Yugoslavia: Whether new recruits, conscripts or reservists are being sent to Kosovo
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 May 1999|
|Citation / Document Symbol||YUG31846.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Yugoslavia: Whether new recruits, conscripts or reservists are being sent to Kosovo, 1 May 1999, YUG31846.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ac771c.html [accessed 13 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
A 21 March 1999 Croatian Radio broadcast reported on a group of 20 Vojvodina Croats and Hungarians who had avoided forced mobilization by fleeing to Croatia via Hungary. It quotes one of the deserters as saying that:
exclusively Croat and Hungarian recruits from north Baçka [one of the three regions of Vojvodina] were being sent to Kosovo, and that at least 30 Vojvodina Croats and Hungarians, mainly regular Yugoslav Army recruits and members of the reserve police forces, had been killed in Kosovo so far.
A 17 March MTV Television Network broadcast in Budapest quotes the chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Party of Vojvodina (MDSV) Andras Agoston as saying that following the mobilization of reservists, "several hundred" Vojvodina ethnic Hungarians serving in the Serbian army had been sent to Kosovo. Agoston further stated that although Hungarian reservists had not taken part in military operations, Kosovo has become a dangerous place.
No further information on the extent to which recruits were being sent to Kosovo by the Yugoslav military authorities could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
However, a 23 April 1999 Frankfurter Rundschau report quotes the manager of the Initiative for Peace and International Balance in Bonn, Goran Milanovic: "at least 50,000 conscientious objectors and deserters have gone underground in Yugoslavia." The report also states that most of them are men from Montenegro and from the Romanian and Hungarian minorities in Vojvodina. According to the report, only one quarter of all men have responded to the call for mobilization. The report also quotes the spokesman of Connection, an Offenbach-based association of conscientious objectors as saying that:
since the beginning of NATO attacks, police and army have been checking young men everywhere in the country: anyone who does not have an Identity card is immediately taken to the military. Opposition members, who had previously agitated against Belgrade's military policy, have also been forcibly recruited.
An article published in the 6 March 1999 issue of the London-based magazine The Economist states that "reservists of all ages" were being called-up for military duty throughout Yugoslavia and Montenegro and a 15 March 1999 AFP report states that military service of conscripts who had just left the military was extended by 30 days "in view of a threatened NATO intervention." The Podgorica-based Montena-fax news agency in a 18 February 1999 report states that some Yugoslav Army reservists in Montenegro, apparently members of the air-defence units, had been receiving general mobilization notices.
A 5 April 1999 New York Times article quotes a young Serbian draft dodger as saying that "under Serbia's state of war, all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are forbidden to travel outside the country. They cannot be granted exit visas, receive new passports or renew their old ones."
A 25 March 1999 urgent appeal issued by the London-based War Resisters' International states that:
Deserters and draft evaders from [the Yugoslav army] face up to 20 years imprisonment (art. 214, 217 and 226, Chapter 20, Federal Criminal Code, Offences against the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), as well as the inevitable persecution and intimidation. Despite this appalling fact, it is estimated that during the war with Croatia, approximately 50% of reservists refused to answer call-up papers, (in Belgrade, only 17% answered, a third of whom did so under force) and at least 200,000 fled abroad to avoid military service.
The Serbian authorities have established wartime military courts to court-martial the army recruits who do not immediately report to their units (The New York Times 5 Apr. 1999). Prison terms for draft dodging may vary between 1 and 20 years (ibid.).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Information on the above-mentioned topic could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Agence France Presse (AFP). 15 March 1999. "Serbia Prolongs Conscripts' Military Service by 30 Days." (NEXIS)
Croatian Radio [Zagreb, in Serbo-Croat] 9 April 1999. "Yugoslav Army Tells Montenegrin Media to End Foreign Rebroadcasts." (BBC Summary 12 Apr. 1999/NEXIS)
_____. 21 March 1999. "Croats, Hungarians Flee to Croatia to Avoid Mobilization." (BBC Summary 23 Mar. 1999/NEXIS)
The Economist [London]. 6 March 1999. "Bluff, Intrigue, War - or Peace." (NEXIS)
Frankfurt Rundschau [Frankfurt/Main, in German]. 23 April 1999. "At Least 50,000' Deserters, Objectors Reported in FRY." (FBIS-WEU-1999-0423 23 Apr. 1999/WNC)
Montena-Fax News Agency [Podgorica, in Serbo-Croat]. 18 February 1999. "Yugoslav Army Calls up Montenegrin Reservists." (BBC Summary 20 Feb. 1999/NEXIS)
MTV Television Network [Budapest, in Hungarian]. 17 March 1999. "Serbs Mobilizing Ethnic Hungarians to Serve in Kosovo." (FBIS-EEU-1999-0317 17 Mar. 1999/WNC)
The New York Times. 5 April 1999. Late Edition. Steven Erlanger. "Crisis in the Balkans: The Draft Dodgers; Serb Conscripts Drift Into Hiding." (NEXIS)
War Resisters' International (WRI). 25 March 1999. Urgent Appeal: Support Serbian Deserters. London: War Resisters' International.
Additional Sources Consulted
Electronic Sources: IRB databases, Internet.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) Website.
Transitions [Prague]. Website.