Today, twenty years on, we remember the NATO aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) which had started on 24 March 1999 and lasted until 10 June same year. Yugoslavia was attacked without support of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which set a sad and shameful precedent. To this day, no individual or country was tried for this illegal act and barbaric crime.
During the aggression, 2,300 air attacks were performed with participation of 1,150 NATO combat airplanes which droped an estimated 22,000 tones or 420, 000 projectiles. Although the official numbers have not been published thus far, it is estimated that the bombing killed around 2,500 people among them 1031 Serbian soldiers and policemen, and more than 12, 500 people were wounded. Many casualties were children. It destroyed Serbian infrastructure, bridges, industrial plants, public buildings, 40 hospitals, 69 schools and 19 childcares, countless private homes and businesses, as well as some barracks and military installations. The financial damage is an estimated 100 billion US dollars.
More tragic than any other aspect of this crime is NATO’s use of depleted uranium ammunition. The eco system of Serbia continues to be seriously affected by the devastating effects of this kind of ammunition which is documented in the dramatic rise of carcinoma in the population, especially leukaemia which is 110% more present than before 1999. Statistics show that the number of children with leukaemia has risen from 160 in one million of the general population in 1999 to 334 children in 2018, which is 100% more than the European average.
The bombing was concluded by the Kumanovo Peace Agreement and the withdrawing of Serbian army and police forces from the province of Kosovo and Metohija. The same peace agreement was followed by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 which guarantied the sovereignty of Serbian state on its province of Kosovo and Metohija. In the days after the Yugoslav Army withdrew, over 200,000 Serbs left Kosovo and many of the remaining were victims of countless abuses and planned ethnic cleansing. Many were killed or simply disappeared and the property of civilians and institutions including the Church were plundered and pillaged. Numerous medieval churches and monasteries considered world cultural heritage sites were desecrated and destroyed.
On Saturday, 23rdrd March 2019, a memorial service for victims of NATO terror was held at the Saint Sava Orthodox Church in Flemington. Very Rev. Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Miodrag Peric, Very Rev. Presbyter Nemanja Mrdjenovic and Very Rev. Protopresbyter Sasha Cholich, the host, presided over the evening service.
Please take a moment to listen to a recording of Fr Miodrag Peric’s address.
After the memorial services, those present had the honour to listen to a thought-provoking lecture by Dr. Miroljub Jevtic, a Professor of Politology of Religion in the Political Science Department at the University of Belgrade.