Mihajlo Acimovic on Sat, 06 Nov 1999 19:51:20 +0100

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Syndicate: environment and war in Yugoslavia

Maybe I should first tell you how I got some of my information. I think this story is a good example:

I was lying in my bed. Downtown Belgrade was as noisy as always. I put on a tape of Enya, to kill the noise. I was just getting back to reading "World orders, old and new", by Noam Chomsky, when the air alert sirens went on. I had to cover my ears. The fucking siren was too close to the apartment. I felt a wish to sabotage it, but I knew they would find out who did it. Bloody neighbors. They had no initiative. I mean in a building with over 120 appartments (uggliest in the Old City), there was no other person who was active enough in life, to even try that. So, when somebody did some actions, it was fairly easy to guess who it was. Specially cause I didn't try and conceal what I was doing, whenever I thought I wouldn't get arrested for it. And I was right. The only things I had to do under cover of night were graffitti.
And I did a lot of them around. My friends never had a problem reckognizing my building, if they could find the street :))))
Just turning up the volume didn't help. Ambiental just wasn't made for noise wars. I put on some heavy metal istead. Aaaahhh, that was better. I almost didn't hear the siren any more.
My cousin was squeeling again "What are we gonna do now, momma? I am afraaaid". I knew she wasn4t really afraid. Her mom was making her read schoolbooks at home, even though there was no school. She was trying to get out it, by playing the role of frightened child, whenever air alert sirens went on. I didn4t mind her doing so, but she was whining louder than the sirens and that really went on my nerves.
The sirens stopped, but I left the heavy metal on, so I wouldn4t have to listen to my cousin. I was doing excercises to get the rage out of me, when grandma opened the door: "Misha, son, phone for you". 
I ran downstairs and picked it up. It was Sanja. 
Hi-Hi "Don4t drink the waterworks water. Drink only mineral from now on. The city water is poisoned. Yeah. Last night they bombed Prva Iskra Baric. There was a little in the news about it. Well, they scratched a combat poison container, so a little leaked. That wasn4t so dangerous, but the people running the factory figured half of Belgrade would be dead, if it was hit properly. So, they decided to dump it into the Sava, before the cretens bomb it again. My uncle told me about it (her uncle was an army general). The concentration that gets to the residential buildings isn4t lethal, but I don4t think you want to check what kind of children you would have afterwards. So, you can wash your hands and so, but drink only mineral water and try not to have a full bath, till next week." "Ok" "I got'ta phone Ana to tell her. Ciao." "Ciao."

Sanja was my girlfriend during the bombing. Her uncle, the general, was an incredible source of important survival information and general disinformation. Somewhere around the second week of the war, he said to Sanja that there were no more Albanians left in Kosovo. He was also my insurrance policy that I wouldn4t go to Kosovo, in case the military police pick me up. And he was the second strongest reason why I figured I could get away with anything, without being arrested. The first reason was luck. I4ve always had more luck than brains. :))
Prva Iskra is a factory in Baric. It deals with some nasty chemical substances. Baric is a small settlement, some 15-25 Km southwest of Belgrade. The wind from Baric usually blows northeastward, straight into the city...

The bombing of those tanks in Baric was very deliberate and probably precisely set to scratch the tank, so it would cause panic, but not kill everyone. Similar bombings, damaging very dangerous chemical tanks were done in Vinca, 12-17 Km east of Belgrade and in Pancevo, 19 Km northeast of Belgrade. The idea was to draw as many fire department people and similar, to the scratched container site and then send a few more missiles around the container, so the first aid and fire department people get slaughtered, and the entire thing can still be justified as "just bombing the industry, which is a military target".
I don4t know about other places. One time, the Radio-Television of Serbia said that NATO had hit a big tank in Pancevo, but that, only thanks to the vigorous speed and efficiency of the fire department, we avoided a catastrophe, for a quarter of Serbia... I don4t know if this was true or it was just done to direct people4s attentions to the game NATO was playing with those chemical tanks. And you can imagine what would had happened if one of their missiles malfunctioned and actually hit the container...
Sleep well.

