Hope on the Balkans Kosov@ Crisis
Dictator, opposition, war and real life
If Milosevic could be removed with simple "Go away!" (i.e. elections), he wouldn't be a dictator. He would be legitimately elected president that's not doing his job right, and he would lose next elections. Keyword here is "if". But in a real life, dictators base their rule on oppression, force, violence, manipulation, murders of people who think otherwise. Milosevic has used his power wisely. He used every opportunity to oppress, use force and violence, to manipulate, and to remove those who opposed him.
Many times before, he introduced a new crisis every time his rule was getting shaky:
- In March 1991. during the big demonstrations in Belgrade, he introduced federal government crisis which later resulted in war in Slovenia and Croatia.
- In 1992. when number of his supporters began to diminish, when he won presidential elections for narrow margin (1% difference), and when and opposition organised signing of a petition which called for Milosevic's resign, he started war in Bosnia.
- After huge demonstrations in winter 1996/97, he accelerated the oppression of Kosovo Albanians, which resulted in current situation.
Every time democratic movement began to bloom in Serbia, he introduced us a new war. He used state of war (declared or not) as a shield to remove everyone who imposed threat to him.
Last attempt to organise democratic protests ended in blood. Milosevic's police received orders to "eliminate" anyone who appears at the protest. Milosevic's police is equipped and trained better than regular military forces. They proved themselves in Kosovo, committing unspeakable atrocities. They proved what they're capable of during protests on the streets of Serbian cities in winter 96/97 when large number of people (including press) were savagely beaten and two were killed. Sacrifice of civilians would put opposition leaders in the same line as those who forced people to stay in bombed RTS building, or with those who are forcing people to make a human shield on bridges every night. Mindless sacrificing of unarmed civilians is not going to bring an end to Milosevic's rule. Are ordinary, unarmed civilians supposed to crush Milosevic's force made of military and police? The same force that NATO with all its military power is unable to crush after two months of its campaign?
In October 1998, first time when Serbia faced a military threat, Milosevic used a situation to shut down independent media and free speech. Remains of democracy were first casualties of NATO campaign. Masked as "state of war" necessities, actions like shutting down radio B- 92 and murder of Slavko Curuvija, owner and editor-in-chief of independent newspaper, attempted arrest of Novak Kilibarda, one of the leaders of democratic coalition in Montenegro, came as no surprise. All of these actions, along with limiting basic human rights to narrow margin (like the police being entitled to search apartments without a warrant, open any mail, keep anyone under arrest for more than 24 hours...) are justified by new laws introduced to us every day. Milosevic alters laws and state constitution for his own convenience. At this very moment, every person who is working on this site can be arrested as "traitor" and "defeatist" and be brought to martial court, according to the new law.
These days, we witness products of Milosevic's propaganda tools at it's best. Members of his own political party, as well as members of his wife's and ultranationalist Seselj's parties compete in using their wild imagination for inventing "traitors", "spies" and "foreign mercenaries". One of most important targets of Milosevic's propaganda is president of Montenegro (one of two republics in FRY), Milo Djukanovic. Mr. Djukanovic has often stated the obvious: that Kosovo crisis, as well as wars that preceded it, could have been prevented by investing in democratic movements in Yugoslavia. He is also supporting Kosovo autonomy, peace forces in the region and return of Kosovo Albanians to their homes. Because of his democratic initiative, Montenegro was guaranteed 13,000,000 Euro (approx. $16,000,000) for refugee help, and also 12,000,000 Euro (approx. $14,000,000) for reconstruction of Montenegro's economy. It was like waving a red flag to a bull - instantly, Milosevic had marked Djukanovic as traitor who lobbies for bombardment of Yugoslavia, the one who wishes death and destruction of his own country. There is not a single day that Djukanovic's latest "treason" is not "revealed" in Serbian media (state- controlled TV, newspapers and radio).
Also, destiny of Vuk Draskovic, former deputy prime minister of FRY unveils Milosevic's tactics. Since the NATO campaign started, Draskovic has strongly opposed it. But, as soon as Draskovic gave a long interview on Belgrade's TV Studio B (which is put under control of military after that) where he called for Kosovo autonomy, return of refugees, democracy in Serbia, he was fired by Milosevic. Draskovic's major "crime" in the issue was his statement when he called Milosevic to sign any piece agreement, which would prevent further destruction of the country and killing of civilians.
Latest "traitors" are Zoran Djindjic, leader of Democratic Party and Vesna Pesic, former leader of Civic Alliance (current leader of CA, Goran Svilanovic was drafted as soon as war started). Mr. Djindjic gave several interviews where he criticised Milosevic, and where he shared Draskovic's and Djukanovic's point of views. Soon after that, he was forced to move to Montenegro for his and his family's safety. In Belgrade, Democratic Party's headquarters were trashed three times in ten days by group of Milosevic's wife's party (JUL) thugs. Latest of the attacks was very well organised, since few minutes after attack started, bus full of JUL members arrived at the site. Police intervened only when several hundreds of Democratic party members and supporters gathered in front of the building and confronted attackers. It seems that Milosevic, since he ran out of wars he can use as distraction from his own totalitarian rule, decided to play the final one - civil war.
International community shares it's own part of guilt. By negotiating with him, they supported Milosevic for years. By accepting him as a Dayton "peacemaker", by NOT supporting any form of democracy in Serbia, by shielding him each time he came near the edge. Under impression that Milosevic is a key factor to piece in Balkans, international community came to face consequences of such delusion. As Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., co-chairman of the congressional Helsinki Commission said: "In spite of all that has happened in Bosnia and now Kosovo, the United States administration still seems to cling to the idea that Milosevic is someone with whom we can cut a deal". Years of hard work on removing Yugoslavia citizens from rest of the world, building iron fence around it and turning the country into ghetto finally showed results. Sanctions imposed to Yugoslavia in 1992 (that last ever since) had impact only on ordinary people. Milosevic, his family and his party officials never felt them. And still, even Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that Milosevic is "technically ... not a war criminal" because the war crimes tribunal has not indicted him. Such attitude leaves space for turning Milosevic into Balkan's key figure once again.
Right now, majority of people in Serbia blames NATO alone for bombing them every day. Why? They see only NATO playing with joysticks, killing them and destroying their country, not Milosevic. If Milosevic signs anything that will bring peace to Serbia, he will become "hero" and "peacemaker" once again, just as he did after Dayton agreement. Only the politically aware people will know who is to blame, and politically aware people have been removed every day. By arrests, murders, mobilisation and threats.
Fall of dictator is not a romantic Hollywood movie, as seen from the international community point of view. It requires much more than simple "overthrow him". In countries that were fortunate to see their dictators leave, people have suffered a great deal more than people in Yugoslavia have. Also, their ordeal was result of their dictator's acts alone. In case of Yugoslavia, suffering of people is now caused by NATO's destruction of the country. Only result of such action so far is counter-effect. People tend to concentrate on survival, they minds are occupied with uncertain future of devastated country. As time goes by, Milosevic will be the last thing on their minds.
Source: Free Serbia
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