AGAINSTNATO'S WAR IN YUGOSLAVIA
Matthew C. Ally
Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis
Alexander V. Buzgalin
Betsy Bowman and Bob Stone
Compiled by Biljana Marjanovic
The media portrayal of the undeclared war on Yugoslavia provides, for most people, the only basis for an informed opinion. Coverage of one pivotal dimension of the conflict, however, is decidedly lacking. While the media does give moments to the problem of so-called "collateral damage", coverage of the actual situation on the ground in Yugoslavia is almost entirely absent. The many random images of bombed bridges and smoldering buildings are hardly sufficient to convey what the NATO assault actually means to the millions of people living under the bombs, and to the generations who will endure the ramifications of this war in the decades to come. The present section of this booklet represents a brief attempt to correct this imbalance. The following collection of excerpts is taken from hundreds of pages of diaries and letters written by Yugoslavs, many in English, during the 79 days of NATO bombing. They provide a small window into the daily experiences and thoughts of a civilian population under attack.
" Last night we sat on the terrace waiting...We heard a few big detonations. My right ear became deaf and it hurt, as if travelling in a plane. A government administration building was hit in downtown Belgrade, only half a mile away from us. Nobody really knows why that building and not the general headquarters as was expected. Nobody tells us either anything: call it civil or military target. Anyway, good, we are done with that, weve been waiting for that for days, we from downtown Belgrade. We started laughing with relief when we heard there was no collateral damage, as NATO calls the dead, by the Criminal Aggression, as TV Serbia calls the NATO around 8pm they destroyed the second bridge near Novi Sad there were casualties, several cars fell into the Danube, one man barely got out, he came out of the car, he took hold of the construction of the bridge, and he barely climbed on the rest of the bridge, because his both legs were broken When we left for the casualties there was something in the air, dust, the smell of chemicals and flames all over the place. Like in a lousy war movie. In fifteen minutes the attack was repeated and all the people that went into the building to look for the injured were blasted out. In that one night our teams amputated three legs (two in the same patient), one in another and one on the spot of the bombing. Can you believe that this is happening in the main street of Belgrade several hundred meters from the hospital? For the past few weeks I have really aged. Then they bombed the TV station only 900 meters from my flat. In that attack 17 people were killed and crushed. Another leg amputation had to be done on the spot I have been in Batajnica up till now but the situation has become unbearable and terrifying. The people of this community rarely have the chance to leave the air raid shelters, since bombs are falling ever closer day and night with few and short interruptions of cease-fire...They are mainly frightened, some cry, some comfort the ones who are crying, some stare with empty gazes at the massive concrete walls lost in thought, some try to joke but the facial reactions are grimaces only faintly resembling smiles or laughter.When everything is taken into account, we have been managing quite well An old woman I know stopped eating every evening, at dusk, my hands start to tremble without control. It goes on for a few hours. I heard that some other women have the same symptoms of fear of air raids after dusk. Men behave differently, they raise their voices and have more opinions than usual on matters of life and death The attack [on the bridge] was just some time after 7 p.m. during the last moments of daylight. There were people on it at the moment and it was horrible watching them fall over into the river together with their cars. It is important to know the fact that when one had to cross the bridge by car, after the destruction of the first bridge, they made the crossing at the fastest possible speed so it was extremely difficult for those caught on it at the moment of the attack to break and stop. I saw a car speeding down from Srem bank that managed to break after the first rocket struck, had just enough time to go into reverse and reach the tunnels before the second one struck. The first rocket hit the Backa side pillar and broke it and since the bridge was a suspended one it collapsed immediately. The second one hit the middle of the bridge or the second pillar on Srem side but I cannot tell for sure because the smoke covered it at the moment and the sun had just set so it went into complete darkness. I can say for sure that many people were killed in that attack and that the exact number will probably never be found out. It was a horrible experience All the mother and the babies were evacuated into the [hospital] basements (we are not sure if it was before or after the detonations started, because the sirens are sometimes a little bit late). The babies were placed tightly next to each other as logs, horrible picture; the mothers were lying also that tightly next to each other, on the floors, and some were sitting on the wooden so-called benches, terrible...One young woman gave birth to a child an hour before it started another mother said that the detonation was so loud that it seemed that it exploded in the hospital itself, and she described the panic and fear among the mothers while they were going to the shelters I was in the maternity