Serbian NGO's Answer to the IHF



Dear Friends and Esteemed Colleagues,

This letter is an answer to a "request" made by our associates and friends of long standing, with whom we cooperated for a number of years on the long-term and far-reaching programme of building a civic society in the FR of Yugoslavia. This request, which we received in the midst of war, "humanitarian intervention" and NATO aggression, that is, in the midst of a collapse of the legitimate spheres of public and political life, at a time of extraordinary decrees, military rule and summary trials in Yugoslavia, asks of us to raise our voices and sharpen political criticism and moral condemnation of the regime in Belgrade. Moreover, in this assult of severe western Alliance action, which has transformed our society into a military barracks and enthroned Milosevic a charismatic leader and Supreme Commander, we are expected, if possible, to approve, even greet with understanding the militarist interventionism of NATO in the FR of Yugoslavia.

Let us say immediately: from the beginning of the destruction of former Yugoslavia our "civic position" has been clear and unambiguous. We have been equally opposed both to the ethnic cleansing in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and today in Kosovo and to NATO's intervention in the FR of Yugoslavia. In other words, we fought with equal decisiveness against the lethal politicalself-will of the Belgrade regime and the pernicious militarist self-will of the western alliance. In this context, we cannot be expected to unilaterally denounce local totalitarianism and, at the same time, express solidarity with the pretensions of global hegemonism. It is our principal belief that the civic society should function as a permanent corrective to the state reason, and that NGOs should be supportive of peace and not war option of their governments.

It is unfounded to expect that the chain of violence and an expansionist military option will lead to a rational political solution in Kosovo, in the FR of Yugoslavia and in the Balkans. On the contrary, we fear that in the name of so-called "humanitarian intervention" we are witnessing the revival of the old, archaic "figure of war", which we hoped long banished from our culture.

Finally, let us remind you: the brutal disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, and the related nationalist conflicts which culminated i the ethnic catastrophe in Kosovo, took place "in collusion" with European policies and international diplomacy. It has been precisely these unexpected shocks that have dangerously threatened the ideals and norms of international democracy, which is still the successor to the liberal and social heritage of defence of autonomy of the individual, groups and peoples.

In spite of all circumstances, we shall continue to fight persistently and enduringly for freedom of the individual, for those individual, civic, collective and human rights which this war has again brought into peril.

* Alternative Academic Educational Network

* Association of Citizens for Democracy, Social Justice and Support for Trade Unions

* Belgrade Circle

* Belgrade Women Studies Center

* Center for Policy Studies NEZAVISNOST

* Center for Transition to Democracy

* Civic Initiatives

* District 0230 Kikinda

* EKO Center

* European Movement in Serbia

* Forum for Ethnic Relations and Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management

* Foundation for Peace and Crisis Management

* Group 484

* Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia

* Society for Peace and Tolerance (Backa Palanka)

* Sombor's Peace Group (Sombor)

* Student Union of Yugoslavia

* Trade Union Confederation

* Union for Truth About Anti-Fascist Resistance

* Urban Inn (Novi Pazar)

* VIN Weekly Video News

* Women in Black

* YU Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights


In Belgrade,

May 21, 1999