Yugoslav e-mail pleas against extremism, killing, and bombing (Kosovo crisis)

  People in Yugoslavia who have for years been calling for international mediation have used the Internet e-mail system pleading for an end to racist attacks and ethnic cleansing such as in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia, which lead to killings and people becoming refugees, and an end to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombing.

  The news releases dated April 1999 onwards were e-mailed to a Perth man by Danijel Pantic, Deputy Secretary General, European Movement in Serbia, Telephone and Fax ++381-11-630-281, E-mail ada@eunet.yu  His background is at: http://www.emins.org/english/people/danijel.htm    [Several were sent to Perth on Tuesday, 27 April 1999 09:16:21]

APPEAL BY THE SERBIAN NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

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Deeply disturbed by NATO destruction and the ordeal of Kosovo Albanians, we, the representatives of nongovernmental organizations [NGOs] and trade union "Nezavisnost" (Independence), strongly demand from all those responsible for this tragedy to immediately create ground for the renewal of the peace process.

The most powerful military, political and economic powers of the world are for two weeks incessantly killing people and destroying not only military but also civilian objects, blowing up bridges and rail tracks, factories and heating plants, warehouses and basins...  At the same time, in fear of the bombing campaign and military actions by the regime and the KLA, hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians are, in an unprecedented exodus, forced to leave their devastated homes and look for salvation in the tragedy and uncertainty of fleeing.

It is obvious that this is a road to catastrophe, and the peaceful and fair solution to the Kosovo problem through international mediation we have supported for years, today seems more distant than ever.

The past activities of our organizations in the field of democratization, development of a civil society and acceptance of FR Yugoslavia into all international institutions have been under constant pressure and intimidation by the Serbian regime.

We, as members of civil society associations have courageously and rationally fought against war and nationalistic propaganda and in support of human rights.  We emphasize that we have always raised our voices against the repression against Kosovo Albanians and demanded the respect of their liberties and guarantees for their rights.  We have also requested the return of the autonomy of Kosovo.  We stress that the only connection and co-operation of Serbs and Albanians during all these years has been preserved among civil society institutions.

NATO military intervention has undermined all results we have achieved and endangered the very survival of the civil sector in Serbia.

Faced with the tragic situation we have found ourselves in, and in the name of human ideas and values, as well as in accordance with all our past activities, we are demanding:

We cannot meet these demands by ourselves.

We expect from you to support our demands and in your initiatives and actions help their implementation.

[From]

* Association of Citizens for Democracy, Social Justice and Support to Trade Unions
* Belgrade Circle
* Center for Democracy and Free Elections
* Center for Transition to Democracy-ToD
* Civic Initiatives
* European Movement in Serbia
* Forum for Ethnic Relations, and Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management
* Group 484
* Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
* Student Union of Serbia
* Union for Truth about Antifascist Resistance
* United Branch Trade Unions NEZAVISNOST
* VIN-Weekly Video News
* Women in Black
* Yu Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
* EKO Centar

In Belgrade, April 6, 1999


Serbian NGO Demand for Restoration of the Peace Process

NATO bombardment and armed conflicts in Kosovo must stop.  The only way out of the crisis is an unconditioned reactivation of the peace process.

Since the effects of crooked policies are mass destruction of human life and devastation of the land, restoration of the peace process shall be a difficult task which will require participation of everyone who is able to make contributions to development and implementation of suitable solutions.

If this issue continues to be resolved only by the people who have caused the explosion of the Kosovo crisis and the whole Yugoslav tragedy, an effective, just and rational solution to the Balkan crisis will not be achieved.

In the past ten years, embracing the principles of human rights, democratic transition, dialog and compromise, a compact network of civic organisations has been established that articulates the interests of a large number of citizens from the troubled region.

These organisations had both Serbs and Albanians active in their membership working on projects together.

This is why these organisations, including the Nezavisnost Trade Union Confederation can contribute to a successful course of the peace process, to initiation of a dialog between appropriate segments of the Serbian and Albanian societies that could lead to reconciliation and solutions acceptable to the conflicted parties.

In all previous attempts to solve the Yugoslav crisis, international representatives have approached government representatives and social structures in Serbia and Kosovo which they considered influential.

