From Mon May 29 15:17:08 2000
Date: Wed, 3 May 2000 23:50:57 -0500 (CDT)
From: Open World Conference <>
Subject: OWC REPORT BACK No. 26 (Yugoslavia)
Article: 95293
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

OWC Report Back No. 26 (Yugoslavia)

Five Documents, 1999

Presentation by Pavlusko Imsirovic, independent trade unionist from Yugoslavia, to the February 13 plenary session of the Open World Conference

Dear Comrades:

My name is Pavlusko Imsirovic. I come from Yugoslavia. I live in Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia. I am a trade unionist and political activist in the Workers' Political Alliance. I would like to thank the Open World Conference Organising Committee, and especially sister Mya Shone, whose sustained efforts made it possible for me to be here with you this weekend. It was the pressure of this organising committee, combined with the efforts of the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Department, which allowed me to obtain a visa.

I regard it as a privilege to be able to get in touch with the American labour movement—with the movement which is building the Labor Party and which just recently organised such a great protest in Seattle. I cannot tell you just how happy I am to be here, among the American workers, who are our friends.

Indeed, as so many others have stated, we have a lot of work to do. Comrades, all over the world we are faced with the same violent offensive. It is centralised at a level which is unprecedented in history. Even if it assumes different forms, it is fundamentally the same policy all over the world.

In my country, with the war unleashed by the United States and NATO, that policy took one of its most violent forms. The war against Yugoslavia was a way to break the resistance of the working class against privatisation. During the last 30 years, the Yugoslav governments have accepted the dictates of the IMF, but none of them has been able to carry through this offensive to the bitter end. It is only with war that they could break the resistance of the people. That war, we said from the very beginning, was a war waged by world imperialism and by the local Mafiosi against all the different peoples of Yugoslavia.

Under the past regimes that implemented the IMF policies, the workers and the peoples of Yugoslavia witnessed major attacks on their gains. But they didn't lose everything.

Today, factories, oil refineries, roads, railways, schools and hospitals have been destroyed as a result of the humanitarian bombings. After imposing upon Yugoslavia the IMF structural adjustment plans, the bombings put the final touch to the destruction of factories and the productive infrastructure of the country.

And peace? Today we have the peace of the graveyards and military occupation of Kosovo by NATO troops. Kosovo has become a protectorate of the big powers, under the control of the United States. No institution in the region escapes the control of NATO armed forces.

Ethnic cleansing, military occupation, colonial administration, violation of sovereignty and democratic rights, cantonisation—such is the true face of so-called humanitarian interventions organised by the big powers under U.S. leadership in the name of people's rights and minority rights.

The new peace agreements on Kosovo, just like the Dayton Accords signed a few years earlier, are a link in the whole chain of U.S. plans to totally dismantle Yugoslavia and control the Balkans region as a whole. The new Kosovo agreement, moreover, will not guarantee peace in the region. Through the intensified militarisation of the region, it will only prepare new conflicts.

Furthermore, peace through military occupation is being reinforced by the Stability Pact in South East Europe, signed by all the governments of the region with the United States and the European Union. The Pact calls for creating market economies and opening markets more widely to international trade and private investments. The Pact openly pushes wholesale privatisation and market reforms. It gives the IMF, World Bank, the Bank of Europe for Reconstruction and Development (BERD) and the Bank of Europe for Investments (BEI), the main role in promoting these economic reforms.

What is occurring in Yugoslavia is not fundamentally different from what is taking place the world over; only the forms are more violent. Everywhere, the international financial institutions are organising the onslaught against the working class, against the peoples.

Last November 13-14, we held in Sofia [Bulgaria] the Independent Balkans Conference for Peace, Democracy and Workers' Unity with the participation of trade unionists and labor activists from many Balkan countries. The conference was the result of years of cooperation between labor activists in our region in the framework of the International Liaison Committee for a Workers' International (ILC).

The Balkans Conference Appeal and the Final Conference Manifesto have been published in many languages by the ILC. I invite you to read them. [See Balkans Conference Appeal and excerpts from the Final Manifesto below, along with a letter from a Serbian trade unionist to an antiwar rally in France in May 1999.]

One of the decisions of the Balkans Conference was to mandate a delegation to attend this Open World Conference. Unfortunately many of the other delegates who were supposed to be here either did not get visas or were otherwise unable to attend.

