It's obvious to us who's coming next.
FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
by Adem Bogdanovic
It has finally happened, what we knew would happen, what there was no question of - the Serbian conflict with the Albanians in Kosovo has reached a fervor pitch and has crossed the line from police action to full-scale war.
It will take a tremendous amount of pressure now to draw the parties away from their guns - and make no mistake about it, this could be a hundred times worse than the war in Bosnia. This time, the Muslims face not a scrap force of Jugoslav National Army transfers, but the J.N.A. itself.
After Slavonia, after Krajina, after Visegrad, Mostar and now Kosovo, it's obvious to us who's coming next. Two hundred thousand Sanjaki Muslims are under a threat like never before.
The Serbian government responded to a Sanjaki referendum in 1989, when over 90% of the Sanjak population voted for limited autonomy, by deploying hundreds of troops to our tiny enclave and in effect declaring a police state. During the harsh repressions which followed, more than half the Sanjak Muslims fled for asylum in Turkey, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
In their place now are thousands of Serbs who were cleansed from Croatia during Operations Flash and Storm. Like in so many others in Yugoslavia, including those Serbs newly settled in Sanjak, we have no homes to return to.
The Serbs indigenous to Sanjak are our neighbors - we have no dreams of secession from Yugoslavia. What we want is limited territorial autonomy, the free practice of our religion, and the right of our citizens to return without the fear of reprisal from bureaucrats, the army, the Interior Ministry or secret police. These modest goals are totally unrealizable under the watch of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and have become the substance of a hopeless dream.
Among the Muslims from Yugoslavia - Bosniak, Kosovar, and Sanjaki - there is a widespread belief that Serbs have an irrational impulse to kill us. And as I watch the newsreels from Kosovo and speak with my brothers still in the Sanjak, who daily face the kind of state-sponsored terror associated with Stalin, Brezhnev, Beria and the Soviet Union, I'm beginning to think that they are right. The Montenegrin authorities in recent months have begun to relax their grip on the area they control. Most of us see what's happening in Kosovo as our eventual fate.
We make no demands from the Yugoslav Government at this time, because we realize they will ignore them. Instead, we call upon our fellow Slavs from Romania, Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, along with the Turks, Greeks, and Hungarians, to join in the international isolation of Yugoslavia, run by a criminal cartel which has caused immense suffering to its own people, in the hope that someday the Serb people might rise against Slobodan Milosevic as they did so bravely against the Turks and the Germans and the previous dictators of their own nationality. We hope and dream of someday returning to live where we have always lived, among those we consider friends and neighbors, but this is a hope which is dwindling every day.
Adem Bogdanovic, Sanjaki Refugee Centre, Prague, Czech Republic