Open letter to the Assembly of the SFRJ and to the Assembly of SR Serbia by the Free University (1984)
Ever since 20 April this year, when twenty-eight people were arrested for meeting at a private flat in order to talk about the national question in Yugoslavia, the Enemy Number One has become the Free University. One outcome has been the tragic death of the young worker Radomir Radović. The arrests are continuing. On 23 May the Belgrade Investigating Court issued a warrant for the arrest of three more people: Vladimir Mijanović, Pavluško lmširović and Milan Nikolić, whose names are now added to the previous three arrests - those of Miodrag Milić and Dragomir Olujić, and the synchronized arrest of Vojislav Šešelj in Sarajevo. All are being charged with 'the criminal act of association for enemy activity'. At this moment, four young lives are also in danger since, in protest against these illegal acts by the authorities, Mijanović, Imširović, Nikolić and Šešelj have started an unlimited hunger strike.
The authorities are behaving sternly, pretending that they are dealing with a dangerous group of terrorists which is a threat to the security of the state and its citizens - the indictment speaks of 'acting in the period from 1977 until April 1984 in creating, organizing, recruiting and consolidating a group of persons for the purpose of a counter-revolutionary action against the social organization, designed to destabilize and anti-constitutionally change the existing socio-economic system and overthrow the existing system of government'. No proof is offered other than these meetings which took place in private flats, the various topics which were discussed, the number of participants, and the number of these meetings. These meetings have been declared illegal. Yet everybody knew about them since they have always been open: those who took part in them considered them to be perfectly legal, indeed guaranteed by the Constitution of the SFRJ. Indeed, while declaring them illegal, not a single theme discussed at them has been mentioned by the authorities as proof of this, no doubt in order to cover up the true character of these occasions.
We, ourselves, have organized such seminars, known as the Free University, in the past-though these could not be 'advertised', because we could not use public places, which were closed to us, so we had to meet privately. As such we protest against this loathsome misuse of law which, playing with the lives and security of Yugoslav citizens, tries to construct a political process against imaginary enemies.
For the sake of public information, and in order to show what 'hides' behind these 'illegal meetings', we shall quote to you the themes discussed at them, together with the names of the main speakers, so that you may understand the nature of the 'counter-revolutionary activities' with which these people are being charged today.
Between 1972 and 1982 we organized and participated in the following meetings: L. Tadić, Once More On the Concept of Enlightenment; S. Stojanović and Z. Golubović, An Attempt at a Marxist Analysis of Stalinism; M. Marković, The Distribution of Power in a Just Society; V. Rus, A Comparative Investigation of Industrial Democracy and Workers' Participation; D. Mićunović, The Idea of Humanism in Post-Classical Philosophy; Discussion of Bahro's The Alternative; D. Ćosić, About the Conflict between Realism and Modernism; Discussion on the theme of Philosophy and the Transformation of the World; D. Bošković, The Problem of Ideology in the Early Works of Yugoslav Marxists; L. Veljak, The Actuality of the Theory of Reflection; B. Burzić, Youth Between Movement and Organization; K. Čavoški, The Legal System in Real Socialism; D. Grlić, The Theory of Creativity; T. Inđić, About Spain; N. Popov, Ideas, Movements, Ideologies; B. Jelovec, Problems of Ideology and New Experience (Psychoanalysis and Phenomenology); M. Nikolić, High Technology and the Possibility of a Telemathic Civilization; M. Belandić, Speech and Power; Z. Golubović and M. Marković, On Human Needs; L. Stojanović, Modern Art and the Humanist Idea; Debate about the Solidarity movement in Poland; S. Knjazeva-Adamović, Man as a Natural Being; Debate on the crisis of Marxism with respect to the work of Kołakowski.
Among those present at alt these 'subversive' meetings were the above-mentioned comrades who, because of this, have been arrested and charged with 'organizing against the social system' and with counter-revolutionary activity. That which even the Polish authorities did not dare to do between 1975 and 1980, when the so-called Flying Universities were operating as a first alternative to the existing institutions of learning, the Yugoslav authorities are now arrogantly doing, breaking all international conventions on human rights and civil liberties that have been signed by our country. The idea of the Free University was naturally born too, at a time when everywhere in the world, under the influence of new social movements, 'alternative forms' are increasingly being sought and created in parallel to the institutionalized ones, expressing a general dissatisfaction with the latter. This is how we conceived the Free University and how we practiced it for several years at different discussion meetings. We consider we have done nothing illegal. We have used only rights guaranteed to its citizens by the Yugoslav Constitution, which allows them personal initiative in the organization and improvement of their intercommunication. The above themes - and similar ones covered at other seminars of the Free University - best show its nature. Only a sick mind or an obscurantist conservatism could 'discover' counter-revolutionary activity and 'criminal acts' for the overthrow of the existing order behind this kind of activity.
We turn, therefore, to the general public and to you with a warning that a dangerous situation is now being created, which will have unforeseeable consequences not only for the future of these innocent people but also for the future of a free and democratic Yugoslavia, if urgent measures are not taken to put an end to this arbitrary exercise of power and if the necessary dignity is not returned to the court and judicial system in this country.
Therefore, in the interest of the possible and necessary democratic development of this country - which is the only real way out of the state of deep crisis in which Yugoslav society finds itself today - we demand an end to this hate-fueled campaign, this hunting of people, and that those arrested - Miodrag Milić, Dragomir Olujić, Vlada Mijanović, Milan Nikolić, Pavle Imširović, Vojislav Šešelj - be released. The charges against them have been invented, and their elementary civil rights have been withdrawn.
Since their lives are in danger, we demand immediate action. Otherwise their personal tragedies may become a very great shame for the whole of Yugoslav society.
Signed: Zagorka Golubović, Nebojša Popov, Miladin Životić, Svetozar Stojanović, Mihailo Marković, Dobrica Ćosić, Dragoljub Mićunović, Ljubomir Tadić.
30 May 1984