NATO air commanders plan to open two new fronts in the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, sending strikes from Turkey and Hungary in an effort to surround Yugoslavia militarily and further isolate it politically, this according to allied officials. So far, NATO has sent attacks from bases in Western Europe and the United States and from carriers in the Adriatic. But now commanders plan to attack from the east using bases in western Turkey and at the same time station planes in Hungary that would strike Yugoslavia from the north.
The Yugoslav government announced a partial withdrawal of troops and special police units from Kosovo today, but the United States and its NATO allies dismissed the move as insufficient and declared that air attacks on Yugoslavia would continue until Belgrade meets all their conditions to resolve the Kosovo crisis. The announcement, which said the pullback began Sunday, but provided no further details, appeared to be part of a new diplomatic offensive by the Serb-led government to force an end to the allied airstrikes in the aftermath of Friday’s NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Eager to deny Belgrade any diplomatic advantage from the troop pullout declaration, U.S. officials responded that they were unimpressed and reiterated their demands for settling the conflict, including withdrawal of all government security forces from Kosovo and deployment of an international peacekeeping force in the region.
The fallout from the bombing of the Chinese Embassy, which killed three Chinese journalists and wounded 20 other people, continued as protests orchestrated by the Beijing government widened in the Chinese capital and elsewhere around the country. Thousands of Chinese students and others have come out not only in China, but around the world, to protest the bombing. Chinese President Jiang Zemin said that NATO must stop the bombing before the U.N. Security Council considers any peace proposal to end the Kosovo conflict, and demanded an official apology from Washington.
The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, has sharply criticized NATO over its air campaign against Yugoslavia. She says NATO’s humanitarian objectives have failed because its airstrikes have led to civilian deaths and injuries. The U.N. human rights chief is in the Balkans on a fact-finding mission investigating human rights abuses against all communities in Yugoslavia. The information will be used by the U.N. to define new human rights guidelines for future conflicts. Accoring to Robinson, all sides in the Kosovo conflict, including NATO, should be eligible for war crimes investigations in The Hague.
The East Timorese resistance may boycott a vote on whether the Jakarta-occupied territory stays within Indonesia, if leader Xanana Gusmão is not released immediately. José Ramos-Horta was quoted in Portuguese newspapers as saying, “The resistance will not participate in this farce if Xanana is not freed immediately.” The Nobel Peace Prize winner, interviewed on Sunday on Portugal’s television, criticized Portugal for signing an accord with Indonesia on the holding of the ballot without first securing the release of Gusmão. Under the terms of the United Nations-brokered deal reached between Portugal and Indonesia, the East Timorese will vote on August 8 on an offer of sweeping autonomy within the Indonesian federation. If the Timorese reject this, Indonesia says it will grant them independence.
Israel’s Supreme Court stopped the government from closing the Palestinian headquarters in Jerusalem, defusing a potentially explosive showdown just six days before general elections. Peace activists had asked the court to block a closure of Orient House until after next week’s elections, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision smacked of electioneering.
This news from Riverside, California: Hundreds of people demonstrated yesterday against a decision not to prosecute four white police officers who fatally shot a Black woman they found sitting in a car with a gun in her lap. The police arrested 46 people, including the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has led similar protests in New York. The protest focused on the killing of Tyisha Miller. She was 19 years old. It happened on December 28th of last year after a cousin reported that Miller was unconscious in her car with a handgun on her lap at a gas station.
President Clinton yesterday gathered gunmakers, entertainment executives and gun control advocates for a closed-door strategy session on how to prevent violence like last month’s Colorado school massacre.