ward with a woman who was giving birth at that moment [of detonation]. She began smashing things around her and crossing herself. We could barely manage to move her downstairs to the basement, where she finally gave birth. We are full of dust. It was terrible. Door frames jumped out, windows were shattered in all the rooms in the department the most important thing is that the pregnant women have been taken care of On Friday I was a close witness of a massacre in the city center of Nis At 11:30 a.m. a cluster bomb exploded in a pure residential area with a market nearby, and another one in the university clinic and surrounding area two miles from there. Let me explain to you the meaning of the NATOs phrase collateral damage: 15 people were killed and more than 60 seriously injured. I personally saw body of a pregnant woman lying on the street with a bag with groceries besides. One of my assistants lost two uncles who were repairing a car in the yard of a small house. Professor from my faculty had left his house ten minutes before it was hit the day after massacre, on Saturday at 4 p.m. a small bridge of no strategic importance was hit in the Nis city center, less then 50 meters from the area hit on Friday. Very, very fortunately, no one was killed, and only 20 people were injured Is there anybody who can stop this madness? Is there anybody who can punish those who for humanitarian reasons do things like throwing cluster bombs on the markets and hospitals in a city center at noon? the children are in shock. Whenever the sirens begin to howl, the children in my neighborhood urinate. The stress and the trauma are horrifying [children] insist on being with grown-ups at all times, and staying in large groups as much as possible What do they think, when they press a button over a downtown, or a bedroom community? Do they wonder how do the children feel, when they expect to be blown apart, crushed to death, mutilated by the tiny little shreds of killing, hot metal, all in the name of a humanitarian mission 1/3 of the people killed by NATO bombing were children, 1/4 of the wounded 3 million children [are] still living and breathing here in Yugoslavia, going to bed under the screams of sirens every night, in fear One year old [killed] in village Mirovac by Podujevo. Eleven month old in village of Merderevo. Three year old in Rakovica, shredded by shrapnel in her own bathroom. Two freshmen students, a dating couple, in Vladicin Han. Young girl in Vardarska Street in Belgrade. When those 70 or so Albanian returnees were smashed to death by NATO bombs, and 81 additional returnees incinerated by NATO in village Korisha, there were 10 newborns among them, 26 children under 15 years old 50 people in the baked bus, 30 in the scorched train, 20 in Surdulica (12 children here), 3 girls during the bombing of the Pristina Post Office, the little girl in Vranje, and four children in Djakovica the victims of leftover cluster bombs they found and played with. Four additional boys near Uroshevac, the same story we are only asking ourselves, how long they will keep doing this! I expect that all normal and intelligent people, Americans, British, French, Swiss, Swedish, Chinese, all the people in the world raise their voice and tell this murderers and criminals, without any morale and brain, to stop bombing! What a nice cluster of military targets Burn, baby, burn thats what probably was ringing in the ears of the aggressors medieval monasteries were hit yesterday, the university campus in Nis, a town in southern Serbia, has also been bombed. The bombs fell on the student dormitory; museums and schools have been shelled I hope we all survive this war and the bombs: the Serbs, the Albanians, the bad and the good guys, those who took up the arms, those who deserted, the Kosovo refugees traveling through the woods and the Belgrade refugees traveling through the streets with their children in their arms looking for non-existing shelters when the sirens go off. I hope that NATO pilots dont leave behind the wives and children whom I saw crying on CNN as their husbands were taking off for military targets in Serbia. I hope we all survive, but that the world as it is does not. I hope we manage to break it down: call it democracy, call it dictatorship I have stopped watching satellite news. I cannot stand the propaganda telling me that I belong to a nation that does not deserve to live Day and night, the bombs fell, the deep thunder of detonations and shrilling of the sirens with no end. Novi Sad, Pancevo Batajnica, Obrenovac, Kragujevac and Rakovica were hit over and over and over again. Many other cities and villages too. More people killed and homeless. A large part of Pancevo had to be evacuated when the fuel depot was demolished again, because of the poisoned air settling over the city like a shroud. A chemical factory was also hit. Fires are making the sky pulse in orange the act of going out has become an act of courage In the middle of the night the windows started to rattle violently as in a horror movie and the sky was full of fire: my daughter woke up and screamed and clung to me. She is bigger than I am now but she had all of a sudden the body of a baby. I was so tired emotionally that I could hardly open my eyes. She was afraid but she didnt want to move from her bed, go to the shelter My father used to dream of bombings long after the war [WWII] was over, wake up during the night and take me out of my bed and carry me out to the basement: sleepwalking. I remember him doing it, I did it myself last night, to my daughter, a few times [she] said yesterday, I have a feeling I will