In addition to preparing this weekend's OWC, the participants in the Balkans Conference took part in the campaign to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. More than 1000 innocent people were killed during the war in Yugoslavia last year. For us, Mumia is one more victim of this worldwide war against working people. But we have been able to stay his execution, and, through our common efforts, we will save him!

On February 9, I read an article explaining that in the past 30 years in the United States, 40% of all people who were sentenced to death were workers. Is this not a new form of Gulag? Are the American jails not the American form of the Gulag? That is why we require justice and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Down with terror! Down with all Gulags and all jails! Down with war! Down with the embargo against the Yugoslav people! All foreign troops out of the Balkans Now!

Worker militants in Yugoslavia issue Appeal to All Workers and Peoples of the Balkans to Convene a Balkans-Danube Conference Against the War

[Note: Following are major excerpts from the call issued in April 1999 to convene a Balkans-Danube Conference Against the War. The call was issued just 10 days after the NATO bombs were unleashed against the peoples of Yugoslavia.]

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Beginning March 25 [1999], tens of thousands of tons of bombs have rained down on all the peoples of Yugoslavia each and every day. Thousands have died, countless more have been injured, and hundreds of thousands have become refugees, driven from their homes. Nineteen countries, under the command of the United States, are in the process of destroying an entire country.

This is a genocidal war against the peoples of the Balkans.

The unrelenting NATO bombing, in turn, has provoked the most abominable forms of barbarism in our region; a barbarism that threatens to extend to all neighboring countries. Behind the fa=E7ade of humanitarian military strikes, what is actually taking place is the bombing of working class districts in the major cities. It is the massive destruction of factories, roads and highways. It is the brutal slaughter of refugees.

There is nothing humanitarian about this NATO offensive; in fact, the NATO intervention has served only to bolster those who, on the ground, are carrying out massacres and ethnic cleansing.

Behind all the humanitarian pretexts lies the real face of this intervention: the denial of the right to self-determination for all the peoples in the region—that is, the denial of the rights of the Serbian, Albanian, Montenegrin, Macedonian, Bosnian and other peoples of the region.

In the very heartland of Europe a war has begun. It is a war that threatens not only the Balkans-Danube region, but all of Europe.

Those who today are intervening in our region under the false claim of defending the rights of national minorities are the very same ones, who, over the past 10 years, have imposed the Structural Adjustment Plans of the International Monetary Fund to plunder and dismantle our country and to destroy the rights of national minorities.

The U.S. military onslaught, under the pretense of humanitarian assistance to the Albanians, is aimed at consolidating U.S. domination of the entire region through the creation of special enclaves and protectorates under direct U.S. military control.

The great powers which today proclaim that Milosevic is the villain are the very ones that over the past many years made use—and continue to make use—of all the mafiosi nomenklaturas to carry out their plans of pillage and social liquidation.

At a time when the world around us is crumbling, we affirm that the only way to save not only our region, but all of Europe and the entire world, is to rise up to defend all that has been won by the workers and peoples through bitter struggles—that is, public services and enterprises, the right to an education for all, the right to healthcare, and, the precondition for winning all this, the right to independent trade unions.

In these very trying times and under the most difficult of circumstances, we hereby issue a call to all militants and workers of the countries in our region, whatever their nationality, to wage the struggle in common and to discuss together so that, through the free expression of our opinions and points of view, we may find together the means necessary to oppose this barbarism.

This is why, fully respectful of all the points of view that might be expressed, we propose that a Balkans-Danube Conference be held.

Having come together from various countries in the region, we denounce the massacres perpetrated by the U.S. government and its European Union proxies.

Initial signatories: Zoran Radosavcevic, Executive Board of the Metalworkers Union (Cacak); Jacime Milunovic, Executive Board of the Food and Commercial Workers Union; Pavlusko Imsirovic, for the Workers Political Alliance (Belgrade); Slavko Vlajisavljevic, Executive Board of the Vital Workers Union (Urbas); Dragan S. Savic, Executive Board of the Morava Workers Union (Cacak); Brandko Ristovic, Executive Board of the Regional Industrial Workers Union (Cacak); Radisa Bogicevic, Executive Board of the Metalworkers Union of Sloboda (Cacak); Milica Nikolic, Executive Board of the Krusik Workers Union (Valjevo); Rajko Krunic, Executive Board of the Metalworkers Union (Nis); Mojkovic Vlado, Executive Board of the Metalworkers Union of Valjaonica (Sevojno); Predag Rakovic, Executive Board of the Metalworkers Union of Valjaonica (Uzice); Jovan Andelkovic, Teachers' Union (Belgrade); Nebojsa Komanovic, Workers Political Alliance (Belgrade); Bora Ljubinkovic, Workers Political Alliance (Belgrade)