Unfortunately, these structures mostly had radical views and nationalist policies, considering that even the KLA was approached.  At the same time, initiatives and opinions of democratic structures in the civil society that eventually turned out to be correct and well grounded, were not taken into account.

After contemplating all this, the civic organisations in Serbia that have signed this document and UBS Nezavisnost demand:

1. Representatives of these organisations to be allowed to actively participate in solving the Kosovo crisis and other problems generated by the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

2. A permanent International Conference of civic organisations from the Balkans, South-east Europe and, finally, the whole of Europe, to be established which would participate in this process and take part in finding ways to politically, economically and socially stabilise this region.

We believe that you shall consider our arguments and support our initiative.

Belgrade, April 13th 1999.


KOSOVO -- STATEMENT OF THE EUROPEAN NGOs

-- [ From: Biesemans Sam * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --

PRESS RELEASE

Statement by the NGO-EU Liaison Committee (representing 900 NGOs of the 15 EU Members Sates)

War and Humanitarian Crisis in the Balkans

Meeting as representatives of organised European citizens committed to peace, development and democracy, we are appalled by the human and social disaster under way in the Balkans.

Military and political forces are trampling on the rights of innocent people across the region and the rules of international law. Refugees, internally displaced persons, victims of ethnic cleansing and war crimes, civilian victims of bombing raids and other military actions have all been failed by the international community as well as their own government.

Among the casualties is the emerging democratic civil society in Yugoslavia, undermined by the inevitable nationalist

mobilisation in a society under military attack.

Apart from the immediate needs of refugees and other victims, massive resources will be needed to rebuild after the destruction which has taken place.

As European Union citizens, we are deeply concerned by the failure of European Union foreign policy to protect human rights and the right to Peace for all people in the region.

We are also concerned by the way in which humanitarian principles are being undermined by the confusion of political

and humanitarian objectives.

People's rights cannot be safeguarded as long as war continues.

Military action can never be the ultimate solution to human rights violations.

Therefore we demand an immediate return by all sides to the peace process: in particular we call on the EU to support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to resolve the crisis.

Equally, we demand the immediate cessation of war crimes and ethnic cleansing.  Peace, and the creation of supportive

conditions for civil society in Yugoslavia and throughout the region, are basic preconditions for reconstruction and reconciliation.

Looking to the future, we demand the democratisation of the system of international governance to stop future politically-created disasters.

We call on the international community to start this democratic approach now, in the search for a political solution to the conflict.

In particular, we call for a strong and effective European Common Foreign and Security Policy with conflict prevention and the protection of basic rights among its key principles.  Only in this way will the European Union work for people as well as economic goals.

We call on the UN to play its central role in preventing and resolving crises, including reform of its decision-making procedures to make them workable.

We call for co-operation with the international bodies dealing with war crimes, and the refusal of impunity for those responsible.

Meanwhile we appeal to the international community and in particular to the European Union, all sides in the conflict and the neighbouring governments to give absolute priority to protecting the human rights of all civilians and maintaining humanitarian standards.

We call on politicians and the media to refrain from inflammatory statements that demonise whole population groups.

We demand a rapid and flexible humanitarian response to meet the needs of the refugees and protect their rights, with special awareness of the needs and rights of women, children and older people.

A humanitarian corridor and safe zones are also needed.  Governments, the EC [European Community] and other bodies must provide rapidly a high level of assistance.

The relief effort must work via civil society and must include appropriate co-ordination between the different actors.

EU member states must be ready to provide asylum for refugees, while working for their safe return to their homes.

Massive investment will also be needed for postwar reconstruction in Yugoslavia, Albania and FYROM when circumstances permit.

This investment must be provided in addition to, not at the expense of, assistance to developing countries.

