THE INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF DESERTERS
Since the first mass military mobilization in June of this year, these actions have become a regular practice, especially after the attacks of the Croatian and Bosnian armies which flooded Serbia with hundreds of thousands of new refugees in August and September. All the human rights of these people are drastically violated, including the right to life. They were thrown out of their homes and towns, their property has been taken away (mostly burned during the Croatian army’s attack), they have lost their jobs and come to Serbia, which has not given them any protection. They were not able to choose their destination, they have no rights or prospects of returning to Croatia and Bosnia. They receive very little humanitarian aid or none at all (Both from the Serbian state, which does not want to spend money on these people, whom they consider to be already lost, and from the international community, which discriminates against these victims on the basis of their Serbian origin.). The worst discrimination is against the men between the ages of 17 and 60, who cannot get passports. Passports would give them the possibility of escaping Serbia, where they are in danger, condemned to starvation, and are being massively mobilized and sent to the war. European countries refuse to issue visas to those refugees who manage to get (buy) passports, thus condemning them to stay in Serbia under these terrible conditions.
Many of these men are mobilized just after registering with the Red Cross of Serbia. T's forces have been under the direct control of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and have benefited from its unconditional protection.
Peace and human righthe police working for the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the members of Arkan's paramilitary guard are picking men from their houses, on the street, in buses, even from taxis. Is it necessary to emphasize the illegality of these actions? Men are being mobilized for the army of a foreign state; there is no regular military draft, families are never informed. There are many reasons for this mobilization to be considered as kidnapping or illegal arrest. Many of the mobilized are being beaten up, and after their arrival to Arkan's recruitment center, they are shaved. As they are never really trusted, weapons are given to them only when they are actually on the first line of the front. Beside this recruitment center in Erdut, Arkan's guard has three more so-called "reforming" centers for deserters in Bosnia (Repulika Srpska). The officials of the guard publicly stated that in these centers they had "reformed" over 2000 forcibly mobilized men. The punishment or correction consists of men being shaved, flogged, and bound to the "pillar of shame.” Besides capturing and beating up deserters, Arkan's forces are also responsible for seriously mistreating the local population and for the banishment of the 5000 remaining Muslims and Croats from the Banja Luka and Prijedor areas—those who managed to survive during these years of war. There is numerous evidence showing that Arkan’s forces have been under the direct control of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and have benefited from its unconditional protection.
Peace and human rights groups in Serbia (including Women in Black) are swamped with requests, which we cannot fulfill, for help from deserters and families of the kidnapped. Along with the SOS Hotlines and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, we record the cases, talk with the families, and write reports, protests, and appeals. But none of us can hide and protect someone's son or husband, nor issue him a passport or a German, French or other country's visa.
THIS IS WHY WE PLEAD YOU TO DEMAND FROM YOUR GOVERNMENTS:
1. To influence the Serbian government to stop compulsory mobilization of refugees.
2. To accept refugees from Krajina who are both hungry and in danger in Serbia. And to ease the restrictive policies of issuing visas, especially for refugees.
3. To send humanitarian aid to the thousands of refugees, who literally are starving to death on the streets of Banja Luka and other places.
4. To insist on prosecuting war criminals from all sides involved. War crimes are murder, torture, rape, bombing of civilians, as well as ordering the illegal mobilization and torture of those who refuse to kill.
Women in Black Belgrade, October 23,1995
Always disobedient, and still in the streets...
Women in black - 30 years of resistance
9th october 1991 we took to the streets of Belgrade for the first time - that is when we began non- violent resistance to the war and the policies of the Serbian regime. So far, we have organized about 2,500 street actions. We are still in the streets ...
Women in Black / WiB is an activist group and network of feminist-anti-militarist orientation, consisting of women, but also men of different generational and ethnic backgrounds, educational levels, social status, lifestyles and sexual choices.