be killed when I am sixteen, so why bother to go to school anymore? I froze and just said: you will go to school anyway how can anyone who has children himself, like Clinton does, do something like this to other peoples children? I am not afraid, not anymore but my legs simply tremble, when I hear the NATO or any other planes with bombs above my head Half past four I woke up, drank some water and returned to sleep. I just had a very unpleasant dream. Some professor was cursing, he was horrible and had a very strange name. The last two words he spoke ended on UX. I turned toward the window that looks over the town of Batajnica. It still was night. I was trying to get to sleep, to get comfortable, but my hand kept getting in the way. When I was just on the border of dreaming, I suddenly opened my eyes and saw something extraordinary. In the sky I saw a very, very bright yellow light which was growing in intensity. I wasnt just a hemisphere in one part of the horizon, but the whole sky was illuminated. With time, the light became red, grew even stronger, and I had the sense that this phenomenon was expanding and moving towards us. As though it would encompass not only us, but all of the city too. Like it was an atomic bomb, like cataclysm! A tremendous fire that was rolling toward us. I pulled my girlfriend by her shoulders and said: Fuck, look at this! It went on for ten seconds, then we saw a big maroon colored mushroom which was in perspective the size the one-story house across the road. I took hold of my girl and pushed both our heads under the pillows, expecting a detonation The Panchevo demolition has turned into a disaster! There was a general alarm, and we were told to keep the windows closed for at least three days, while the poor people closer to Panchevo have to wear pieces of clothes soaked in soda bicarbonate over their mouths and noses, to protect themselves from the poisons The Danube is black with oil seeping down to the Black Sea and the amount of carcinogens in the air in the neighborhoods around the petrochemical plant and the fertilizer factory were over 7000 the safe dose The slow death is now soaking into our farms and streets, to stay for generations to come This used to be a natural jewel of Europe, with pastures, and severe mountains, and ancient monasteries tucked into the green valleys. Now, internationally banned cassette [cluster] bombs are littering the pastures green valleys are still green but slow murderers of everyone who takes in their radioactive hospitality, while monasteries older than the entire US civilization crumble down, taking with them the precious arts of the ages No water in Belgrade I heard that they bombed out the water distribution plant, but by the time I got to my apartment to fill all the available bottles here, the water slowed to a trickle and stopped. I had no time to fill the bathtub How are we going to live without water? They bombed and bombed and bombed, the entire country. I dont know how many planes they must have, but this is unbelievable. They are also using bigger bombs now. Theres more destruction, and we can hear them much, much louder now, even if they are bombing far away. Cukarica, Makis, everything. In the middle of the night, we lost power, and listened to the planes destroy our country in the complete darkness. I was terrified. We all are. We sat in the dark, dressed to run, on the street named after George Washington Villages around Prizren were shelled by 22 missiles last night. Our bridges are still protected by the people who walk them during the day, and shield them during the night the students, professors, housewives and secretaries on those bridges are there on their own, not as NATOs perverted idea of military using civilians to protect the potential targets. Are they really so corrupt not to think that anyone would step up and protect their own country, their own homes, places of work, childrens playgrounds? Wouldnt their own people do so, if the situation was reversed? I certainly hope so I wonder if we will live long enough for enough of the NATO citizens to learn the truth...I wonder how many Vietnamese wondered the same before that butchering was stopped we are starting another month of war, with bigger, better bombs...In the last three days, they hit point blank a bridge full of people during a major religious holiday Pentecost and Sunday market ([killing many] including a priest and many others that came in to help after the first wave), a hospital, an old folks home, a convoy of foreign journalists, and now the apartment building in Novi Pazar. Dozens and dozens of dead, the old, children, the sick. Theyve been returning after the first hits, to bomb the relief workers and good Samaritans again too How can repeated bombing of the same civilian target with a break of 10 to 15 minutes in between the raids be a mistake? This is a crime history and mankind will never forget "
Thousands of Yugoslavs, making use of often sporadic Internet access during the NATO military campaign, sent eyewitness reports to beograd.com, a Yugoslav anti-war web site. Incoming NATO planes, relevant political developments, and eyewitness accounts of bombing and devastation in the territory of FRY were posted in a minute by minute format. Much of the information on this particular site provided civilians with otherwise unavailable advance notice of imminent attack. The site preserved the voice of the people on the ground, under the bombs, despite local and international efforts to silence them. The following text spans one 24 hour period in Yugoslavia during the 79 days of the NATO bombing campaign.
