Serbian conscientious objector kidnapped and tortured in Belgrade

My dear friends,

finally after many days of insecurity and uncertainty about my life and future I have a possibility to write and tell you about a terrible ordeal I experienced and everything that followed it. First of all, I want to tell you that for few days already I am in Germany, surrounded by friends and that I am well and safe. I also want to thank those few of you that knew what happened and that did all they could to support Darko, my family and me in these most difficult days. At the same time I apologize to the rest of you who did not know anything for so long. I hope you will understand why after reading these lines.

Having successfully passed my PHD comprehensive exam at CEU in Budapest at the end of June I decided to go to Belgrade to visit my family, especially since my brother and his wife recently got a child. Moreover, I heard that my friends, Women in Black in Belgrade, were interrogated by police from the beginning of June and I wanted to support them personally in these difficult times. Ever since the NATO bombing of last year and the increasing of political repression in Serbia I had some fear of going to Belgrade. However, after nothing had happened during my previous visits and knowing that for two years I was living and studying in Budapest and thus was not participating in political activities in Serbia I had decided to go. Arriving safely I spent few days enjoying the company of my family and friends.

However, on the evening of 7th of July driving my father's car on my way to visit friends I was blocked on a side street and pulled out by two men or literally kidnapped. Immediately after I was taken to the basement of a police station in central Belgrade where I realized I was in hands of the Serbian state security or secret police. As soon as we got there they started to beat me and threaten to kill me. I was interrogated, tortured and humiliated for the next twenty three hours because of my activities in supporting deserters and conscientious objectors and my numerous contacts with foreign peace activists concerning this matter. In the meantime my parents and lawyers could not get any information. I spent this whole day in the worst pain and fear, praying and thinking on Darko, my family and all my friends not knowing whether I would ever see them again. I realized how naive I was about the repressive aparatus of the Serbian regime thinking these methods only existed in the movies about Latin American dictatorships or in the stories of my family about the years after the Second World War and the split with Stalin in Yugoslavia. Now I was experiencing the very same. I also realized I was followed and listened to for many years.

After numerous death treats I accepted to collaborate with my torturers. I was forced to sign and say in front of a camera two statements. In the first I had to admit that I was involved in espionage and destructive activities against my country. In the second I had to accept "because of my criminal and moral responsibility" to fulfill all the orders of the secret police, fully aware that they will kill me if I don't do so. I was told that I would be followed at all times and that I would have to obey all their orders.

Once released and knowing that I would never be able to do what I was ordered I decided to take a risk and escape to Montenegro. After spending several days there I managed to come to Sarajevo and having spent several days there too I finally arrived to Germany. Here I also want to mention and thank my friends in Montenegro and Sarajevo without whose help none of this would ever be possible. I also regret that I am not able to share with you all the details of this horrifying experience for the reasons of safety of some persons. However, they are known to the UN Mission for Human Rights in Serbia and Montenegro as well as to the Amnesty International.

Not being able to go back to my homeland, deeply stressed and still frightened and worried for my family I am now trying to recover. I have to think about my status in Germany and ways how to continue my studies. Not knowing whether I would be able to write to all of you personally I just wanted with this message to let you know what happened, to calm those who are still worried and thank again for all the support I got. I would also like to ask for your moral and political support in what now lays ahead of me.

Remaining with you in my prayers and thoughts,


31. 7. 2000