Letter from Serbian trade unionist to antiwar rally in France in May 1999

[Note: The following letter was sent by a Serbian trade unionist to the May 4, 1999, Antiwar Forum held at the Mutualit=E9 Hall in Paris (France) at the initiative of the French Workers Party. The forum, which drew thousands of antiwar activists, was the fourth action called in the months of April and May 1999 by the Workers Party to build opposition to the U.S./NATO bombing of ex-Yugoslavia. During the first and third weeks of April, the Workers Party organized broadly based mass demonstrations in the streets of France's major cities to demand a halt to the bombing and the respect for the right to self-determination of the peoples in the region.]

I would like to salute all the participants at tonight's meeting, as well as all those who have participated in the demonstrations on every continent against the NATO war.

NATO bombs have been hurled down not only in the path of the hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians and tens of thousands of Kosovo Serbs, but have systematically destroyed the factories, bridges, power plants, roads, railroads, with their procession of massacres and victims: women, children, men, old men, crushed under the deluge of iron and fire of NATO planes. As a result, another 500,000 are jobless because of the destruction.

The Serbian people are outraged by the continuous bombings and bloodshed. But contrary to what you've been told in the West, the Serbian people are not supporting Milosevic.

Milosevic's party, of course, is seeking to channel the mobilizations against the war. Envoys from the regime come to all the rallies brandishing portraits of Milosevic. But what Western journalists don't report is that they are loudly jeered. At the last Rock Concert Against NATO, for example, the musicians echoed the sentiments of the entire population when they urged from the stage that Milosevic's portraits be taken down and put away. The same thing happens everywhere.

The people are demonstrating against NATO, not in support of Milosevic. And the workers have been in the front ranks.

To NATO, we counter with the alliance of the peoples of the Balkans and of the Danube, and of all Europe.

In the town of Cacak, which has been heavily bombed and where the Sloboda factory has been destroyed, we have twice held a Yugoslav national conference for peace and workers' unity, with the participation of trade unionists and worker militants from towns all over Yugoslavia.

At the November 1998 conference, we had warned that, after Bosnia, war threatened all of Yugoslavia. We denounced the Serbian government's policies of repression in Kosovo. We denounced the IMF and the World Bank, which, through their austerity plans, are destroying our country.

In Cacak, against management wishes, the workers of the Sloboda factory have taken the machines out of the plant and out of harm's way. The trade union leader at the plant declared: We have just saved 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. They found a new, sheltered worksite and are at this moment retooling the factory to restart production. The workers do not accept the liquidation of our country's industrial base.

It must be made clear: NATO planes implement the IMF's dictates. A humanitarian catastrophe is at hand: the liquidation of a country, which sees its entire infrastructure destroyed and all its people subjected to the bombings. The Kosovar Albanians, the Serbs, and all the national minorities that live in Yugoslavia can survive only through their work. They cannot accept the destruction of their factories, whether by privatization-liquidations or through bombings.

It is not true, as the great powers say today, that there is no other way out except through the bombings. Yes, there is a way out. It rests on the demand of the workers and the militants who said: stop the plans of privatization-liquidation, stop the Structural Adjustment Plans, stop the intervention of the great powers in the region. We are the ones who suffer: Kosovar Albanians, all the Serbs of Yugoslavia, all the national minorities. Those who pose as humanitarian firefighters are in fact pyromaniac firefighters. They have started the fire and, today, are extending it throughout the Balkans and tomorrow through all of Europe.

Dear comrades, although not physically present at your meeting, I address myself to you to say that the international unity of the workers is at the center of resolving all the national questions, all the questions facing the peoples. I would like to end with this line from the great French socialist Jean Jaur=E8s: Capitalism carries war as its own storm cloud. Let us stop the war! Let us put an end to capitalism!

An immediate halt to the NATO bombings is necessary for the survival of all humanity.

Excerpts from the Final Manifesto adopted by the Balkans Workers' Conference, which was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on November 13-14, 1999

[Note: Following are excerpts from the final section of the Manifesto issued by the Balkans Conference. The full text is reprinted in the Special OWC issue of the ILC Newsletter. The newsletter, and more information about the ongoing efforts of the Balkans Workers' Conference organizers, can be obtained for $5 by writing to ILC, P.O. Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140.]

