ICBUW events in Berlin on June 23-25

29. August 2019 Events and activities, ICBUW

The event „The bombing of EX-Yugoslavia with uranium munitions 20 years after“ on June 24 was a huge success. About 100 guests watched the films on uranium ammunition and discussed afterwards eagerly with our expert group in the hall. Towards the end, there was a prevailing opinion in the room: the victims of the NATO operation „Allied Forces“ must be helped! And not only was the event in the “Großplanetarium” in Prenzlauer Berg a success, but also in the days around the event, working meetings were held, with interesting conversations and great sharing of knowledge.

It started with a Get Together on in the evening of June 23 in the „Coop Anti-War Café“ with the staff of ICBUW, the Uranium Film Festival and other supporters. Our guest of honor Dr. Srđan Aleksić from Serbia participated. At the beginning, we discussed the previously held conference in Nis. Aleksić had invited many international guests, including the spokesman of ICBUW Prof. Manfred Mohr. The meeting was characterized by political tensions, as the mayor of Vranje canceled a previously scheduled tour at short notice. The reason is stil not known today. It cannot be ruled out that pressure came from NATO or the USA. However, Dr. Aleksić repeatedly pointed out that he was primarily concerned with helping the victims and not accusing NATO of the illegal international intervention.

On the morning of the next day the ICBUW workshop was on the program. The group was also supported by Lucas Wirl (IALANA- International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms) and Alessandra Thomson (IPB – International Peace Bureau). There, the next plans were discussed: How to anchor the topic in the media presence? During the discussions, it became clear that decontamination is virtually impossible. A complete decontamination would be too costly. Therefore, the goal should rather be to help the victims. Dr. Aleksić also described the difficulties of political work in Serbia. Many people there are afraid to oppose the government on these critical issues. In order to create a scientific basis, expert teams from Serbia should network with the scientific advisory board of ICBUW. A scientific basis must be the foundation of any discussion. Especially on such complex topics as uranium ammunition, its proliferation and its impact on the human organism.

It continued in the afternoon in the Planetarium with the press appointment regarding the evening event. The first topic of the press appointment was again the conference in Nis. The press representatives seemed shocked by the obviously strong political resistance in Serbia. The Serbian government does not want to put pressure on the Western states because the country needs economic cooperation and integration. It also becomes clear that the issue of uranium ammunition is difficult to convey in the media. Since the damage caused by uranium ammunition is slow to appear, it is extremely difficult to visualize.

Following the press conference, there was a preliminary discussion with the 1st Chairman of the German section of the IPPNW. Dr. Alex Rosen. In this conversation it became clear that an informed public should be the core of the work. The topic must be strengthened on the political agenda, only then could there be a political move. For this purpose, studies are again being discussed, which should serve as a scientific basis. With a case control study, the effects of DU could be epidemiologically demonstrated. However, the affordability and political pressure in Serbia are a problem. Complex epidemiological studies lack interest and financial resources in the region.

After all the guests took a seat in the hall, the four films about uranium munitions started. The last one was the movie about our guest Dr. Srđan Aleksić. „Uranium 328: My Story“ was subsequently honored with the yellow heart of Brazilian wood from the International Uranium Film Festival. Under applause our guest the heart from the Berlin festival coordinator of the IUFF Jutta Wunderlich. This was followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Srđan Aleksić, Prof. Manfred Mohr (ICBUW), Ria Verjauw (ICBUW) and Dr. med. Alex Rosen (IPPNW). The interview was moderated by Heinrich Bücker (COOP Anti-War Kunstbar). The guests took part in the discussion about uranium weapons, the intervention of NATO in ex-Yugoslavia and the horrors of the war in general. This ended the event in the planetarium.

The next day, the event and ICBUW work were generally discussed at another working meeting. There, the ecological consequences of uranium ammunition were discussed again, as well as the opportunity to bring the International Uranium Film Festival to Serbia, in order to do public relations there just like in Germany. In these days of constructive discussions, it became clear that long discussions on the question of guilt does not help us to reach the goal of helping people in areas contaminated with uranium ammunition. The goal must be practical-humanitarian solutions. This would allow us, together with the different institutions of the countries and non-governmental organizations such as ICBUW, to work together to achieve help for the people affected. For many, this help comes too late, but we can still help some. We have to act now so that more people do not suffer from the consequences of NATO’s use of uranium ammunition!

(Stefan Westfechtel)