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Special section on action over Kosov@

Letter to Albanian Friends from Nongovernment Organisations

Dear friends,

We are writing to you in these difficult moments of our shared suffering. Convoys of Albanians and other citizens of Kosov@, 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 sombre and painful picture of Kosov@, Serbia and Montenegro, as indicating that life together is no longer possible. We, however, believe that it is necessary and possible.

The better future of citizens of Kosov@, Serbia and Montenegro, of Serbs and Albanians, as citizens of one state or closest neighbours, 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 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 Kosov@ 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 Kosov@ 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 Kosov@.

In order to make this happen, we have to join our efforts to end the war conflict, revitalise the peace process and reconstruct, economically and democratically, the development of Kosov@, 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 Kosov@ and build confidence and cooperation between Serbs and Albanians.

Association of Citizens for Democracy, Social Justice and Support to Trade Unions - United Branch Trade Unions NEZAVISNOST - European Movement in Serbia

Civic Initiatives - Forum for Ethnic Relations - Centre for Transition to Democracy-ToD - Centre for Democracy and Free Elections - Distrikt 0230 (Kikinda) - Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - Women in Black

Belgrade Centre for Human Rights - Students Union of Serbia - VIN-Weekly Video News - Group 484 - Yu Lawyers Committee for Human Rights - Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management - Urban Inn (Novi Pazar)

Belgrade Circle - Union for Truth about Antifascist Resistance - Sombor's Peace Group (Sombor) - Society for Peace and Tolerance (Backa Palanka) - Alternative Academic Educational Network

In Belgrade, April 30, 1999

Denmark: Aldrig Mere Krig (AMK)

AMK has awarded "the Rose of Peace" to Women in Black in the Balkans, as a small encouragement to them in this very difficult time. The AMK website contains a lot of Danish documents about the Yugoslav wars, and many links to other related sites. Also on their website there are some English documents on arms trade, mine producing companies and nonviolence. The address is:

AMK has also been participating in the demonstrations against the war. Demonstrations have been held in Copenhagen, Aarhus and other cities, with very few reports in the media. However, they have managed to appear both in radio and tv programs and have written articles in newspapers.

Holger Terp,
28 April.1999

France: Union Pacifiste

The May and June issues of the magazine Union Pacifiste are mainly dedicated to the conflict in Kosov@, and offer lots of very valuable information. See contact data in the following section of The Broken Rifle.

France: Réseau dInformation aux Réfractaires (RIRE)

The RIRE has helped to distribute the text "Solidarité active avec toutes les victimes de la purification ethnique et de la guerre" (Solidarity with all victimes of ethnic cleansing and war), elaborated by the Association pour la Promotion des Objections de Conscience (APOC) in Marseille about the Kosov@ conflict. The RIRE has also published a special issue on the Kosov@ conflict (Le RIRE no 27, May-June 1999).

Belgium: Forum voor Vredesaktie (and For Mother Earth)

Last 24 April, For Mother Earth and Forum voor Vredesaktie (Flemish section of the War Resisters International) organised a 'funeral of democracy' at the NATO nuclear weapon-base of Kleine Brogel. This action was planned a long time ago, in order to protest against the nuclear part of the new strategic concept of NATO. There are still about 10 US B61 nuclear free fall bombs stored at Kleine Brogel. Originally the idea was to organise a big family happening, with a 18 km bicycle tour around the air base. But because of the prohibition to demonstrate, plans had to be changed. Since the beginning of the war in Yugoslavia protests were almost impossible in Belgium, following prohibitions in Brussels, Antwerp and Kleine Brogel. In this action, 51 nonviolent activists were arrested near the NATO base. Amongst the activists there were several members of Parliament. The protest coincided with the NATO Summit in Washington DC, and the 'strategic review' by NATO leaders.

United States: Fellowship of Reconciliation

The FOR has published several statements and press releases around the US involvement in the Kosov@ conflict. They can be found in the FOR website (


Belgrade Women Try to Tackle Fear

A fear counselling team by women from the Autonomous Womens Centre Against Sexual Violence, based in Belgrade, has been calling women and activists in Pristina and Kosovo in the first weeks after the beginning of Nato bombings. "Women of Serbian nationality stated their fears of bombing, women of Albanian nationality had, apart from fears of bombing, much stronger fears of Serbian officials, army and police", the team reported. They actively contacted women with the aim of helping them combat fear.

