Zvonimir Bakotin on Mon, 12 Apr 1999 05:35:46 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> by the way of Slavenka Drakulic

Day in day out we are watching their photographs on TV and in the
newspapers, accompanied by news on how the Serbs are defying the
bombing. They are standing on the bridges holding hands or are gathering
on the square in the center of Belgrade, where rock-concerts are being
held on a daily basis. A paper target is fastened on their chests. The
word "target" is written in English, for the message is meant for
foreigners, the west, the world that has plotted against them. The same
paper targets are being handed out to by their activists to people who
participate in demonstrations against the bombing on the streets of
German or Italian towns. The journalists are reporting that targets are
the newest fashion, big printed on T-shirts or small ones as badges,
worn on the buttonhole. In a short period of time the Serbs have imposed
the target as their protection sign, the sign under which they unified,
courageously and resolutely defy the whole world. Wearing it they are
turning into live targets, and are letting everyone know this way that
the NATO bombs are meant for people, no matter how much the western
politicians are claiming that this is not the case. And therefor, to
ease their work, they are putting this sign on themselves so now they
can be hit, they, the peaceful and innocent citizens of a small, wrongly
attacked country.These people are not even afraid to turn their children
into live targets. The magazine Time has published a photograph of a
little girl in a red jacket holding a paper with circles in the hands.
The little girl has not picked it up by herself, someone put it into her
hands.. And that someone, her father, mother, teacher, neighbor, has
played with the symbolism of a target in an extraordinary cynical way.
To put that sign on child, which in this case really means an innocent
human being, and being a citizen of Serbia, means acting extremely
cynical. Everyone is still remembering similar photographs from Sarajevo
a few years ago, on which there are children as this little girl from
Belgrade. But these kids do not have a target on themselves, they are
the target. On the photographs and pictures we remember they are either
dead or wounded, hit by a sniper or rocket, whatever. Last year CNN has
shown a documentary about one such a girl who danced beautifully. In the
documentary her mum is showing her dancing dress, her little bag, her
shoes. After Sarajevo, when children have presented targets, there is no
way that a normal person would use the target this way. Except maybe in
a system of disturbed values and twisted meanings, in the autistic
Serbian empire. And so, the spring sun is shining in Belgrade while
innocent citizens-targets are standing and are listening to a concert,
after that are going home. They are having lunch, reading the papers,
sleep, watch the news, go to work, have showers, are baking cakes. At
night they are disturbed by the explosions of a refinery, factory or
ministry, the flame is reaching the sky and the fear that the rockets
could fall 500 m to the left or right. But differently from the citizens
of Sarajevo, the citizens of Belgrade are not targets, inspite of
accidental victims. They are aware of this and this makes the night
barable, inspite of the fear. At the same time a few hundred kilometers
further, some other citizens are of the same state of Serbia, are
standing in the mood for days, in the rain. Be it on the border with
Macedonia in a long line of 25 kilometers, at the border Blace where
50.000 people live and dies without food and medical help, or squashed
in refugee camps across the border in Albania. They have no place to go
back to, no house, no lunch, no news, no concert, no native land.
Nothing. They do not need a paper target, they do not need symbols. They
know that they are targets, every man, woman, child. One million
Albanians has already been depopulated , which is only the nicer word
for ethnic cleansing. But they are - Albanians. They are something
different. To wit, in this order of matters in which the Serbs
experience themselves as live targets and in which the target becomes a
symbol of innocence of a nation - in this logical turn it becomes
possible to say that the Albanians are deserving this faith. Have they
supported the UCK terrorists and the independent Kosovo? Have they
invoked a NATO intervention? Well, here they have their independence,
here they have NATO...Almost a million of these Serbian citizens driven
out of their homes, over 50 destroyed villages in Kosovo, not knowing
how many killed civilians, all this in a perspective of a man who is
listening to a concert in the center of Belgrade has no connection with
him, the same way the bombing hasn't. The same way as there's no
