By Stasha Zajovic, Women in Black, Belgrade - the night of 28 March 1999
Yesterday it was very difficult to write: I didn't have much time, but mainly it was because of the powerful impact of listening
to friends from Kosovo. At least, I managed to sleep well and I feel much better today. I will begin trying to convey briefly
the atmosphere here:
All the media reports are strictly those of the military headquarters.
Since yesterday there's been euphoria for the shooting down of the ultra-sophisticated aeroplane the F-117. Everybody, in the
media and in the street and in the bomb shelters (which I never go down but people tell me) celebrate this. All this can be
characterised as HOMOGENIZATION / PATRIOTIC UNITY / VICTIMIZATION / UNIFORMITY...
The slogans and songs that they play without stopping are of the style "enemy forces / criminals / aggressors can cause
material damage and human victims, but they cannot destroy the spirit of our people that, above all, loves liberty", they put this
continually in Radio Belgrade, with anthems about "Kosovo - sacred land", with Partizan songs from the Second World War
instead of advertising spots, everything leading to exacertbate nationalist and patriotic sentiment, without any appeal for calm
or common sense.
Today's concert in TRG Republika
Organised by the mayor of Belgrade and Vuk Draskovic"s Movement for Serbian Renewal. We didn't go, we just didn't
fancy submitting ourselves to the general confusion, but the slogans say it better than any commentary:
"Belgrade is prepared to struggle and win";
"Better war than the pact" (a slogan used by Belgrade demonstrators before the German attack in 1941 - HC),
"The army fights in its way, we in ours - singing",
"We are all one, nobody can vanquish us",
"They won't harm us",
"We won't withdraw or surrender",
"We will give our lives, but not surrender Kosovo",
"If we have to die, let us die together".
Not one word ofcompromise, of feeling for the suffering of all the people, regardless of their ethnic origen. For example,
some singers asked for a minute's silence "for our victims". Patriotic songs together with some rock numbers, with religious
chant: they often burned US flags, shouted "Serbia Serbia..."
It was impressive to see so many people in the street, but sad to hear the content and the message. They say that there will
be this kind of demonstration every day. We are afraid - me as much as anyone - of this great manipulation.
At the same time, we saw a group of people of Romany origen (gypsies) demonstrating their loyalty to the state infront of the
US embasy, and ohers with the slogan "We will give our lives, but not surrender Kosovo", "Kosovo is Serbia", with complaints
against the Albanians in Kosovoa. Here the logic of the opporessed is obvious - to be with the strong. It's awful.
The TV has shown for the fifth time in these days the film "The Battle of Kosovo", and the programming is nearly all of this
Conversation with friends in Kosovo - Prishtina:
For several hours yesterday I was trying to get a telephone line, and eventually I was lucky. I heard horrible things and will
try to repeat them:
"Nobody sticks their head outside, not even to the door. Yesterday I opened the door for five minutes and was
terribly scared. Nobody who wants to live dares go in the treat. We have nearly no communications within the
city, the telephones hardly work. Food is scarce, and I wonder "until when"?"
"Near my house there was an explosion, breaking all the windows. I am repairing what I can. I don't sleep. Part
of my family has moved somewhere else, I stay here as 'guardian of the house'." This a student of medicine
who has stayed looking after her father who has a heart condition. She asks me "What are they saying? What
are the predictions?" I stay quiet..
At the end, we exchange words of consolation, support on both sides. I enter again, as so many times during these wars, into
the hierarchy of the victims of war: Nothing is happening here on our side of what you are going through over there.
"Gangs are going round the streets, they are people released from the prisons, paramilitaries, who knows...
They break into houses, move out the people, kidnap, massacre... Already there's no food left - except we have
50 kilos of flour" (a big family).
