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From the Eastern Daily Press, Friday, May 28, 1999

Time to halt the bombing

RODNEY HOOPER,
RUPERT READ,
Norwich and Lynn Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

We write to express our profound opposition to the ongoing use of military force by Nato in the current conflict in Kosovo.

We are convinced that this kind of military action cannot deliver a just and sustainable settlement of a delicate and complex human problem.

We believe it has merely accelerated the Serbian programme of ethnic cleansing and strengthened the grip of the Milosevic government over its own people.

Indeed our fear is that it may inflame things further, leading to a wider conflict spilling into neighbouring countries, sabotaging the region's economy and making it completely impossible for Serbs and Albanians to be reconciled for generations to come - and all of this initiated without United Nations authorisation. There has to be a better way than this.

Will this campaign end up going on for as long as that of Iraq, which continues today almost unnoticed nearly a decade after the Gulf War ceased?

That campaign continues to cause environmental devastation and keeps an entire nation in a kind of torture. Does Britain really want to do the same to the Serbian people?

We call on our government to suspend military action immediately and to work through legitimate channels - the UN Secretary General and the Security Council, and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe - to see diplomatic negotiations through to a realistic finish.

We also all for all who have committed crimes against humanity to be prosecuted and held to account. This should allow no exceptions by reason of rank or political position. Justice must be done and be seen to be done.

Finally we call for an effective peace-based security and rebuilding programme so that this conflict will not simply re-ignite when the world's Press have all gone home (Quaker Peace and Service is already preparing for its role in that programme.)

When this kind of violence is conducted by our own Armed Forces and paid for by our taxes we feel a special responsibility to speak out.

Of course we abhor atrocities, whether committed by Serb or indeed Kosovan forces, but the bombing and the so-called mistakes simply multiply the suffering without getting any nearer to a just solution.

What can be done?
Green Left appeal (Australia)
Comments & Letters (Eastern Daily Press, Norwich)
Norwich City Council statement
Our ethical Foreign Policy
Paddy's home page