February 4, 2002
We address you as an honorable and distinguished leader on behalf of our International Committee. We wish to draw your attention to a political injustice with possible negative implications for international law and order and the sovereignty of all nations.
On 28 June 2001 the former head of the Yugoslav State, Mr. Slobodan Milosevic was abducted from his own country.
This act was carried out by means of a conspiracy involving elements of the present regime in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade and foreign elements. He was detained by the so-called International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) situated in The Hague, Netherlands. This was done despite the Yugoslav Constitution’s prohibition against extradition of citizens and furthermore in defiance of an injunction against the extradition of Mr. Milosevic imposed by the Yugoslav Constitutional Court. The event was called an ‘abduction’ even by the present president of Yugoslavia.
On February 12 President Milosevic will face the beginning of his ‘trial’ before this ‘tribunal.’ It was founded in 1993 and authorized by the UN Security Council although the Security Council has no right, under the United Nations charter, to create a judicial body. The ‘tribunal’s’ stated purpose is to ‘prosecute persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of former Yugoslavia since 1991.’
President Milosevic is charged with ‘crimes’ supposedly committed by Yugoslav Army and security forces during operations against terrorist units in the Kosovo Autonomous Province of the Yugoslav federal republic of Serbia.
These terrorist units were closely linked with and trained by al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad and the secret services of some NATO and neighboring countries. The terrorists committed numerous atrocities against the civilian population of all ethnic groups.
President Milosevic is accused without evidence for events that allegedly took place precisely during the 1999 NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. In fact, during that conflict the Yugoslav Army acted in disciplined compliance with the Geneva Conventions, despite the fact that it was fighting terrorists who operated in full coordination and alliance with NATO Air Forces. Let us note that other armies have acted differently when fighting terrorists.
NATO dropped 25.000 tons of bombs and missiles, including more than 50.000 shells containing about 20 tons of depleted Uranium and 152 containers with more than 35.000 cluster bombs, deliberately killing thousands of civilians, systematically destroying the country’s economy and infrastructure, including refineries and chemical plants, producing war damage of more than 100 billion dollars. This was terrorism from the air. Meanwhile, the terrorists on the ground butchered another thousands of civilians during the aggression and have continued to do so since NATO took over Kosovo. They have also destroyed more than 100 Christian churches, some of them cultural monuments from the medieval age, which were creations of delight to all humanity.
The “tribunal for former Yugoslavia” was set up in 1993 by UN Security Council Resolutions 808 and 827, under pressure from former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Although its Statute assumes UN funding, the ‘tribunal’ is financed primarily from American governmental and private sources and by a few governments of Islamic countries.
In his book “Nouvel ordre mondiale et controle de la legalite des actes du Conseil de Securite” (Bruxelles, 1994), professor Mohammed Bedjaoui, the president of the International Court for Justice (ICJ), one of the main pillars of the UN system, listed Resolutions 808 and 827 among the very few examples when the Security Council violated the UN Charter. This may give some moral satisfaction. But the reality is that neither the General Assembly nor any other institution in the UN system has ever dared to request an opinion from the ICJ on the legitimacy of the ICTY. And the UN institutions are the only ones authorized to do this. Moreover, the ICTY is unwilling to let ICJ rule on its legality.
The ICTY, being a NATO sponsored ‘tribunal’, has never charged any NATO leader or pilot with any crime although such indictments have been demanded by interested parties. These parties include the group of distinguished Canadian attorneys led by Professor Michael Mandel and even Amnesty International. And not one Kosovo terrorist has been charged. But President Slobodan Milosevic was illegally abducted and detained. He is awaiting ‘trial’ because he legally defended his country from aggression and terrorism. This is neither justice nor equality!
President Milosevic’s government was overthrown in a coup d’état in October 2000. Control over the main state and private enterprises was violently seized by forces financed and controlled by the Clinton administration. (This has been admitted. For example, a public USAID report indicates that 231 million dollars was invested in the ‘development of democracy’ in Yugoslavia during 2000).
President Milosevic was arrested in Belgrade on 31 March 2001, only a few days after tens of thousands of people in Belgrade rallied in his support, marking the second anniversary of NATO aggression.
The arrest was performed in a two-days-and-nights-long spectacular action, of tens of thousands, this time policemen. They were sent in order to manifest power and to prevent the masses from protecting the popular leader. Criminal charges and an arrest warrant were written only after the police action started, and were never handed to the president.
After the three months of investigation of possible “misuse of power” and “corruption” produced no evidence, exactly two days before authorities were required by law to release president Milosevic, the prime minister of the Serbian state, known for his connections with Mafia circles and foreign intelligence, violated the Constitution, kidnapping president Milosevic from jail and delivering him without legal procedure or right of appeal to NATO forces in Bosnia. NATO then brought him to their “tribunal” in The Hague. The Federal authorities, including the President, did nothing to stop this nor to punish the perpetrators, despite statements of condemnation.
The aim of this crime was to eliminate the opposition. The nation was shamed by the promise that Yugoslavia would be given some aid in exchange for kidnapping President Milosevic; on top of this, there is evidence that the perpetrators personally received a $ 5 million reward offered earlier by the US government. The abduction was executed on June 28, St. Vitus day, a day of the greatest historical significance for all Serbs.
Since that time and until the present, hundreds of thousands of people have continuously marched in the streets of Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities, demanding the release of Slobo, protesting against the undemocratic regime of mercenaries and former clerks of Western companies that is quickly pushing the countries’ economy into a condensed version of the Argentinean-type fall. They are also protesting against the NATO protectorate in Kosovo, where, misusing UN SC Res. 1244, NATO has imposed the rule of terrorists and narco-dealers who have brutally harassed and murdered more people than they did before NATO arrived.
