The installation Merciful Owls is composed of embroidery, soil drawings, and terracotta sculptures. Different elements represent a memory, reflection and understanding of a NATO military intervention on Yugoslavia in 1999.
Every year 800 long-eared owls spend the winter in the main square of Kikinda. There are thousands more in the neighboring villages and cities. No one knows for sure why and where exactly they come from. They spend the days in the trees just above people´s head, completely unaffected of what´s happening on the ground. In Serbian folklore the owl plays an important role as the messenger of death
Serbia: NATO’s Uranium Embrace
“Most depleted uranium (DU) arises as a byproduct of the production of enriched uranium for use in nuclear reactors and in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. It is used in conventional munitions to enhance their penetrating capability. As is known, the warheads of munitions used by NATO for bombing Yugoslavia in 1999 contained depleted uranium. The use of DU in combat has collateral damage – chemical and radioactive contamination, the period of its long radioactive half-life is 4.5 billion years. The main danger of human life and environment comes from high-toxic aerosol or spallation frangible powder produced during impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions which can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites, leading to possible inhalation by human beings. After forming microscopic and submicroscopic insoluble uranium oxide particles on the battlefield, they remain suspended in air and travel around the earth as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust, contaminating humans, animals and environment. It is widely accepted that uranium, inhaled as insoluble particles, is carcinogenic to the lung through its radioactive emissions and that if soluble will cross the blood /air barrier of the lung to become systemic and be physiologically toxic to the kidney. It also leads to chromosomal abnormalities. A latent period may be measured by many years. The radioactive toxic agents are assimilated in the roots of plants and then get into foodstuffs poisoning men and animals again. It’s almost impossible to establish the origin of illness.
Thus, nuclear weapons have been used against the Serbs. “Small”, low-yield tactical nuclear warheads are produced by US Los Alamos laboratory. In Yugoslavia buster bombs yielding the equivalent of 10 tons of TNT (trinitrotoluene) were used to strike underground bunkers and oil reservoirs. Actually they were micro nuclear munitions 10 times more powerful than the 2000-pound projectiles used in Iraq. 100-ton warheads were used to strike air defense systems. 1000-ton warheads (small nuclear bombs) were used against ground targets. As a result of such massive depleted uranium use the area of combat action and adjacent states became a cancer and genetic disease risk zone.
Western media, the United Nations World Health Organization and other international bodies shy away from tackling the problem of depleted uranium used for military purposes saying there is no objective evidence confirming its negative effect. In particular, the 2001 World Health Organization’s report says, “Soils testing for the presence of uranium does not seem to be necessary since it is understood that others (public bodies and military agencies) have found little or no radiation”, “Mass screening of the population is not recommended on the basis of evidence found in the literature, deductions made by the mission team and respected advice that was received. The mission is sensitive to the strong beliefs held by some members of the public. If these beliefs continue to be held, then a more limited testing regime could be considered based on a medical referral by a local doctor. Issues related to testing options are being considered separately by the Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments Cluster (Executive Director: Ms. A.Kern) at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva”. That’s all an authoritative international organization could say about the use of weapons of mass destruction with consequences unknown. Going into the details of the report one can come to conclusion the document lobbies the interests of NATO and military industry passing over in silence ecological, climatic and genetic aftermath of using munitions tipped with depleted uranium warheads. But this data is available in Serbia.
Totally NATO used 15 tons of depleted uranium to strike targets in Yugoslavia. It was all converted into radioactive dust picked up by the wind and spread around the Balkans contaminating soil, air, plants and animals. The dust is to last forever, the radioactivity will reach its highest level after 100 years… The presence of uranium has started to tell in full measure. In the period 2001 to 2010 the number of people struck by carcinoma went up 20%, the cancer death toll increased by 25% (first of all leukaemia and lymphoma, that make up for more than 5% of malignant tumors in peacetime). Cancer will irreversibly go on the rise. 40 thousand people are expected to be affected in Serbia in 2013 with fatal outcome in 22-23 thousand cases. The figures exceed by three thousand the number of fallen ill and by one-two thousand the number of fatal cases in comparison with 2010.
The data has been adduced by Dr. Slobodan Čikarić, academician, who heads the Belgrade Oncological Clinic and Serbian Cancer Society. One can get introduced to it in the sensational book written with co-authors called Crime in War – Genocide in Peace and published in December 2012. According to him the depleted uranium munitions used by NATO were the immediate cause of mass cancer spreading around the country. Retired Serb General Petković says 44% of depleted uranium bombing took place the last 10 days of the operation, that is after the seize fire accord was concluded…”.
Online Journal, Strategic Culture Foundation: