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Protest in The Hague

'Free Milosevic, jail Bush!'

By John Catalinotto
The Hague

Hundreds of people marched three miles from the center of The Hague, Netherlands, to Scheveningen Prison on Nov. 8 to demonstrate support for political prisoner Slobodan Milosevic, former president of Yugoslavia. Many came from Germany and the Netherlands, and there were also representatives from other Euro pean countries, the United States and Canada.

"Free Milosevic, jail Bush," read one banner.

Milosevic has been imprisoned since June 28, 2001. He was kidnapped from Belgrade and brought before the Inter national Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to face charges for alleged war crimes.

The United States and other NATO governments--those that waged an aggressive war against Yugoslavia--set up the court under United Nations aegis. Many legal experts, including former U.S. Attor ney General Ramsey Clark, have argued that the tribunal is completely illegal and that the UN has no right to set up such a court.

The Nov. 8 demonstrators demanded that the tribunal grant Milosevic two years to prepare his defense case. The prosecution has presented its case for over 18 months, aided by enormous resources and preparation. Milosevic has defended himself ably with little outside assistance and very few resources, according to observers of the trial.

Milosevic also has to contend with a life-threatening level of high blood pressure and imminent danger of heart attack, according to rally speakers.

'Don't let aggressors rewrite our history!'

After the long march on Nov. 8, representatives of the International Committee for the Defense of Slobodan Milosevic from Italy, Ireland, Britain, the United States and the Yugoslav diaspora ad dres sed the crowd. They shouted greetings across the prison walls to Milosevic and the other political prisoners.

"Don't let the aggressors write our history," read one of the banners. Mischa Gavrilovic from Britain, representing the Yugoslav diaspora, told those gathered that this was the demonstration's theme.

"In the diaspora we cannot do much," said Gavrilovic, "to liberate our occupied country. We have no weapons, no TV station. But we can stop them from taking our history from us."

Speakers said U.S. President Bill Clinton and officials of his administration were the real war criminals for planning and carrying out aggression against Yugoslavia.

Costas Alyssandrakis, a member of the European parliament from the Com munist Party of Greece, said of the imperialists: "They even erased the name Yugo slavia. There was one person they considered an obstacle: Slobodan Milosevic."

Klaus Hartmann of the German section of the International Committee for the Defense of Slobodan Milosevic compared the Yugoslav leader's trial to that of the Bulgarian anti-fascist, Georgi Dmitroff. Dmi troff defended himself before a Nazi court in the 1930s for false charges that he set the German Parliament--the Reich stag--on fire.

Gavrilovic, who chaired the rally, thanked Wil van der Klift of the New Communist Party of the Netherlands for his party's help in organizing the demonstration in The Hague. And he promised that people will return for future demonstrations as the illegal trial proceeds.

Catalinotto represented the ICDSM and the International Action Center at the protest.

Reprinted from the Nov. 20, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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