Letter: Bosnia's war resisters are envoys for peace

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The Independent Online
Sir: Robert Block's chilling article ('Serb refugees forced to fight Muslims', 21 January) further illustrates the extent to which compulsory military service is being used as a tool against those in former Yugoslavia who directly oppose the war in Bosnia. The situation in Serbia is mirrored in Croatia, where hundreds of Bosnian-born Croatian citizens have recently been forcibly drafted. These include Victor Ivancic, editor of the opposition newspaper Feral Tribune and vocal opponent of the Croatian government's role in Bosnia.

As nervous neighbours to this European war one would imagine that our governments would be encouraged by the significant number of men who have chosen not to join in the killing. Unfortunately, our governments have consistently condemned the war, while offering no gesture of support for these deserters and draft resisters, sometimes even threatening to send them back to the atrocities in which they have refused to participate.

Last October the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the EC and its member states to recognise, receive and assist 'the deserters and conscientious objectors not serving in the various armed forces fighting on the territory of former Yugoslavia'.

A petition has been launched in 16 European countries, including Britain, asking our governments to follow the demands of the resolution by supporting these war resisters, who are surely the ambassadors of reconciliation and peace - not traitors, as many in their own countries regard them.

Yours sincerely



National Peace Council

London, N1