00:00 Zabalj - power is gone, I have five more minutes and then its CIAO....
00:17 Belgrade - thick smoke coming from Bezanijska Kosa has finally dispersed. By the way, the power station in Bezanija was hit during daylight, while people from all over New Belgrade were taking walks and riding bikes near it.
00:22 I watched from my balcony when the power station in Batajnica was hit. The first 2 missiles hit the same spot (power was off after the first hit), but the 3d missile hit some 120 yards to the left. Please, if someone knows, tell us what the 3rd one hit...
00:25 Still quiet in Novi Sad. Power and water OK, they just disappeared around 21:00 for some 20 minutes. Everything fine now. No planes tonight so far. We see some single planes, but extremely high.
00:45. Industrial zone was hit, near the previous massacre! There are wounded!
00:59 RAI UNO (Italian TV) reports that 28 Congressmen in the US Senate asked for a 72-hour bombing pause, to enable Yugoslav troops to retreat from Kosovo.
01:05 Skopje (Macedonia) - Since 22:30 theyre flying over Skopje every 5 minutes. Direction N-S, going towards Kumanovo and Serbia.
01:05 Attack on Nis lasted 15 minutes. From my building I can see the Tobacco factory and Jugopetrol storage, burning...Thick smoke, many missiles....AAA strong, too.
01:10 Novi Sad - Still quiet, but for the mosquitos! .... Zillions of them and theyre in a frenzy!.... Should we pay them to spray a little? What the hell, a job is a job!....)))))
01:20 We have power and water again in Becej. Chernomyrdin isnt here yet, why are they so active? Maybe they thought he came earlier...Someone call their "intelligence" and tell them...
01:20 Subotica - so far no planes from "friendly" Hungaria! Greetings to AAA !!!
01:21 Nis - news reports that 21 missiles were fired between 00:00 and 01:00.
01:51 Pirot under the strongest attack so far. Attack started at 00:30 and finished at 1:15. Seven explosions. Repeater at Crni Vrh near Pirot was hit with 2 missiles. The rest went to Pirots army barracks. Theres a fire from that direction. We still have no official info about possible dead or wounded.
01:52 Nis - Between 00:30 and 01:05 about 20 very strong explosions in the northwest part of the city. AAA [surface to air defense] worked like crazy!
02:00 Aleksinac attacked again with 10 missiles, between 00:30 and 00:45.
02:15 Quiet in Becej. People from Srbobran, where are you? It looks like internet "doesnt exist in Srbobran", so let me say this: Radio Belgrade reported that yesterday afternoon a relay station in Srbobran was hit again. No one was hurt.
02:36 TV Palma Plus: 21 missiles fired on Nis. One person wounded. Ten missiles fired on Aleksinac between 00:30 and 00:45.
02:45 Skopje (Macedonia) - One wave of planes is flying over Skopje, direction N-E. South Serbia again it seems...be careful, brothers and sisters!
03:14 Skopje (Macedonia) Theyve gone completely crazy here, every 3-5 minutes, some going N-E, some coming S-W...Its as if theyve established some sort of circle. Its very clear here and we can see their position lights when theyre coming back.
03:39 Mladenovac - Contrary to the last 2 nights, its quiet in the city, everyone has power and water. No planes so far. I wish everyone quiet nights in the future.
03:45 Its unusually quiet now over Nis.
03:48 Dorcol (Belgrade) - Planes and a couple of distant explosions. Sporadic AAA action...
03:50 Planes over Belgrade and 2 explosions, I cant tell exactly where.
