Drazen Pantic on Tue, 6 Oct 1998 09:17:01 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Possible general alert for Yugoslav journalists

From: Milos Vasic, President,
Independent Journalists' Union of Serbia   

Possible general alert for Yugoslav journalists

Dear friends:

This message is to warn you that we, Yugoslav journalists, may very soon
proclaim a general alert to all fellow journalists, professional unions,
NGOs concerned with human rights and freedom of press and all decent
people in the world.

Faced with the imminent bankruptcy of their chauvinist political project,
Slobodan Milosevic, his national-socialist regime and his Fascist
accessories are preparing their final stand. Cornered as they are now,
facing possible military intervention in Kosovo and air strikes against
their military targets, they are ready to reach for their last option -
open totalitarian dictatorship, that is.

Naturally enough, their first target will be the handful of free media in
Serbia and the foreign correspondents: once they are silenced and banned,
nothing will be left to bother the ruling Communist-Fascist coalition in
Serbia. The shadow of totalitarian dictatorship is getting longer every
day, as the highest-ranking officials of the ruling red-black coalition
keep repeating their threats against free media and foreign correspondents
in Serbia.

Dr. Vojislav Seselj, Serbian Vice-Prime Minister and the President of the
extreme-right Serbian Radical Party is spearheading the current campaign of
intimidation and threats. Just a few days ago he threatened terrorist
actions against NATO troops in Balkans, foreing citizens, foreing news
correspondents and Yugoslav journalists working for foreign and domestic
free media. He openly threatened to take hostages and to attack any and all
foreign citizens and inedependent journalists regardless of their
citizenship. He was seconded by high-ranking members of the ruling
Socialist Party of Serbia and Yugoslaf Left, who openly called all
journalists from the free media "traitors" and threatened them with
unspecified punishments - just because they refused to howl with the regime
media hate-mongering pack.

This climate of hatred and threats was being prepared for months and is
steadily escalating. It is being spread by regime-controlled Radio
Television of Serbia, a nation-wide and the most influential means of
information. The atmosphere created is one of fear, hystery and self-pity;
the scapegoat is offered, identified and inequivocally pointed at: the
free media and journalists. They are being accused of inviting foreign
agression, betraying their country and working for hostile great powers.
In such a climate of self-righteousness, self-pity and self-indulgence,
the threats made by people on high executive positions are definitely
liable to encourage the most extremist elements and produce a possible
uncontrolled cycle of violence. It is most certain that the designated
targets of such Fascist-like violence will not suffer it - nor should
they. It is the unalienable right of every human being to defend himself.
Serbian society, deeply split and well armed, will most probably fall in
the abyss of chaotic political violence if the red-black coalition decides
to deploy and use their goons.

Today (Monday, Oct. 5th) we witnessed two new Fascist scandals in the
Federal Parliament: first, Dr. Seselj declared the state of war on his own,
with blatant disregard for the oficial minutes of the Parliament and the
clearly worded statement of the Federal Prime Minister, Mr. Momir
Bulatovic, neither of which never mentioned the state of war. Before that,
his young clone and the high-ranking member of his party, Mr. Aleksandar
Vucic, Serbian Minister of Information, issued a statement asking all
electronic media to stop re-transmitting news programs made by foreign
networks in Serbian language. The statement refers to programs produced and
originally transmitted by networks like Voice of America, BBC, Radio Free
Europe, Radio France International, Deutsche Welle and the like. This
statement is another outragious Fascist attack against the freedom of
expression and - specifically - against independent electronic media.

Serbian Ministry of Information doesn't have any legal grounds to
introduce censorship; ministerial statement has no constitutional or legal
grounds whatsoever; the wording of the statement reflects typical Fascist
arrogance ("subversion, spying, psychological warfare" etc.); the
statement contains illegal and generalized threats of uncpecified
punishments. Such programs have been re-transmitted by many local FM and
TV stations for years, in accordance with Yugoslav laws and there were no
objections of any kind.

We, Yugoslav journalists, do not ask for anything more than to be let
alone to do our work honestly: to report and analyze truthfully,
completely and in time. As human beings with first-hand, direct experience
of war, we are meeting the threats of military intervention in Yugoslavia
with cold disaproval; we've seen enough of war in past seven years. Deeply
convinced that there cannot be justice without truth, we ask only to be
allowed to report the truth, because that's our vocation. We will not
suffer censorship and we will not lie for the sake of Communist-Fascist
totalitarian hypocrites who just happen to rule our unfortunate country.

Milos Vasic, President,
Independent Journalists' Union of Serbia

PS: Please send this warning to all interested parties and please do not
publish it yet; you'll be informed of our decision to go public with the
general alert I mentioned.

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