[The following letter is from the workers at the Yugo auto 
plant in Zastava. NATO planes bombed it even though the 
workers had announced their decision to stay in the factory 
as a human shield to protect their jobs. More than 120 
people were wounded and 40,000 people have lost the means to 
feed their families. Photos and more stories about 
Yugoslavia can be found at www.aic.org.yu and 

This night, the 9th of April, the Zastava factory plants 
in Kragujevac were bombed. The live shield is broken 

This bombardment has inflicted severe damage to factory 
equipment and almost completely destroyed the energy supply 
complex that served not only Zastava's needs, but also the 
heating of the entire city of Kragujevac: its residential 
houses, schools, faculties, hospitals. ...

We were horror-stricken at the civilian victims: tens of 
men inside a live shield that was safeguarding the factory 
plants. Among the victims there were not only the Zastava 
workers, but also members of their families and other 
citizens of the city of Kragujevac.

What none among us either could or was willing to assume 
as possible did happen: Kragujevac has re-experienced its 
World War II tragedy; its citizens have again become the 
target of a barbarian assault.

In the name of what aims did war planes take off from once 
friendly countries which used to send us the ideas of 
humanness, freedom, maybe the greatest treasure that we have 
in modern civilization? What has happened to all those 
ideas--and have they been just an illusion that dispersed at 
the first sound of raised arms?

We, the small people, who have looked with admiration at 
all the great things coming from you, could not or did not 
want to accept that this was so. Haven't we, still, been 
mistaken? Has anyone from among you given a thought to our 
future and the future of our children? That has become 
entirely uncertain due to this insane act, and precisely 
this future [is what] we have been defending at the price of 
our own lives.

Already exhausted by sanctions that have reduced our 
average monthly salary from DEM 870 to DEM 560, knowing that 
destruction of the factory would call into question the very 
existence of ourselves and our families, we have made a 
desperate move: With our bodies we have made a live shield 
that has been guarding our factory night and day. We have 
been resolute, since the very onset of the attack on our 
country, and persisted in the realization of that decision 
every day, not to leave our plants after the expiration of 
working hours, not even when the alarms would sound air 
strikes, thus staying round the clock at our work places.

By night our family members and citizens of Kragujevac 
were visiting us, giving us support and making these moments 
of painful suspense easier. In order to prevent a horrendous 
catastrophe that might arise due to the insane act of an 
attack on our factory, through the media we have addressed 
the local and worldwide public, giving the precise 
coordinates of the factory, and pointing at the potential 
losses, spiritual and material, that might be inflicted by 
its destruction. In our addresses we appealed to the public 
of NATO member countries, to the conscience of the common 
people in those countries. Our appeal was published and 
broadcast by numerous foreign media: TV networks and news 

We, the Zastava workers and citizens of Kragujevac, are 
afraid of the future standing in front of us. Now we wonder 
whether we have any future at all. Our children are hungry, 
and their eyes filled with horror. We have no more answers 
to their questions.

Kragujevac, April 9, 1999

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