American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Wars Start in the Spring--about Mobilization and Threats
A friend on the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, sent us a long letter from Stasa Zajovic, who is part of Women in Black. We reprint a much shortened version.
"This spring we must find time to gaze at the cherry trees and watch the lime trees blossom; if we do not, then it is the end. We must not allow the killing and shooting to go on, not here and not in Montenegro," writes Borka Pavicevic, theater director and coordinator of the Center for Cultural Decontamination/Denazification, a haven for all of us who are the Others, who are different in this city, a place where we have found space for diversity all these years.
Words similar to Borka's are being spoken these days by women all over Serbia, the other Serbia. For the last 10 days, they call us more than they usually do, repeating over and over again, "We cannot go on. I will not allow them to take my son, my husband away." Yesterday an activist from Leskovac told me: "I tore up the draft call that the postman brought for my husband," and another woman said, "I did not want to accept the draft call. Let my son go to jail, let him go to jail for 10 years; I will not allow him to go to the front."
Each spring the fear rises. So it was in Troy, as Cassandra said through the pen of Christa Wolf: "With the beginning of spring, war broke out. These last years, we have been living in constant expectation of imminent war, and the periods of ëpeace' are so short that they are always transformed into preparations for a new war. We have learned to recognize the signs and words of war, we have been listening to them and experiencing them for too long a time. We are afraid every spring."
Spring is the season when war breaks out in the Balkans. Mobilization is taking place. People talk about it; the newspapers write about it. As it did last spring, the mobilization started in southeastern Serbia, the region which borders Kosovo. The civil postmen bring the notices, then the military. In the end, the police come to take you to war, says a young man from Nish. Some of the men who were forcibly mobilized last spring keep repeating: "I will not go to another war or another front, even if the penalty is death." In the northernmost part of the country, in Subotica, the draft calls are also being sent out. The Serbian Revival Movement said: "We pose the question, in whose name and for what cause is this being done? Is someone again preparing a new war? We demand that the Yugoslav army explain to the people why this mobilization is taking place."
It seems that the mobilization is not taking place in Montenegro. The army is obviously aware that there would not be any response, that for a long time now the young people there would not dream of proving their patriotism in such a way.
Voices of resistance are rising against one more mobilization. Nenad Canak, the president of the Social-Democrat League, called on the draftees not to report for mobilization. "When I say this, it sounds like I do not want to obey the laws of this country. However, I call upon the citizens not to obey Milosevic's laws. Simply put, there are laws that cannot be obeyed. The Yugoslav army did not defend anybody. There are only corrupt generals. I do not have in mind all those poor young men whose duty it is to join the army."
As the 24th of March approaches we're asking ourselves if there will be another military intervention. Will we be bombed again? When will we be bombed? Maybe we will not be bombed.
There have been so many incidents in such a short time, there is such a profusion of events that it is difficult to absorb them all: The unsolved murder of a well-known public figure and high government official; permanent arrests and beatings of students; threats and beatings of journalists; the continuous financial penalizing of the "disobedient " daily newspapers and TV stations; the demonization of the opposition; the constant talk of the imminent return of "Serbian rule over Kosovo"; the closing down of air space and airports from time to time and the cutoff of all trade with Montenegro; the allocation of military and police forces in the south of Serbia.
Women in Black from Belgrade and Sandjak were recently in Novi Pazar where we held a workshop on multiculturalism and inter-cultural cooperation. We decided that our song would be an old pacifist folk song from Vranje, "What I would like to do," which is about throwing rifles away. We wanted to show that in the Balkan past there were traces of women's solidarity with others who were different, in this case with men who did not want to go to war. I keep thinking about that melodious folk song which the nationalists did not contaminate because the words do not fit into their policy of hatred toward others.
There are more threats, more fears that the answer to violence could be even greater violence. For all of us in the Balkans, that would be a terrible tragedy. But for the Western Allies that would be just one more chance to interfere in a regional conflict. So it is much better to prevent the conflicts than to later deal with the consequences. We are tired of healing the wounds of war and are eager to work on its prevention, not its consequences.