Are we going to see a remake of Sarajevo’s siege in the heart of Europe?
Some thirty years ago, we were watching desperately the people of Sarajevo being starved, and ruthlessly shot by snipers as they were fighting for a multi-ethnic Bosnia.
Desperately? Yes, but not helplessly, writes Patricia Duval.
The work done by NGOs back then was to counter the disinformation spread by the Milosevic regime in line with the old soviet tactics of propaganda and the spreading of lies.
The TV in Belgrade was showing Sarajevo allegedly besieged by Bosnian Muslims, when Sarajevo was actually the target of Bosnian Serbs and Milosevic’s army.
Similarly, the TV in Russia these days shows Ukraine purported to be attacked by Ukrainian “nazi” forces led by their “nazi” President Zelensky.
At the time of the Bosnian war, NGOs had a hard time making the international community and journalists understand that they were not faced with a “civil war” that would have arisen by itself.
It took years after the end of the war for people in Serbia to realise that they had been duped by their own government.
In the case of Ukraine, the international community is well aware of the lies and who is the aggressor. Russia, who supported its Serbian Orthodox brothers at the time and vetoed any resolution of the UN to end the genocide, is now on the front line in Ukraine.
Apparently, they never “swallowed” the intervention of NATO against their Serbian brothers in Bosnia and then Kosovo. They claim to have been fighting any attempt by NATO to extend to the east.
So we now have to deal with another, may it be the last, Hydra’s head.
This leads me to the following questions.
What is the role played by the Russian Orthodox Church in all these events?
Having witnessed at the time the blessing of Milosevic army tanks by the Serbian Orthodox Church before they were sent to commit genocide, one can only be puzzled at the Russian Orthodox Church recent declaration that Ukrainians are the “forces of evil”.
Is it the role of a Church to designate who is the enemy and against whom to instigate war?
The Russian Orthodox Church has obtained from Putin the elimination in Russia of minority religions they saw as competitors and which they labelled as “cults”. They have branded cults as “terrorist” or “undesirable” organisations, (e.g. the imprisonment of Jehovah’s Witnesses who organised the reading of the Bible in their homes, etc.).
Does the opposition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to the Moscow Patriarchate explain the label of “forces of evil”?
While the Russian Orthodox Church is certainly a tool for Putin to consolidate his power over the Russian population, conversely the question of its role in Putin’s decision making has not been discussed recently.
But this should be brought under the spotlight.
Can it be tolerated that a Church instigates war in the 21st Century?
The international community of religions should make a stand and participate to the world’s efforts towards peace.
The Author, Patricia Duval is an attorney and member of the Paris Bar in France. She is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Forum For Religious Freedom (FOREF).