Brussels, 16 April 1999

Sam BIESEMANS
Press and European Parliament Relations
Liaison Committee of Development NGOs to the EU
square Ambiorix 10
1000 Brussels

tel.: 0032 -2 - 7438785 (direct)
tel. sec.: 0032 - 2 - 7438760
GSM (Mobile phone): 0032 (0) 477268893
fax. :0032-2-7321934
E-Mail: sbiesemans@clong.be
Web site: http:/www.oneworld.org/liaison


LET CIVILITY PREVAIL

A STATEMENT OF CONCERNED SERBIAN CITIZENS

As long time proponents of and activists for a democratic and anti-nationalist Serbia, who have chosen to remain in Yugoslavia during this moment of crisis and who want to see our country

reintegrated into the community of world nations, we state the following:

1. We strongly condemn the NATO bombings which have hugely exacerbated violence in Kosovo and have caused the displacement of people outside and throughout Yugoslavia.  We strongly condemn the ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population perpetrated by any Yugoslav forces. We strongly condemn the Kosovo Liberation Army's (KLA) violence targeted against the Serbs, moderate Albanians and other ethnic communities in Kosovo.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo - death, grief and extreme suffering for hundreds of thousands of Albanians, Serbs and members of other ethnic communities - has to be ended now.  All refugees from Yugoslavia must immediately and unconditionally be allowed to return to their homes, their security and human rights guaranteed, and aid for reconstruction provided.  Perpetrators of crimes against humanity whoever they are must be brought to justice.

2. The fighting between Serbian forces and KLA has to be stopped immediately in order to start a new round of negotiations.  All sides must put aside their maximalist demands.  There are (as in other numerous similar conflicts such as Northern Ireland) no quick and easy solutions.  We all must be prepared for a long and painstaking process of negotiation and normalization.

3. The bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO causes destruction and growing numbers of civilian victims (at least several hundred, maybe a thousand, by now).  The final outcome will be the destruction of the economic and cultural foundations of Yugoslav society.  It must be stopped immediately.

4. The UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the founding document of NATO, as well as the constitutions of countries such as Germany, Italy, Portugal, have been violated by this aggression.  As individuals who have devoted their lives to the defense of basic democratic values, who believe in universal legal norms we are deeply concerned that NATO's violation of these norms will incapacitate all those struggling for the rule of law and human rights in this country and elsewhere in the world.

5. NATO's bombings have further destabilized the southern Balkans.  If continued this conflict can escalate beyond Balkan borders and, if turned into land military operations, thousands of NATO and Yugoslav soldiers, as well as Albanian and Serbian civilians, will die in a futile war as in Vietnam.  Political negotiations toward a peaceful settlement should be reopened immediately.

6. The existing regime has only been reinforced by NATO's attacks in Yugoslavia by way of the natural reaction of people to rally around the flag in times of foreign aggression.  We continue our opposition to the present anti-democratic and authoritarian regime, but we also emphatically oppose NATO's aggression.  The democratic forces in Serbia have been weakened and the democratic reformist Government of Montenegro threatened by NATO's attacks and by the regime's subsequent proclamation of the state of war and now find themselves between NATO's hammer and [the] regime's anvil.

7. In dealing with the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia the leaders of the world community have in the past made numerous fatal errors.  New errors are leading to an aggravation of the conflict and are removing us from the search for peaceful solutions.

We appeal to all: President Milosevic, the representatives of the Kosovo Albanians, NATO, EU and US leaders to stop all violence and military activities immediately and engage in the search for a political solution.

Belgrade, April 16, 1999

1. Stojan Cerovic, "Vreme" columnist and journalist

2. Jovan Cirilov, Belgrade International Theater Festival (BITEF) selector and former director of the Yugoslav Drama Theater; Theater History Center Director

3. Sima Cirkovic, Member Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Professor, Belgrade University, Dept. of History

4. Mijat Damnjanovic, Former Professor, Belgrade University, Faculty of Political Sciences, Center for Public Administration and Local Government (PALGO) Director

5. Vojin Dimitrijevic, Former head of the Department of International Law, Belgrade Law School; The Belgrade Center for Human Rights Director; UN Human Rights Committee former Vice-Chairman

6. Dasa Duhacek, Director Women Studies Center, Board Member of Alternative Academic Educational Network (AAEN)

7. Milutin Garasanin, Member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Vice President of The Association for Research of South-Eastern Europe (UNESCO)

