, given the ferocious scale of the Indonesian onslaught and the well-established character of Indonesian genocide in the territory. For more, see my compilation, "Gender-Selective Atrocities in East Timor" (http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/adamj/timor1.htm and following); and Adam Jones, "East Timor: Where Are the People?," at http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/adamj/where.htm. Back.
Note 47:On Pusto Selo, see Human Rights Watch, "Large-Scale Massacre in Pusto Selo (Postoselo)" (2 July 1999): "The Serbian forces separated the adult males from the women and children, searched the women and confiscated their money and jewelry. The men were mostly older than fifty-five, as almost all of the younger men had fled into the hills. Around 4:30 p.m., the women were sent away from the village under orders to 'Go to Albania!' ... After the women left, the Serbian forces ordered the men to empty their pockets, stealing the several thousand German Marks that they found. 'We begged them to spare our lives,' said T.K., fifty-four, [a] survivor. 'We gave them all of our money so that they wouldn't kill us.' The Serbs also confiscated the villagers' identity documents. B.K. said that they took his papers, telling him: 'You won't need any ID where you're going.' The Serbian security forces separated out a group of seven or eight younger men for interrogation and severe beatings. The group was then lined up nearby and shot with automatic rifles by seven or eight members of the Serbian security forces, believed by witnesses to be paramilitaries. Another group of about twenty-five men was then taken to the edge of a nearby gully and killed in the same manner. 'They came back to us and asked if we had seen what happened, telling us, "you're going to go there too,' B.K. said. In all, four groups, each consisting of between twenty-five and thirty men, were taken to the edge of the gully and executed using automatic weapons." Back.
Note 54:Paul Koring, "Witnesses pinpoint village massacre," The Globe and Mail, 28 June 1999. UPI's Beth Potter, citing British police sources, stated that at Slovinje "Serbs allegedly murdered and mutilated 43 men, raped and murdered two women and murdered an elderly woman by dousing her with gasoline." Beth Potter, "Serb arrested in alleged killing of 46," United Press International dispatch, 24 June 1999. Back.
Note 66:Tom Hundley, "Kosovars agonize over the missing," Chicago Tribune, 7 October 1999. See also Danica Kirka, "Kosovo village [Korenica] wonders what happened to its men," The Globe and Mail, 24 December 1999: "Six months after the end of the Kosovo conflict, not a single man from 16 to 60 in this ethnic-Albanian village has been accounted for, residents and human-rights activists say. Its population used to be 600." Back.
Note 70:For a critical overview of the feminist I.R. literature, see Adam Jones, "Does 'Gender' Make the World Go Round?," Review of International Studies, 22: 4 (1996); and the debate between Jones and Carver et al. in Review of International Studies, 24: 2 (1998). Back.
Note 71:As I write, Russian forces are "cleaning up" in Chechnya after their successful capture of Grozny, which has been closed off to foreign observers. Saleh Brant, European representative for the Chechen government in exile, told Radio Netherlands that "the Russians are closing the city to kill off its remaining male inhabitants, unnoticed and undeterred by the press. 'The war has followed very much the same pattern as it did last time [1994-96]. The patterns are clear. The Russians now say Grozny is too dangerous, but they are closing it down so that they can liquidate large percentages of the male population in Grozny.'" "Why Russia's Army Declares Grozny out of Bounds," Radio Netherlands, 15 February 2000. See also Patrick Cockburn, "Russia Rattled by Torture Claims at Chechen Camps," The Independent (UK), 18 February 2000: "General Viktor Kazantsev, the overall Russian commander in the North Caucasus, said that all Chechen males between 10 and 60 years of age would be considered suspects. Although this threat was subsequently modified in public, it appears to have been implemented in practice." Human Rights Watch expressed "deep concern" "about a wave of arrests, mainly of Chechen men, following the retreat of Chechen fighters from the capital, Grozny. Russian soldiers have arbitrarily detained hundreds of men, depriving them of basic procedural rights and taking them away to undisclosed places of detention." "In many of these cases, the arrest appears to be based solely on the ethnic background of the men," said a spokesman. "Such collective punishment for Chechen males is absolutely unacceptable." Human Rights Watch, "Hundreds of Chechens Detained in 'Filtration Camps,'" 18 February 2000. Back.