- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001

A Kosovar pediatrician who spent months in a Serbian jail facing mock executions during interrogation said yesterday that only independence from Yugoslavia would satisfy the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and their cousins in adjacent Serbia and Macedonia.
Dr. Flora Brovina was in Washington to receive the $10,000 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights for operating her clinic and shelter for traumatized women and children during the mass expulsions of Albanians from Kosovo in 1999.
"I am supposed to be happy, but there are still so many in Serbian prisons," Dr. Brovina said yesterday in an interview.
"One of my friends is still in jail after two years without any charges. And Albin Kurti, who was one of the best students at Pristina University, has been sentenced to 15 years for terrorism although his only weapons were words."
Dr. Brovina was arrested in April 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia aimed at halting the mass expulsions of ethnic Albanians from the province of Kosovo.
During interrogation, police put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger, she said. But it was not loaded.
She was sentenced to 12 years in jail for supporting terrorism but was released after an international outcry on her behalf and after a new, moderate government replaced strongman Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia and in its main republic, Serbia.
However, Dr. Brovina, who also was awarded a prize for her poetry by the PEN American Center and received the 2000 U.N. Millennium Peace Prize, believes the new government of Yugoslavia is not very different from the old one.
"Yes, it is a new Serbian government, but it operates based on the old mentality," she said, speaking in Albanian through an interpreter.
"We can hardly distinguish the second government."
She said the Serbs in Yugoslavia and those who remain in Kosovo are doing nothing to integrate into the life of Kosovo, now dominated by the majority ethnic Albanian population, although run by a U.N. mission.
She has always sought independence for Kosovo from Serbian rule, having inherited the tradition from her parents.
She is skeptical that Serbian forces invited to restore order in a zone between Serbia and Kosovo would respect the rights of ethnic Albanians there, a condition set by Secretary of State Colin Powell in Brussels recently.
Since her release from jail, she has returned to work as a doctor in her center for rehabilitation of women and children wounded physically and spiritually by the horrors of the Serbian expulsions, ethnic violence and the NATO bombing campaign.
"How can I help them wipe out the pictures they have in their mind?" she said. "I, too, suffer. I went through all this tragedy. The only parallel is when the Jews were in Nazi prisons."
Many of the 403 children and 285 women at her clinic "saw their mothers and fathers and husbands chopped up in front of them."
"I find it difficult to get rid of these memories," she said.


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