WOMEN IN BLACK, BELGRADE:

REPORT FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2001


In our New Year message for 2001, we promised that we would send you reports regarding our activities periodically. We are truly sorry for not being able to answer all your messages and we hope that this will be a good way of keeping you informed about all our activities over the past three months. It is not our aim to present a list of our accomplishments, but to allow our friends to find out more about our activities.

In the first quarter of 2001, we organized 14 protests. Our street manifestations could be divided into the following categories:

AGAINST WAR AND VIOLENCE: Armed conflicts and violence are still present in the Balkans, peace has not been achieved yet, nor even the absence of war: Due to the escalation of conflicts in the area of southern Serbia (in the communities of Bujanovac, Medvedja and Presevo), we protested during all our actions for demilitarization in January, February and March.

On 21st February, we organized a protest because of the massacre of civilians of Serbian nationality in Podujevo;

On 16th March, we participated in the protest against racism, xenophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism, which was organized by the women’s section of "The Romany Children’s Center" from Belgrade;

On 21st March we organized a protest against the war in Macedonia.

RESPONSIBILITY FOR WAR AND WAR CRIMES: Facing the collective (moral) responsibility and the demand for establishing individual guilt:

On 27th February, we marked the eight anniversary of the war crime – the kidnapping of 20 passengers of Muslim nationality from the train Belgrade-Bar; we reiterated our plea for the truth about this crime (for the suspects being tried and extradited to the Hague Tribunal). We also organized other activities, in the framework of "working on the past and decontamination":

on 8th February 2001, a panel discussion was organized in Bela Crkva (Vojvodina), entitled "For and against the Hague";

on 29th February 2001 in Novi Pazar (Sandzak) a panel discussion was organized with the same title;

on 16th March 2001, an public appeal was launched in favor of extraditing the war criminals from Serbia to the Hague Tribunal (15 persons); we launched the appeal as Women in Black along with ZAD (The Women’s Active Society from Novi Sad), The People’s Parliament from Leskovac, ZMIG (The Women’s Peace Group) from Pancevo, The Creative Workshop from Kraljevo; the appeal was signed by 23 NGO-s from Serbia and Montenegro before it was sent to the President of FRY and to all the media.

ACTIONS IN FAVOR OF DEMILITARIZATION: for acknowledging the basic human right to conscientious objection (CO) to military service. These activities can be divided in the following way:

* Actions conducted in the street: collecting signatures in favor of amending the Law on the Army of FRY (shortening of the military service and requesting provisions regarding conscientious objection); as part of this action, we organized the signing of the petition nine time in the streets of Belgrade.

* Within the network of conscientious objectors (which we started in May 2000), consisting of NGO-s from about twenty towns in Serbia and a few towns from Montenegro (Niksic and Cetinje) a signature-gathering action was coordinated.

* Signatures for the above-mentioned initiative wee being collected at meetings and gatherings, which was organized either by Women in Black or by other NGO-s.

* Animating young people for conscientious objection and anti-militarism in general, collecting signatures for the legislative initiative through punk music concerts, with the participation of punk bands from Kraljevo, Leskovac, and Ruma; the concerts were held in Ruma on 11th January 2001 and Kraljevo on 19th January 2001.

* Traveling activity of collecting signatures and increasing the sensitivity of the public for demilitarization, organized by our activists from 7th till 10th March in several cities: Nis, Subotica, Zrenjanin…

* A panel discussion aimed at promoting CO ideas, antimilitarism, collecting signatures for the afore mentioned initiative, with the cooperation of GSS (The Civic Alliance of Serbia) in Sabac, on 30th January 2001; Lawyers from the Yugoslav Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights (YUCOM) also participated in the discussion.

* The promotion of CO through the media: TV Novi Sad, Radio Indjija, Radi Zrenjanin, Radio Belgrade: Studio B, RTS, TV Nis, etc. programs with the joint participation of women in Black activists and YUCOM are also included here.

* Meetings of the Network of Conscientious Objectors in Women in Black premises during the action: 20th February 2001, 10th February 2001 and 5th March 2001.

