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May 15, 1999
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 10-Special
Slow Genocide

Experts on 'Collateral Damage'

The preserved ruins of the Roman hall in the cellars of Belgrade Library were the authentic atmosphere for a meeting of experts, who gathered on April 26th, in order to demonstrate their viewpoints on the real meaning of 'collateral damage' and 'incidental victims' of NATO aggression on Yugoslavia. The conference was organised by the Serbian Anthropologic Society and the Library of Belgrade. The initiator of the meeting, Dr. Marija Djuric-Srejic, president of the Society, submitted the evidence that 32 out of 40 polled people with heart defect, have increased symptoms - but only three of them reported them to the doctor, while the rest chose the option of self-treatment. The Hospital of Oncology in Belgrade directed a public appeal to its patients to visit their doctors, since the number of visits reduced from 700 - 1000 (before the aggression), to only 200 per day. That, in relation to the patients of malign diseases in Serbia, brings about 60 thousand people to life danger, and about 24 thousand of those who will not be given diagnosis, nor will be treated at the proper time.

Since the beginning of aggression, the Hospital of Oncology reported the increased number of spontaneous miscarriages and premature birthing, prenatal morbidity and mortality, while a number of ill women was reduced - for one third. Recalling the published information about the disastrous outcome of the sanctions between 1992 - 1995, Dr. Marija Djuric-Srejic asked herself about the impending consequences of this war, what sort of effects will be caused by "the loss of homes, chronic stress, famine, physical disability, psychotraumas, disruption of medical accessibility, late diagnostic and inadequate therapy, environment pollution, unavailability of health service, bad hygienic conditions..."

According to Predrag Polic from the Faculty of Chemistry, on April 18th, Belgrade, only thanks to a stroke of good luck, eluded the ecological catastrophe. Strong wind from the west kept the poisonous substances from Pancevo's industrial zone - primarily phosgene and vinyl-chloride, and subsequently the products fully or partially combustible and oil derivatives, carbon-monoxide, aldehydes which take part in later photochemical reactions, cancerogenous policyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with soot particles - from being deposited on Belgrade area. The rain has also decreased air-pollution - for a long term 'advantage' of the soil, surface and subterraneous water. However, the same stroke of luck was not applicable to the suburbs east of Pancevo; there are reports that in Kovin, for instance, lettuce has, for days, looked as if splashed with greasy soot, and rain diluted colour on the vehicles nearby.

If Baric had been hit that night, and if the emission of fluor-hydrogen, that is fluor-hydrogenic acid had occurred, the concerned areas could not have been helped even with the aid of protective masks. The inspector of ecology, Dragoljub Bjelovic acknowledged that the hit reservoirs of vinyl-chloride monomer in Pancevo were emptied, while the reservoirs of ammoniac in the Fertilizer factory were half cleared out. >From the storage areas of oil refineries in Novi Sad, Pancevo, and Smederevo great amounts of oil and derivatives flooded into the Danube, which will, just as the air-pollution - together with the coming consequences of photochemical reactions - also affect the areas of the neighbouring countries. It seems that a catastrophe could have been caused also in Kragujevac's 'Zastava', owning to the release of piralen /??/ which, being half combustible, produces dioxin, a very poisonous chemical compound which became 'popular worldwide' some twenty years ago, in Bopal. In comparison with such terrifying risks, the fact that the European Federation for National Parks did not react on the Yugoslav appeal to respect at least the international conventions for protected habitations of rare birds on the Danube, hardly deserves attention.

