Today, on the twenty-third day of the civic protest, in an extremely
cold weather with fierce wind, almost 15 000 people gathered in the
main square.When you run a marthon, what counts is not the rhythm of
running, butovercoming the crises and finishing the race successfully.
The speakers today were: prof. Ljubomir Madzar, Ph.D.,a leading European
economist, prof. Zoran Milenkovic,Ph.D.,professor at the Faculty of
Medicine, Srdja Popovic, member of the Democratic Youth Board, Momcilo
Popovic, who used to be a very popular TV anchorman (once upon a time,
when TV people could be popular), dr Aleksandar Zlatic, another
Legitimatelyelected City Council member whose seat has been stoled by
the City Electoral Commission, Vukuca Nikolic, EI worker, and Momcilo
Prof. Ljubomir Madzar of the Faculty of Economy in Belgrade said: "Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Nis, my dear friends, it is a pleasure and honour for me to have an opportunity to speak here in Nis, the city where this magnificent movement began, the city which initiated this Serbia's movement for liberation and democratic emancipation. It is a real honour to speak in Nis, which contrary to what had been expected, acted as an avantgarde of this great democratic struggle.Today this struggle comprises what is best all over Serbia.As an economist, I can tell you that our biggest problems derive from politics,that the most serious harms to our economy were done by politics, that in fact politics is the biggest problem of our economy. Until politics changes, we can not hope to achieve any advance in economy.
As I see it, this political process obviously has a historical dimension to it and it will certainly make a difference to Serbia's future. Above all, this is a very deep conflict between the people and the rulers who have always been detached, only it has never been this obvious. I do not predict long life to such rulers. How long it is going to be, it is up to you and us, you in Nis and us in Belgrade, up to all the honest and reasonable people all over Serbia, who have eventually decided to pluck up courage and stand up to such rulers."
Srdja Popovic, member of the Democratric Youth Board, spoke about what had been achieved during the three weeks of protest. He said: "First of all, on November 18, the citizens of Serbia realised something: Milosevic can be defeated; he can be defeated in the elections; people have votes and their votes have weight. We realised that we were in majority. Secondly,Milosevic - the alleged leader of the nation -has shrunk down on what he has always actually been: a pitty dictator, frightened out of his wits. Thirdly, from these elections on Milosevic will never ever win an election in Serbia again."Mr Popovic announced that the International Measurement Commitee in Paris would be informed that the Belgrade regime had introduced a new measurement unit. "That new unit is - a handful. In Belgrade, this unit stands for 50 000 students in the morning and 200 000 people in the afternoon. I believe that this unit is our real measure. Here we are - a handful!" The teaching staff of the Dental Department at the Faculty of Medicine made an announcement yesterday. It says: "We, teaching staff, give support to our students' protest and their demand for truth, respect of the Constitution, provided that it remains non-political and authentic students' movement. Nobody in this Faculty will be persecuted or punished for speaking out his or her mind." (This announcement was signed by all the professors and teaching assistents at the Department, including four members of Milosevic's Socialist Party).
The most courageous and honest workers are joining the protest. Workers of an EI factory department sent a message of support, in which it is stated that "the youth of Serbia has risen in pursuit of happiness , freedom, democracy and honesty, and so should we, the workers. We shall follow in your footsteps. That is why we should be here - our job is to be by your side. You and us - we are the voice of the people, and we won't give up.If we do give up, both you and the generations to come will be ashamed of us and will never forgive us."
In their announcement, the MIN workers said: "We, the workers of MIN -"Lokomotiva", who do not belong to any party, fully support the demands of the students and citizens of Serbia. We are here in this square and in the rally every day, defending our dignity. We will not give up,we will hold on, in our joint efforts to make a better tomorrow for our children." (Signed by 516 workers)
Cvetkovic Momcilo, "Jastrebac" worker, said: "Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Nis, I am glad to see so many of you gathering here day by day. Don't give up! Several hundred workers of "Jastrebac" are here with you every day. The reason why we did not come as an organised group is that our trade union leaders do not dare to put their signature below our demands. But we are here!"
Vukica Nikolic, EI worker, who has taken part in all the strikes organised from 1969 on, said: "Good evening to you my dear fellow citizens, students, pupils, both to you "seduced" and to us divorced... Divorced, I say, and I mean it literally. Because this government, this regime, was responsible for the breakup of many marriages. It is because there was no money, and when there is no money, there are rows in marriages. And there is one more reason.I have been in the trade union since 1974. I have been trying to help my fellow workers. But today, I want to renounce and divorce this shameful union in public, the union which is regime-controled, bribed, corrupted and destructive of the working people."
Because of the freezing wind and very low temperature, the walk was shorter than usual - the procession walked only the downtown streets.
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Photos from students protest in Nis