|Check this out friends, it will blow U.S. rhetoric out of the water!
1. A Serb Mother, Author, Target: "We're All Lab Rats"
PHOENIX, May 6 - The following letter about a life under the bombs was
written by Maja Volk in Belgrade on Apr. 23. But due to a circuitous way
in which it traveled, it has reached us only now, May 6. Just as well.
For, Mrs. Volks' message is perhaps even more relevant now that NATO has
escalated its bombing campaign, no longer even pretending to distinguish
between civilian and military targets.
BELGRADE, Apr. 23 - "Dear colleagues, I thought that you might be
interested how is it being a woman in Belgrade these days. I am a 'Yugoslav
purebreed' of mixed cultures (one grandfather a Bosnian Serb, another a
Slovene; one grandmother a Bosnian Croat, another a Serb from Hungary...).
I did my MA in Paris, 15 years ago, my Ph.D. in Stockholm, 10 years ago. I
used to live in Sydney in my maiden days, and I wrote a novel about it 15
years ago. I am a professor of Belgrade university, author of seven books,
writer, poet, and what is most important, mother of three little children,
ages 9, 8 and 3.
Time has stopped here. Our normal lives stopped to function four weeks ago.
No schools, no kindergartens, no universities, no future plans, no nothing.
My latest book, about mothers and daughters within the complicated macho
mentality of the Balkans, was supposed to be printed 4 weeks ago. It was,
of course, halted. The film, I was working on for four years, was just
about to begin shooting in Montenegro, and of course, there will be no film
(it was supposed to be a film about our most successful woman ever, the
last queen of Italy, who was a Montenegrin princess, the queen Helen of
Those are the banal trifles in comparison with the whole situation, but
then, it is just an example how every one is affected with what is going
on. We watch our collapse like a TV nightmare, a video game, and I still
can not believe my own eyes.
I moved from my home in the first week of bombing, after the NATO struck on
the heating plant opposite the building I was living in. Needless to say
there is no heating in Belgrade, and it is still quite cold outside. The
detonations made me deaf for couple of hours, and I was playing a "LA VITA
E BELLA" routine with my scared children, telling them "it was just an
So I am a refugee in my own town, living in my parents tiny flat in the
center of the town, with my three kids, my mother-in-law and my husband.
At least, we crossed the bridge.
There is no cooking oil in town, and for milk one should get up very early
and queue...but then, we have been queuing for years now, since those
sanctions...(at that time I had babies and we had to go to the village once
a week and fill up the coca cola bottles with milk, then freeze them and
pray to God, there will be electricity...), and the queues for cigarettes
are miles long (also see "A Slice of Life in Wartime Serb Capital," Day 28,
Update 1, Item 1, Apr. 20 - at our Web site).
But we still sing and dance every day at noon in the center, on our bridges
at night, defending them with our bodies.
I do realize that the next step is to proclaim all of us as military
targets, because we might hide soldiers at our homes.
Two days ago, NATO struck a TV station which was owned by the President's
daughter. But ironically, that station had no news, just the trashy
American films and south American soap operas. So we were devastated
because the transmission of CASSANDRA and ESMERALDA was delayed for one
day. Is that a military target?
Parts of the cluster bombs went straight through the windows of the people
living opposite that skyscraper. A three-year old kid died in her own
bathroom, killed through the window with the parts of the cluster bomb.
This is not propaganda, this is merely a mother's voice from the real world.
No, we do not go all to the shelters... I can not imagine myself with three
kids in a damp cellar, sitting there all night. And besides, we believed
that the civilians will not be targeted.
I do not know what to do anymore... But one thing is certain. This is not a
peaceful mission. Three million children go to bed with the sounds of the
sirens. This morning the TV Belgrade was hit, and in its basement was the
only children's cinema in town, and a youth center.
A friend of mine was devastated when the hospitals released all patients
home, because they cannot guarantee their safety. So she is stuck with her
mother who cannot move, nor talk, nor live without constant assistance. And
she has no money to hire a nurse. She is a film critic of that same
blown-up television. Her office was in flame this morning, along with her
Another friend of mine went two days ago to a funeral of her cousin, a
Bosnian refugee who was an engineer at a Pancevo chemical factory. When the
poor man saw his work go up in flames, he simply had a heart attack and died.
My neighbor is a chemist, working in a laboratory for the police. She is
mother of three asthmatic children, and she can not go to the shelter,
either, because the kids might have an attack. She turned pale when she
saw from her balcony that two kilometers wide black cloud from the Pancevo
chemical plant (also see "Huge Toxic Cloud Unleashed...", Day 26, Update 1,
Item 2, Apr. 18 - for TiM's eyewitness report about the same incident).
But God is with us. The wind blew it away from Belgrade, and the clouds are
over my city every night for these four weeks, since the bombing begun.
This is not the typical weather here at this time of the year, believe me...
You might and should ask me about the poor refugees running away from
Kosovo. You don't know what Kosovo looks like even in normal times...
scattered villages, isolated houses, a civil war going on since the Turkish
I saw a documentary last year about this teacher, who walks 20 miles every
day, from her home in Djakovica to this remote village, just to teach four
children in the last Serbian school there. Their parents say, "we would
have sold our houses to the Albanians long time ago, if it weren't for
her." She is 30 now, and is still walking.
Albanians are good people, with lots of children, their natality rate is
the highest in Europe, in average, they have six children. And now they
are under the bombs, with no electricity, no water, nor food; caught in a
crossfire, with the KLA behind them, and the Yugoslav Army in front of
them. What would you do in their shoes?
But that is another story... the story of mentalities, drug and weapons
chain, the Balkan route of heroine, and so on.
But I won't talk about the things I do not know. Nor do I wish to even
think about the radiation after thousands of bombs already thrown on my
land, and how my grandchildren will look like if they are ever born.
My brother is in Novi Sad. Do I presume I should swim upstream Danube to
see him again? (because all bridges across the Danube have been knocked
down by NATO).
There are foreigners in my sky every day and night. They are blowing apart
my country, (while)telling me stories about peace and democracy.
I know this: if the money spent so far on the bombs and humanitarian aid
was just invested in our country, it would have been a paradise for
everyone. But the money keeps rolling on; the old weapons must be tested,
and the new ones improved. The macho male pride must be satisfied on both
We are the lab rats, and we are still alive... No one expected that.
Thank you for reading this. Yours truly, Maja Volk,. Ph.D., prof. etc....a
mother, daughter, sister, wife and daughter-in-law - from Belgrade."
Documentary Producer & Cinematographer
504 First Street, Apt. 3F
Brooklyn, NY 11215