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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    WED, 26 JAN 1994 16:55:40 GMT

    EARLY FIGHTERS, NON-DEMOCRATS AND DESERTERS

    AIM, LJUBLJANA, January 21, 1994

    The authorities and the people, the wars and the peace which does not exist. When, on the second weekend of April of 1992, in the night between Friday and Saturday, the first of the countless lines of buses arrived at Ljubljana, carrying refugees from Bijeljina, Srebrenica, Gradacac, Tesanj, Odzak and other places in Bosnia & Herzegovina, not one among the refugees themselves, mainly old men, women and children, thought that their Golgotha would last even eighteen days, let alone eighteen months. And it has been going on for twenty months now and all illusions on returning home are vanishing. The old people are slowly dying and are being buried in a land which many of them would have never otherwise seen in their lives, irrespective of whether its name was Croatia, Slovenia or Sweden or any other.

    Among the young people who came to Slovenia there are about one hundred students who began their studies in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar, Banja Luka, formerly all university centres in B & H ; there are also several hundred secondary school pupils who wish to enrol or have already enrolled in secondary schools. In any case, in the past several months, despite Slovenia's stricter immigration control measures (the borders of Slovenia have been closed to B & H nationals since August 8,1992 and they may enter it under special conditions) the number of young men who are military conscripts, or are in that age group, is constantly growing. There are some who took part in the war and came to Slovenia for rehabilitation or treatment. To comments in the numerous "Bosnian colony" in Ljubljana, or by Slovenian friends and colleagues as to why they are not fighting for their state, the children in most cases just shrug their shoulders because, to put it mildly, they are already hard put to answer the question of where to go and whom to fight for. Which army should a child - coming from a village or a town in a territory which KaradziS's Serbs or Boban's Herzeg - Bosnians are claiming their own - join when it doesn't want to live in either of the two, nor in the third one?

    The problem lies in the fact that the legal Bosnian - Herzegovinian authorities have not, since the beginning the war against the B & H to this very day, clearly defined what kind of a state they want, and therefore they are only replying to offers coming either from the peace negotiators or from those who know exactly how much of Bosnia belongs to them and have accordingly conquered precisely that much by force of arms and are now defending it by arms. The children will not and do not wish to participate in their war because such a war will never end. And it is in such a war that it is easiest to become a traitor, a deserter, because someone will always find you guilty. Slovenia, as opposed to Croatia, does not round up those children and does not send them to the front, to any side whatsoever, even as "volunteers". There is no inter - state agreement under which Slovenia would be bound to do that.

    No one, actually, forbids groups of young men to leave Slovenia, nor is anyone interested in where they are going. And they are leaving in different ways and under different arrangements. The best organized colony in Slovenia is by far the one conditionally dubbed "the Serbian colony". From B & H, through various channels, most often with forged or stolen documents, came a large number of those who had fought on Mladic's, Perisic's side, while Perisic was destroying Mostar and Herzegovina, as well as a large number of those who had "worked" in concentration camps, from Manjaca and Keraterm to Kula. With the help of their friends they settled from Brezice to Litija and Ljubljana, so that they are already known under the name "the Posavina thoroughfare". They do not register either as fugitives or otherwise, they try to find employment and legalize their status in that way, and they sometimes succeed. In some cases they took the documents of the victims they had tortured and killed, and thus came to Slovenia under assumed names.

    Many of them went on to some of the West European countries, where they continued, like some of those who remained in Slovenia, to work for the "Serbian cause". This mainly implies the collection of "taxes" for assisting "the Serbian Krajinas" in B & H and Croatia. There are anonymous testimonies of people whom they approached and asked for the sum of DM 100 per family member as "assistance". People do not wish to testify or publicly speak about this, because they fear for their lives and the lives of their families and for their property. Some journalists who wrote about that subject were also threatened. There were also burned stables, houses or cars not reported to the police, for fear of further terrorism. The police and state can do nothing because no charges are pressed, while the state, for instance the state of B & H, has not posted wanted circulars for such people so that Slovenia has no grounds to catch, return or try them.

    The second best-organized group is "Babo's" group from Cazina, which also raises support funds. It is said of it that it does not employ brute force, but it is a fact that it raises money and sends it to the Cazin Krajina. What is it spent on? In any case, since July 1993, Fikret Abdic did not, at least legally, come to Slovenia, because at that time the Republic of Austria sent out an international wanted circular for him for the theft of 100 million schillings. The legal government of B & H recently decreed that every B&H national living and working outside B & H must contribute 10% of his personal income as assistance to the state. This poses, at least for those B & H national living in Slovenia, a double, if not a multiple problem. It is known, although it is impossible to prove, that a large number of these people is already paying taxes imposed either by militant Serb extremists or by Abdic's emissaries.

    What is positively known is that they pay "income tax" in Slovenia, since they are obliged to do so just like all employed Slovenians. Most of these people have also taken Slovenian citizenship, so that practically , by this decree the B & H government is, in formal and legal terms and in point of fact also, interfering in the interal affairs of another state, by levying its taxes on the nationals of the latter. The two states have not signed an inter - state agreement on such financial transactions, so that this is not feasible either legally or technically, as no account has been opened in any bank to which such funds would accrue. One also has to ask why should one have to set aside 10% of his salary when most people are ready to contribute much more than those 10%, but voluntarily. This is not an issue of international policy and law, but rather falls into the category of stubborness, as people want to know to whom and why they are giving, how the money is being spent and who is spending it, just like the children do not want to go to fight because they do not know who they are fighting for.

    People still have not learned, although they have been exposed to intensive courses on the subject , that patriotism is not measured by the amount love expressed towards the authorities in power, and in all our neo - democracies, neo - democrats (people in power who believe that democracy starts and ends with them), see precisely the amount of "love" which is exhibited every day through the number of photographs and pages in newspapaers and time on radio and TV as the only criterion of patriotism. This is the easiest way to earn from neo-democrats and their sycophants the title of traitor, deserter, hard core communist and, depending on the national affiliation of the neo-democrat and the name of the neo-democracy, the other epiteths derived therefrom, complementing the image of the Judas of our times, incarnated in a student or writer who fled before the tank or knife of the new "liberators". The legal government has passed yet another decision unrelated to this one - that no one can get a permit to leave unless his family stays in B & H. In other words, the family remains as a hostage and guarantee that the person in question will come back.

    The government of a state at war, naturally has the right to pass such a decision, but only under certain conditions - to provide for those who remain at least minimum subsistance conditions and to enable them to survive, just like it should have to consistently and literally enforce all the other decisions it brings, like the decision on 10% of the salary, because it is also applicable to per diems for travel abroad, and it is well known who travels abroad at all. The people would have the same rights as the authorities. Since the times are such that they cannot chose them because their authorities are those who are momentarily stronger, closer and better armed, while they do not have even a slingshot, then such authorities chose a people to their measure and likeness. In such a state unfortunate are those who stayed behind, equally unfortunate are those who left it, because they remember it as they would like it to be, and for both the main problem is how to survive, how to stay alive to the peace which does not exist and is still long away, even as deserters, traitors, hard core communists. Such charges and verdicts are most often compliments, when we learn who pronounced them on whom and why. But, that is another story.

    ZORAN ODIC