To the Editors:
Over the past decade, the government of Slobodan Milosevic has systematically destroyed the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the former and present Yugoslavia. His policies have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands and the livelihoods of millions. He has destroyed his country’s economy and its rightful, honorable place in the community of nations. He has perverted the democratic process by coercing independent media and repeatedly rigging elections. But, until now, he has failed to silence the outspoken opposition of the country’s universities, which remain one of the few institutions upon which Serbs can someday build a new society based on the rule of law.
Milosevic is now bent on silencing his academic critics by dismissing those faculty who refuse to sign a newly required loyalty oath. Several professors have already been terminated, while well over a hundred more await a similar fate. As scholars we call upon the United States, its European allies, and private, non-governmental institutions to use all means at their disposal to preserve the freedom and independence of Serbia’s universities. In particular we urge them to establish a fund to support the families of dismissed faculty members, both as a humanitarian gesture and as a signal to those who remain employed that their continued resistance will not endanger their families’ welfare.
John V.A. Fine
November 5, 1998