May 15th, the conscientious objectors` day

May 15th has been proclaimed the international conscientious objectors` day on the ICOM (International Conscientious Objectors Meeting) in the year 1983. Yet, it was only this year that the antimilitarist network, consisting of NGO from many towns in Serbia and Montenegro, organized, let us say, a notification of this day. The action of notifying this date took part in 17 towns simultaneously. Although in most of the towns the basic action consisted of delivering leaflets and sticking posters, even such modest actions were not allowed in some places by the police. For example, in Kraljevo, the activist who went to register the action was told that "sticks will be beating" if anybody tries to deliver or stick anything. He was told that "the state is going to be even more militarist", that "everybody will have to carry a gun, weather they want to or not" and will be walking in front of him (in front of the one who has forbidden the action), that "we should defend the exhausted Serbia, instead of doing suspicious things sponsored by the West". Of course, police didn't forget to mention that "it is all the same as Otpor / Resistance". Still, the highlight was when, while reading out loud the text of the leaflet, the policeman said: "Conscientious objection is refusal of military service for PHILOLOGICAL reasons". Because of the outstandingly aggressive attitude of the police, the action in Kraljevo was canceled.

Luckily, not everywhere such problems occurred. Actions performed in other towns may be considered successful. In Pancevo, the activists of Movement for Peace - Pancevo performed the action of notifying May 15th. The local magazine "Pancevac" announced already on may 12th the action for may 15th in their column "Activities of NGO". The action took place at the corner of Corso and YNA street, where the activists of Movement for Peace - Pancevo delivered over 600 leaflets and posters. Although the action was planned to last for two hours, citizens of Pancevo were very interested in the contents of the material, so everything got distributed for only half an hour. The following day in the Student house in Pancevo, there was the second lecture given, presenting Group for peace - Pancevo, Group for peace actions "M" and ad-hoc initiative "Antiwar campaign".

In Novi Pazar, organized by "Urban-in" in the rooms of the Open club, there was the lecture given on subject "Conscientious objection - what is that?" The lecturers introduced to the attendants the positive and the negative examples of law regulations concerning the military service and the right to conscientious objection in the states of the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. The problem of definition of military service and right to conscientious objection in the constitution of FRY and in the Yugoslav Army Code provoked a special warning and a discussion.

The Association of women "Cilim" from Pirot performed following activities in occasion of may 15th: on may 10th, there was a radio program on Radio-Pirot that announced the action of delivering leaflets on may 15, the audience was explained what the conscientious objection was, and the statement from the CO reunion in Studenica was read out. On may 15th, in Pirot, as well as in Babusnica and Dimitrovgrad, leaflets and posters were delivered. TV Pirot showed a ten minute report on this action in the program called "daily chronicles".

In Leskovac, the action in occasion of may 15th was performed by the People's parliament, but it was also joined by the members of other NGO. The action with the posters took place without problems also in Kragujevac, Novi Sad, Beograd, Svilajnac, Vrbas, Vranje, Zrenjanin, Sombor… In Cacak, in the night between may 14th and 15th, the Military quarters was covered with the posters. In Zajecar and Bor, the leaflets of this campaign with the main message of our action "I refuse war, I refuse violence - I want conscientious objection" were distributed in some schools.

The action in occasion of the international day of conscientious objectors in Niksic took place several days after this date, out of objective reasons. The activists of the SOS telephone for women and children victims of violence and 0f the Roma center took part in this action together with the Women in black from Belgrade. Although the action was not announced to the police, the police didn`t cause any problem. The policemen observed the action, but they didn`t have any complaints. Generally, with the exeption of one passer by who commented "who`s paying you?" all the citizens` reactions were completely positive. Only in one café the owner refused to expose the poster with the explanation that they don`t expose anything in the café. Others accepted our posters without any reserve, some of them even insisted that we put the posters in the most visible spots, so that as many people as possible can see them. SOS Niksic and WIB from Belgrade announced the action with the common statement that was on the independent local radio station "Montena" for many times that day.

In Valjevo, the action was to be organized by the activists of the Civil parliament, but considering the fact that the police repression was raised against certain NGO that day in Valjevo, they eventually gave it up, because the aim is not to intensify conflicts with anybody, but to resolve them.

In this action, 20000 leaflets, 10000 stickers and 10000 posters were distributed. This action was made possible ought to the solidary support of the group Connection e.V. from Germany.