During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, all the big media in Serbia denounced NATO for using Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons, which are forbidden by the Geneva Convention.
Later, the same fuss was made when NATO used cluster bombs to trash the residential part of downtown Nis, the second biggest city in Serbia. Same when NATO kept occasionally using cluster bombs on other targets. 
Cluster bombs are also banned by the Geneva Convention.

In the same period of time, precisely no one (in numbers:0), in Yugoslavia, published what depleted Uranium weapons are or what their possible effects could be. 
I left Yugoslavia in June, just after the last bombs fell, but I am pretty sure that this hasn't changed. 

In the second half of May99, NATO bombed Prva Iskra in Baric. A result of this was a container full of combat poison being dumped into the Sava river. Members of high ranking families in Belgrade were warned not to drink water from the city waterworks, for a week. The rest of Belgrade4s 1 000 000 population was not informed about this, neither from Milosevic4s government, NATO, or anyone else. Instead, after the one week had passed, I think the Belgrade city board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (Milosevic's party), or someone like that, had a press release, in which they denounced, among other things, "claims that the Belgrade city water is poisoned". I think they called upon a water analysis, which was done after the one week was up, but even this analysis was not at public disposal. Maybe it was possible to get it from the labs, but not everyone could go to the labs and ask for it. I didn4t. No one published it.

Some time after the bombing (July, I zink), an official health institution published a call for all people (in Belgrade, or in Serbia, I can4t remember), to boil their water before drinking or to drink mineral water only. No explanation was attached. Needless to say, boiling doesn't get all the nasty chemicals out and mineral water is also from springs in Yugoslavia and therefore as contaminated as most of the non-mineral one. Imported mineral water can't be found everywhere and is generally very expensive.

Also in July or maybe August, a person who is either a health or a chemical expert or both was interviewed on some state-owned or state-friendly television. She said that if her daughter was pregnant, she would advise her to abort. She spoke almost openly about some things. She got kicked from her job, shortly after the interview.

One time, I think in May, my grandmother, living in Belgrade, went to visit my grandparents' farm, near Cacak city and the West Morava river. She came back with a story about how some factory was hit in Cacak and there was something that went into the Morava water. She said four or five people had died from drinking the water. Then, some officials (maybe local?) went around telling the village populations along the river not to drink the water or use it for cooking.

Pancevo city is a special story. It was the biggest center of chemical industry before the war and one of the toughest and most stabile centers of opposition to Milosevic. Together, these characteristics were why it was chosen for one of the heaviest bombings in war. I saw some forwarded articles from western newspapers, about Pancevo. One really shook me up. It started with a fisherman, interviewed by the author, saying that the few fish he catches are almost seetruish and of a sick redish-yellowish colour (Pancevo is on the Danube and also has two small rivers going by it and into the Danube), that their eyes were boulging, like the eyes of junkies, etc. He said everybody was buying the fish, because there was no other fish. 
Then, the article went on about market salespeople advertising their friuts and veggies as not being chemically contaminated (this was common practice during and after the bombing, at least in all the big cities)... 
The author also wrote that the rains in Pancevo were really strange, that the rainwater was of redish colour, etc., how he went near chemical factories which were hit and he saw pools of stinking chemicals left lying there, since the bombing, nobody guarding them or trying to clean them up... He also wrote that the entire city was stinking of chemicals, a strange smell.
He concluded with the words of the fisherman: "Come back in ten years, my friend, and you will see half the people in Pancevo are dead."
Pancevo was one of the most air-polluted cities before the last 4-5 wars, but then it reaked of smoke, not of chemicals.
If you want to get in contact and ask where this article was found, I think it was forwarded by Andrej Grubacic, <zapata@sezampro.yu>
Anyway, you can ask people from ex-yu-a-lista@zamir.net It is a mailing list for anarchists from ex-Yugoslavia. Nice people, most of them.
If you write to it, do mention that you are not subscribed lest I have to forward you their replies... again...