connection with the citizen of Aleksinac who's house hit by accident and
with his wife who's lying wounded in the hospital. They are desperate.
Why is this happening to them? What have they doe wrong? They are
ordinary people who do their work, teachers, pensioners, students but
not politicians. I do not know why we are being bombed, says a woman
who' house has been destroyed. And now, these same citizens of Serbia
who are not Albanians, for Albanians have been excluded not only from
the civil, but also the human status a long time ago - the same people
that were not concerned by Sarajevo or Srebrenica, nor Dubrovnik or
Vukovar, not even Drenica and Racak - they dare to parade around with a
target on their chest. For years they have been rejecting the
understanding that they are at war. The war did not concern them, the
war was happening somewhere else. But now suddenly, they have become
victims and that is why they are wearing targets, probably utterly
unaware of the unbearable symbolic of this idea. Their hands are clean
and their conscience at peace, at the same time as their sons are in
Kosovo, who of course are defending from the terrorists. Calm citizens
that are protesting under the spring sun or at night under the light of
lit candles (another perverse symbol of peace) still refusing to
understand that this is their war all the way from 1987, 1991, 1992, as
much as they experience themselves as victims not protagonists.No-one of
these citizens is expected to be happy with the bombing of their own
country. But the autism which they demonstrate is utterly horrible,
uncomprehensive. Along with it, to put a target on a child and imagine
that this why one is sending a message to the world about one's
innocence is a grotesque lie. For the Serbs are not the victims - the
Albanians are their victims. Their fascinating autism is reflecting just
in their refusing to understand it even when they are punished, when
they are being bombed.They are still not asking themselves: what have we
done? Have we really done wrong somewhere? This lack of every possible
doubt, every possible question over their actions is staggering and
frightening. And the answer they do not want to hear is quite simple.
Yes they, citizens of Serbia, alone are responsible for the situation in
which they have found themselves, they alone are responsible for the
bombing, as they are responsible for the sufferings of the Albanian
people and all the sufferings they have caused earlier ( the same way
as, BTW, the Croatians are responsible for Dretelj and Kajina). Their
responsibility lies of the fact that they have been keeping one and the
same man on power for the last ten years, and now through the third war
- Slobodan Milosevic.This political responsibility is deminished a
little through the influence of historic circumstances (getting out of
communism, the lack of democratic tradition and a clear political
alternative), but not the moral responsibility as well.However, the
citizens of Serbia are not even to this day connecting the bombing with
the regime of Milosevic, and Milosevic's regime with their
responsibility. No government, not even a dictatorship, cannot sustain
without even the tacitly support of the citizens. Even today, even if
they dare to say something against Milosevic, the Serbian intellectuals
and the opposition do not mention the Albanians and their sufferings.
They are able to lament over the issue how the West did not help them,
how nobody understands them, and at the same time ignore completely the
suffering of their fellow citizens, as if they don't exist. That is why
no-one of the can be deprived of the responsibility of keeping Milosevic
in authority, even if they are not aware of this responsibility. They
did not know about the suffering of the Albanians? A real pity. They
could have heard and find out about it if they had only wanted to. But
they are this time again, as before, in unison and homogeneous keeping
on lying to the worlds face. Inspite of testimonies, reports, recordings
- facts. Even more important is the fact that they are continue to lie
to themselves, living in a closed system which they have created
themselves. This is why we are witnessing that two parallel tragedies
are in progress. The first is the suffering of the Albanian people,
their exodus which is already been called genocide by some people. There
is no use in reminding now (but it should not be forgotten) that their
faith is being shared by the Croatians and Bosnians but also Serbs from
the Krajina. The second tragedy is the autism of the Serbian people, who
is not aware of it's politic.

Slavenka Drakulic

-> about author: 
run altavista (or your favorite search machine) query?, slavenka drakulic

-> source:
ZAGINFLATCH #29, 10th April 1999.
A newsletter published by Zagreb Anarchist Movement

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