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Action Alert - NATO Bombing

Peace Movement Aotearoa

PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173,

Issued 25 March 1999

Kia ora,

NATO warplanes have today begun bombing targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The rhetoric around the NATO decision and the statements made by NATO heads of government have been startling in their similarity to those made to justify bombing the people of Iraq. In many ways it is a similar situation - war mongering murdering governments in Yugoslavia and Iraq - but we do not believe bombing has or will improve either situation. Indeed, the nine years of bombing and starving the people of Iraq indicate quite clearly that this approach changes nothing - except to kill more people, create rage and fear which will ensure future generations carry on the violence, and increase the bank balances of those who profit from the arms trade.

Don McKinnon (NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade) announced first thing this morning that the bombing was a ... 'grave but justifiable step, to protect the civilian population of Kosovo'.

We have today been receiving statements from peace groups around the world, and are particularly grateful to Women's Aid to Former Yugoslavia (England) for a succinct summary of some of the points below.

We are opposed to these air strikes because :

  • there is no basis for them in international law;

  • they are likely to worsen, not help, the situation. They will : cause death and suffering for both Albanian and Serb civilians directly, and through the destruction of medical, water, sewage, communications facilities etc from the bombing; make Serb army reprisals against Albanian civilians more likely; disrupt the humanitarian aid in place to assist all the affected people in the area; prevent future humanitarian aid as the aid workers are withdrawn and may not be allowed back; fuel hatred and work against a long-term peaceful resolution ever being reached.

  • there is absolutely no guarantee that this will stop the Serb offensive in Kosovo;

  • bombing is not and has never been a solution to conflict.

What can be done ?

Unfortunately, at this point in time, apart from protesting to the NZ government for their support for the air strikes, and to the NATO governments; supporting human rights, women's and peace groups which you are in touch with in the region; and supporting those who may be called up (this includes Serb reservists living in NZ) and chose not to go, there is not a lot which can be done.

The things which may have prevented the situation reaching this point - a total arms embargo; the deployment of the full OSCE peace monitor contingent as promised last year (only half of them ever got there, in a very dispersed fashion); putting adequate resources, both human and financial into, peacefully resolving this conflict - were not a priority for NATO governments. The old slogan 'those who prepare for war will get it' is foremost in our minds today - perhaps if the NATO governments had prepared for peace, then that is what they would have now.

*** Did you know that the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) has 54 members states, NATO has 19. NATO's budget is more than one thousand times larger than that of the OSCE.

We spoke this morning with Dijana, currently in Wellington with Dah Teatre (who have been involved in anti-war work in Belgrade for a number of years) as part of the International Women's Performance Festival and she asked you to consider this ... "by creating more victims and more destruction we will not solve anything".

Return to PMA's Alert: Stop NATO bombing, Stop NZ government support for the airstrikes!

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