Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Starting on February 21st thousands of Kosovo-Serbs held daily protests against Kosovo's unlawful secession from Serbia. They gathered in front of the courthouse in northern Kosovska Mitrovica and brought work inside the courthouse to a stand still.

On March 14th about fifty Serbian protesters made their way through a police cordon and entered the courthouse. In spite of reports that the building was a "UN courthouse", the deed on the courthouse is held by the Serbian Ministry of Justice, and like a lot of the buildings in Kosovo, the courthouse is the property of the Serbian Government.

The Serbian protesters who entered the courthouse were Serbian judicial workers who had been forced out of their offices in the courthouse on August 11, 1999 -- one month after NATO occupied Kosovo. Although exiled from their offices, they continued to work for the Ministry of Justice from private homes and premises. They entered the courthouse last Friday and vowed not to leave until their offices were returned to them. Although they set up a negotiating team to try and reach an agreement with UNMIK, UNMIK refused to talk with them.

At 6:00 AM on March 17th, UN and NATO troops launched a raid on the courthouse to forcibly evict the Serbian judicial workers and arrest them.

Serbia's Kosovo Minister Slobodan Samardzic had been scheduled to meet with Deputy UNMIK Chief Larry Rossin to try and workout a peaceful end to the standoff that afternoon, but instead of solving the problem like civilized people, UNMIK and KFOR resorted to violence before the meeting even started. To make matters even worse they launched their attack on the one month anniversary of the unilateral Albanian declaration of Kosovo's independence and the four year anniversary of deadly Albanian pogroms against Serbs in Kosovo.

When the Serbian protesters outside the building saw KFOR and UNMIK attacking the Serbs inside the courthouse they were furious, they retaliated by hurling stones, Molotov cocktails, and whatever else they could throw at the UN and NATO troops responsible for the attack. They killed one of the attackers and wounded several others. The protesters set UN and NATO vehicles on fire and managed to free 21 women who had been captured and tied-up with ropes by the UN and NATO troops.

Russia's envoy to NATO condemned the attack, Dmitriy Rogozin denounced "the disproportionate use of force against the protesters, including women and children that were in the court building."

Not only did the UN and NATO resort to violence when dialogue was an option, their attack was directed against the lawful owners of the building. The people inside the courthouse were employees of the Serbian Ministry of Justice and the building is owned by the Serbian Ministry of Justice.

In spite of the fact that NATO and the UN provoked the violence, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said "The United States condemns the violence against U.N. and NATO personnel near the U.N.(sic) courthouse in Mitrovica" adding "we call on the Serbian government to denounce these acts of violence."

The hypocrisy of America's policy in the Balkans never ceases to amaze me. NATO and the UN attacked Serbian judicial workers for the "crime" of being in their own workplace, and now the United States is demanding that the Serbian Government condemn these people because they tried to defend themselves.

I'll say this for American policy, the United States is doing a masterful job of making fools out of the "pro-Western" parties that overthrew Milosevic in 2000. Promises of Western friendship in exchange for Milosevic's removal and transfer to The Hague have proven to be completely empty. It has been more than seven years since October 5, 2000 and the West is just as hostile as its ever been. The State Dept. is going to make Tomislav Nikolic the most powerful man in Serbia if they keep this up.

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