Mihajlo Acimovic on Thu, 30 Sep 1999 14:28:27 -0400


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Syndicate: sorry sorry sorry


In future I will have to get the emotions out before I start sending contributions.
Ok, first I published a not too verified information about B2-92, although the person I heard it from is an employee. This person said that B2-92 is feeling the censorship more than ever, so I, remembering what their news looked like before, presumed what I wrote in that mail. That was bad enough. Then I made another unbased assumption about Gordan (it is a rare name, but this is no escuse) and fact is that B92's music was the thing I liked best about it. I am so ashamed. :((((((
Index, B92 and Pancevo were the only radios I could listen to (in that order)without feeling completel sick. I mean, the way they were before the Kosov@ war and during the very start of it.
So, why did I do it?

Situation one: Spring of 1998., fighting in Kosov@ had started in March and the Antiwar Campaign (AWC) was getting really active in early May. Activist distribution teams were planned to go to towns and cities and distribute the materials, together with local activists. In almost every place where distribution was attempted, the activists were arrested, at least for half an hour. They were not beaten normally, just bored to death by the same questions and political lectures everywhere. Their materials were sometimes seized and they were sometimes released only after there were not so many people in the street, so the distribution couldn't be effective. In Ruma, they were put in their van, with a police escort to the edge of the city, and told to drive to Belgrade, not turn around and never come back to Ruma. In some places, distribution was prohibited. 
Since they were mostly released the same day, activists usually managed to get themselves arrested in more than one place in the same day. Since they started in the morning, the normal thing was that the AWC issues a press release around noon about the arrests that happened that day. I didn't listen much to radio news, but I do remember that there was nothing or almost nothing of this in the Danas, Nasa Borba, Blic, Glas Javnosti, etc., for a long time. I also remember not hearing any reports about this on Radio Index and Radio B92 at first. Later, some "independent media" started to publish adds of the AWC (at the same time). Those who didn't start then never did. 
Somewhere in late June or July, I read in the Danas, an article by Veljko Popovic (a man who was comming to meetings of the AWC), which just mentioned there was an antiwar campaign happening and that it's acivists had been arrested in... (long list of places). The Danas did not report daily about these arrests. After the AWC had ended, they continued publishing the adds for a while and then it all stopped. There was no or almost no news coverage of the AWC. If you didn't analyse the press, you could had concluded that they had no problems with the police. AWC is later reckognized as the best USAID project in Yugoslavia for that year. Meanwhile, western government/buisiness media are showing statements of Vuk Draskovic, calling him an opposition leader, and he was, as usual, giving indirect support to Milosevic's plans, while unconvincingly pretending to oppose Milosevic. I don't think CNN mentioned the existence of the AWC.

Situation 2: Autumn 1998. Government censorship had increased heavily since Spring. Resistance! gains strong support from "independent media". Their actions get daily coverage. Any arrests or beatings are immediately reported about. Around new year, Boris Karajicic, claimed to had been beaten. I saw no visible bruises when he came to the Resistance! meeting, but it is not excluded that he had them. His story was that three men, in black mask uniforms, had approached and beaten him in the entrance of his building and that they had told him to greet his friends from the Resistance!. This was on the second page of the Danas and got really good coverage from other media as well, B92 included. The story was also mentioned in later days, in those media, including B92. Same goes for when the police tried to frame a media scandal on Srdja Popovic, for allegedly finding drugs in his possession when he was arrested. First, there were quotes about what the police had said, then his story!
... 
Srdja wasn't just an activist of Resistance!. He was also high ranking in the Democratic Party youth.

Situation 3: January 1999. I had just come back to Belgrade, from a peace camp and another person from the
camp was in Thessaloniki. There were some 10000-15000 NATO troops landing and being sent to the Yugoslav border with Macedonia and probably Albania as well. They had heavy bombers, heavy artillery, tanks... The city looked full of soldiers and military convoys were going through the city, from the port. This was in the time when 2000 international verifyers were verifying the implementation of a supposed peace process. Now, the honesty of the sides involved was outstanding. They both wanted peace, by way of the other side disarming itself and surrendering. But nobody was dumb enough to try and kidnap international observers (Serbs had a bad experience with that in Bosnia, 1995.). The NATO troops, that were landing there, were not agreed upon, as a peace force for Kosov@. They were told that they were going to Kosov@. Some had no idea why, while some others thought that they would be a peace force for Kosov@. The official NATO story was that they were a force for the extraction!
 of the international verifyers, in case these get kidnapped. Now, it doesn't take too much brain to conclude that extracting some kidnapped people desn't require heavy bombers, tanks and heavy artillery. In fact, it was fairly obvious that those troops were being deployed to go to Kosov@, wether anybody else liked that or not.
B92 was getting faxes about this and they also had their own correspondent in Thessaloniki. They published precisely nothing. I am sure of this.

Situation 4: Still January 1999. A rock musician from Croatia was sleeping at my place in Belgrade one night.
During the night I got another phone call from Anna in Thessaloniki about the troop landings and kinds of weaponry. In the morning I told Sheva (this musician) all I knew about it. In the evening, he had an interview on B92. So, his story when he came back from the interview: 
  Man, you should had seen that guy's reaction when I mentioned the landing. He was asking me about what else I had been doing in Belgrade and I said "Well, I was just hearing about that NATO landing in Thessaloniki..." And the guy boulged his eyes at me. He said "What? where did you get this information?". He really looked shocked, like I'm not supposed to know about it...

Ok, I know it is not a lot to base accusations on, but when someone starts calling Radio B92 an independent radio, I get the creeps. I have had enough Youth Open Clubs, from which people are expelled because a bully from the security didn't like their faces, workshoppers thrown out of projects for mild internal criticism, "independent media" that do not give coverage to whatever could compromise Euroamerican buisiness interests... I must again appologize for my paranoya. I am trying hard to overcome it, but when people start mailing about free radios and things like that...
Sorry again. Especially Gordan.  
That is the problem with media in Yugoslavia. Those that are truly independent in editorial policy usually reach less than 1000 people.
As for B2-92, I had never contested that the newsdesk is well informed. I do contest the notion that they publish all the important things that they know. I still claim that it was and is one of the very rare places where you can do an anti-racist show, be non-nationalist, support human rights, etc. and it gets published. However, I fear that under a U$ supported government, if it did not find alternative funding meanwhile, B92 would continue doing anti-racist shows, as long as they did not concern the situation in Yugoslavia or the Euroamerican block. In short, B92 people may had strongly support Mumia Abu Jamal through email, but that did not go on the B92 programme, any time that I was listening. Same with "operation spring" in Austria, the recent police crashing of a street party in Stockholm, etc. 
In short, listening to B92/B2-92, you could believe that all under Milosevic/Serbian government was bad and all in Europe was good. There were occasionally news about, for example the U$ missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan, but there was no criticism, just the news in a short note and maybe reactions of important countries. Nobody mentioned who was funding the Talibans or where Turkey receives the money and weapons to continue a war against it's own population (not only Kurds). Nobody mentioned where Suharto had been getting his money and weapons from. They reported about student demos in Jakarta (were there any outside Jakarta?) in short notes. There was a very short mention about the background of the demos. They only mentioned an economic crisis and corruption and some of the things Suharto's family owns. Otherwise, I got a very blurred picture of the events in Indonesia. One month you hear about demos, then two weeks of silence, then you hear the demos are still happe!
ning, but If you didn't listen to the news that day, you would think they had stopped two weeks ago... In my view, all this is enough to call B2-92 non-independent. For expressions such as fascist, I already said they are too often misused. Let me add: by me.

Mihajlo Acimovic


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