Valentina Djordjevic on Sun, 29 Dec 96 16:22 MET

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nettime: [Fwd: Belgrade situation, urgent.]

I assume by now you have all read Novica's letter. I have done as he
requested and wrote a special issue of MEME on the situation in Belgrade,
including Novica's call for support. This went out a few minutes ago.  MEME
currently has 3,600 readers in 58 countries.  I urge you to repost the text
which appears below to lists, newsgroups, web sites that you think are

Information transparency is the only weapon left.

Whishing everyone a peaceful New Year.





This is a special edition of MEME.  Please pass it on everywhere.

I spent five days in Belgrade, Serbia, last week, where I witnessed  
the peaceful self-organization of 200,000 people protesting daily 
against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, the President of rump 
Yugoslavia, and the man most responsible for the Balkan war of 
1991-95.  Every day, for 38 days now, thousands of people, mostly 
citizens of the capital city Belgrade, have gathered to agitate for the 
right we in the United States, and other democratic nations, take for 
granted -- the right to vote, and elect a government of their choice, 
by the people for the people.

What precipitated this process of civil disobedience was the 
regime's   annulment on November 17 of democratic elections 
which gave the opposition control of many municipalities, 
including the capital Belgrade, and Serbia's second-largest city 
Nis.  Stung by this overwhelming defeat, the governing coalition -- 
a loose confederation of former socialists, and organized-crime 
figures who have made billions during the war years in former 
Yugoslavia -- imagined they could behave in a vacuum and simply 
annulled the election results.  The remarkable, and surprising 
consequence has been the coalescing of an opposition, which 
marches daily, calling for the return of the election results and a 
movement towards civic democracy.

On Christmas Eve, Milosevic, perhaps sensing the power of the 
people, called out the police and for the first time the protesters are 
being beaten.  What had been a joyous daily ritual of everyday 
people agitating for the right to vote has turned into a dangerous 
situation.  One protester died Tuesday night, another was shot in 
the head and critically wounded.  Today, Saturday, is the funeral 
of the man, Predrag Starcevic, 39, who died from a severe beating.  
10,000 people attended the funeral in Belgrade, according the 
Associated Press.  

Last night plainclothes police wandered the streets of Belgrade and 
beat people.

During the week I spent I Belgrade, I stayed with Novica Milic, 
and his wife Sasha; Novica is an editor at Rec, or "Word",  the 
leading literary magazine in Serbia, and his wife is a professor of 
Spanish at the University of Belgrade.  Sasha's elderly parents are 
now injured, having been beaten by police (her mother is in the 
hospital waiting for a leg operation).  When I last saw Novica, he 
was talking about creating the Serbian equivalent of the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation, or the Center for Democracy and 

Communications technologies have been skillfully used by the 
democratic opposition to get world attention, and self-organize.  
Novica rightfully believes that freedom of communication is an 
essential right, and was contemplating creating a structure of 
agitate for that right.  Now the most basic freedom -- freedom from 
violence -- is at stake -- and this will have to come first for now.

There is little many of us can do to stop these beatings, safely 
ensconced in our home countries, enjoying the arrival of the new 
year, and a peaceful holiday.  But I do know how incredibly 
important it is for the people of Serbia opposing the regime to feel 
that they are not alone, that the world cares, that some are 
watching and will not forget.  I urge you to send letters of support 
to Novica, who is a member of SezamPro, a local BBS in Belgrade 
(http://www.sezampro.yu) with thousands of users, almost all of 
whom support the opposition.  He will make sure your messages of 
support are seen and read.  Likewise, you can write Kali, another 
SezamPro user, who was severly beaten by police and in the 
hospital right now.  I met Kali during one of the street protests last 
week, and never imagined this would happen to her.

I never imagined any of this would happen.

Novica's email address is:               novim@sezampro.yu
Kali's email address is:                          Kali@SezamPro.yu

Those whishing to follow the trail of the 1996 Protests online 
should visit

This page will connect you to internal Serbian sites, and mirror 
sites with extensive information on how the people of Serbia 
finally said enough is enough.

I will let Novica have the last word.  Below is an e-mail he sent me 
this morning, which was so difficult to read:

Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1996 01:56:22 +0100
From: Novica Milic <novim@sezampro.yu>
Organization: Institute for Literature, Belgrade
To: "David S. Bennahum" <>
CC: <suppressed>
Subject: Belgrade - 27. december

Dear David & other friends:

Both my vife's mother and father were injured by the police on the 
24th of Dec. on demonstration - her mother is in the hospital and 
waits for the leg operation.

This evening Kali (@SezamPro.yu, the girl with black hair, Julian 
spoke to her during one of the street marches, I remember) was 
badly baeten by the police; she is in the hospital now. 

There were a lot of beaten people tonight - all AFTER the today 
demonstrations, when they started to go back home. They were 
attacked either by the police itself or by the groops of hooligans 
who were under the clear police protection. Especially the 
journalist (and cameramen) were aimed by the police attacks (like 
the reporters from Russian NTV, Austrian ORF, Associate Press, 
Reuter). Two (at least) perasons from the Organizing Comittee of 
Student Protest '96 were also beaten tonight.

We are at the edge of civil war in Serbia. The Belgrade is a kind of 
a besieged city. It is a sort of the unofficial martial low situation. 
Some 20,000 policemen have been brought into the town in the 
last 2-3 days. The regime media (TV, radio, newspapers) keep 
producing the worst propaganda against the citizens ("traitors of 
the people", "foreign agents", "the fifth column" and the like).

What will happen in the next days, no one can tell at the moment. 
However, we will continue with our protests. Tomorrow is the 
funeral of the men who was killed 3 days ago during the demos.

You can help by spreading the infos of what's going on here.

Yrs, Novim@sezampro.yu

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