Robert Myers (by way of (Richard Barbrook)) on Tue, 25 May 1999 00:43:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Workers Aid for Kosova

To everyone who has contacted Workers Aid for Kosova

Dear Friends,

Sorry that it has taken so long to reply to your email.  We just did not
time to deal with the hundreds of messages we have received.

Before  mass ethnic cleansing started  we were working with Kosova trade
unions  trying to get supplies into Kosova but the Serbian authorities were
blocking all access.   When  the situation changed so desperately we still
wanted to get aid into Kosova but it  looked even more impossible than
before.  We also lost contact with nearly all our friends in Kosova.

We took out adverts in national UK papers  to publish an appeal  the Kosova
unions had issued just prior to the bombing.  As a result of these adverts
so many people contacted us that it almost brought  our operations to a
standstill. Our network of volunteers could not cope with the response (we
have now set up an proper office to help overcome this problem).

In the midst of the chaos and anguish in Kosova we began preparing a convoy
but the rapid changes in the situation made planning difficult.  We heard
the mining community of Mitrovica remained  intact so we thought of trying
to reach them. Then Mitrovica was ethnically cleansed.  It was hard to know
how to help the  Kosovars fight back against  Milosevic  and how  to speak
out against the cynical exploitation of their suffering by NATO for its own

Some people set off for Albania with several trucks of  aid. They have now
returned to the UK and their reports of the situation in Albania will be
available soon. They found one leading member of the Kosova miners' union
but other union leaders are missing.  Our team also met with  members of the
education unions  from Albania and Kosova who have issued an appeal for help
(see below).

While the team were on the way to Albania members of Workers' Aid and Trade
Unions for Kosova  met with Agim Hyseni, President of the Kosova Education
Union, who was on a visit to Britain to address the Scottish Trade Union
Congress.  Agim explained that the priority was  to get food to the
communities inside Kosova, some of whom were managing to put up  resistance
to the ethnic cleansers. Hunger  is  forcing some of them to abandon their
resistance and cross into Albania and Macedonia.  The complete ethnic
cleansing of  Kosova would be a great blow to the hopes of all the refugees
to return home.

Agim explained that if we could get food to northern Albania then the Kosova
people would do all they could to get it across the border into Kosova.

Therefore, in association with other organisations in Europe, we are
planning two convoys taking food for Kosova. The first will leave Britain on
20th June  and the second on 20th July. They will both arrive four days
later in Italy to cross into Albania.  The second convoy will also take aid
for the refugees in Albania, particularly  educational materials requested
by the education unions.

We want to give these convoys  maximum publicity with meetings along the
route.  In Britain a convoy team, including Kosova refugees, will visit
different towns to ask for support.   In their recently proposed peace plan,
NATO  makes clear that, despite mass murder and the expulsion of  a million
people,  it is seeking a deal with the Serbian regime that leaves Milosevic
in power  and in overall control of Kosova! NATO even promises that it will
disarm the Kosovars.  (see below) Of course NATO promises to defend the
Kosovars - just like the UN did with the 'safe haven' of  Srebrenica.

The  death and destruction  brought in Serbia by NATO is not to secure a
'just' peace in Kosova but in pursuit of one more rotten deal in the Balkans
that satisfies the Great powers while ignoring the democratic rights of
both Serbs and Albanians.  In order to show our solidarity with all the
victims of Milosevic and NATO we are also planning to take aid to the
Serbian miners of Aleksinac, hit by 'stray' cruise missiles.

There can be no lasting peace in the Balkans without and end to colonial
intrigue and the defeat of  the Serbian regime, its politics of ethnic
cleansing and the paramilitary gangs of fascists that is has nurtured. This
is not NATO's  aim anymore than it was the UN's  in Bosnia. However
difficult it may be, this task falls to all of us, the ordinary citizens of
the world, to the working class, to the trade unions, to socialists, to
everyone who hates racism and ethnic division.

The Kosova people are fighting back as best they can but by themselves the
task is impossible. Many of them still look to NATO. Let us show them
another ally.  One that has no ulterior motives.  Please help our convoys of
solidarity. Stand up against ethnic cleansing

How you can help:   In the UK
1 collect any kind of dried food - rice, pasta, dried milk, sugar, flour,
dried fruit, coffee,
2 dried   vegetables, cooking oil.  Also educational aid as outlined in
letter below.
2 obtain lorries -  7.5 tonne  - 40 tonne.
3  Organise for the campaigning team to come to your area to do street
collection, pick up aid, hold a public meeting etc.  The campaigning team
will have speakers including refugees and people who have just returned from
4 Collect money
5 Set up a Workers' Aid branch in your area
Outside of the UK
1 Organise lorries to join the convoy.
2  If you are roughly on  the route from UK or Spain to Italy organise for
one of the convoy teams to come to your town to hold an event there.
3 Organise for someone from Workers' Aid to come to your area to do a
speaking tour.
4 Send us money

