Black Ribbon

Photo: Goranka Matić

During the 1990s, anti-war activists held multiple rallies and protests in Belgrade and other towns in Serbia. On July 15, 1991, the Center for Anti-War Action organized Peace Walk, the first antiwar rally. On October 5, 1991, a demonstration against the bombing of Dubrovnik took place, and the Belgrade Anti-War Marathon was held every week between October 1991 and January 1992 in The Duško Radović Theater. From October 8, 1991 until February 8, 1992, citizens burned candles in front of Serbia’s Presidency every evening. In addition, the “Don’t Count on Us” peace concerts were held, as well as anti-ethnic cleansing marches “Last Bell” and “Yellow Tape”. On May 31, 1992, Belgrade witnessed the most significant anti-war rally Black Ribbon. It is believed that ten thousand civilians took part in holding up a huge “Black Ribbon” from the “Albania” Palace to Slavija Square (some 1300 meters), in protest against the siege of Sarajevo and the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Kosovo Parallel Schooling System

The parallel education system in Kosovo, which began in early 1992, was a form of alternative schooling organized mainly in private houses, basements, and garages. This system was put in place in reaction to the removal of the Albanian language from the elementary and secondary curriculum and the expulsion of a large number of Albanian teachers. Parallel schooling was part of a parallel political system formed by the Albanian population to oppose persecution by the regime of Slobodan Milošević. In addition to education, it also involved parallelly held elections, and the establishment of media outlets and cultural institutions.

Throughout the 1990s, almost 300,000 students participated in the class boycott and in the alternative education system that included all levels of education. This project was an important component in preserving Albanian identity and culture in Kosovo, and it significantly contributed to the political mobilization of Albanians of all generations.

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Photos: published in Besa Shahini “Lessons in Resistance: Kosovo’s parallel education system in the 1990s”, Prishtina Insight, 14 October 2016, privatni arhivi; and in Nastava savremene istorije jugoistočne Evrope. Ratovi, podele, integracija (1990-2008), ur. K. Kuluri, B. Repe, D. Stojanovic, Beograd 2018, str. 46

Theatre Under Siege

Photo: Paul Lowe

From the very first days of the siege, culture became an essential resistance instrument of the citizens of Sarajevo. Performances, concerts, film screenings, and literary forums were organized daily, with the participation of many citizens who risked their lives to attend them. In May 1992, a group of theater workers founded the Sarajevo War Theater (SARTR), which still exists today.

In the photograph, we see the cast of Waiting for Godot directed by renowned American writer and theorist Susan Sontag in 1993 in besieged Sarajevo. Today, the square in front of the National Theater in Sarajevo is named after her.

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Witches from Rio

The anonymous article “Witches from Rio” was published in the Zagreb weekly Globus on December 11, 1992. Jelena Lovrić, Rada Iveković, Slavenka Drakulić, Vesna Kesić, and Dubravka Ugrešić were accused of lobbying against the organization of the next PEN Congress in Dubrovnik during the PEN Congress in Rio de Janeiro (which they never attended). They were accused of denouncing Croatia, which exposed them to media criticism and public threats. The article also delved deeply into their private lives and is regarded as one of the most disgraceful press articles in the history of Croatian journalism. Rada Iveković was already living in exile, and Dubravka Ugrešić and Slavenka Drakulić left Croatia shortly after as well. It was disclosed later that the author of the anonymous article signed by the “Globus investigative team” was the Croatian sociologist and publicist Slaven Letica, while Denis Kuljić as editor commissioned the piece.

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Feral Tribune

Feral Tribune was one of Croatia’s most well-known anti-war and anti-nationalist independent media newspapers. Three young journalists, Viktor Ivančić, Predrag Lucić, and Boris Dežulović (“Viva Ludež”), founded Feral in 1984 as a satirical supplement to Nedjeljna Dalmacija. In 1993, following the takeover of Slobodna Dalmacija by a regime-friendly tycoon, Miroslav Kutle, they founded Feral Tribune. This independent, satirical weekly gained a worldwide reputation as a courageous media outlet that opposed nationalism, corruption, and the political manipulations of Franjo Tudjman’s regime. Feral Tribune was one of the few media entities that reported openly on war crimes and human rights violations. Their journalists were frequently subjected to threats, assaults, lawsuits, and censorship, but they continued to work fearlessly. Feral Tribune closed in 2008.

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The Murder of Slavko Ćuruvija

Slavko Ćuruvija (1949-1999) was the owner of the opposition newspaper Dnevni telegraf and the magazine Evropljanin. As an open critic of Slobodan Milošević’s regime, he was targeted by politicians and media alike. In an article titled “Slavko Ćuruvija welcomed the bombs,” published in Politika Express, he was accused of supporting the NATO bombing of Serbia. Ćuruvija was killed just a few days later, on April 11, 1999, in front of his building in Belgrade’s city center. Amidst a state of war, it served as an unambiguous warning to all opponents of Milošević’s regime. The State Security chief was charged with murder, and the culprits’ trial has not yet concluded.