03:52 Planes over Belgrade, even their lights are on! Strong AAA action.
03:56 Belgrade - AAA again, it seems theyre targeting Batajnica again.
03:57 Sremska Mitrovica - In the last 20 minutes several flyovers, direction NE--->SW. Several distant explosions.
04:00 Planes over Novi Sad
04:00 Belgrade - distant explosions
04:05 One explosion near Novi Sad. Direction: north. Close to the city, if not the rim.
04:06 Konjarnik (Belgrade) - Sounds of many planes flying low, just "over our heads", modest AAA action, then 2 strong explosions, several weaker, plane sounds for another 10 minutes, AAA going strong again, air battle, several strong and weaker explosions, in this crazy night its hard to tell exactly what is happening, here come 2 more explosions...AAA again...Its still going on, it is now already 04:05...its quieting down...some AAA shots...distant explosion
04:07 Konjarnik (Belgrade) - Here comes again the AAA symphony, two explosions...everything O. heard came from the direction Zvezdara/Konjarnik, Avala, Rakovica, Obrenovac, maybe Batajnica ... here comes a new wave of planes
04:08 Strange sound over Rakovica (Belgrade). Several missiles fell on the usual spot - Strazevica. AAA returning fire like crazy!
04:15 Sabac - Between 03:45 and 04:05 we heard many strong but far-away explosions from the direction of south and east. At 04:03 something small but very shiny flew over the city?!
08:22 Pirot - This morning, between 00:31 and 01:15 about 10 explosions were heard in Pirot. I think the eastern part of the city was hit, TV repeater at Crni Vrh and in the area around Izvor.
09:50 A drone downed in Kumbor. Bravo AAA !
10:20 Prijepolje - All quiet. Power and water OK. We heard planes last night, but there was no action. Good luck all...
10:48 Nis - air raid alert was off for more than an hour. Sirens went off again around 08:00. All is quiet so far, no planes.
12:00 Herceg Novi (Montenegro) - Confirmed info that a drone has been downed around 09:00. According to some info that should be the 4th or 5th one in the last 7 days. AAA action lasted one minute (practice makes perfect). Hold on, Yugoslavia, we are all together in this !!
12:25 Paracin - A strong explosion, I would say south of Paracin. No air raid alert, no planes?!
12:30 Parachuters are practicing near Mostar (Croatia), west side of town.
12:34 Air raid alert in Kragujevac!
12:36 Kraljevo - At 12:25 we heard one strong explosion and the sound of planes. From my balcony I can see a cloud of smoke from Ribnica suburbs.
13:10 Belgrade - air raid alert (still no power).
13:28 Skopje (Macedonia) - many planes flying in all directions, every 3-5 minutes.
13:35 Uzice - Air raid alert started at 13:02. At the same time there was an explosion. Five minutes later there were 2 explosion, strongest in Uzice since the beginning of the war. TV Serbias repeater in Zabucje was destroyed. Five minutes later, at 13:12, another extremely strong explosion, stronger than the first one. Many citizens of Uzice, including us, watched it all from the Partisan Square. According to what we saw, as a result of the explosions several big glass panes broke at the "Zlatibor" hotel on the square, and the same thing happened to the windows of the "Elektron" store which is located next to the hotel. By the way, Zabucje was targeted yesterday too , at 11:46. This is the first info, eyewitness report, so to speak, well call later with official info (mainly about the possible victims). Radio 31, Uzice.
13:36 Senta seldom has power. On Hungarian TV they said that nato has announced a hellish weekend for us. Whenever the Russian [Chernomyrdin] comes, we get screwed !!!!!!!
14:00 Planes over Boka Kotorska (Montenegro).
14:11 Attack on Valjevo lasted from 13:15 until 13:30. More than 8 missiles fired on "Krusik" factory.
14:21 End of air raid alert.
15:18 Sound barrier broken over the northern part of the country (Subotica).
15:25 Sabac - A strong explosion above the city. Since I cant see smoke I presume it was the breaking of the sound barrier. Air raid alert is still on.
16:15 Herceg Novi (Montenegro) - air raid alert since 15:50, we still hear planes.
16:25 Two politicians from southern Sweden submitted to the Hague Tribunal to indict Bill Clinton for war crimes committed in Yugoslavia - reports teletext of the official state channel STV.