Yeah, I heard from Sanja that it seems some Yuarmy barracks were hit on the first night of the bombing, with the army still being in them. 
Five to seven barracks. A girl who lives near the only one in Belgrade, which was hit in the first night of the bombing, said they really trashed it. She said there were fire department people and first aid vehicles going there en masse. There was no mention of this in Milosevic or NATO media. It would be rather strange that NATO didn4t know something like that, considering their monitoring capabilities. You could say that the entire war was one big silence conspiracy. Based on my experience, I firmly believe that Milosevic and NATO governments agree on everything they do, before they do it. Considering how hard they are trying to show themselves as opposed to each other... Does it not seem strange that they are doing it SO HARD? Maybe it is because there are more and more people who do not trust this. And I am getting off the subject. Just trying to give you something to think about...

Yeah, and there were rumours, during the bombing, that the Yugoslav air force made a raid on Tuzla airport in Bosnia, which was also used by NATO craft, supposedly just for refuelling. I am still not sure wether the rumour was true. There was a whole lot of disinformation going around. Simply, when you are used to knowing what is going on and then the information just stop comming in, you start looking for any bit of info, wether it is true or not. During the bombing, I had accepted a lot of rumours as true, because I THOUGHT IT WAS VERY PROBABLE THEY WERE TRUE AND I THOUGHT IT WAS BETTER TO ACCEPT RUMOURS THAN TO ADMIT THAT I HAD NO INFORMATION, which would had left me and a lot of others to the mercy of CNN, RTS and other war-pushing brainwashers. Later, many of those rumours turned out to be false.

I mean, when I read the news, from Reuters, that the UN estimate of the number of Kosovo Albanians killed by Milosevic4s troops during the bombing might go under 2500... During the war, I had a quite different picture, listening to all those braggings about how "We fucked the Shquiptars". But I guess that was only normal. During Bosnia in '92, no one was bragging... They just did it... *darkened, exausted face, eyes looking into the distance, remembering something*

July of 99 was a month of unremembered rains and fucking huge floods, in Hungaria, Romania, FR Yugoslavia and probably elsewhere. Though there wasn4t so much rain in Budapest, where I spent over half the time.
In Vienna, I remember seeing news about a hurricane in the USA and a storm in the far east, but not about these floods. In Hungaria, the news were only about the floods in Hungaria (half the territory in danger of flooding, over 1000 houses taken away by water, before I went to Vienna, etc).
While I was in Budapest, there were two amazingly heavy storms. I got caught outside by one of them, on Buda fort. Talk about an adventure.
My umbrella was useless, so I ran to the portal of a cathedral. I pressed my back upon the less exposed corner and was trying to keep my clothes from getting blown off of me. The wind seemed to be blowing from all directions at once, but especially from below. The neon street lights were very powerful. Directly facing me was a huge shining white man (statue) with a lond beard and a lond sword. His eyes were fixed upon me. It was warm and cold at the same time. The water falling on the pavement must had been evaporating quickly, because it seemed like spirits were rising from the ground everywhere and the powerful wind was blowing them around in all directions. And the strong white light... What a trip, huh? for Yugoslavs, the entire situation was really great for doomsday trips. And no, I didn4t take any drugs while I was in Budapest. And I stopped drinking alcohol when I was 17.
Later, the rain got bearable so I made my way home, but my only umbrella got screwed up in the process. So, what can we learn from this? That NATO has caused me personal damage, by causing the screwing up of my umbrella and that someone should help me, since I am a victim of their aggression. Maybe someone wants to make a benefit action, to buy me a new umbrella? I have decided that appealing to the international court of justice and the Hague war crimes tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia would be a pointless waste of money, since such courts either make decisions which are sponsored by the US government or their decisions are not carried out. 
Still, if somebody would pay for the costs of the legal process, I think it would be very important to center international discussions on the issue of my umbrella and to further treat that issue with equal attention as the demands for independence from Montenegro, Vojvodina and the sub-municipality of Dorcol. I am not joking about Dorcol. It is the sub-municipality that I lived in, in Belgrade. It has a strong and militant pro-independance movement, which will doubtlessly soon raise the issue of Dorcol`s independence to an international level. Probably after Montenegro, Vojvodina and Sandzak separate from Yugoslavia and gain international reckognition (whichever comes first).

