The Matrix: MEME 2.15




SPECIAL MEME BULLETIN ON THE SERBIAN PROTEST OF 96-97

by David S. Bennahum





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