What force can save our region from dislocation and an even greater catastrophe to come? Certainly not the so-called international community, which is responsible for the situation of death and destruction imposed on the workers, peoples and national minorities in our region.

Could it be the European Union? But did the EU not take part in the war against the peoples of Yugoslavia; did it not declare a social war on workers in all European countries? Is it not undermining democracy, national and popular sovereignty to set up the European Monetary Union into a single market under the political and military control of the United States, thus threatening all European countries with dismantlement?

Could it be the governments of the Balkans, born from the nomenklaturas which have obediently implemented the plans of the IMF, EU, NATO and other international institutions—with the aim of dislocating and colonising the countries of the Balkans?

The only force capable of saving the peoples of the region from this situation is the working class, through its fight for its rights and demands, for independent organisations, against war, for peace, for the right of peoples to self-determination.

The struggles for peoples' self-determination necessitates the struggle against foreign intervention, NATO troops and bases in the region, military occupation and the protectorates of the great powers. The struggle against the dislocation of nations, of peoples and national minorities in our region is the struggle for democracy and popular sovereignty. It means fighting the IMF's structural adjustment plans, privatisation, the destruction of all past gains and all other measures aimed at dislocating our countries.

We consider that the international institutions of capital such as the IMF, the European Union and NATO make use of nationalism in order to divide peoples and impose their plans to exploit workers - whatever their nationality. The attempts to provoke hostilities between peoples in our region are part of this offensive.

We support the appeal of the Hungarian activists who prepared this conference. They state:

We know that the demands putting into question the existing borders provide no solution. We declare that our future—the future of the peoples of the region—has nothing to do with the 'cantonisation' of the States of our region, with the exchange of populations, with war. For centuries, the peoples of our region have co-existed and intermixed in common territories, living in peace when the great powers were not there to provoke conflicts.

We declare that the Hungarian minorities living in our neighbouring countries of Slovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, the Ukraine are citizens of those states. They are workers similar to the other workers in those countries. Workers in Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine and Yugoslavia have similar interests. We say that minorities have rights: the right to work, the right to speak their own language, the right to education and access to culture. The working class has to guarantee these rights, all of which are put into question by the privatisation/liquidation plans imposed by the nomenklaturas and great powers that want to divide our peoples in order to impose their aims.

Against all these attempts to divide us, we counterpose class unity and solidarity of the workers of the Danube-Balkan region.

We—activists of the labour movement in Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece ....—we declare that workers are fighting against the dislocation of nations imposed by globalisation and the claims by the United States to impose its rule upon the workers and the peoples. We defend the right to self-determination and peoples' sovereignty in our region—Sovereign Republics and a Free Union of Sovereign Republics in the Balkan-Danube region. ...

The participants in the Balkans Workers' Conference of November 13-14 in Sofia have decided to set up a Balkans Liaison Committee, which will be in charge of producing an information and discussion bulletin in the region and of coordinating initiatives in each country and regionally. The committee is open to all those who wish share and wish to fight for the views expressed herein. The committee is financially independent from all international subsidies.

Resolution adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) on April 26, 1999, in opposition to the U.S./NATO bombings and intervention in ex-Yugoslavia

San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) resolution on the war in ex-Yugoslavia

Whereas, NATO forces under the leadership of the United States have unleashed massive air strikes against Yugoslavia designed, in the words of NATO officer in charge, U.S. General Wesley Clark, to demolish, destroy, devastate, degrade, and ultimately eliminate the essential infrastructure of the country, and,

Whereas, the U.S. government is allocating billions for war to destroy among other things, bridges, apartment buildings, and factories, as opposed to spending our resources to improve the quality of life in the U.S., and to assist in the productive development of the Balkans and elsewhere, and,

Whereas, the massive bombing is contributing to and has in fact severely exacerbated the plight of the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo who are persecuted by the Milosevic regime but whose right to self-determination has never been supported or recognized by the United States or NATO.

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls for an end to the war, an immediate halt to the NATO/U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia, and an end to the intervention.

Be It Further Resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council rejects the notion that the U.S. government has, by military might, the legal, or moral right to intervene and police the world in such disputes, and,

Be It Further Resolved, that this resolution be sent to the National AFL-CIO, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and to President William Clinton.