Back to rains and floods:
So, in EU, there were reports only of rainstorms in the far east and the hurricane in the USA,
In Hungaria, only about Hungaria, the far east and the hurricane in the USA.
In Romania, the news were only about the floods in Romania, the storms in the far east and the hurricane in the USA.
In Yugoslavia, a country whose international image could be greatly improved by pointing out the disastrous ecological consequences of the NATO bombing, the news were... Well, guess! The floods were only mentioned in reports which road is travelable. In fact, I heard that the weather forecast (or was it the travelability thing?) was taken down from Radio-Television of Serbia for two days, so nobody would know how huge the floods really were. 
That reminded me of a situation before the bombing: One day, I was watching a local TV station. Communal news was on and they were just reading the list of all the areas which would be unplugged from electricity during the day, "because of urgent repairs". The speaker kept reading and reading. She drank all the water from the glass in front of her and her mouth had gotten dry. Finally she finished. The list was half the city. Not based on connections - It was precisely one block has electricity and the next one doesn't. Yugoslavia produced more electricity than it needed, but was trying to export more than the surplus it had. And so half of Belgrade had to be unplugged for hours, for no fucking reason.
So, for about the whole month of Yuly, there was little sun in Yugoslavia, raining more than ever, etc. According to emails I got from Sanja and from another girl, the rains smelled strange and the streets also, after the rains. Some people, from other neighborhoods of Belgrade, further from Pancevo, said it wasn4t so. Don4t take the definition toward Pancevo literally, please. 

Yeah, and for about one week, traffic in Yugoslavia was really like paralyzed. On August 1st, Ecotopia was due to start, next to the village Bogda, in Romania, some 80 Km airline from the Yugoslav border. Vladimir, a friend of mine living in Kikinda, Yugoslavia, some 20 Km airline from the Romanian border said he couldn4t come, because all the roads out of Kikinda were flooded. A girl from Novi Sad said there was no land connection to Romania, because of the floods (look at the map, please). About when Ecotopia started or just after, at least one road got passable to Romania.
Before that, the girl from Novi Sad said there was only the option of going to Szeged, Hungaria and getting transport to Romania from there, or Budapest, which is an even bigger detour. 

When I was going to Ecotopia (when it started), my train was supposed to go on the regular route through Hungaria, into Arad and then to Timisoara. But a bridge between Arad and Timisoara had been damaged in the floods, so the train had to go around, straight to where I needed to go. I was mentioning my luck :)))) And one time I got off the train at the wrong place and met a guy who was also going to Ecotopia, but we got back on the train before it left. 
And we missed the right place to get off, so we got off some five stations later. And in front of our faces was the only train going the other way, for the next 8 hours. We got in and didn4t even buy a ticket for it. :)))) 
I have no idea why I have so much luck *big grin* :)))))
Yeah, at Ecotopia, Bogda village, some of them were Serbs. When I left Belgrade, I was sure I would escape the post-Yugoslav menace once and for all. And then Budapest was full of Yugoslavs... And Vienna is full of post-Yugoslavs... There is no escape from the language of the world... 