At the end the man with a resigned voice: "I won't give a penny for my chances if they come, I can't do
anything." He quoted me what somebody had said these days:
"IN THE SKY, NATO: ON THE GROUND MILOSEVIC"
What cynicism! What a trap! What am I to say now when in today's concert people took part (two singers, Rambo and
Bajaga) who in the years before always spoke for peace? One of them, Rambo, performed in the concert For Sarajevo we
organised in April 1992.
Let me go back to the testimonies from people in Prishtina:
"I don't have any tranquillizers, I don't have more heart medicine. What can I do without these?" She who has
always encouraged me, comforted me with hope, now her voice is breaking as, on the point of crying, she
thanks me for calling. "This is an area of gloom. We don't have help from any side. They have now left the
gangs to do whatever takes their fancy... "
My moral and emotional imperative (no matter how pathetic it sounds) is to spend hours and hours trying to get a line with
Prishtina. This morning I have managed, but during the first days it was totally futile.
"Now I see that this type of experiences cannot be conveyed. I have seen so many displaced people or
refugees here, and always have thought that I understood them. But now I see what they have suffered. Why
don't I go from here? Why do we wait until the last minute? Where do I go now? Although I know that I cannot
leave to go anywhere, I pack a back. Although I have food, I cannot eat. These night will be perhaps the last I
spend at home..."
Asking about all the people in Belgrade and she, who always has crossed over the ethnic walls, tells this too: "In
some building, in a few cases, neighbours speak, Serbian and Albanian; they have agreed "if the police comes,
we will speak up for you" (say the Serbs who stay) and "if the UCK (Kosova Liberation Army) comes, we will
speak up for you" (say the Albanians). The fear and terror and have brought them closer."
I cannot tell you of what I've felt, but I know that for me - for us in this small human ghetto - it has been enormously
valuable. Again the alert sounds. We have turned in to Radio "Free Europe". In prishtina they have had no electricity since
The alternative network of support and communication gives us this information:
Vrnjacka Bank and Kraljevo (central Serbia): People fear new military call-ups, there have been many; floods of people
(reservists) are arriving, who have died in Kosovo.
Sandzak (south-east Serbia, principally the home of Muslims): "People are going, everybody wants to go. Those of us who
stay, we're more than agitated, terrified. The police have requisitioned all the trucks and big vehicles; people mainly fear the
Radio Free Europe has just said that in Kosova the number of assassinated and executed (not only by the military and police
forces, but more by the paramilitaries) in Prishtina has reached 200, but the figures are not confirmed. The number of
refugees is growing, arriving a half a million.
Monetenegro: The political climate there is totally different. It's enough to see the papers (I had the chance to see one
yesterday) whose content is totally different (Montenegro has not declared a state of war).
Nevertheless, there are many signs that internal conflict is imminent.
Today in Podgorica there was an anti-Western protest by the Serbian Radical Party (Seselj) and this has agitated people.
Today 3,000 refugees from Kosovo arrived in Montenegro. Dragan Soc, Montenegro"s Minister of Justice, has publicly
refused to order a military call-up and said that "each person should decide in conscience what to do".
Things are getting worse all the time, the "second phase" has started, no comment! You have more information than we here,
but we know that this conspiracy of militarism - global and local - dangerously reduces our space and soon there won't be this
space. (How to denounce global militarism without denouncing the local? how to denounce the bombings, without denouncing
the massacres, the repression.
With the horror the people of Kosova are living with this NATO intervention, they are paying a price even greater than
before. NATO IN THE SKY, MILOSEVIC ON THE GROUND. At the moment our human ghetto functions well, with
mutual support. Your support strengthens us, it means a real lot. I embrace you with the deepest friendship and tenderness.
(Mere information om "Kvinder i Sort" kan fx findes nedenfor under "08.10.98 Krig mod Serbien vil dræbe den serbiske fredsbevægelse" og på www.fred.dk hvorfra det ovenstående er hentet )
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"Letter from Belgrade" - Danmark på krigsstien
Opdateret 30/3-99 - WebMaster@fred.dk: Tom Vilmer Paamand