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Kathy Randels - from Wellington to Washington

Peace Movement Aotearoa

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

16 April 1999

On Saturday, April 17, 1999, Kathy Randels will do a 24-hour performance strike in protest of NATO's current bombing campaign in Yugoslavia in front of the White House in Washington D.C. from 8am Saturday to 8am Sunday.

Kathy is a performance artist from New Orleans who has been living and working with the theater company Dah Teatar in Belgrade, Yugoslavia since October, 1998. The war in Yugoslavia has disrupted Dah's work. The company was in New Zealand performing at an international festival of women's performance when NATO began bombing Yugoslavia. The seven members of the company are now scattered throughout Yugoslavia, Hungary, New Zealand and the U.S. It is uncertain when the company will be able to come together again to perform or rehearse.

The break-up of Dah Teatar is one small example of how NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia is radically, negatively and permanently changing people's lives. Today, Randels is performing her part in Dah's piece, The Helen Keller Case, with the props she has with her - keeping the spirit of protest and search for value in life that the work of Dah has always proclaimed despite living and working under a dictatorship. The piece will not make sense, as it is missing the four other actors and other elements of the set, just as this war does not make sense, as we are only given pieces of the story. This performance is protesting the destruction of lives and culture caused by NATO's continued assault. It also recalls the protests of Las Madres de la Plaza del Cinco De Mayo, a group of women in Argentina who dance without partners to mourn and protest the disappearance of their husbands, brothers and sons.

Finally, the performance is an homage to Women in Black all over the world and particularly in Belgrade, who have held silent vigils for peace every Wednesday since the war began in Yugoslavia in 1991. Observers in black support peaceful solutions to political problems all over the world.

Note from Kathy : I know many of you are concerned about this issue, the facts, the horrors that many ethnic Albanian Kosovars are now faced with. I am not pro-Milosevic or pro-ethic cleansing. But I do not see our bombs as being a solution to a huge historical conflict. I have also included my letter to Senator Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. If you agree, please use this letter as a sample and send it along to your congresspeople. We must act quickly if we want this to stop. Congress will be deciding soon whether or not to send ground troops in. Smells like Vietnam, Iraq and all the others.

*** Letter to Congress

Senator Mary Landrieu
U.S. Senate
Senate Hart Bldg. Suite 702
Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Mary,

I am writing to you at this time to express my horror at the U.S. government's current bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, and my greater horror at your support of the president and the military in this war.

I voted for Clinton twice and you once, and at the time felt good about those votes. You will not get my vote again, unless you start campaigning heavily against this action.

I am a performance artist from New Orleans, born and bred, who has been working with a theater company in Belgrade, Yugoslavia since October, 1998, when our country first started threatening war as a solution to that country's problems. It is very obvious that we have caused more damage than was there in the first place in the last 20 days of the bombing campaign. Indeed, NATO's tactics in relation to Yugoslavia are in direct conflict with Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty:

"The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

I do not consider our current attack to be peaceful means, and we have certainly not refrained from the threat or use of force.

As a result of NATO's bombings:
  • Milosevic and the Yugoslav Army have stepped up their aggression toward ethnic Albanians-those NATO claims to be trying to save
  • the fighting between the Yugoslav Army and the KLA has increased, placing innocent Serb and Albanian civilians in the cross-fire
  • there are over 500,000 refugees with nowhere to turn-ethnic Albanians do not want to return to Kosovo, yet there is no room for them elsewhere. Of special interest is the fact that the U.S. has not yet opened it's doors to these refugees
  • the Milosevic regime is crushing the remaining independent press within Yugoslavia-B92 radio was shut down, and Slavko Curuvija, the editor of independent newspaper The Daily Telegraph, was assassinated
  • those who actively opposed Milosevic's government and politics throughout the past eight years, now find they share something in common with Milosevic-an enemy in NATO
  • American taxpayers are spending millions of dollars daily on a war that has no objectives, with no end in sight

Please do everything in your power to stop the bombing immediately. We speak about "conflict resolution" as being peaceful means of resolving problems through nonviolence and communication. We try to teach this to our children in schools, and especially inner city New Orleans schools where violence is more problematic (I taught theater at Lawless High School in the lower 9th ward from 1995-1998.) What kind of example is this for our children: we threaten, and then, when we do not get our way, we use violent force?

In my travels abroad I have encountered many outside perspectives of the U.S. government and society. We are perceived as young, na´ve and seeking quick solutions to difficult problems. The war in Kosovo is another chapter in a regional conflict that dates back to the 12th century. Can President Clinton and NATO really think that 6 months of "talks" followed by a month of bombing will resolve centuries worth of conflict?

American media's one-sided reporting of this issue is highly offensive, perhaps you have bought it along with the rest of the American public. I expect you, as a lawmaker in the country to make educated decisions, especially when people's lives are at stake. Since U.S. news sources do not report the suffering of Serbs under NATO attacks, nor do they mention the demolition of the democratic people's movements within Serbia that have sought to oust the Milosevic regime for the past 10 years, I encourage you to read more about such movements, please look up for up to date reporting on the war from within Yugoslavia's borders.

The future of U.S. foreign policy and how nations deal with other nations' internal conflicts is at stake. If we do not stop this action now, we open the door for nations to use violence to influence policy in other nations, and we have to be aware that we may be the victims of this policy in the future.

As I write this letter, it becomes obsolete. It seems that now, not only do I need to ask you to stop the bombing, but I must now ask that you vote against sending ground troops into Kosovo. Please vote against sending ground troops into Kosovo.

Sincerely: Kathy Randels, New Orleans.

Kathy's statement at the Wellington protest, March 29, 1999.

The Black Lady protest.

Return to the "Stop the NATO Bombing" Alert.

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