8. Zagorka Golubovic, Professor, Belgrade University, Department of Sociology; Chair Social Sciences Department of AAEN

9. Dejan Janca, Professor, Novi Sad University, Law School

10. Ivan Jankovic, Belgrade lawyer, human rights activist, Board President of Center for Anti-War Action

11. Predrag Koraksic, Belgrade caricaturist

12. Mladen Lazic, Professor, Belgrade University, Department of  Sociology, AAEN Board member

13. Sonja Licht, President, Fund for an Open Society Executive Board

14. Ljubomir Madzar, Professor Belgrade University, Faculty of Economy, Member Group-17

15. Veran Matic, Editor in Chief, Belgrade Radio B92, President Alternative Network of Electronic Media (ANEM)

16. Jelica Minic, Secretary General, European Movement in Serbia

17. Andrej Mitrovic, Professor, Belgrade University, Department of History

18. Radmila Nakarada, Senior Research Fellow, Belgrade Institute for European Studies

19. Milan Nikolic, Director, Center for Policy Studies

20. Vida Ognjenovic, Theater director, playwright

21. Borka Pavicevic, Director, Center for Cultural Decontamination

22. Jelena Santic, Anti-war 487 group, human rights activist

23. Nikola Tasic, Associate member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Member European Academy

24. Ljubinka Trgovcevic, Senior Research Fellow, Belgrade University, Department of History

25. Srbijanka Turajlic, Professor, Belgrade University, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Board President AAEN

26. Ivan Vejvoda, Fund for an Open Society Executive Director

27. Branko Vucicevic, translator


[The next ones were e-mailed Thursday, 29 April 1999 04:24:56]

Dear John,

Please find enclosed our latest appeals. We welcome your help in its distribution. We are afraid that NGOs [Non-Government Organisations] will be prevented from using the Internet (cut off from the rest of the World)...making us silent...good for all those who favour the war and related propaganda...

If there is something published from our appeals in Australian press please let us know. We would be proud to be heard there as well.

Here is the precise name of the IGFR:

Institute for Global Futures Research (IGFR),
P.O. Box 263E, Earlville, QLD 4870, Australia.
E-mail: <igfr@peg.apc.org>.

With best regards,

Danijel Pantic

P.S. Perth must be a nice place ? Is it cold now ?


YUGOSLAV NGOs

Belgrade, April 26, 1999

STATEMENT ON POSSIBLE INTERNET BAN

We, the representatives of the Yugoslav civil society, coming together to protest NATO bombing and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia now have to deal with other problem that could uncouple us from the world and practically forbid our free expression and dissent.

One threat is coming from Yugoslav government agencies and the controlled domestic INTERNET providers.  For them it is important to shut up all independent voices for which reason they banned the radio B92 and put under control other independent media.

For NATO it appears important to cut off all dissenting people and groups from Yugoslavia in order to maintain the image of Yugoslav society as if it is totally controlled by Milosevic regime and made only of extreme nationalists who deserve punishment by bombs.

For us who are long time activists of human rights, minority rights, union rights, free press rights, women rights, peace and democracy activists, it is vital to maintain Internet connection to the world in order to get information and communicate with people about our situation.

We are using INTERNET with respect to the netiquette and urge all Yugoslav users to avoid hostile and insulting vocabulary. We also pledge to all our international contact people to exercise their influence on INTERNET public opinion to avoid aggressive language and hatespeech in correspondences to people in Yugoslavia.

PLEASE HELP US TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE WORLD!

Yugoslav NGOs:

- Association of Citizens for Democracy, Social Justice and Support for Trade Unions
- Belgrade Circle
- Center for Democracy and Free Elections
- Center for Transition to Democracy
- Civic Initiatives
- EKO Center
- Belgrade Women Studies Center
- European Movement in Serbia
- Forum for Ethnic Relations and Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management
- Group 484
- Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
- The Student Union of Yugoslavia
- Union for Truth About Anti-Fascist Resistance
- VIN Weekly Video News
- Women in Black
- YU Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights
- District 0230 Kikinda
- Urban in Novi Pazar, and
- Center for Policy Studies
- NEZAVISNOST Trade Union Confederation


Serbian NGOs Appeal on Bombing Media Buildings

Serbian non-governmental organizations [NGOs] strongly condemn the bombing of the RTS building and of other media's buildings that were targets of NATO attacks previous days.  The struggle for the truth and for correct informing of the audience, as well as for the preservation of freedom of speech can be conducted solely by strengthening the professional criteria, respecting of journalistic codified rules and by free media competition among autonomous news organizations and journalists.

