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As a group of professionals working in the field of social conflict
analysis and resolution we turn to all similar organizations, groups and
individuals who believe in the possibility of nonviolent resolution of
social conflicts with great concern and request for help.
In Belgrade and in many other cities in Serbia, citizens' and students'
protest walks have been taking place every day for more than a month, initiated
by their dissatisfaction caused by the anulment of the election results
by the ruling party. We assess these protest walks as being completely
nonviolent. They show a true Gandhian manner of action, and their basic
message is "Give back our votes".
What worries us the most in addition to the information blockade in the
Yugoslav public media regarding these protests are the latest reactions of
the regime, which we consider as moves leading to an extremely dangerous and
irreversible escalation of the conflict:
Especially worrying is the fact that we recognize in these three
above-mentioned tactics of the regime and its media the main mechanisms
that brought on the war in former Yugoslavia, and that we analyzed in
1991-1995. We consider the revival of the same apparatus by the regime to be a
dangerous escalation, especially since there is no institutional
counter-balance except the protest walks in the streets. Also, we fear that
moves which incite fear, hatred, and stupidity have very long-lasting and
far-reaching consequences that we still have not compltely succeeded to
- a renewed spreading of nationalism, xenophobia, and theories of
conspiracy through the state-owned media which, while commenting
on the students' and citizens' protest walks, label them as a plot
against the Serbian nation, (i.e., as a "connection" between domestic
"traitors", Western powers "who were for centuries enemies of Serbia",
Albanian "separatists", "Ustashas" from Vojvodina, etc.), which we
consider a dangerous provocation of fear.
- the organizations of "counterprotests", i.e., meetings of support for
the president and the regime, with the announcement that on December 24th
such a counterprotest will take place in Belgrade at the same site and at
the same time as the citizens' protest gathering. This we consider a
clear incitement of aggression and a possibility for the outbreak of
- instead of offering information and displaying a range of opinions, using the "common people" image in the major information programs
of the state-owned media to label and spread prejudice and misinfor matiion about the behavior of the protesters without any objective facts
can be seen as a model of stupidity and even brainwashing.
Therefore we ask you to please use your influence to turn the attention of
the public toward this moment in the Yugoslav crisis, and do
whatever is in your power to help realize the fastest possible democratic
transformation in Serbia. With the fact in our minds that we did not
prevent the civil war in former Yugoslavia, let us try at least to
prevent a civil war in Serbia.
For Group MOST,
Dr. Tr. TUNDE KOVACS-CEROVIC,
in Belgrade, Dec. 23, 1996.