16:31 Here they come over Bratislawa (Slovakia) !
17:09 No one says anything about Chernomyrdin, did he arrive and whats going on? After many flyovers and AAA action, Nis is quiet.
17:22 I just talked to a friend from Austria. He just heard on the radio there that a chemical factory was hit in Nis (industrial zone) and that a dangerous liquid is pouring out... That its a great danger and NOT ONLY FOR YUGOSLAVIA. Does anyone else know anything about this? Ill call again later with hopefully more info. Greetings...
17:59 Belgrade - still no power or water. I just had to throw away all the meat from my fridge. I didnt empty the freezer yet, but its expected. Americans will have to pay dearly for this meat....
18:30 Moscow - This was just reported: Talks lasted for more than 6 hours. "Gentlemen" are now having dinner and it is not known whether the talks will be resumed or Chernomyrdin will go home. Whats interesting is that many Russian experts were also present, and they talked about the conditions of retreat. The downed F16 plane fell on Macedonian territory.
19:03 An unexploded missile was taken out of a building in Bezanijska Kosa (Belgrade) where it fell during last nights attack on a power station.
19:35 Belgrade, center (by Zeleni Venac) - The Electric Company said on TV Serbia that damage to the electrical facilities is higher than they expected at first, and that it is impossible to maintain even "planned restrictions". They are now switching to the "emergency mode", which means: when you get it (power), youll have it. Unofficially, we have info that high voltage power lines were hit this morning.
20:30 ITAR TASS: V. Chernomyrdin is, as he said, very pleased with his todays visit to Belgrade. He said this before leaving Yugoslavia, after 10 hours of talks.
20:30 ANSA: Yugoslavia accepts the principles agreed on by the G-8 group, and agrees with the decision that the UN Security Council should adopt a resolution in accordance with the UN Charter - is a statement given after the completed talks between Slobodan Milosevic and Victor Chernomyrdin in Belgrade.
20:50 Air raid alert in Valjevo and Sabac
21:45 ANSA: Chernomyrdin said that his next visit to Belgrade will be the last... that HE WILL BRING PEACE TO BELGRADE....
22:00 Planes over Zagreb (Croatia)
22:12 Planes over Ljubljana (Slovenia).
22:21 Planes over Slovenia, direction unknown.
22:36 Belgrade - quiet so far. Still no water.
22:42 Kragujevac - strong AAA action.
22:51 Planes over Murska Sobota (Slovenia).
22:51 They started flying over Skopje (Macedonia). It seems that theyre still high, and circling...Death to fascism!!!
22:52 People, have they signed that agreement or WHAT??? Belgrade, center (Lole Ribara St) still without water.
22:53 Yugoslavia - air raid alert.
23:00 Planes over Murska Sobota (Slovenia).
23:06 Subotica - The air raid siren just went off. TV Serbia disappears every once in a while. Yesterday in Palic one person was badly wounded, doctors are still struggling to save his life. The rest are out of danger.
23:10 Planes flying over Krusevac at 22:45. I wish them many clouds!
23:15 A group of planes entered Slovakia from the Czech Republic and is following the corridor towards Hungary.
23:28 NATO planes over Ljubljana (Slovenia) again! Hold on, Serbia !!!!!
23:44 Ljubljana - I think the greatest number of planes flew over Ljubljana tonight since the beginning of the bombing!!
23:44 Ljubljana - Ljubljana and its air space is like a highway to them today. They are flying quite low, at least judging by the sound. Be careful.
23:45 Kursumlija bombed
23:55 Ljubljana - They've gone completely crazy - they are flying over Ljubljana again. I think there are many of them.
23:56 A large number of planes flying over Ljubljana again! Serbia, may God help you!
23:58 They are flying over Becej.
23:59 According to "TV PALMA PLUS from Jagodina, Pristina outskirts were bombed again tonight, with 6 missiles. Kosovska Mitrovica was also bombed, with 11 missiles.
24:00 Its midnight, the vampires are flying over Mitrovica
Biljana Marjanovic is a Yugoslav American. Born in Belgrade, she currently lives in New York City, where she practices architecture and illustration. Most of her family and many of her friends live in Yugoslavia.