In the region that used to be Yugoslavia, war is becoming a way of life. Thousands of people have died. Thousands more have lost their homes and have fled. Cities have been bombed, churches and historic buildings destroyed. Values have been turned upside down; criminals became heroes and patriots; adolescents are taught to be killers.
The war has been caused by the disintegration of state structures, the legacy of past national and global wars, the suppression and manipulation of cultural identities, the breakdown of political ideologies, the economic and social hardship associated with a transition to a market economy, and, above all, the pent-up anger generated by years of totalitarian rule. All these factors are present in other post-communist countries in Eastern Europe, especially some of the Soviet republics. And in Western Europe, brutal attacks on asylum-seekers and immigrants suggest that racism, xenophobia and chauvinistic nationalism are not only a post-communist phenomenon. The war in Yugoslavia could be a harbinger of violence spreading throughout Europe.
There is a widespread concern about these events. But there is also silence. Many people feel impotent in the face of a seemingly inexorable slide to chaos. We appeal to everyone to overcome this silence, this reluctance to act. The war must be stopped! The value of human life must be reaffirmed!
Checking this barbarism and establishing peace cannot be achieved by governments alone. It is more and more becoming the responsibility of the civil society. Many people in the region do not want this war and understand they must undertake their own peace initiatives. Many young men are refusing to serve in the army. Many groups are organizing demonstrations and roundtables involving different national and religious groups. Signatures are being collected for a referendum against the war. Local authorities are developing peace programs or declaring themselves zones of peace.
We pledge ourselves to do everything to support these courageous efforts and appeal to others to join us in a movement of civic resistance all over Europe.
Signed: Toni Liversage, Bernard Dreano, Pierre Bourdiau, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Dieter Esche, Dieter Senghaas, Gyorgy Konrad, Antonio Papisca, Mient Jan Faber, Smaranda Enache, Adam Michnik, Karl Birubaum, Ernest Gellner, Mary Kaldor, Marina Pavlova-Silvanskaya, Sonja Licht.
The Helsinki Citizens Assembly (HCA) is seeking to link individuals and groups throughout Europe to work for peace. Readers are invited to add their names to this appeal and to contact the HCA for more details at Panska 7, CS-111 69, Praha 1, Czecho-Slovakia, tel: 422220948.
From Yugofax, December 9, 1991.