Serbian DU case continues

30. November 2019 Blog posts, News
Ölraffinerie Novi Sad 1999. Foto:Darko Dozet

An international team of lawyers, journalists and scientists continues to fight for justice in the Serbian DU case. In issue 159 (September 2019, pp. 10-11) of the magazine IPPNW Forum was published the article „The Bombardment of Ex-Yugoslavia with Uranium Ammunition“ by ICBUW spokesman Prof. Dr. Manfred Mohr, which reports about the symposium in Nis/Serbia in June 2019 as well as about the events in Berlin in the same month (organized by ICBUW, IALANA, IPB as well as the Uranium Film Festival). This article is what is essential in the Serbian case – a part of the extensive media work that will accompany the upcoming human rights and other processes, as they require the interest of society – especially considering the fact that the issue is taboo even in Serbia.

But there is a „victory“ in the Serbian media space: one of the largest daily newspapers in Serbia has published an article on current developments in the trial against the NATO states: „The lawsuits pending against NATO members await the position of the state“. But not only the trial itself is reported about, the newspaper is addressed to the Serbian population and thus also to the inhabitants of the areas affected by the DU bombing, the victims. Some very important points are being clarified in the article: who can the affected persons address (there are two law offices in Nis and in the Serbian capital Belgrade), what information is needed and what are the next steps when the proceedings begin. Although there are no hospitals in Serbia where the link between the diseases like cancer and the DU bombing can be established, this can be done in some other European countries. Such medical expertise can turn out expensive, but Dr. Sdran Aleksic, the lawyer from Nis, who has been dealing with the DU case for years and who is our partner in the team mentioned above, says: „Our affected citizens cannot and should not pay for it out of their own pocket“. It is also reported on other possible strategies for the case. „Environmental protection is at the forefront for Europe and the world, and in Serbia the environment is polluted precisely because of NATO actions,“ says Aleksic.

Following the Nis Conference, a documentary film was published that included interviews with the participants of the conference and reported a little about the conference itself. Sdran Aleksic, one of the organizers of the meeting, emphasizes that the event is not aimed at accusing anyone, but rather at finding a way to help the victims and maintain good relations with NATO countries: „Confrontation is to be avoided in any scenario – it’s all about the victims, not about winning or losing in court.” The experience of the Italian soldiers is also important for the Serbian DU case: Prof. Dr. Angelo Fiory Tartalia, involved in corresponding trials in Italy, believes that the Serbs have more possibilities, since for the Italian victims only the domestic remedies were open. But it will not be easy; the support of politicians is essential, and the fact that a special commission has been set up in the Serbian parliament to analyse the links between the DU bombing and the diseases is a good sign. So, there is hope that the state will participate in the processes. „It is still a long way to justice, but there is nothing here that cannot be achieved“ – said Prof. Mohr. Other participants of the conference also tend to take a positive view on the current developments. The full version of the film is available on YouTube.

On September 28 the world premiere of the film „The Weight of Chains 3“ by the Serbian-Canadian director Branislav Malagurski took place. By analysing crimes against the environment, genetic changes in food and the urgent problem of climate change, the film outlines the system in which we live and inspires viewers to act. The third part deals with NATO’s 1999 bombing of former Yugoslavia with uranium ammunition and the political decisions behind it, as well as the consequences. The trailer is available on YouTube and information about the film premieres can be found on the website

Although there is still a long way to go for the affected persons and the lawyers in the Serbian case, a positive development can be observed – in the media, reports about the DU-situation in Serbia and elsewhere appear again and again and the (documentary) films inform the people both about the events of the 1990s-2000s in former Yugoslavia and about the current developments. This is part of the extensive media and public relations work mentioned above, the value of which should by no means be underestimated.

(Ilia Kukin)