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Letter: Kosovo `cleansed'

Sir: May I protest against the use of the term "revenge attacks" when attacks in Kosovo by Albanians against Serbs are being reported ("Serb dies in grenade blast as ethnic Albanians step up revenge attacks", 9 November)?

There must obviously be an element of revenge in these attacks, but the term obscures the fact that what is being practised against the Serbs of Kosovo is not "revenge" but "ethnic cleansing," and that this "ethnic cleansing" is now, by all accounts, almost complete.

About 200,000 Serbs were said to live in Kosovo when Nato entered in June, pledging the disarmament of the KLA and security for all the citizens of Kosovo. By now, if reports are to be believed, only a small proportion of Serbs are left. Such an exodus does not happen through random vendettas; it happens only if there is a determined and concerted attempt to achieve it.

Use of the phrase "revenge attacks" also obscures the fact that this displacement of Serbs by Albanians did not begin with the return of the refugees after Nato's action, but is the continuation of an earlier process practised during the period of Albanian autonomy, this abuse of autonomy being part of the reason why that autonomy was rescinded by Milosevic in 1989.

Means used against the Serbs in those years were perhaps not as terrible as those used more recently against the Albanians, and they were certainly not as widespread; but they were effective none the less.