Drazen Pantic on Mon, 8 Jun 1998 19:19:12 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Better I Tell You the Truth...

Belgrade independent daily Glas Javnosti,=20
Issue as of Tuesday, June 2, 1998

Better I Tell You the Truth...

Soldier Dusan Tasic, was born on June 15 1977 and killed on May 29 [1998]
in the area around the border outpost of "Morina" [in Kosovo]. He was
burried yesterday in his hometown, Pozarevac. He went to serve his term in
the army on December 25th 1997. This is his last letter to his mother and
brothers Darko (1976) and Dejan (1984).=20

Hi everybody,=20

This is my 28th day in the field. I was very glad to receive Darko and
mom's letter. Much has happened and changed in the meanwhile. Right now,
I've fled from everybody and am near a book. The weather is beautiful.
Life conditions are much better now. They give us more food, i.e. enough
but not too much. It is tasteless but at least there's some quantity...
You'd probably like to know when I'll be going back to the barracks and
coming back home. I'd like to know that as well. One thing is for sure -
it's not going to be soon. The course (for ensigns) I was supposed to
attend in Prizren will be held here May 16 - June 15. Hopefully they'll
let me back to the barracks after that.=20

I've had one shower in these 28 days, that was when I phoned home and
talked with Darko. The other time I faked a bad case of rash and they had
to take me back to the barracks. It's complete chaos at the barracks. I no
longer know where my things are. Tanks and loads of soldiers are all over
the place: military police, infantry, scouts, army reserves. It's complete
chaos, I tell you. They sleep in our barracks, and they've moved us out.
They'll not let us go down to the barracks soon. Our police has a lot of
work in these villages. On some days, there's shooting around the clock.
It's some 4-5 km away from me and I can hear everything clearly. They're
not bringing army in for the time being, but... Two days ago, my camp and
barracks were supposed to assault the village of Ponoshevac.  As I got it,
the village has been torn down to the ground.  They gave us full weaponry
(not to me), told us not to shoot hostages... We were supposed to move at
3 am. I belong to the camp defense squad so I would not have gone. All's
been postponed and we're waiting for further orders. I was the courier for
the officer on duty last night, so I took a look at some plans and maps on
the sly, so I know what they were up to. They wanted to bring in tanks,
cannons, howitzers, Pragas and to fire 120mm shells from the camp. It's
all chaos. Better I tell you the truth than you listen to somebody else's
lies. The military is secretely backing the police. When shit broke out in
Junik, two our Pragas went there. They lambasted the Scquiptars. They [the
Scquiptars] did not let out any sound for two days. God forbid they should
try even a smallest attack against the army. They [the army] would flatten
half the Kosovo. Shit, I must go.=20

Here I am again. It's May 10. I ran to the camp the day before yesterday
because shooting started from behind the hill. Nothing came out of it.
Everything was perfectly fine. When I went up there, fellows were already
having showers. They've started giving us showers in the field. They put
up a tent with 8 showers inside and let 10-15 of us in. On the 8-9th
night, I was in an ambush. We didn't go on the hill but closer. The night
was clear and it didn't rain, so it wasn't so bad. That's been my 6 or 7th
ambush since I've been here. What do I do? At night I keep watch or go and
lay ambushes. They take some ten soldiers and arm them fully: 150 bullets,
two bombs, rifle mounted granade mines and the hand granade launcher. I
load myself as a mule and then we go up the next hill. 1150m above the sea
level. By the time I get up there, I'm all sweaty, even my knickers are
wet. What's even worse, we go by night. They could've sent me to Albania,
I wouldn't have known it. When we get on top of the hill, we lay an
ambush. I build a shelter of rocks, put the bombs in front of me, a bullet
in the barrel, lay down and lie still until the morning. I have cramps all
night. We're lying in wet, but we're "lucky": the wind blows on the hill
to dry us. And you're supposed to preserve your kidneys and the rest of
the equipment. They report results of ambushes in the news. So far,
there's been nothing where I've been. I must say a word about the package.
I didn't want to but as time goes by, I'm beginning to need some things.
Most of all socks, 2-3 pairs, not more. Let Darko buy those square
patterned so they'll not be to thin (my new boots hurt my feet), I need
razors, shaving foam... and of course envelopes and stamps, that's a must.
I don't know how I'll send this one. Mom, don't waste your time and make
some complicated and expensive cakes, make wafle-cakes or just buy some
biscuits... Don't send much sweets. I've nowhere to put them. I hope I
haven't exaggerated with demands. Just one more thing--it's very urgent.
Darko says I should not count my days here. I pray to God everything turns
out well and I don't have to stay in this shit for years. 364 days is not
so much and passes quickly.  For the record - I've got 219 to go.=20