* On 27th March, in a joint action with YUCOM, we supported the appeal made by the Humanitarian Law Fund from Belgrade for seeking amnesty for Dejan Tomic, sentenced to four years of prison because of "refusing to obey orders"


ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION:
several projects of this type are under way:

TRAVELING WOMEN’S PEACE WORKSHOPS: a yearlong project that is being realized in five regions of Serbia and Montenegro. Within the fifth cycle, "Women and Power", three workshops were held over this period: in Niksic,

on 27th and 28th January 2001, with the participation of 37 women from different towns in Montenegro.

On 3rd and 4th March, an evaluation meeting of the Fourth cycle of "Traveling…" was held in Belgrade, attended by 46 women, i.e., by a set number of participants per region.

WOMEN CREATE PEACE: a project that is being realized together with the SOS hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence from Niksic. In the second phase of this project, the following workshops were held:

* Relations among women as a policy of war and /or peace; in Niksic, on 21st January 2001, with the participation of 27 women from Niksic

* Relations among women as a policy of war and / or peace; in Begec, near Novi Sad, on 22nd March 2001, with the logistic assistance and cooperation of ZAD (Women’s Active Society) from Novi Sad; 20 women took part.

POWER AND OTHERNES: The first three workshops within this project on multiculturalism, and on inter-ethnic / inter-cultural relations were held in Zrenjanin, on 17th and 18th March 2001. Women from several places in Banat participated. This project will be continued in south-east Serbia and in Sandzak.

MUTUAL SUPPORT: with the aim empowering and spreading of the network of women’s solidarity, especially by supporting women’ groups in the process of formation, the following workshops were held:

* Recognizing women’s needs, on 19th January 2001 in Futog, in cooperation with ZAD from Novi Sad; 15 women took part

* A workshop with the same topic was held in Valjevo, on 10th February 2001 with the logistic assistance from "The Women’s Initiative"; 25 women took part

* My relationship with my mother, held in Gospodjinci, near Novi Sad, on 14th February 2001 with the logistic assistance of ZAD from Novi Sad.

INTERNATONAL ALTERNATIVE POLICY: the participation at numerous conferences of activists, some of which will be mentioned here:

* Non-violence and social empowerment, in Indjija, Puri, from 18th to 24th February 2001, organized by WRI from London and Swadhina, India.

* A tour in Croatia entitled "Over the Walls of Nationalism and War" of the band "Hocu?Necu!" and activists of the group for conscientious objection and anti-militarism in Women in Black. They played in six cities.

* Next Stop Serbia, a project of women’s peace groups from Serbia and Denmark, from 6th till 11th March 2001, realized in Copenhagen.

* On the occasion of accepting the Millennium Award for Peace, which Women in Black received from the United Nations (Unifem), a stay in New York from 6th till 10th March 2001.

* Street actions on the occasion of 8th March – Women in Black action of solidarity with peace activists from all over the world, particularly with the women of Israel, Palestine, Papua and New Guinea, Macedonia, Kosova, etc.)

INTERNAL WORKSHOPS: in addition to regular and frequent meetings, some other worshops were held with the following topics:

* In January: Politically correct language; On protests (vigils) under the new circumstances; From robes to trenches (on clerical nationalism in Serbia)

* In February: Mother-son relations

* In March: Globalization and women

* Quarterly evaluation: 26th March 2001

SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE TO DISPLACED PERSONS FROM KOSOVO: A project of assistance and self-aid to the women from Kosovo who are accommodated in the sport Center "Pinki" in Zemun. This project has been going on since January in cooperation with the organization for single mothers from Zemun.

Besides our numerous above-mentioned activities, during this quarter we have also been working on our future projects: preparations for The Third Conference of the Network of Conscientious Objectors, which will be held in Belgrade in late April; preparations for the compilation "Women and Peace"; preparations of the new bulletin "Objection". Preparations of the Tenth Conference of the International Network of Women in Black , which will be held in August in Novi Sad.

The following persons participated in conceiving and the realization of these ctions and projects:
Borka, Branka, Bobana, Gordana, Gile, Fika, Igor, Ildiko, Jovana, Jelena, Lidija, kika, Lino, Lepa, Ljilja, Maja, Nevzeta, Radmila, Sadra, Sicko, Stasa, Stanislava, Svetlana, Vesna, Violeta and Vladimir.

Belgrade, 30th March 2001.
Friendly regards and solidarity from Women in Black

 

 

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