News 16 Feb 15

Serbia Honours Chomsky for Criticising NATO Bombing

President Tomislav Nikolic honoured US philosopher Noam Chomsky after he wrote that the West showed hypocrisy for not condemning the deadly NATO attack on Serbian state TV in 1999.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

 

 

Noam Chomsky. Photo: Wikicommons/Duncan Rawlinson.

Nikolic marked the country’s Statehood Day on Sunday by bestowing honours on a large number of people including Chomsky and Serbian Army chief Ljubisa Dikovic, who was recently accused of being responsible for war crimes in Kosovo.

Chomsky was given the Order of Sretenje in his absence after he published an article recently comparing the murders at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with the NATO attack on Serbian public broadcaster RTS that killed 16 people in April 1999.

He wrote that it was an example of Western hypocrisy that “there were no demonstrations or cries of outrage, no chants of ‘We are RTV’ [sic], no inquiries into the roots of the attack in Christian culture and history” when the Serbian broadcaster was bombed.

Meanwhile Dikovic, the head of the general staff of the Serbian armed forces, was awarded the Order of the White Eagle with Swords, First Class, for his outstanding contributions to the country’s defence system and command and control of military units.

The honour was bestowed just over two weeks after the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre published a report alleging that Dikovic, as wartime commander of the 37th Brigade of the Yugoslav Army, was responsible for attacks on four villages in the Drenica area of Kosovo in 1999, in which at least 69 Kosovo Albanians were killed.

The report also claimed the 37th Brigade was responsible for the subsequent removal of the bodies from the villages in an attempted cover-up. The bodies were found last summer in the mass grave near the town of Raska, close to the Kosovo border.

Dikovic has strongly denied the allegations.

In his address, Nikolic said that Statehood Day was an opportunity to reward the most valiant and successful people.

“I do not want to hold back words of praise for those who give their best. I am looking forward to an increasing number of them every year, because the number of decorations indicates that as a society in the community of nations, we are becoming more and more successful,” Nikolic said.

Nikolic also honoured Smilja Avramov, a retired law professor known for being a strong supporter of the politics of Yugoslav late president Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 during his trial for war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Avramov was the first one to testify in Milosevic’s defence at his trial.

Activists from the Serbian NGO Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) staged a protest in front of the Serbian parliament and presidency on Sunday, saying that army chief Dikovic should be investigated for war crimes.

A group of around 100 activists held up banners with slogans like “General, you shoot civilians”, “Investigation, not award” and “I love Serbia, but I love truth more”.

“We believe this award is offensive for the whole of society and for the victims,” said Anita Mancic from YIHR.

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