Letter to the president and ministers

Earlier we reported here that the Serbian Ministry of Defence had decided to leave off, for the summer, arresting and prosecuting people living in other countries who had not fulfilled their military service. Now a group of young people has written to president Boris Tadić, defence minister Prvoslav Davinić and diaspora minister Vojislav Vukčević seeking a permanent solution to the problem in the form of a general amnesty. The following quotations are from the English version of the letter:

"Under a law of the former Yugoslavia, all conscripts who wanted to emigrate where obliged to apply for permission to do so from the Yugoslav Army High Command. In the chaotic situation that existed during the war it was difficult, complicated if not impossible to obtain such permission. Many conscripts had no option but to leave Yugoslavia without an agreement from the army.

To worsen the situation further, during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Milosevic’s regime in Serbia and Montenegro, had changed the upper age limit for conscripts from 27 to 35 years of age. This was done to ensure that the men who have so far evaded the military service couldn’t do so any more. This has meant that the men who have emigrated in the early years of the war could not return back to the country without being arrested, sent to serve the military service and any prison sentences.

Under the Dayton agreement in 1995 and the Kumanovo peace accord signed with NATO in 1999, the general assembly of the former Yugoslavia (then consisting of only Serbia and Montenegro) had adopted an amnesty for those men who have refused to fight for the Yugoslav army during the war. However, those conscripts who didn’t serve the military service or have not responded to drafts were still required to join the army."


"We believe that everyone has a right to visit relatives and friends in the country of their domicile. This kind of measure of rebuilding trust has been organized even between enemies of war in the cases of Korea and Cyprus. We truly believe that time has come, the time when this problem finally needs to be resolved."

The organisation maintains a site (with a version of the letter in Serbian) at www.dijaspora-vojna-obaveza.info. There are also versions of the letter in French, in Spanish, in Italian, in German, and in Czech.

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