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Rally in Belgrade marks 10 years since NATO bombing

Published Apr 1, 2009 4:00 PM

Thousands of people gathered in Belgrade’s Republic Square on March 24 to mark the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the 78-day U.S.-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. This attack, mainly concentrated on Serbia, destroyed Yugoslavia’s infrastructure and killed 3,000 people in the 1999 war President Bill Clinton called “humanitarian.”

Vladimir Krsljanin, a leader of the Serbian Peoples Movement, which organized the rally, called the event “a new horizon, marking the way out of neoliberalism. Imperialism is crashing,” he said, noting the world economic crisis. “Principled people—anti-NATO anti-imperialists—are creating a new people’s liberation struggle.”

Ramsey Clark, founder of the U.S.-based International Action Center, who visited Yugoslavia twice in solidarity during the 1999 war, was a featured speaker at the rally along with Serb, German, Bulgarian, Russian, Irish, French and Canadian defenders of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia. Clark decried the illegal kidnapping in 2001 of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his death in 2006 in NATO’s prison in The Hague.

Milosevic had waged a heroic and effective legal defense that turned the war-crimes trial against his NATO jailers.

Though fascist thugs tried to disrupt the demonstration, the presence of many international guests like Ramsey Clark discouraged them, and they were ejected.

In 1999, NATO powers attacked Yugoslavia in contravention of the United Nations Charter. NATO’s 78-day war resulted in the military and political amputation of Kosovo, the heart and birthplace in 1389 of the nation of Serbia. Speakers noted that few of the world’s countries recognize the NATO colony’s legitimacy.

Throughout the rally, youths from nearby Belgrade University chanted, “Kosovo is Serbia.” Many people carried signs with Milosevic’s picture.

During the 78-day war, NATO bomb and rocket attacks saturated Kosovo with depleted uranium and cluster bombs. Thousands fled the bombing. The imperialist propaganda machine claimed the refugees were fleeing Yugoslav attacks.

Kosovo possesses extensive mineral resources. Since its occupation in 1999, it has been turned into a dependent colony of the West, used strategically to spread NATO militarism eastward.

Speakers reminded the crowd that Western media and leaders from 1991 through 1999 saturated the airwaves with lies and propaganda to convince millions that the destruction of socialist Yugoslavia was a “humanitarian” act.

The current pro-imperialist government of Serbia was first installed by a U.S.-engineered coup in 2000 following a close election that should have resulted in a runoff. The new regime immediately set about privatizing the 70-percent publicly owned economy.

Speakers at the tenth anniversary rally praised Milosevic for his refusal of the International Monetary Fund’s neoliberal demand to restructure this multinational sovereign nation’s economy by privatizing and opening it to imperialist penetration.

Speakers stressed the deterioration of social conditions since socialist Yugoslavia has been broken up into six republics. Funding for schools, hospitals, museums, parks and other public resources has been cut, while a blatant and corrupt market economy has emerged.

Where once bookstores and cafes dotted the graceful city, McDonald’s and Pizza Huts multiply. Coca-Cola signs and crass billboards depicting women as sex objects now proliferate across Belgrade’s cityscape. Speakers at the rally condemned the vulgar materialism and growing unemployment of the new market economy.

In socialist Yugoslavia, millions in the working class were able to develop in all cultural and intellectual areas. Still now taxi drivers and seamstresses discuss history and philosophy, people in the public markets play chess and quote poetry. Most people say that life in socialist Yugoslavia was superior to life under neoliberal capitalism.

Cottin represented the International Action Center at the 10th anniversary events.