Aussie girl's Easter plea to stop Nato bombing

SYDNEY:12 April (South News) At an anti-NATO protest Sunday, the mood against the bombing of Yugoslavia was captured from a 14-year-old girl.

Dusanka Radan stepped to the podium with a speech and a rose. She read a letter she had sent to US President Bill Clinton to the estimated 6000 protesters in the city's Domain.

Her plea to Mr Clinton to "stop the bombing" made grown men wipe away tears.

"I'm very upset at what's happening in Yugoslavia and I beg you stop the bombing of innocent people", she cried. "It really upsets me to see children my age and younger suffering in terrible conditions.

"You should never give up talking and negotiating when two people are having an argument and you are trying to find a solution," she said."Even if one side is wrong, you have punished everybody and turned life upside-down for Serbians and Albanians."

"Bombing children and innocent people is not going to end this war," she read through tears, while some of the crowd also wept. "Please, please, please stop the bombing and get talking."

Like most other protesters on the Serbian Orthodox Church's Easter Sunday, she wore a paper bullseye and the word "target" on her chest.

Speeches from the Serbian community condemned NATO, President Clinton and the Western media's coverage of the war. Spokesman Ilija Glisic called on the Australian Government "to do what it can to stop the bombing and resume the peace process".

"It's time that the Government and opposition parties alike started using the special relationship with the Americans to do something for peace, not war," he said. Glisic from the Serbian National Federation also accused the media was only presenting Nato's side of the conflict in order to prepare public opinion for the introduction of NATO ground troops.

Other speakers alleged that it was NATO bombing that was driving Kosovar refugees from their homeland, not Serbian forces. Demonstrators wore target signs on their backs and waved Serbian flags, among the sea of flags were some Australian, Greek, Macedonian, Italian and Polish flags.

Police put on their biggest turn-out since the anti-Vietnam War marches were stationed around the city in readiness, after violence at rallies around Australia at the beginning of Nato bombing weeks ago. About 950 police monitored the protest and guarded the United States Consulate-General offices in the MLC Building at Martin Place.

The protest coincided with Serbian Orthodox Easter celebrations. Easter, the anniversary of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was observed by some 300 million Orthodox on Sunday. Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrated Easter a week earlier.

Despite Easter celebrations, allied bombings against Yugoslavia continued overnight Sunday.The bombings have led to an outpouring of faith in Yugoslavia, where thousands of Serbs attended midnight Mass, defying the warnings of air-raid sirens.