Physical slaughter of the entire news staff and the menace of lives of the employees is a crime we can never accept.  With the use of this method, causing human victims and unnecessary destruction, there is no contribution towards democratization of public communication and more efficient work of free media.

No side in the conflict may, by any means, prevent journalists in doing their job and even less can use them as helpless figures in their remorseless war games.  That is why we demand an immediate release of arrested foreign journalists, the restoration of their equipment and provision, in the future, to all journalists with regular certificates, with equal conditions for work as those of native journalists.

-------------------------------------------------
European Movement in Serbia
Djure Jaksica 5/I
11000 Belgrade
tel/fax: (381 11) 630 281
E-mail: emins@eunet.yu
http://www.emins.org
["Evropski pokret u Srbiji" (in romanised Serbian), and "European Movement in Serbia" (in English)]


[Sent Tuesday, 4 May 1999 04:01:55]

LETTER TO ALBANIAN FRIENDS FROM NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS

Dear friends,

We are writing to you in these difficult moments of our shared suffering.  Convoys of Albanians and other citizens of Kosovo, among whom many of you, were forced to leave their homes.

The killings and expulsions, homes destroyed and burnt, bridges, roads and industrial buildings demolished - paint a somber and painful picture of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, as in indicating that life together is no longer possible.  We, however, believe that it is necessary and possible.

The better future of citizens of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, of Serbs and Albanians, as citizens of one state or closest neighbors, will not arrive by itself, or over-night.   But it is something we can and must work on together, as we have many times in the past, not so long ago.  We know that it will now be very difficult, and sometimes very painful.  The example of the German-French postwar reconciliation and cooperation could serve as a model and stimulus.

In the sake of future life together, the pain of crime has to be revealed so that it is, with forgiveness, remembered.  This tragedy, yours and ours, personal and collective, is a result of a long series of erroneous policies of the most radical forces among us and in the international community.  The continuation of these policies will take both Serbs and Albanians into [an] abyss.  Also, the road of collective guilt is a road of frustration, continuation of hatred and endless vengeance.  That is why this road has to be abandoned.

Our first step of distancing from hatred, ethnic conflict and bloody retaliations is a public expression of our deepest compassion and sincere condemnation of everything that you and your fellow citizens are experiencing.

As citizens of Serbia, we today suffer destruction and casualties as a result of NATO bombing, armed conflict in Kosovo and long lasting economic and social tumbles under the burden of the dictatorship's deadly policies.

Ethnic cleansing, NATO bombing and armed conflict should stop because they are not contributing to the solution of the Kosovo crisis but are only making it deepen.  There should be no more casualties.  All refugees should be allowed to return safely to their homes and live in the manner appropriate for free and proud people.

We are convinced that together, we will find strength and courage to step on the road of peace, democracy, respect of human rights, mutual reconciliation and respect.  Dialogue, political negotiations and peace process have no alternative. For all of us, it is the only way out of the war conflict.   It is the safest way to secure the return of refugees to their homes, to renew normal life and activities and find a solution to the status of Kosovo.

In order to make this happen, we have to join our efforts to end the war conflict, revitalize the peace process and reconstruct, economically and democratically, the development of Kosovo, Serbia and the entire Balkan region.  We are convinced that by joining forces we can contribute to the reaching of a just and rational political solution to the status of Kosovo and build confidence and cooperation between Serbs and Albanians.


[Added 05 May 1999]
Also see: "Kosovo bombing on its own increases murders", at: http://www.multiline.com.au/~johnm/kosovo.htm
[It seems I was wrong in also writing that bombing on its own was not likely to end the fighting.  On 3 June 1999 Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic announced acceptance of the joint Western-Russian peace plan.  The Yugoslav Parliament adopted the plan 136-74.  All Serbian forces have to withdraw from Kosovo within seven days.  There is a report that the Army was burning bodies in an attempt to disrupt the War Crimes Tribunal's work.]


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