For further information on all these things contact our newly established
office: Unit 26, 41 Old Birley St, Manchester, M15 5RS tel (0)161 232 9998,
fax (0)161 232  9551  email

The convoy campaign will be  roughly as follows
May - Aberdeen 24th ,  Kirkaldy 25th, Edinburgh 26th , York 27th,
Middlesborough 28th, Bradford 29th,
June -  Leicester 2nd, Cambridge 3rd, Nottingham  5th , London  7th - 8th,
Greater Manchester  10th -11th, Brighton 15th - other places to be fixed.

1. Extracts from NATO's proposed 'peace deal' sent to the russians

"A political process to establish an interim political framework providing a
substantial degree of self government for Kosova, taking full account of the
Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial
integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of
the region.  Also, the demilitarisation of the Kosova Liberation Army"  -
when this diplomatic language is translated into  English it reads 'Kosova
will remain part of Serbia and if any Kosovars  challenge this NATO will
deal with them.'

2  Education Appeals

>From Bajram Kruja, President of Independent Trade Union  of education of
          Agim Hyseni, President of Union of Education, Science and Culture
of Kosova.

The Independent  Trade Union of Education of  Albania and the Trade Union of
Education, Science and Culture of Kosova are members of Education
International with whom they have recently signed an agreement of
cooperation. They are working hard together to help the refugees of Kosova.
They are even cooperating with the Albanian Ministry of Education to make
possible for the children of Kosova to begin a summer school on 6th June -
16th August. We are working even for a long term programme (if the pupils
are still here in Spetember) to make it possible to begin the new school
year in September.

To facilitate our job we welcome support and aid from all parts of Europe
and the world, from Trade Unions, NGOs as well as all persons that are
interested to help us. For these reasons we need:
1. Equipment for schools for pupils and trachers ( such as books, exercise
books, chalks, pens etc)
2. Equipments for the kindergardens and for children that need to be
psychologically rehabilitated.
3. Equipments for the offices (such as computers, printers, fotocopiers,
desks, boards etc)
4. Financial support in order to make it possible to publish a magazinbe for
the children, to organise concerts and puppet theatre and to help the
members of the trade unions that have taken refugees into their homes.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation and support.

Bajram Kruja, Agim Hyseni.

Rr "Qemal Stafa" Nr 226, Tirana, Albania. Tel 00 355 42 283 26695

>From Ali Shabanaj, Vice President, Union of Education, Science and Culture
of Kosova.

Dear Friends and colleagues,

You will know we are in a terrible situation.  Thousands of people have been
forced from their homes in kosova as a result of genocidal violence from
Serbian fascists and para-militaries.  The majority of these enforced
refugees were forced to come to Albania which is already a poor country with
its economy in ruins.

There are in Albania 420,000 refugees.  200,000 are school students, 10,000
are teachers of all subjects and age groups.  These figures grow daily.  Our
trade union represents these teachers and we are already organising the
education of our children in camps and other places.

The first problem is that of course all the children are traumatised and we
need to assure them that they are safe.  The second problem is that their
school term was severely disrupted and we are organising summer schools
starting on June 6th.  Our third problem is that we need to prepare for our
next term which starts in September.  Other problems  include general
problems of aid, tracing families etc and of course we are all unpaid.  We
also need to get our own office to help us in our work.

You can help by:
2. Sending us pencils, pens, paints, crayons, paper, toys, sports equipment,
musical instruments, chalk, felt tips and other class room materials. Please
note many camps do not have electricity although we hope this will change.
3. We also need school furniture for all age groups, desks, chairs, tables,
blackboards, rubbers, mobile or temporary class rooms.
4. Books in Albanian - the Albanian Government cannot afford to print them.
5.  Staff on short term or long term placements.  We need especially trained
counsellors as we only have four in Albania. Teachers, class room
assistants, drama groups and others who can help out with the summer schools
are invited to come to help but you must be self sufficient with your own
tents, cooking equipment etc.
6. General  food aid for our members and children
7. Office. We need phones, photocopiers, faxes, computers, printers,
software.  We estimate we also need 500Dm (#165) a month to run office
8. Money can be donated to our union bank account.  Name -SBASHK , account
number 21620 - 04 - 0169 Dardania Bank, Tirana, Albania.
Yours sincerely,
Ali Shabanaj,  22 / 5 / 99

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