The Priština authorities and many mass media outlets continue to push lies about thousands of rapes allegedly committed by Serbian security forces in Kosovo in 1998-99. This is an information battle where we need to be persistent and thorough to communicate the truth about these inflated rape figures.
Let me give you a couple of examples. The journalist Mark Tran of The Guardian wrote an article where he mentioned 20,000 rapes allegedly committed by Serbs. Two weeks ago, I submitted an op-ed about this, without receiving any reply. Today I submitted a formal complaint to the newspaper that prides itself with accuracy. Today, I wrote the following email to email@example.com.
Dear readers’ editor
I would hereby like to submit a complaint about the accuracy of an article written by your journalist Mark Tran, and as a part of my complaint, I would like to give you my op-ed sent to firstname.lastname@example.org on June 18, so far without a reply from The Guardian:
Why continue the propaganda war?
By Kristian Kahrs
The Guardian’s sudden allegation that Serbian forces committed 20,000 previously unreported rapes in Kosovo in 1999 contradicts your own excellent investigative reporting.
Guardian writer Mark Tran’s June 11th “Dresses on washing lines pay tribute to Kosovo survivors of sexual violence,” also ignores the March 2000 Human Rights Watch assertion of 96 war-related rapes in 1998 through 1999, as cited in their report, “Kosovo: Rape as a Weapon of Ethnic Cleansing”.
In August 2000, award-winning Guardian reporter Audrey Gillan’s “The Propaganda war,” cites her failure to uncover any evidence of mass rapes in Kosovo. She said that while finding no such evidence, she did witness scores of reporters searching in vain for “rape camps” alleged by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
Having served as a Norwegian NATO information officer in 2000, and since as a reporter, I have direct experience in Kosovo. Despite working with the Humanitarian Law Centre, which has the most complete records of Kosovo’s War victims, I have found no data that supports Mr. Tran’s thesis.
War crimes must be punished to the full extent of the law, regardless of perpetrator. But The Guardian’s allegation of tens of thousands of previously unheard-of rapes runs directly counter to efforts at reconciliation based on honest reporting, legitimate punishment, and ending a propaganda war that your writer appears to be continuing 15 years after the end of hostilities. No peace can be built on the basis of outlandishly false claims.
I have read the Guardian News & Media Editorial Code and your article about how to make a complaint. Therefore, I ask the readers’s editor to consider if The Guardian has violated article 1 about accuracy:
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.
On Twitter, Mr. Tran has sited an old article from 2012 in Balkan Insight as a source for his claim of 20,000 rapes, but The Guardian should know that these are claims BI no longer uses. In the article Kosovo Plans Benefits for War Rape Victims published on June 22, 2015, BI states: “There is still no accurate estimate of the number of women and girls who were raped or suffered other forms of sexual violence during the war with Serbian forces.”
For further documentation about inflated rape figures in war, you can read my summary of the book Fools’ Crusade, Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.
As you see for instants in the recent article in I have learned to expect the highest standards from The Guardian, and therefore, I thank you for your transparency and seriousness of this complaint.
I am available 24 hours on my Serbian mobile +381 628 406 604, and I will promptly respond by email if you need clarifications.
Candidate for the Norwegian parliament in 2017, Director of Information for the Democrats of NorwayNorwegian ip phone: +47 72 60 12 83
Norwegian mobile: +47 93 00 25 22
Serbian mobile: +381 628 406 604sorryserbia.com
facebook.com/kahrs (friends or follow)
Also, well respected members of the academia actively promotes lies about Kosovo wartime rapes. One of these is Dr. Frances Trix, professor of linguistics and anthropology at Indiana University. She also pushes the lie of 20,000 rapes in Kosovo in her article 5,000 Hanging Skirts: How Women Remember War Rape in Kosova, but when asked for facts, she responds with ad hominem attacks challenging me to go to “Kosova”.
I had one comment correcting the false allegations of Dr. Trix, and the editor of juancole.com, Juan Cole, initially wrote that he was so glad for your civil disagreement, which adds so much to the blog. However, then I tried to submit the following comment as a response to Dr. Trix:
Thank you for your general statements about Kosovo. However, please note that I did not ask you about your general view of the conflicts in the Balkans but a concrete question about your sources for your claim of 20,000 rapes. Your arguments seem more like what you would expect from a junior high school student, not a professor from a famous university. In your reply to me, without siting any reputable sources, you claim that 20,000 rapes is “probably an underestimate judging by the experience in Bosnia.”
It is interesting that you mention Bosnia, and here Diana Johnstone who has written the very well documented book Fools’ Crusade, Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. In the link, you can see my summary of her book, updated with relevant links and clickable footnotes. In her book, Johnstone writes about Dr. Frits Kalshoven, professor of humanitarian international law at the University of Leiden. Until 1993, he was the head of the only international body to pursue a thorough investigation of rape accusations was the Commission set up by the Security Council to prepare the documentary basis for the ICTY. He was replaced by Professor Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, an American of Egyptian origin. Five years after resigning from the UN commission, Professor Kalshoven told Dutch journalist Aart Brouwer:
“Terms like ‘genocide’ came all too easily from the mouths of people like Bassiouni, an American professor of law, who had to establish a reputation and to work on fund-raising. In my opinion these terms were way out of line. ‘Genocidal rape’ is utter nonsense. ‘Genocide’ means extermination, and it is of course impossible to exterminate people and make them pregnant at the same time. It is a propaganda term which was used against the Serbs right from the start, but I have never found any indication that rape was committed systematically by any of the parties – and I understand by ‘systematically’, on orders from the top.”
However, it appeared that I was not allowed to write this comment because it appears that Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni is a personal friend. of Juan Cole. Then he wrote the following in an email:
“Oh, then I saw that horrible quote at the end about attacking my friend Cherif and denying rape altogether. This is hate speech and I had to take it down.”
When opponents use accusations of hate speech, we know that they have no more arguments, but we just have to continue to fight for the truth. We just have to continue the fight, patiently countering false statements by facts.