This is a special edition of MEME, dedicated to the unfolding situation in Serbia. What follows is the original announcement, and you can read on the ground bulletins of the situation, updated as people send in new information.
Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1996 12:36:57 -0500 From: "David S. Bennahum"
Subject: MEME bulletin. Urgent. To: Multiple recipients of list MEME MEME BULLETIN -- MEME BULLETIN FREEDOM FROM FEAR, FREEDOM FROM HARM AN URGENT PLEA FROM THE PEOPLE OF SERBIA This is a special edition of MEME. Please pass it on everywhere. I spent five days in Belgrade, Serbia, last week, where I witnessed the peaceful self-organization of 200,000 people protesting daily against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, the President of rump Yugoslavia, and the man most responsible for the Balkan war of 1991-95. Every day, for 38 days now, thousands of people, mostly citizens of the capital city Belgrade, have gathered to agitate for the right we in the United States, and other democratic nations, take for granted -- the right to vote, and elect a government of their choice, by the people for the people. What precipitated this process of civil disobedience was the regime's annulment on November 17 of democratic elections which gave the opposition control of many municipalities, including the capital Belgrade, and Serbia's second-largest city Nis. Stung by this overwhelming defeat, the governing coalition -- a loose confederation of former socialists, and organized-crime figures who have made billions during the war years in former Yugoslavia -- imagined they could behave in a vacuum and simply annulled the election results. The remarkable, and surprising consequence has been the coalescing of an opposition, which marches daily, calling for the return of the election results and a movement towards civic democracy. On Christmas Eve, Milosevic, perhaps sensing the power of the people, called out the police and for the first time the protesters are being beaten. What had been a joyous daily ritual of everyday people agitating for the right to vote has turned into a dangerous situation. One protester died Tuesday night, another was shot in the head and critically wounded. Today, Saturday, is the funeral of the man, Predrag Starcevic, 39, who died from a severe beating. 10,000 people attended the funeral in Belgrade, according the Associated Press. Last night plainclothes police wandered the streets of Belgrade and beat people. During the week I spent I Belgrade, I stayed with Novica Milic, and his wife Sasha; Novica is an editor at Rec, or "Word", the leading literary magazine in Serbia, and his wife is a professor of Spanish at the University of Belgrade. Sasha's elderly parents are now injured, having been beaten by police (her mother is in the hospital waiting for a leg operation). When I last saw Novica, he was talking about creating the Serbian equivalent of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the Center for Democracy and Technology. Communications technologies have been skillfully used by the democratic opposition to get world attention, and self-organize. Novica rightfully believes that freedom of communication is an essential right, and was contemplating creating a structure of agitate for