Preparing for Peace
The website of the Westmorland General Meeting 'Preparing for Peace' initiative
The Education Programme
WAYS TO PREVENT WAR- Otpor (Serb for Resistance)- Activity Notes
This activity will demonstrate non-violent alternatives to war in a country where the people are suffering from oppression in a repressed democracy. It will show how international bodies can help oppressed people in this situation. It is based on events in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1998 and 2000.
The activity can be carried out in small groups of 3-6 people.
Each group is given 1 of the cards and asked to imagine a Serb person their age living in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in Belgrade perhaps. The group is asked to write a note or letter to the person on the card giving their opinion about what action that person should take and why; the writer should include how they feel about it. One of the cards could be read out by way of illustration. Estimated time 10 minutes.
When each group is ready they should be asked in turn to read out what they have written. Any common themes should be noted. Possible themes are optimism/pessimism, courage/fear, political awareness, desire for change, personal feelings for the individual weighed against a sense of duty or pride in their responsible position.
Let young people conduct their own research to find out what happened in reality. Useful web-sites are:
Otpor (Serb for Resistance)
East West Institute- the Bratislava process
Alternatively, the class as a whole could be asked what they think the answers are to the following questions posed one at a time:
1 Q Did the student activists in Otpor hold peaceful demonstrations?
2 Q Did the students make friends and supporters among the police, judiciary and media
which President Milosevic relied on to keep him in power/
3 Q Did the students in Otpor succeed in placing trained observers of observers of the
electoral process in all 160 municipal areas where the elections were held?
4 Q Did Otpor and the Democratic Opposition of Serbia run an election campaign with
some or all of the following: a presidential candidate, a manifesto, leaflets, publicity,
stickers, T-shirts, mobile phones, spray cans and aeroplane banners?
A All save no actual reports of aeroplane banners.
5 Q Did the opposition candidate, Vojislav Kostunica, win the election?
6 Q Did President Milosevic concede the result?
7 Q Did Otpor call demonstrations at key places all over the country?
8 Q Did trade unions call their members out on strike?
9 Q Did Milosevic concede defeat?
Open-ended discussion of whether there are other situations which these approaches could be used to resolve. Would it have worked in Afghanistan or Iraq? If it had happened sooner in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could the NATO war over Kosovo have been avoided?