Seventy-five thousand ethnic Albanians poured into Kosovo’s streets Monday to demand foreign help against a Serb police crackdown. Diplomats meeting in London called for an arms embargo against Yugoslavia and ordered it to pull riot police out of the turbulent southern province.
In a rainswept construction yard in the Kosovo town of Srbica, the bodies of dozens of ethnic Albanians slain by Serb police were lined up in two rows, heads and limbs protruding from a single long white sheet. A tractor lumbered in, dumping another corpse.
Angry Albanians refuse to bury the bodies, demanding that foreign experts conduct autopsies on the scores killed in last week’s crackdown. They say the victims include children and the elderly, some burned beyond recognition.
Residents say they are being pressed to claim and bury the dead quickly to hide evidence of police atrocities.
In the provincial capital of Pristina, ethnic Albanians waved banners with messages pleading for help. “Europe, where are you?” one sign, written in English, demanded. “NATO, wake up!” another said.
Whether the diplomats’ support for a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing a comprehensive arms embargo would be enough to satisfy the protesters wasn’t clear. Some were hoping for military intervention.
The diplomats - from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia - said President Slobodan Milosevic will face further sanctions unless special police units are withdrawn from Kosovo within 10 days.
Russia, which considers Kosovo an internal Yugoslav problem, agreed to the arms embargo but refused to approve other measures, including a moratorium on government-financed export credits and financing to privatize the Serbian economy.
“If we don’t get the kind of result that we want, we need to remember that the only kind of pressure that President Milosevic understands is the kind that imposes a real price on his unacceptable behavior,” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said.
The top U.S. envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, met with Milosevic late Monday night and said shortly after midnight that he “expressed very strong views of my government regarding the need for very urgent dialogue and a political solution for the future of Kosovo.”
On Monday, more than 13,000 refugees in Pristina, anxiously awaited a sign that the international community would act to prevent further violence in Kosovo. While they waited, Serb authorities returned the bodies of more than 50 casualties - including 13 children - of what the Serbs called a crackdown on Albanian terrorism.
“All our eyes are on the West,” said Naile Dobardalani, 45, who fled her village when the shooting started. “If we don’t have help from Germany or America, this will become another Bosnia. We don’t expect anything less.”