Yesterday it was very difficult to write: I didn't have much time, but mainly it was because of the powerful impact of listening to friends from Kosovo. At least, I managed to sleep well and I feel much better today. I will begin trying to convey briefly the atmosphere here:
All the media reports are strictly those of the military headquarters.
Since yesterday there's been euphoria for the shooting down of the ultra-sophisticated aeroplane the F-117. Everybody, in the media and in the street and in the bomb shelters (which I never go down but people tell me) celebrate this. All this can be characterised as HOMOGENIZATION / PATRIOTIC UNITY / VICTIMIZATION / UNIFORMITY...
The slogans and songs that they play without stopping are of the style "enemy forces / criminals / aggressors can cause material damage and human victims, but they cannot destroy the spirit of our people that, above all, loves liberty", they put this continually in Radio Belgrade, with anthems about "Kosovo - sacred land", with Partizan songs from the Second World War instead of advertising spots, everything leading to exacertbate nationalist and patriotic sentiment, without any appeal for calm or common sense.
Today's concert in TRG Republika
It was impressive to see so many people in the street, but sad to hear the content and the message. They say that there will be this
kind of demonstration every day. We are afraid - me as much as anyone - of this great manipulation.
At the same time, we saw a group of people of Romany origen (gypsies) demonstrating their loyalty to the state infront of the US embasy, and ohers with the slogan "We will give our lives, but not surrender Kosovo", "Kosovo is Serbia", with complaints against the Albanians in Kosovoa. Here the logic of the opporessed is obvious - to be with the strong. It's awful.
The TV has shown for the fifth time in these days the film "The Battle of Kosovo", and the programming is nearly all of this type.
Conversation with friends in Kosovo - Prishtina:
"Nobody sticks their head outside, not even to the door. Yesterday I opened the door for five minutes and was terribly scared. Nobody who wants to live dares go in the treat. We have nearly no communications within the city, the telephones hardly work. Food is scarce, and I wonder "until when"?"At the end, we exchange words of consolation, support on both sides. I enter again, as so many times during these wars, into the hierarchy of the victims of war: Nothing is happening here on our side of what you are going through over there.
"Gangs are going round the streets, they are people released from the prisons, paramilitaries, who knows... They break into houses, move out the people, kidnap, massacre... Already there's no food left - except we have 50 kilos of flour" (a big family).
He quoted me what somebody had said these days:What cynicism! What a trap! What am I to say now when in today's concert people took part (two singers, Rambo and Bajaga) who in the years before always spoke for peace? One of them, Rambo, performed in the concert For Sarajevo we organised in April 1992.
Let me go back to the testimonies from people in Prishtina:
"I don't have any tranquillizers, I don't have more heart medicine. What can I do without these?" She who has always encouraged me, comforted me with hope, now her voice is breaking as, on the point of crying, she thanks me for calling. "This is an area of gloom. We don't have help from any side. They have now left the gangs to do whatever takes their fancy... "My moral and emotional imperative (no matter how pathetic it sounds) is to spend hours and hours trying to get a line with Prishtina. This morning I have managed, but during the first days it was totally futile.
"Now I see that this type of experiences cannot be conveyed. I have seen so many displaced people or refugees here, and always have thought that I understood them. But now I see what they have suffered. Why don't I go from here? Why do we wait until the last minute? Where do I go now? Although I know that I cannot leave to go anywhere, I pack a back. Although I have food, I cannot eat. These night will be perhaps the last I spend at home..."I cannot tell you of what I've felt, but I know that for me - for us in this small human ghetto - it has been enormously valuable. Again the alert sounds. We have turned in to Radio "Free Europe". In prishtina they have had no electricity since yesterday eveing.
The alternative network of support and communication gives us this information:
Vrnjacka Bank and Kraljevo (central Serbia): People fear new military call-ups, there have been many; floods of people (reservists) are arriving, who have died in Kosovo.
Sandzak (south-east Serbia, principally the home of Muslims): "People are going, everybody wants to go. Those of us who stay, we're more than agitated, terrified. The police have requisitioned all the trucks and big vehicles; people mainly fear the paramilitaries".
Monetenegro: The political climate there is totally different. It's enough to see the papers (I had the chance to see one yesterday) whose content is totally different (Montenegro has not declared a state of war).
Things are getting worse all the time, the "second phase" has started, no comment! You have more information than we here, but we know that this conspiracy of militarism - global and local - dangerously reduces our space and soon there won't be this space. (How to denounce global militarism without denouncing the local? how to denounce the bombings, without denouncing the massacres, the repression.
With the horror the people of Kosova are living with this NATO intervention, they are paying a price even greater than before. NATO IN THE SKY, MILOSEVIC ON THE GROUND.
At the moment our human ghetto functions well, with mutual support. Your support strengthens us, it means a real lot. I embrace you with the deepest friendship and tenderness.
Women in Black, Belgrade
The night of 28 March 1999