|Picture: Colin Wilson
Over 1,500 marched through Manchester last Saturday against the war
MASS PROTESTS against NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia are happening across Europe, despite the media blackout of opposition to the war. Western governments say anyone who opposes the bombing is playing into the hands of Slobodan Milosevic. But here we reprint the text of a letter from trade unionists, students and other campaigning bodies in Belgrade calling for the bombing to end.
DEEPLY SHOCKED by NATO's devastation of our country and the plight of the Kosovo Albanians, we, the representatives of non-governmental organisations and the Nezavisnost Trade Union Confederation, energetically demand that those who have created this tragedy immediately take all necessary steps to create conditions for the resumption of the peace process. The most powerful military, political and economic countries in the world have been killing people, and destroying military and civilian facilities, bridges, railway lines, factories, heating plants, storage facilities and fuel tanks. This has produced an exodus of unprecedented proportions.
Hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavs, primarily ethnic Albanians, are forced to leave their devastated homes to escape the bombing and military actions of the regime and the KLA, in the hope that they will find salvation in the tragic status of refugees. It is obvious that all this leads to catastrophe, and that a negotiated and peaceful solution to the Kosovo problem, which we have urged for years, is now further away than ever. We have courageously and consistently fought against every warmongering and nationalistic policy, and for the respect of human rights, and particularly against the repression of the Kosovo Albanians.
We have always insisted on the respect of their human rights and freedoms, and on the restoration of autonomy for Kosovo. Faced with the current tragic situation, we put forward the following demands in the name of humanity and the values and ideas that have been guiding our activities:
We are unable to achieve this on our own and ask for your support.
If your organisation would like to endorse this statement, contact Ken Coates at the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Gamble Street, Nottingham NG7 4ET.
ABOUT 700 people attended an anti-war rally at the Friends Meeting House in central London on Wednesday of last week. They heard an eyewitness report of the bombing's impact from left wing Labour MP Alice Mahon who visited the area the previous weekend. Socialist journalists Jeremy Hardy and Mark Steel won huge applause as they exposed the hypocrisy of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, George Robertson and Clare Short. Veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent rounded the rally off with a call for everyone present to organise discussions at work and college, and build further anti-war protests.
Thousands of demonstrators attacked the NATO headquarters in Naples, Italy, on Saturday of last week. Over 6,000 people marched in the Spanish city of Barcelona, on Sunday. Another 4,000 joined an earlier protest in Seville. Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in over 40 German cities at the weekend. Over 2,000 marched in Hamburg, 1,500 in Erfurt and over 1,000 in Frankfurt. About 8,000 people joined a trade union march in Athens against the war on Thursday of last week. In the Czech Republic opinion polls show 48 percent are against the war. Anti-war demonstrations have also taken place around the country, including 5,000 people in Wenceslas Square in the capital, Prague.
A GROWING number of prominent academics are backing a statement against the war by Pierre Bourdieu, a leading left wing French intellectual. It first appeared as a letter in the French newspaper Le Monde. It says, "It is not true that the NATO air strikes are going to prevent a regional flareup. It is not true that NATO is protecting the Kosovan population."
It states that the NATO bombing has "facilitated and not prevented a ground offensive by Serb paramilitary forces" and has consolidated "the dictatorial power of Slobodan Milosevic". Amongst those backing the statement are Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Sheila Rowbotham, Robin Blackburn, Mike Davis, Peter Linebaugh and Robert Brenner.
THE LABOUR supporting weekly newspaper Tribune is in favour of the war. But in last week's edition the veteran left wing economist Michael Barratt Brown hit back. Barratt Brown says, "So, after all these years of struggle against US foreign policy and military intervention the world over, you have decided that in the case of Kosovo 'this is a war worth fighting'. Would it not be so much better for you to join others all over the world in calling for a ceasefire to end the bombing?"
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