Serbs defy UK ban on 'atrocities' exhibition

AN EXHIBITION of photographs which claims to show atrocities against Serbs in the former Yugoslavia has opened in London in defiance of a previous government ban, writes Mary Braid.

Last month the Department of Trade and Industry refused to allow British Serbs to stage an exhibition of 200 pictures which opened in Belgrade six months ago. It claimed it would breach UN sanctions.

More than 20 of the pictures, showing mutilated and tortured bodies, have been brought to Britain by Joan Phillips, assistant editor of Living Marxism, who has covered the Bosnian conflict. She claims the exhibition redresses distorted reporting of the Bosnian conflict and the 'scapegoating' of the Serbs.

The DTI is investigating the exhibition and an official has told organisers he suspects they are showing materials prohibited for import from Serbia. The magazine, sponsor of the Selective Silence exhibition at the Edge gallery in Cromer Street, near St Pancras station, has not tried to obtain a DTI licence. Ms Phillips said: 'We did not apply because we knew we would not get one. The Government claims this is just a technical matter, that it isn't censorship, but that is exactly what it is.

'I have been to Bosnia and the truth is that there are atrocities on all sides. I am convinced there are as many Serbian victims as Muslims and Croats. But the Serbs have been made scapegoats by Western governments. The media is culpable for swallowing that line.'

The harrowing pictures include a series which Ms Phillips believes contradicts the depiction of the destruction of Vukovar as a symbol of Serbian aggression. The pictures show civilians apparently axed to death. According to Ms Phillips, the Croatian army was responsible. She claims that when the Yugoslav army marched into Vukovar it found the 'streets were strewn with the corpses of Serbian civilians slaughtered by the Croats'.

The exhibition also shows Serbian suffering during the Second World War.