Ethnic Albanian citizens
of Kosovo walk along the railroad tracks to avoid the landmines planted
by the Serbian army. Tens of thousands of refugees are pouring into Albania
and Macedonia, as Serbian forces execute a "scorched-earth policy" in Kosovo.
By Peter Turnley
Over the Adriatic (April 3, 1999)
Just 72 hours ago, I spent 10 days on the Kosovo-Macedonia border, witnessing one of the greatest human tragedies I have ever seen. I write this aboard an Olympic Airways flight from London, on my way to Greece, from where I will drive three hours to reach the Kosovo border tonight.
Last Thursday, I left for Paris with film of the first trainloads of thousands of ethnic Albanians, who had been herded, at gun point, onto trains in Pristina. Taken in locked trains at the Macedonian border, then forced off the trains, and obliged to walk miles down train tracks surrounded by mines, only to be greeted at the end of their journey by a worId that doesn't really want them, and at best is totally unprepared to receive and help them. Not wanting to take any chances loosing this film, I left immediately for Paris so it could be developed Thursday night and put on a Friday morning Concorde to New York in order to make Newsweek's deadline, and available for the European magazine weekend closes. I felt a strong need to let the world view, firsthand, the magnitude of human suffering rarely seen, on this scale, since WorldWar II.
I'm going back, for an undetermined period of time, and am filled with a deep sense of confusion and tremendous sorrow that at this moment in ourhistorysuch an unbelievable assault on human dignity, and such a divisive attack on the family of man is taking place. I have now seen, at the relatively youngage of 43, many of the most incredible scenarios of strife, conflict,and change in the world during the last 20 years. Though, nothing I have witnessed before, in such a short period of time, has had the potential to destabilize peace and international relations as this situation in the former Yugoslavia. I feel this from the perspective of an American, who has lived in Paris for the last 25 years. I continue to witness the horror of this tragedy from the vantagepoint of living in a European environment. It is taking place only two hours, by plane, from where I live.
When I arrived home the other night, I was hit by a powerful sensation--I felt off-balance, and hardly able to digest a sense of livingin a world of human relations out of control. The day before, I had seenthousands of people who had lost, in less than a half an hour, their family, friends, homes, jobs, bank accounts, passports, birth certificates--essentially their world. I saw elderly people who have become "living dead," their hearts too weak to create a new reality; parents who have failed to provide the comfort and peace they wanted so much to give totheir children. I have seen families, young men and women whose dreams of love and romance were ripped from their hearts--hands, and hugs, and kisses that were stolen and vaporized.
My flight will land soon, and tomorrow morning I will be back on the border of Kosovo. I am haunted by the empty eyes and stares of thousands of refugees, and I cry as I think of the senseless destructionof the very fabric of so many lives. I hope the rage I feel from this injustice will not get the better of me, and I hope that you will reject those who try to sell you easy answers to this outrage, who cheat thebeauty of life by ignoring and being afraid to deal with its complexity.
| 2 | 3 | 4
| 5 | 6 | 7
| 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
View the Index Page
|Contents Page||Editorials||The Platypus||Links||Copyright|
|Features||Camera Corner||War Stories||Dirck's Gallery||Comments|
|Issue Archives||Columns||Forums||Mailing List||E-mail Us|