Over 150 journalists were estimated to be killed, vanished, or kidnapped on Yugoslavian territory during the 1990s hostilities.


Rimtutituki (a wordplay) was formed in Belgrade in early 1992 in response to war events and as a form of resistance to war mobilization. It consisted of members of the bands Ekaterina Velika, Električni orgazam, and Partibrejkersi. They sought to spread messages of peace and tolerance through music and performances. In addition to the single “Slušaj vamo” (Listen here) that they promoted on an open truck driven through the streets of Belgrade on March 8, 1992, Rimtutituki organized numerous other performances in Belgrade, the most notable being the concert “Don’t count on us”. The concert, organized by The Center for Anti-War Actions and Radio B92, was held at Republic Square in Belgrade on April 22, 1992. Attended by tens of thousands, the concert became a symbol of the resistance to war and nationalist propaganda.

Srđan Aleksić

Before the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Srđan Aleksić (1966-1993), also known as Srđo, was an amateur actor and junior swimming recorder. On January 21, 1993, four soldiers of the Army of Republika Srpska stopped and searched citizens at a market in Trebinje. They caught Alen Glavović and began to abuse him due to his Bosniak-Muslim ethnicity. Aleksić intervened to protect him, but a fight occurred, and Aleksić was struck with rifle butts. He fell into a coma and passed away a few days later on January 27, 1993. On Aleksić’s death announcement, his father wrote, “He died performing his duty as a human being.” Because of his heroic deed, streets and squares in Belgrade, Pančevo, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, Sarajevo, and Podgorica bore his name. The sports center in Trebinje and the international swimming competition are also named after him. Based on this story Srdan Golubović directed his film Circles (2013). Today, Alen Glavović lives with his family in Sweden.

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Srđan Aleksić square in Novi Pazar

Nedeljko Galić

Nedjeljko Galić (1949-2010), nicknamed Neđo, was a photographer, guitarist, and amateur radio operator from Ljubuški, in Herzegovina, where he also managed a photo shop. He publicly criticized the persecution of the non-Croat community in 1993. He used his fax machine to fake invitation letters from abroad, which was the only method to get Bosniaks out of the Heliodrom camp. Nedjeljko also assisted in forging additional required paperwork to help them to get out of the war zone. He is said to have saved nearly 1,000 people, earning him the nickname “Schindler from Ljubuški.” In 2010, Nedjeljko Galić was posthumously awarded the Duško Kondor Award for civic courage.

Women in Black

Photo: Goranka Matić

Women in Black is a feminist and peace movement that started organising anti-war protests in October 1991. For more than 30 years, the organization, led by Staša Zajović, has openly responded to all types of violence in the former Yugoslavia and Serbia by staging its recognizable protest gatherings with black banners. They consistently remind the public of committed war crimes and their victims, arguing for the inclusion of women in the peacebuilding process, violence prevention, and reconciliation. The organization also helps women victims of war rape and other types of sexual assault in their fight for justice and dignity. Women in Black are also well-known for publicly condemning war criminals and demanding their punishment, for which they are frequently physically attacked.

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Soldiers that refused to go to war

Numerous soldiers disobeyed orders, vehemently opposed the conflict, sought peaceful alternatives, or deserted. Among the most notable examples of dissent within the ranks of the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) were the following cases:

Admiral Vladimir Barović, a Montenegrin by origin, was stationed on Vis. He refrained from bombarding the coastal cities. Instead, he committed suicide to protest the policies of the military leadership because, as he wrote, “he did not want to wage war against the brotherly Croatian people.” In 2022, a monument was erected in his honor for his efforts to safeguard the civilian population.

General Vlado Trifunović commanded the 32. Division in Varaždin, Croatia. He disobeyed the command to bombard the city. He attempted to negotiate a peaceful transfer of the barracks in exchange for the protection of 280 young soldiers and their officers. Three states sought to bring him to court, Slovenia for the JNA actions there, Croatia for war crimes, and Serbia for treason. He fought until the end of his life to prove his innocence and his actions that saved numerous lives.

As a sign of protest against the war on September 23, 1991, Vladimir Živković drove a tank from the Vukovar front, across the highway and the streets of Belgrade, directly before the Parliament. As a result, he was taken into custody by military police. He was sentenced to one year in detention as a deserter.

Miroslav Milenković, a father of two and native of Gornji Milanovac, was mobilized in the autumn of 1991. In Šid, he found himself amid the conflict between two groups of reservists. One group disobeyed the orders, while the other was ready to go to the frontlines. Milenković stood up between the groups and, in protest, committed suicide.


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General Vlado Trifunović