Most NATO governments and the media under their influence, who demonized president Milosevic in preparation for the 1999 war and the 2000 coup d’état, applauded after he was kidnapped. Now, after September 11 and Afghanistan, they feel uncomfortable, since many in the world and everybody in Yugoslavia see that terrorists in Kosovo were fought in far more legal, organized and humane way by the Yugoslav Army, than terrorists in Afghanistan are fought by the US Army. And the same terrorists who are used to justify carpet-bombing Afghanistan are still treated as esteemed political partners in Kosovo, NATO’s protectorate.
Our International Committee for the Defense of Slobodan Milosevic (ICDSM) was founded on March 24, 2001 in Berlin. This was done during the European Peace Forum held on the occasion of the second anniversary of NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. The ICDSM now comprises about 100 active members and nearly 2000 supporters from more than 30 countries of all continents – professors, lawyers, artists, activists, and politicians. In addition, National Committees with the same goal exist in 10 European countries. Harold Pinter, the playwright from United Kingdom, Mikis Theodorakis, the composer from Greece, Alexander Zinov’ev, the writer and philosopher from Russia, Peter Handke, the novelist from Austria, Boris Oliynik, the poet from Ukraine and dozens of influential political parties and organizations support our demand for freedom for Slobodan Milosevic. 100 Russian senators, more than 100 deputies of the State Duma, 50 members of the Greek parliament, 500.000 citizens of Ukraine and many others have signed appeals with the same demand: Release Milosevic! And the detained President has received tens of thousands of letters of support from all over the world.
By a vast majority of the popular vote in free elections, Slobodan Milosevic was elected President of the Republic of Serbia in 1990. He was elected again in 1992, after, under foreign pressure on his country and with civil wars in the neighborhood, he decided to shorten his mandate and check popular confidence in his policy. In 1997 he was elected President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During his time in office, citizens voted six times in general elections. The national policy was always based on popular vote. Mr. Milosevic is founder and president of the Socialist Party of Serbia, which was the main force in different governmental coalitions during the same period.
President Milosevic and his party advocate equality of all peoples, individuals and ethnic groups in a socially just, democratic society. Because of the success in defending these values and in protecting the political and economic sovereignty of the country, he became the main enemy for those who produced the violent break-up of the former Yugoslav federation using extreme nationalism and terrorism. To cover their dirty work, they had to demonize the leader of the biggest nation of the former Yugoslavia, accusing him of all the terrible consequences that they have brought to the Balkan Peninsula, the bridge between Europe and The Middle East and the southern road to the Caucasian and Central Asian regions former Soviet Union.
With his persistent anti-war policy, president Milosevic was the most important participant in all peace initiatives in the last decade in the Balkans and the main promoter of policies of economic integration and cooperation in the region. He was celebrated for his contribution to the Vance Plan and the Dayton Accord that ended the civil wars in Croatia and Bosnia. Now that President Milosevic has been detained, charges have been fabricated against him for supposed crimes in Croatia and Bosnia. And all this under the foggy concept of “command responsibility”.
President Milosevic is a political prisoner threatened by a purely political show trial in a purely political institution disguised as a court, with no democratic control, indeed controlled by the governments of the very countries that waged aggressive war against Yugoslavia.
This institution, created in violation of the UN Charter also violates seriously in its everyday practice the International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights and all other universal and European basic documents on the protection of human rights. Presumption of guilt, unlimited detention, retroactive trial, secret indictments and secret witnesses, and even the use of Western security services to collect evidence – these are only the most obvious reasons nobody should be extradited to this ‘tribunal’. Such a legal monster should not exist, and certainly not under insignia of United Nations.And particularly with the prospect that the International Criminal Court, founded properly on the basis of valid multilateral agreement ratified by the parliaments of founding countries, will soon be established.
President Milosevic does not recognize the legitimacy of this ‘tribunal’ and refuses to participate in procedural steps for his defense. From the ‘courtroom’ he sends the world strong messages of law and justice and lessons of patriotism and dignity.
If the president Milosevic were to be sentenced by such an illegal court whose practice proves its political character and partiality, that would mean the end of the principle of sovereign equality of nations which is the basis of the UN, an organization created to secure lasting peace, cooperation and development in the world. That would kill the hope that relations between countries can be based on international law and democracy. That would mean also that the sovereignty of any nation could become a victim of imperial geopolitical plans
We appeal to your wisdom and virtue to support publicly our struggle for freedom for President Milosevic. That would mean justice for Yugoslavia. We also appeal to you to initiate appropriate action by your government in the United Nations with the aim of abolishing the “tribunal for former Yugoslavia” which attempts to put on trial one nation in order to crush its freedom and imprison its spirit.
Professor Velko Valkanov, Member of Parliament, President of the Bulgarian Antifascist Union, Founder and Co-Chairperson ICDSM, Sofia, Bulgaria
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, Co-Chairperson ICDSM, New York, USA
Mihail N. Kuznecov, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Special Adviser on International Law
Jared Israel, Writer and Journalist, Editor of Emperor’s Clothes, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Boston, USA
Liana Kaneli, Member of Parliament, Attorney, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Athens, Greece
Sergei Dovgan’, President Peasants’ Party, Member of Parliament, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Kiev, Ukraine
Christopher Black, Attorney, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Toronto, Canada
Fulvio Grimaldi, Journalist and Filmmaker, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Rome, Italy
Klaus Hartmann, Chairperson of World Union of Freethinkers, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Bonn, Germany
Nico Varkevisser, Editor, Targets Newspaper, Vice-Chairperson of the NGO, Global Reflexion, Vice-Chairperson ICDSM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands