|How to act||
Civic Groups, Spreading information, Youth
“Bosnia – We have to react!”
“Bosnie – Réagir!” (“Bosnia: [We have] to react!”) is the title of a brochure published in 1993 by members of the “Coordination étudiante contre la purification ethnique” (Students’ coordination against ethnic cleansing) in Paris, among them Boris and Vladimir Najman, Aliénor Benoist, Michel Naepels and Julie Biro.
The introductory text starts with the sentence: “Indifference is complicity”. It then criticizes the dominant discourse in Europe about the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“complexity”, “ancient hatreds”, … ) which follows the propaganda of the Milošević regime in Belgrade. The text highlights different facts to counter this discourse: “The current conflict is not a civil war, since Bosnia is a state recognised by the international community, it is not an ethnic war, since part of the Bosnian Serbs are fighting with Muslims and Croats in the name of the Bosnian idea.” And it calls on everybody no to remain passive: “We must react, take a stand with the weapons of the spirit so that our indifference is no longer the best accomplice of the Belgrade regime. We must think in order to act, to give back to conflict its political nature. Support the democratic opposition in Serbia. Encourage firmer action by the West. To demand the opening of French borders to refugees from the former Yugoslavia.”
One of the authors, Julie Biro, remembers: “We made this brochure to react against the relativism that we could hear all around us. People were minimising the extent of the violence. They didn’t realise the gravity of what was happening. I remember that we were not taken seriously. So we wanted to tell the facts, to analyse and explain, against the myths, fantasies and false equivalences. I can still see us counting the number of mosques destroyed, day after day. We were therefore positively surprised by the resonance of our brochure: the sub-title “Indifference is complicity” was taken up as a title by the newspaper “Libération”, for example. All of a sudden, we saw that we could have an echo.”