|How to act||
Declarations, Political interventions, Structural support
Belgrade, Europe, Germany, Münster, Serbia, Strasbourg
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
Deserters from ex-Yugoslavia
During the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is estimated that at least 100.000 men refused to join or deserted the army. This was especially prevalent among men in Serbia who refused to join or deserted the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). During the war in BIH, Serb deserters were for example hiding in Belgrade, and groups like Women in Black tried to help them, by finding shelters, providing counseling or trying to organize their escape to other countries.
In Europe more generally, there have been various initiatives to support those deserters, even more as the countries of the European Union refused to grant asylum or another legal status to these deserters. On 28 October 1993, the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution regarding former Yugoslavia, asking the European Council and the Member States to take in deserters and those who refused to be drafted, to protect them by means of a statute, not to allow their expulsion and to provide them with professional development opportunities. Shortly afterwards, the European Civic Forum launched an international campaign in 16 European countries to encourage states to comply with this resolution and for municipalities and individuals to welcome and support defectors. “If we do not support the young people who reject this war and nationalism, we will allow those who have always advocated military solutions to impose their vision of the future on us.” Around 100,000 persons signed this petition in Europe, among them prominent figures such as Gyorgy Konrad, Yehudi Menuhin and Umberto Eco. The governments didn’t implement the requests of the resolution and the petition, and sometimes even expelled deserters to Serbia. However, some authorities provided official support, such as the city of Münster in Germany, which took the decision in 1996 to grant deserters a residence permit and pay their living expenses for one year.