So, one old local Romanian woman, who was doing the sewing workshop and one old Serb woman who was selling us peaches (giving a lot of them away), both said there had been weird rains and storms and weather like nobody had ever seen before and the sewing one said her tomato crops either didn4t have fruits (I am aware of my ignorance in the vocabulary regarding fruits and veggies) or these were so small you could hardly see them. And some other plant species were getting weird also, that year.
I was really interested in all these things, but the villagers were senile, we had translation problems, I didn4t want to spend my days hiking to the village and back and I generally didn4t want to spend time mingling with old peasants, when I could be hanging around with the Ecotopians. I also had workshops of my own to do.
'Sides, on the day when Ecotopia started, the weather suddenly got sunny. Probably all those wonderful, lucky people comming into the region, brought sunshine with them *grin* :))) Or was it just my luck again? *grin from ear to ear*

And the sky is another issue. Before I left Belgrade - May and especially June, the Belgrade sky was getting weirder and weirder.
The regular colour, when it was clear was ok. 
When it was clouded, it had a strange colour sometimes. Sometimes, it seemed like the light was comming from the entire sky at the same time. Sometimes, there were light flashes, which doubtlessly came from the entire clouded sky. The colour of light was white, but the colour of the clouded sky was strange. And no thunder sounds or very powerful sounds, unlike regular thunder. And when there were real thunder storms, it sometimes looked weird... Most of the time, I wasn't looking at all. I had enough problems without skygazing.
And once or twice after the rain, the streets smelled strange. Before I left. Before I escaped.

At Ecotopia, it was mostly sunny, before the eclipse. But there were two night rains, before the eclipse. And before them, the evening sky was redish. And there were lightnings. But just like something behind the clouds. We could never see them. So we just saw flashes. Red flashes from half of the sky. And no thunder.

There were some people who came to Ecotopia. One of them was Damacio Lopez, a DU weapons expert from the USA. They were trying to get visas for Yugoslavia, so they could do independent radiation measurements. Damacio was telling me about how the Yugoslav embassy in Bruxelles  told them there would be no problem getting visas for a renowned expert like that, but that they needed a pro forma invitation from an institution in Yugoslavia, like a reserach laboratory or Belgrade University, or a reasearch institute or even some individual doctor. All the people they contacted said it was ok with them, they just had to check with the government if it was ok. Every time, after the 'checking', these people would say 'no way, it is too dangerous, etc.'
In other words, no institution would invite them. So, I spent two planned Ecotopian days in stinking, polluted Timisoara city, with a high temperature, phoning assholes from the Yugoslav federal government. If I had known that was what I'd be doing after I left Yugoslavia... It was like the things I was trying to get out of were catching up with me... 
And they didn4t get the visas. They needed the visas fast. The yugoslav government people understood this and were sending us around - call this guy - no, call that woman... And finally they told us again that we needed someone to invite them. I was arranging for a tourist visa invitation, with people from "Eko 21" - a grassroots youth ecogroup from Belgrade, but there wasn4t enough time. We gave up. Damacio was supposed to hold a speech at some UN-sponsored conference real soon, so he couldn4t be in Yugoslavia at the same time.
He said the reason why indepedent radiation measurements were neccessary was because the UN commision measured only beta and gamma radiations, but not the alpha radiation which was the main risk with DU weapons. He also said UN people said that the chemical levels were "tllerable". But they didn4t say how high they were, at the press conference. Their reports said some chemicals were found in concentrations of 10 or more times than allowed by UN standards...
And they wrote that this pollution was there before the bombing. Now, imagine one of those UN slimeballs being brought to Pancevo and his head stuck into one of them chemical pools, with just bubbles comming out.
Have fun :))

By Mihajlo Acimovic

Angelfire for your free web-based e-mail. http://www.angelfire.com
------Syndicate mailinglist--------------------
 Syndicate network for media culture and media art
 information and archive: http://www.v2.nl/syndicate
 to unsubscribe, write to <syndicate-request@aec.at>
 in the body of the msg: unsubscribe your@email.adress