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Statement - Fellowship of Reconciliation

Peace Movement Aotearoa

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

Issued 29 March, 1999

FOR calls for End of US Bombing and for Creative Resistance to Genocide

The Fellowship of Reconciliation calls for an immediate halt to the NATO attacks on Serb targets in Yugoslavia and Kosova, and an absolute cessation of the Serbian military and police efforts to kill the leadership of the ethnic Albanian Muslim community of Kosova while driving the rest of the Islamic community out of Kosova. The FOR is very aware of the serious, decade long violations of human rights of the majority Albanian Muslim community in Kosova by the Yugoslav government, military and police. The NATO bombings, however, have turned a very bad situation into a disastrous one, destabilizing relations with Russia and China, establishing a precedent for circumventing the United Nations and dangerously expanding NATO's mission.

The bombing has politically bolstered the repressive and unpopular Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, and reinforced his myth of the Serbs as a victimized and abused people. The Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), with its own vision of an ethnic state, has also been fortified; while the democratic opposition in Serbia and the forces committed to nonviolence and pluralism in Kosova have all been undermined by the attacks. The bombing also forced the evacuation the OSCE monitors from Kosova and the foreign press from Serbia and Kosova making it easier for those who do not wish to be held accountable for atrocities against the civilian population. The answer, however, is not to kill more innocent people to punish Milosevic for his slaughter of innocents.

The United States needs to respond creatively and nonviolently to international crises using wisdom and true strength rather than brute force. Our peaceful "weapons," whose strength should not be underestimated, are the commitment to the rule of international law and our democratic civil society with strong economic, cultural and educational institutions.

First, the US should urge the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to indict Slobodan Milosevic for his war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosova, and issue an international warrant for his arrest. We should also make it clear that Milosevic is only the top of the pyramid of guilt in the ongoing crimes still taking place in Kosova.

Second, we need to realize that Milosevic would be powerless without his soldiers and Special Police. Most of the Yugoslav soldiers and Special Police are young men who were drafted into their present unhappy positions. There is already a very high rate of draft evasion and desertion from the Yugoslav Army. Most of the conscripts would rather be in school or starting a career than killing civilians in Kosova. If the US and our NATO allies were to offer temporary political asylum to all Serb soldiers, policemen or potential inductees as well as any KLA soldiers who presented themselves at any international border, we would see massive desertions from the Yugoslav military and police. If NATO really wanted to get creative, special airfields and ports could be designated in Macedonia or Greece where Yugoslav Air Force pilots and Navy captains could desert with their aircraft or boats.

At the time of this writing the NATO attack against Yugoslavia has been going on for only 6 days, and already it has cost well over $1 billion. If, for example, this money were used by the UN for educational scholarships or job training, they could afford to offer a $30,000 scholarship to any of the best universities in Europe or the US for each of the 30,000 Serbian soldiers and Special Police in Kosova, and still have plenty of money left to give special enormous bonuses to pilots, captains and tank drivers who deserted and brought their vehicles with them. This better use of American and European tax dollars would save the lives of many Serbs, Kosovars and Americans while furthering the education of a new generation of Yugoslav leadership to take the place of those who would be sitting in prison in The Hague.

Third, we call on all nations of the world to respond to the enormous refugee crisis which has been generated through this crisis. Massive relief efforts must begin immediately to help the scores of thousands of refugees who are pouring across the borders of Macedonia and Albania.

Finally, we call on the United Nations to take the initiative to bring all parties together to find a just and peaceful solution for this crisis.

As a nation and as a world, we cannot afford to follow the time honored, and always tragic, tradition of solving difficult international crises with bombs and missiles. The Fellowship of Reconciliation has been directly involved in the former Yugoslavia since the beginning of the war. During the war in Bosnia, the FOR Bosnian Student Project brought 154 students who had been driven from their homes by "ethnic cleansing" or the war to continue their education in some of the best schools in the US. If we are to survive as a civilization, we must find creative, nonviolent responses to the world's crises that do not further the cycles of violence.


Nicholas Arons
International/Interfaith Intern
Fellowship of Reconciliation

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