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An open letter to The New York Times

If only I lived in a fair country...

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

January 9, 1996
To the Editor:

While reading Mr. Lewis' 'review' of 'Death of a Nation' (Anatomy of disaster), Jan. 5, 1996, I considered:

If only I lived in a fair country committed to truth and justice and to informing its citizens accurately, I would have been able to say something about Yugoslavia these last five years. After all, I know it better than Mr. Lewis. How often does he go there? Does he know the language, its people, its writers, history? I do. I go there all the time and have for many years. I could have informed you about many things, including the existence of other camps, not just the ones you were permitted to tell about. Near Posavina, near Mostar, etc. etc. Many. I spoke with those who survived. Some survivors are here, all over the country. Their villages do not exist any more. Serbs obviously. I could have also written about the U.S. 'advisers' who were in Yugoslavia since 1992 'doing their job.' I spoke with some of the men who caught them, and with Scandinavian journalists who saw them. And there is a U.S. State Department declaration about Yugoslavia dated December 15, 1990. You know about that one, right? You must also know but are not telling about the number of children, including newborns, killed by US/NATO bombing attacks. In August & September, 1995. Do you remember?

If only I lived in a just country, I would have been able to say something about this TV series, instead of Mr. Anthony Lewis, who is neither a filmmaker nor a film critic. I have made films, including documentaries, and had been a professor of film for years. I could have examined the series and noticed the missing parts, its shaky structure, the absence of historical context, even of the individual history of each protagonist in Yugoslavia. Then there are suspicious voice-overs and editing. The absence of any mention of outside forces. In the Balkans, there were always outside forces, manipulating, dividing, forever trying to carve things up, to get their piece. It's the same now. Guess who.

If I lived in a free country, I wouldn't feel so unfree, as if I am not permitted to speak, nor would I feel like a censored author. Not in China, not in Burma or Iraq, not in Cuba. Here, in the USA. But, since my freedom is also internal and I'll always be free in my thoughts, as a free person I will fight against that which is untrue, false, and unfree. Hence this letter, which once again you will not publish but which will, like others, travel as samizdat across the country or internationally via the Internet to be printed in Poland, Russia, China, who knows where. It's out of my control. After these letters are circulated, people I've never met call me, from all over, Wisconsin, California, France, and we exchange more information which you do not print. The truth is supposed to set you free; I believe they told me this when I unfortunately came to this country at fifteen.

Nadja Tesich New York, NY
Jan. 9, 1996

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Last revised: March 25, 1997