Academician, Ivan Ivic, president of the Council for Children's Rights, warned about more consequential silence of international organisations - and, in particular, the specialised agencies of the United Nations, UNICEF above all. By confining himself only within international conventions for children's rights, education for all and development of peace-loving culture, Ivic pointed at the long term aftereffects on mental health, which will manifest themselves especially among the young, that is school boys and girls, the number of which presents 1.3 million of the overall population in Yugoslavia. The exceptional 'technique' of this war - uncertainty and a sudden stroke - creates very austere psychological consequences. "Fear, sirens, detonations, the lack of fathers from their homes, the elimination of physical danger by separation of family members, all that might cause the long lasting deviations among children and young people", says Ivan Ivic. "The total derangement of everyday life threatens to bring about the development of destructiveness. The most endangered are the immature, who have so far participated in the global 'western' culture for young people, whereas now, that is exactly the source of fear and insecurity, and the most suitable for 'learning from a model' is now destruction. President of the Association of Psychologists in Yugoslavia, Dr. Zarko Trebjesanin, also warns that "killing of the soul" of the entire population brings forth the severe long term consequences only later on. "Breakdown follows the war", Trebjesanin emphasizes, pointing to the fact that the long lasting stress threatens mostly children, women and elderly people, acting upon not only integrity but also personal identity, the notion which joined psychology thanks to the experience of researching the psyche of the war veterans.

Doubts about the randomness of 'collateral damage' are strongly sustained by NATO technology - hitting from distance, by means of monitors and joysticks, technological element of remote control which does not even have a contact with individual mechanisms of psychological impediment, active when the attacker and the victim are in a direct contact. Civilians, "on the other side of bombs" are much more aware of that - and, therefore, more directly exposed to the consequences of stress, powerless anger, and (in)secure possibility to join the lists of 'collateral damage' and the very deep pity of Jamie Shea.

As for cultural heritage, microseismic movements and blows of surrounding explosions produce direct effects, the quantity of which - at least in Kosovo - at this moment cannot be estimated, said Marko Omcikus from the Republic Institute for Protection of Cultural Heritage. The more dangerous outcome is, for example, detachment of the surface of fresco paintings from the supporting walls, cracking and decaying of plaster. It is quite uncertain - at least as long as the war lasts - what sort of effect might the air-pollution, provoked by bombing, cause on fresco pigments. Omcikus drew the attention on special category of destroyed or damaged cultural monuments, which include the heritage from the last two centuries, civic and national architecture - the example of which is the city centre of Novi Pazar - and which are on the lists of the protected cultural heritage UNESCO.

Dusan Dunjic (Institute for Court Medicine in Belgrade) reminded us on a peculiar aspect of 'collateral damage' provoked by the misuse of skilled and scientific knowledge. Comparing two cases of mass bloodshed in Kosovo, in the villages of Glodjane and Racak, he pointed at the considerably divergent relationship between the members of the international association towards the 'crisis' in Kosovo just before the war. About forty 'multiethnic' civilian victims (Serbs, Albanians, Catholics, Gypsies, some of them exposed to torture) in Glodjane have not drawn attention of international publicity at all, unlike the 'massacres' which the leader of OSCE Verification Mission, William Walker disclosed in mid January this year, in the village of Racak.

Three state teams of medical jurisprudence (Yugoslav, Bellorussian and Finish, the last being the expert team for the European Union) drew the same conclusion that it was not the matter of massacre, that hands of 37 out of 40 bodies exposed to autopsy, showed marks of gunpowder (the proof of using guns), that all of them got killed by shelling from a distance, and that at least one quarter of them had long military pants of German and Swedish origin, under their civilian clothes, military boots, and the KLA 'uniform' - black leather jackets and black trousers.

In spite of the indubitable evidence, head of the Finish Team of Pathologists, Helen Ranta, submitted her personal report about the 'Racak case'- exactly one week before the air strikes - at the press conference in Pristina, on March 17th. Although characterised as "personal view of the author, Dr. Helen Ranta, it must not be interpreted as the official communication by the Department of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Helsinki or the Expert Team of Pathologists for the European Union", those "comments" were cause of retreating of the OSCE Verification Mission - the beginning of the punishing expedition of NATO in Yugoslavia.

"The impeding of humanitarian catastrophe" which NATO initiated on March 24th, affected the entire population of Yugoslavia. The immediate consequences are visible in the fact that there are several hundred killed persons, several thousand injured, and several hundred evacuated, at least two million people without job and income, and all those who ask themselves how to survive the forthcoming winter. From that perspective, 'collateral damage' is not the aftereffect, but the aim of this aggression. According to the amount of this devastation, it already represents the model of slow motion genocide in the best Hollywood tradition.

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