"In war situations women are less mobile and do not leave their homes often; they feel their homes is the only safe place", say the counsellors of the Autonomous Womens Centre Against Violence. In the first 25 working days, five of them held more than 230 calls with women in Belgrade and other towns including the regions of Vojvodina, Sandzak, Montenegro and Kosovo. They document statements of fear, "in body, in dreams, in behaviour, in thoughts. Women can talk freely while the phone bill is paid by us. "From its founding in 1993, the centre believes in anti-war and anti-military politics, in multi-nationality and in spreading solidarity with women from the other side of the front line. They started active phone counselling after the first night of bombing on March 24, when the law of war was ordered and "fear became the fact of life overnight". The centre has held four workshops titled "How do we feel", to exchange experiences and "to feel they are not alone in their fears", as well as to be supported in their positive feelings.

Women in Black from Britain

On Monday 31st May, over 100 people, many dressed in black, joined an action for peace called by Southampton Women in Black at RAF/USAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

The protest began with the establishment of a women's peace camp on land outside the bomb store on the evening of Friday 28th May, taking Ministry of Defence police completely by surprise. Despite several attempts by both MDP and civilian police to evict the women's camp, and continous minor harrassment by both police and USAF personnel, women were able to maintain their presence outside the bomb store until Tuesday 1st June.

Women staying at the camp witnessed the constant and horrific movement of USAF B52 and B1 aircraft taking off to bomb Serbia; on Monday, for example, nine B52 bombers and six B1s took off. Women also monitored military movements in and around the base.

From Sunday, as more women arrived, movements of bombs across the road from the bomb store to the base, were disrupted. Finally on Monday, movements were entirely halted after women held a banner in front of one of the trucks, sat on the top of the gate into the base, and climbed onto the roof of the truck. The truck retreated back into the base and the gates were locked for most of the rest of the day.

As more people arrived, the fences around the bomb-store and around the airfield were hung with even more banners, and decorated with black ribbons. Lists of towns and places in FR Yugoslavia bombed by NATO, and of the names of places in Kosov@ where Serbian police and military violence has taken place and where massacres of Kosovan people have happened were hung on the fences.

In a moving ceremony the words of Women in Black from Belgrade, messages from other women in the region and the testimonies of Kosovan refugees were read out. They were punctuated by a reading of the lists of the names of schools, colleges, hospitals, bridges, towns and villages which had been destroyed or damaged as a result of the NATO bombing. A young girl and an older woman read their own writings about the war.

People then dispersed to make their own protest. There was a cacophonous noise, a continuing blockade of the gate through which bombs are usually delivered, and much grief at being face to face with the active war machine. The day culminated with the arrest of eight women, charged with Aggravated Trespass (three of them entered even the security zone around the B52). For further information and support about protests and women's camps at Fairford, contact Giulia Gigliotti on (44) 01703 550159; E-mail:

Women in Black in London speak about themselves

We are a very loose network, just a mailing list of about 300 women. In recent years our vigils, usually in Trafalgar Square, have protested against the Gulf War, the ethnic aggression in Bosnia, the Iraq sanctions and the violence in Yugoslavia and Kosova. We hope soon to have a web site too. On the current war in Yugoslavia our group in London is guided by the feelings of Women in Black in Belgrade, with whom we are in touch by e-mail. They have e-mailed us that 'Our problem here is that we cannot say a word anymore. All human rights are suspended. Only anti-NATO appeals can be published. So Women in Black Belgrade has decided not to make any appeal, at least for the time being because we cannot as well state that we are against Milosevic.' So they are asking us to speak for them, against both these aggressions simultaneously.

Women in Black from Spain

Yolanda, a member of a Women in Black group in Spain is in the process of setting up a bilingual (Spanish/English) e-mail link-up of Women in Black groups worldwide. It will work through a system of contact addresses in each country, news getting relayed by Yolanda to and from country contacts, and thence to individuals in each country. If you want to know whether there is a country contact address for your country and who it is, or to offer to serve as one yourself, please contact Yolanda at:

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Veröffentlicht in The Broken Rifle, July 1999, No. 43