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Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
September 11, 2003


The Story from the Families

(Washington) - The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing with individuals representing families with lost relatives from the periods of conflict in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.

Missing Persons in Southeast Europe, Part 2

Thursday, September 18, 2003
10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
334 Cannon House Office Building


  • Sheremet Ademi, Chairman, Mitrovica-based NGO "Memory" and Kosovar Association of Families of the Missing. He also advises the United Nations Mission in Kosovo on issues relating to missing persons. Three members of his family were missing, but they recently have been identified.

  • Nesrete Kumnova, President, Gjakova-based NGO "Mothers Appeal." Eight members of her family are missing, including one son.

  • Agron Limani, President, "26 Marsi 1999," an association of families based in Krusha e Vogel where 70 percent of the men over age 16 were abducted. Limani has 11 missing family members, including his father and brother.

  • Mehmetali Perolli, Head, Gjakova-based Office of the Imprisoned and Missing People, where 667 persons are still missing.

According to the International Commission on Missing Persons, as many as 40,000 persons are unaccounted for a result of the decade of deadly conflict in the former Yugoslavia beginning in 1991. Mass graves continue to be uncovered, while people still seek information from government offices on lost relatives. In some cases, efforts to find the truth about the unknown fate of loved ones have brought together individuals representing different ethnic groups.

The Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on one aspect of this issue, with testimony by Albanians who themselves have missing family members in Kosovo. The panelists also represent organizations consisting of other families sharing the same tragedy and grief. A similar panel of Serbs who lost family in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo testified before the Commission on August 1, 2003.

An un-official transcript will be available on the Helsinki Commission's Internet web site at within 24 hours of the hearing.

The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

Media Contact: Ben Anderson
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