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Synthesis/Regeneration 20   (Fall, 1999)

Non-Violence and the War in Yugoslavia

Message from Belgrade, April 5, 1999

Dear friends,

Thanks for your concern about us. The bombing is continuing and increasing its destructive effects. This is the 12th day that buildings in central Belgrade are smashed, the headquarters of security forces, some barracks, factory plants, fuel stores, some bridges nearby etc. We understand (hear but do not have any official news) that pictures of the Kosovo civilian exodus are horrible, favoring the need for NATO intervention to stop ethnic cleansing (as if there was not recent experience in Croatia and Bosnia), but for us it is strengthening the false NATOŚMilosevic dilemma/confrontation. As people in Yugoslavia do not see these pictures, it makes life horrible to anyone who concerns himself in the "democratic force" of Serbia, being exposed to various dangers and threats.

The nationalistic, xenophobic homogenization on the streets of Belgrade is increasing and getting an early stage of militancy when "masses" smash windows of foreign cultural centers, embassies, offices of western airlines, McDonald restaurants (symbol of American fast food) etc. Suspicious neighbors look for "spies." The wartime psychology is at work. The "voices of democratic Serbia," attempting to think out an optimistic scenario, have no chance to say even a word against the leader and a clique who actually produced all this.

The proclaimed state of war forbids all free media. The rest is vulgar propaganda that increases the number of Internet learners and short wave radio listeners (Radio Free Europe in Serbian and BBC in English). But that is just a drop in a sea of ignorance, irrationality and disorientation. The human suffering in Kosovo is coupled with a growing frustration of democratic forces in Belgrade, helpless and in great danger for showing any meaningful sign of resistance. Our paper Republika came out today from the printers; it will reach only subscribers by post (if post works) as there is no public sale; it is on the Internet (only in Serbian) but very few people here have access to computers.

We see the only way out as immediately stopping the military action on all sides and preparing for the international conference staged by EU or UN; preceded by a serious analysis and debate about the last 10 years of war and its genesis; trying to answer the questions of how the concept of territoriality is misused, what is definition of ethnicity, where is the place of multiculturalism etc. Could the concept of ethnic territories be a basis for peace implementation in the Balkans?

Live in peace while we hope for better times for cooperation.

Sonja & Milan Prodanovic, Ecourban workshop,
Beograd, Serbia, Yugoslavia


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