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'These Djindjic people are brown shirts!'
Interview with a Serbian political activist, by Jared Israel

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[Emperor's Clothes]

The following interview took place several days after the October 5 coup in Belgrade. The person interviewed has been a member of the Serbian Radical party, a nationalist group. When I conducted the interview, I had the impression she was still a member but she has informed me that now she is in no party.

**

Jared: What's going on?

Gordana: Some very aggressive people from the opposition are grabbing everything around here, in particular taking the institutions that have some money, for instance the telecommunications company. They are scaring people and beating people.

They want to destroy the results of previous elections by declaring that new elections have to be held for the Serbian Parliament. Elections are not supposed to be held for a year but they want them this fall. That would mean the Serbian people would lose their representatives because the elections would be held in an impossible situation. Whole groups of political parties have no access to media. In the past we had many viewpoints because we had government media and even more widespread was various shades of opposition media. Now only one view. And there is day to day terrorizing of people. Mr. Djindjic hopes that people will be too scared to run as candidates from those parties which stand in his way.

Jared: You say there is "day to day terrorizing"?

Gordana: Take this example. A friend of mine is intellectual. Every time her phone rings she gets a threat from the other side. They stop her car in traffic to threaten her, and so on. And this is a professional woman, the daughter of a well-known professor. Even these people who are well known are subject to threats. Another such woman, a reporter, visits me, and she is afraid to go home alone and stays over - and this is in Belgrade! Can you imagine how the common people feel? They are even more afraid. I was on a bus full of tired, worried working people and one of these Otpor types got on and demanded that the bus stands still and he says: "Listen! We have the power now and you will see what we do!"

Jared: So you think that people will be afraid to vote for the Socialist or Radical parties or other parties that oppose the coup?

Gordana: No, I think that people may be afraid to run as candidates for these parties.

The Djindjic people took over all the radio stations and TV stations and newspapers. On TV now you can't see even the regular old shows. It is propaganda. The old ladies in Serbia like to watch soap operas from South America but now they can't do that. You see they are poor and they have such a hard life and now they don't have even this small pleasure. Instead we have to watch stupid American government lies, even about the wars in Bosnia and Croatia and so on. They have programs that blame the Serbs, for everything. Can you believe this? Do they think we are morons, not to know our own history. But the purpose here is also a kind of terror, to break the spirit. To make people feel hope is lost.

Today they had a show on the television telling lies about Dubrovnik, showing pictures to prove it was burned down in 1991 by the Yugoslav army. But Dubrovnik has all the old buildings in perfect condition and I know this because friends have been back to see the town, and it was not damaged.

And these movies they now show to prove to us that the Serbs were responsible for the wars this past decade. Why? Did we try to secede? Doesn't Yugoslavia have a right to exist? Would other countries allow secessionists and foreign factors to destroy their nation? I have never seen such lies. Can you imagine, having a situation where you can't stand to watch the TV or read the papers.

Jared: I'm afraid I can imagine. What we mainly do on Emperor's Clothes is expose lies. They create 'em faster than we can expose them. All I do is expose fiction.

Gordana: Today is 1941 in Yugoslavia. If there are people who don't know, well, they will know it very soon. Even some people I spoke to who were supporting the DOS now see this violence that is going on and they say, "These Djindjic people are brown shirts."

[Brown shirts is a term for Fascists or Nazi's - E-C]

***

Afterthoughts - The lies they now tell in Serbia

I am writing a book on Western media lies about Yugoslavia. As part of the research, I've read news reports about Dubrovnik written in 1991. As Gordana says, the Western claim was that the Yugoslavs (read: Serbs) burned down the priceless Old City. This lie was repeated over and over in the Western mass media. The goal: to prove the Serbs were ruthless monsters. And now the same lie is being repeated on Serbian TV.

When the first stories broke describing the (in fact fictitious) burning of the Old City of Dubrovnik, there was a strong anti-Serb reaction. Wanting to make the most of a good thing, the controllers of our media made sure the lie was repeated.

But how much mileage can you get from a single burning? Therefore after Dubrovnik was fictitiously burned down the first time, a reasonable interval was allowed, and then it was fictitiously burned down a second time, and then a third, etc. Dubrovnik Burning Redux.

The London "Independent" reported that Dubrovnik was burned to the ground no less than five times over four months. These stories appeared mostly under the byline of Phil Davison.

Despite multiple burnings, Prof. Peter Maher, a knowledgeable witness, filmed the Old City in March 1992. (I have seen the film.) Dubrovnik was still standing, untouched by Yugoslav shells. The Old City remains a prime tourist attraction to this day.

So what DID happen in Dubrovnik in 1991? There was indeed fighting. But the Yugoslav Army deliberately avoided shelling the Old City. (This is not surprising because, after all, it is a Yugoslav treasure!)

Actually the anti-Yugoslav secessionists (the "Croatian Army") were the ones who deliberately put Dubrovnik at risk, trying to trick Yugoslav loyalist forces into shelling the Old City. The Yugoslav Army didn't fall into this trap, so the media simply pretended they did.

Here's how it happened:

In the late summer of 1991, Croatian secessionist troops attacked Yugoslav Army barracks near Dubrovnik. The Yugoslav Army gave chase. The secessionists retreated behind the Old City, digging in in areas dangerously close to the hotels where refugees were staying. In a moment of candor, Phil Davison, the reporter from the British "Independent" who holds the record for reporting the most total destructions of Dubrovnik, admitted that by setting up near the hotels, the secessionists guaranteed that the hotels would eventually get hit:

"The Croats have set up a mortar close to our hotel, just as they have next to hospitals and refugee centres. This may make us a target for the army. Sooner or later, they are going to lay a couple of rounds on us. The army is zapping Lokrum island, 300 yards from my hotel. Mortars, machineguns, ack-ack guns. It is deafening. A machinegun barrage rattles my windows. It is just a matter of time."
(The 'Independent' November 17, 1991)

This honest report was an exception. Mostly the Western media reported that the heartless Yugoslav Army was shelling hotels full of refugees.

Did the secessionists deliberately dig in behind the Old City and near hotels in order to get Yugoslav forces to shell these areas and thereby provide ammunition for anti-Yugoslav propaganda? Common sense suggests they did. And more than common sense: consider the following, which appeared in only two English language newspapers:

"Women And Children Barred From Leaving Croatian Town

"The six-member Dubrovnik crisis committee decided six days ago that the defense of this coastal Adriatic city required the presence of all the remaining women and children. UNICEF was informed of the decree three days ago, and on Tuesday, it was first implemented when 200 people were prevented from leaving the city on a UNICEF relief vessel that had brought supplies to the city.

"First, he said, if the women and children stay, it will mean that the attacking army would be shooting at them and not just at a walled city.

"Second, he said, their presence might force the army to hesitate before shooting.

"Third, if there is an attack, the international public reaction to such an attack would be a public-relations coup for Croatia, which has been trying desperately for months to get diplomatic and military support from the West…

"Only 100 of 300 people scheduled to leave on a ship Tuesday were allowed to depart, and UNICEF was told by Dubrovnik officials that no one else would be able to leave."(My emphasis, 'The Orange County Register,' December 5, 1991.)

Note that the story was not covered by the 'N.Y. Times' .

***

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