Belgrade under the bombs

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 68 – June 1, 1999 

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“The lack of empathy and solidarity with the 11 million citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia whose society is being destroyed is as amazing as it is deplorable. Remember when people of culture, science, politics, media and humanism flocked to Sarajevo when it was under siege? Where are they now?

Journalists flock to Macedonia and Albania – admittedly for very good reasons – and they flock to NATO’s well-staged press briefings. But seeing for oneself what it means to be the object of the worst military, economic and social destruction in Europe since 1945 seems, remarkably, not to be as good a reason,” says TFF director Jan Oberg who has just visited Serbia under the bombs.

Where are those who believe Yugoslavia is a dictatorship? Supporting fellow human beings suffering under dictatorship is a noble reason to go but those around the world who hold this view stay away. Where are the human rights activists when numerous human rights are being violated by NATO? Where is the sympathy with innocent citizens who endure the systematic destruction of a European society and capital in the name of Western civilization?

So much for humanism, intellectualism and civil courage at the end of the 20th century. In spite of the war, it is perfectly possible to go there and freely meet anyone you like. I did that,” says Dr. Oberg. “It is mind-boggling that even intellectuals seem to be able to hold only two categories in their head at a time: if you are anti-NATO’s bombings, you must automatically be pro-Milosevic or pro-Serb. Or, if you go there, you support the regime and is disloyal to the West. I am afraid that those who hide behind such banal dichotomies are responsible for a gross civilisational injustice done to every and all citizens in today’s Yugoslavia.

I believe it is possible to be against all the violence – Yugoslav/Serbia’s, that of the Albanians and NATO’s. None of them will help solve the original problem of mistrust between Serbs and Albanians. All of them have made the situation worse. And I believe it should be possible to recognise and respect the human suffering of all sides – that of the Albanians, the Serbs and that of every other group in all of Serbia and Montenegro. [Read more…]