FRI, 15 APR 1994 20:18:50 GMT
In Serbia and Montenegro
"This is not the teacher giving a slap, this is a Serb striking a blow", said a policeman in Novi Pazar, and the blood covered the high-school student brought in with many other Moslems after clashes between the fans of the two football teams, a "Serbian" from Kosovo and the local "Moslem" one. In this town in Sandzak (Serbia), mostly populated with the Moslems, the game which took place last October was only a provocation. After that started brutal police repression of Moslems in Sandzak, which is still going on.
The harassment of the population continued during November and December last year, as a part of the action of regime for "the seizure of arms from the Moslems who were preparing a revolt and secession from Serbia". Over 300 Moslems from Sandzak were subjected to police torture. All those apprehended talk of hours of beatings with fists, feet, karate chops, clubs, and shouts: "You will pay for Bosnia, you Turks". Many were forced to kneel, to cross themselves as the Orthodox believers do and kiss the cross. The forcing of the peasants to surrender "hidden" automatic arms and 3,000 bullets per a "head" continued in February and March this year. Most people had no arms. A seventy-year old farmer was beaten up with others with a rubber truncheon on his bare feet so that he would give up his arms. The report of the Belgrade Fund for Humanitarian Law gives his testimony: Everyone was in a frenzy buying arms so that they could hand them over to the police, but there are none to be bought now. Now everyone keeps them so as to have arms to surrender and escape the beatings.
Over 70 houses and flats of the Moslems from Prijepolje were searched. At least 150 citizens were brought in to the police station, and over 80 people were tortured. They were all aked the same question: "What are you doing here, at all? Why don't you move out?" When the troture was made public, an Inquiry Commission of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia was established to investigate all the allegations of those questioned and punish the quilty policemen, but the Commission also was under pressure...
After this 25 officials of the SDA of Montenegro were arrested in Bijelo Polje, charged for "subversive activities against Serbia and Montenegro with the aim of creating the state of Sandzak". Several different sources state that no arms were found on the arrested, while the President of the SDA (Party of Democratic Action) for Montenegro Sefket Brkovic did not have a single bullet.
In the period from January 27 to February 22 around 400 Moslems from Novi Pazar were arrested and brought in for questioning, under the suspicion of illegal possession of arms, but the state authorities did nothing when the information was published that there were at least 7,000 armed members of the extreme Serbian Radical Party. Rajko Danilovic, defence counsel of the accused in Novi Pazar, says:
- The practice of political trials goes on, as if we do not live in a multi-party system. The legislation is still communistic and helps the regime to get rid of the unlike- minded, and in the abuse of the judiciary, public prosecutor's office and the police.
The Fund for Humanitarian Law also investigated the events in Beli Manastir, on the "liberated" territory, which is within Croatia. The court first brought charges against six Croats for killing and torturing Serbs, kept them in detention for 11 months and finally released them. Since none of the accused remained in that town, it is believed that it was a sort of warning to the remaining Croats to leave. The case of Misic, a Croat from Vukovar is typical. He was tortured in prison as "Ustasha", while his neighbours, the Serbs, claimed that he had taken them into his house after theirs was destroyed in the Serbian shelling of the city.
Even the refugees fleeing from the war affected areas, did not escape the pressures in Serbia during these last months. Their cheap heads were "hunted" by military authorities and delivered as cannon fodder to the battlefields in Bosnia and Herzegovina, contrary to the national Law on refugees and international legal instruments. During one night 320 people were taken from the villages around Ruma (Vojvodina), while the refugees accommodated in Kosovo have been called up to the barracks "for registration purposes". When they found out the truth, the people ran in all directions.
The Legal Aid phone in the Council for Human Rights of the Center for Anti-War Action is constantly ringing these days. These are the calls of citizens of Serbia of non-Serb nationality complaining of discrimination.
A professor from Belgrade, Vladimir Erceg, a Croat by nationality, lost his job and soon will also lose his flat. A married couple from Nis (Bulgarians by descent) also have no more a job and support their two children with a modest sick leave compensation (the wife had a heart attack when she found out that it was "her turn" to be fired). A woman with a dog moved into the flat of Saip Ramadani, an Albanian from Belgrade, telling him to go back where he came from. On her return from winter holidays, Katica Calic, a Croat by nationality, found a six-member refugee family in her flat in Belgrade.
These legal disputes are dealt with by the courts slowly and with much legal errors, claim lawyers of the Council for Human Rights, who are under the impression that someone is directing the refugees to the "right addresses".
Zlatko Vukovic, a Serb, lost his job because of the political discrimination (he was employed as a clerk in the National Defense) because he had taken part in the peace rally against the war in Croatia and signed a petition for the salvation of Dubrovnik, while a citizen of Belgrade was transferred to a job with lower pay in a similar service, because he is a member of the Democratic Party.
The abductions of Reljic, a reporter of "Vreme", who was released, and of Veljko Dzakula, a Serb from Croatia (a soft line political activist) have shaken the public. Behind a brief journalistic outcry, exists an anonymous dark world in which citizens of small Yugoslavia live with their "petty" non-rights. Unnoticed remains the shame of a couple from Belgrade, a Croat husband and his wife, a Serb. Their twenty-five years old son threw them out of their flat. His father because he was a Croat, and his mother for marrying a Croat. He decided to keep only the Serbian red blood cells.