Antiwar actions in Serbia
By Joe Hanlon
More than 85,000 Serbians have signed a petition calling for a referendum on whether Serbs should fight Croatians. Under the Serbian constitution, when the total passes 100,000 — probably in late January — parliament is required to call a referendum, though peace campaigners admit present Serbian leaders will probably refuse to do this.
The antiwar campaign is growing. At least 50,000 young Serbian men have refused to fight, and many have left the country, according to campaigners who say government attempts to recruit enough soldiers to replace those returning from Croatia have failed. A lawyers' committee has been formed to defend draft resisters and to collect evidence of war crimes.
Since October there has been a candlelight vigil every night outside the Serbian parliament in Belgrade to call for peace and commemorate the war dead. On the Eastern Orthodox Christmas Eve, January 6, more than 600 participated.
Peace protesters organised a "post of peace" with antiwar postcards as alternatives to Christmas cards. Peace rallies have been organised in several other cities. "We have to do something so as not to be ashamed of being Serbian", said peace activist Buca Mileusnic.
Peace campaigners have received sympathetic coverage in Serbia's independent press and television, but supporters of the war call them traitors. Protesters have been attacked at least twice. Last November, nationalists broke up their office, and last month a meeting was attacked.
[From socialist, Britain.]