"Safe house" project report - Seventh report

en

There are a few positive developments since our last report but unfortunately, the need for our work continues if not intensifies.

Thanks to the efforts of Connection e.g. in Germany and human rights'activists in Muenster and Bonn, the decisions of their city governments to welcome deserters were finally put in practice and two deserters were invited and given refugee status in Muenster, while one deserter and his family are supposed to receive the same status in Bonn. We are looking for other similar initiatives in other countries and towns as to most of deserters, living without refugee status and protection in Hungary, this seems to be the only valuable support in terms of solving individual situation at least for a certain period of time.

The group of deserters we work with in Budapest is setting their own organization in the attempt to win more favorable status both with Hungarian authorities and internationally. They hold regular meetings and are in the process of official registering now. Also they organize and distribute the aid they get through our project and in future we hope from other sources too. The aid is primarily intended to cover some existential needs of deserters and members of their families. During the big meeting of Serbian opposition and emigrant organizations held in Budapest in November, one deserter managed to speak and raise the issue. Unlike the opposition parties, the emigre organization showed interest and promised support. At the same meeting we also heard of initiative of deserters in Sofia, Bulgaria also being formed.

After a long period of complete media's ignorance of the issue, the report of Amnesty International and efforts of other groups have renewed the attention for the fate of "forgotten resisters" as the AI report put it. The most important for us is the interest raised here in Hungary. Our friend and supporter Henrik Farkas, antimilitarist from Budapest, has launched a petition campaign among Hungarian intellectuals, activists and public figures demanding for recognition and support to deserters and draft evaders from Yugoslavia. Among the signatories are world famous film director Miklos Jancso and persecuted pacifist and Catholic pastor Gyorgy Bulanyi. The action was covered by major Hungarian media. You can find more about it from Henrik on farkashe@goliat.eik.bme.hu.

In Serbia there hasn't been any change in the prospect of an amnesty. Extremely harsh prosecution of Albanian prisoners and Serbian opposition activists and media cements any illusion for it. Generally, it seems that the political situation has reached a stalemate and the fear of another bloodshed is prevailing. No wonder assuming the level of generated violence that might in turn outburst as the only way out of the stalemate. The tensions aggregate in two directions: towards Montenegro and internal opposition. Montenegro in fact launched an initiative for amnesty which of course had only political and not legal and real dimension, considering that the crimes it involves are solely the matter of federal authorities, which are firmly in hands of Milosevic's regime. Our major concern remains help to families of the imprisoned or exiled who now have no means to live through harsh winter.

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