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Imprisoned Peace Activists Back Home

Four of six American peace activists imprisoned over the weekend in the embattled Yugoslav province of Kosovo arrived here Tuesday, tired but pleased to be free.

“I’m exhausted,” said Albert Cevallos of Washington, D.C., who was arrested with five colleagues on Saturday for not registering with police.

Those arrested are members of Peaceworkers, a San Francisco-based organization committed to nonviolent solutions to conflicts. The five male members of the group all had their heads shaved after being taken into custody.

Other members of the group who returned with Cevallos were David Hartsough of San Francisco, executive director of Peaceworkers; Daniel Perez, of San Diego, a student at the University of California at Berkeley; and Teresa Crawford of San Francisco.

Two of the six - Bruce Hemmer, a student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and Peter Lipmann of Seattle - returned to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

The others planned to have dinner Tuesday evening with three members of Congress who led a fact-finding mission to the Balkans this past weekend and were instrumental in securing their release.

The delegation consisted of Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Sue Kelly, R-N.Y. Much of their stay in the region was spent in Macedonia, next door to Kosovo, because the Belgrade government of President Slobodan Milosevic had denied them permission to enter the province.

Cevallos said he and his colleagues were not mistreated during their two days in detention, but he described the prison guards as “aggressive and intimidating.”

“We felt somewhat secure because we were Americans,” he said. Before their arrest, he added, the group was taunted by the minority Serb population of the province because of their outspoken support for the majority Kosovo Albanians.

The group had contact with other prisoners who, Cevallos said, “were horribly abused.”

Some Kosovo Albanians had hands the size of hamburger buns because of beatings by prison guards, he said.


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