Commentary by Aleksandar Tijanic, published in Belgrade independent daily
"Dnevni Telegraf" on June 5, 1998. The author is a well-known Belgrade
journalist and former Serbian Information Minister who resigned from the
post during the civil protest in 1996.=20

Most tragic account on how this country was created through formula which
says that cheapest thing in Serbia are Serbs themselves - was given by
little Dusan, soldier who was killed in Kosovo. In his letter his parents,
it can be seen that he died alone, without any sense, any personal will,
mobilized for death, just like other Serbs are forced to live. For the
last time, with handwriting of a child, he asked parents to send him three
pairs of clean socks and asked his mother to send him her cookies, simple
ones, so they can last long. Whatever kind of cookies, they lasted longer
than he did. Then a moronic Colonel spoke at boy=92s funeral and called him
"New Obilic"!=20

We all were at the funeral; collection of witnesses of an age and society
in which the fastest race is being run between the two nothingnesses -
being born and dying. Co-authors of Dusan=92s death; collection of politica=
pity; collective corpse; we stood beside the coffin, us, seven or eight
millions of clones created in laboratory of our own apathy, omnipotence of
the governing structures and Supreme Unerring Authority. When a letter and
coffin of the dead boy become symbols of a policy, it is very easy for me
to imagine the creators of such a policy.=20

That letter shows the reality of Kosovo today: young boys lying in the
dark trenches, clenching their hand grenades, waiting for an attack from
who knows where, the only thing they hear is their own heartbeat, they are
trying not to shake, listening sounds of distant shooting and hoping it
would not come near this time. That letter does not say those boys are
thinking about sacred Serbian land, democratic negotiations with Rugova or
unity of Serbia. It is only them, who are inside the gloom of Kosovo, to
whom our life looks so good, so precious, so worthwile. Even normal! Do
those boys, maybe, have the right to know why they are supposed to die? Or
to kill?=20

On the day of Dusan=92s funeral, papers published news that about hundred
Serbian policemen were fired because they had not agreed to spend shift of
40 days in Kosovo or to be appointed for service in the province. What is
it? Professional policemen are deserting? Are the guys who are under
command of the Minister, called ALF, afraid? They are absolutely right if
they believe that it is much simpler to beat students in Belgrade than to
chase Albanians in Drenica. However, is not a shame for the striking fist
of the regime to employ people who do not want to sacrifice themselves to
the myth part of Serbia?=20

I am not so sure about their fear; I would rather say that it is Serbian
experience of dying for nothing, several times in this decade. After those
people had died, politicians did things which could have been done much
before people died - they reached an agreement! Each of those policemen
sees his possible death as unnecessary toll in the foreplay which is
supposed to provide peaceful mutation of Kosovo into an autonomous
province.On the other hand, it is also supposed to train those Serbs who
are demanding better life, security, progress and democracy in the middle
of fight for Kosovo.=20

After such a fight for Kosovo, in which we prove to Albanians that their
blood is red, and in which they spill our blood for the same reason, Serbs
will never be heavenly nation again. Autonomy of Kosovo will be an airport
which will land us permanently. I am not so sure that it would be an end
to the lesson. As means for flight control of some future pilots, I
propose memory of a boy who died asking for three pairs of socks, simple
cookies, his mother and his life. He evn did not know it was so Serbian,
so Obilic-like. Now he knows!=20

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