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Serbia: Remembering NATO Bombing 10 Years Later

Categories: Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Governance, History, Human Rights, International Relations, Law, Media & Journalism, Politics, Refugees, War & Conflict

On March 24, 1999, NATO forces began attack on Serbia and Montenegro. The bombing went for 78 days. A few thousand people were killed, many buildings, bridges, railroads, roads and factories were destroyed. Also, many people still experience mental and psychic effects of the fear they had been through.

Ten years later, Serbian bloggers are reminded of those terrible days. Below is a selection of some of their journal notes and recollections from the beginning of the war, translated from Serbian.

Dejan Jovic posted this entry [1]:

Today NATO’s forces have attacked Yugoslavia from air, from submarines and warships. The attack began at 7pm. The first wave lasted 2 hours. About 20 targets are hit: the Police Academy in Novi Sad, airports in Batajnica and Danilovgrad (Montenegro), several barracks around Pristina and around Nis as well as factory shops of Crvena Zastava in Kragujevac. The second wave began about midnight and it is still going (now it is 00.45. (Yugoslavia declared the state of war. The last night Veran Matic was arrested and B92 was closed. Now only national stations and agencies can broadcast. Journalists from countries which are members of NATO, including BBC, can report only by phone. Twenty-five journalists have been arrested temporarily so far and one is beaten. Because of all that, there are very little video reports but it is absolutely clear that the attack was very very strong. […]

[…] Milosevic says that he is for peace and agreement. It is not possible to appraise why he says that – whether because he wants to inform NATO that he is ready to withdraw himself or because he wants to justify a lengthy war. In this moment it seems that he can’t withdraw himself very easily. I don’t know how he could be more cooperative with the West after this bombing, if he couldn’t do that before it. Also, people are much more anti- West than they were several days ago. [The West] forgets that Milosevic is a legally chosen president and that he is not without support of voters like Saddam Hussein.

News at 1 am. Russia and China condemned aggression. Russia asks session of the Security Council. For this attack, Clinton and Blair condemn Milosevic directly. Clinton compares Kosovo with Bosnia and mentions hesitation in the first and second world war. India condemned action of members of NATO because they ignored the United Nations. India also says that NATO became an instrument for realization of goals of ethnic separatists and that could be the case in the Kashmir […]

Angie01, in her blog titled ”Notes of Madness”, wrote [2]:

[…] In the evening I come out on my spacious balcony and smoke. I notice some unusual and big star which is very near by me. I don’t know from where it is here. I’ve never seen it before. I call my family. Everyone feels uneasy. No one know what's happened.

A little later, I talk on the phone with my sister from the bathroom. In the middle of a sentence there's a strange sound.

She asked me what that was. I don’t know. “What can we do now?” she asked. I don’t know. I go to see. I open the door. And then I hear zvvviiiiijuuuu. The red-yellow light filled the room. Then there was an explosion. It was strong, destructive and full of dark forebodings.

Everyone is frozen at the moment. And then one more bomb explodes.

You can hear screaming all over the hallways, people are running, children are crying. You can hear people calling over the floors.

Neighbors ring our doorbell. They said that we should go to the bomb shelter. […]

[…] Girls are throwing up inside. Some old women faint. My neighbor squats with a baby in her arms… there is no air, there is only stench and fear. Everything has changed in 20 minutes. […]

[…] A neighbor, a refugee from Bosnia, arrives. He said that he came for us. And he added that the bomb shelters were not suitable for those bombs. If they were hit, they might turn into tombstones over us. And we leave and never come back there.

This is how it began. […]

Readers commented on Angie01‘s post. Here are some of the comments:

Vidomir Pavlovic:

I was sitting 100 meters away from the barracks in Sremska Mitrovica when a rocket whistled over my head. It was ghastly…

Then one young woman was killed. She came out right after the detonation to see what happened, to see where the rocket hit. She was about 1 kilometer away from the barracks and was hit by shrapnel. It pounded into her head or breast. I forgot. But she was dead on the spot, on the balcony on the first floor. She had just moved into that flat…

She had two little children…

Bili Piton:

One doesn’t know whether one hates more those who bombed or those who caused it.

Sybil:

[…] The maniac [Slobodan Milosevic, then president of Serbia and Montenegro] has burdened us with the bombing by 19 most civilized countries. The biggest disappointment after the bombing was that he kept his seat and Kosovo was lost. It would have been better the other way around. […]

Pix3lchick:

[…] Sadness, hopelessness and depression because of fact that, after 10 years, he [Milosevic] is still alive through the current ministers’ statements, in which they says that the bombing happened because of false accusations of ethnic cleansing. (From where did the refrigerator trucks come to us?)

Jasmina Tesanovic wrote [3] in her blog titled “La vita e’ bella” (‘Life is beautiful’):

March 26, 1999 – 5 PM:

I hope that we all will survive this war: Serbs, Albanians, good and bad boys, those who took weapons, those who deserted, Kosovo’s refugees who are roaming through the forests and Belgrade’s refugees who are roaming the streets with children in arms and running to find the nonexistent bomb shelters when they hear the sirens. I hope that NATO’s pilots will not leave their wives and children forever. I saw them on CNN, how they cried while their husbands were preparing to attack targets in Serbia. I hope that we all will survive, but the world will not stay the same. […]