Saturday, 05 December 2015 04:34

A Tribute to Mihajlo Mihajlov

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A Tribute to Mihajlo Mihajlov

Rusko Matulic

Rusko Matulic is a retired an electrical-power engineer, born in Yugoslavia. He spent five years in a refugee camp in Egypt, lived in Chile and England, and reached the U.S. in 1952. He met Mr. Mihajlov in the U.S. and collaborated with him in the publication of CADDY's Bulletin. Currently he is working on the third volume of Bibliography of Sources on the Region of Former Yugoslavia.

Editor's Note: Mr. Mihajlov wrote for the St. Croix Review in the 1970s and 1980s. He spent seven years in the Communist prisons of Josip Broz Tito, president of Communist Yugoslavia. The article following this article was written by Mr. Mihajlov and was published by the St. Croix Review in August 1988.

On this the first anniversary of Mihajlo Mihajlov's passing in Belgrade on March 10, 2010, it is appropriate to remember him by one little-known accomplishment he initiated and sustained. It is the formation of the Committee to Aid Democratic Dissidents in Yugoslavia and its publication, the CADDY's Bulletin. A brief history follows.

In July 1979 in New York the founding meeting of the Committee was held with some twenty persons from all parts of Yugoslavia and interested American friends. It was decided to publish a bulletin in English to publicize violations of human rights in Yugoslavia. The biggest problem in editing the Bulletin was the gathering of reliable information on human rights violations in Yugoslavia.

The first Bulletin, two pages, was published in July 1980, and the last in November 1992, sixteen pages. Each issue was mailed to over 600 addresses.

Over thirty special reports were issued in the same period and these as well as the Bulletin were sent free of charge. This was possible because all the work was done by volunteers who also provided needed office materials. Acknowledging Mihajlov's commitment to democracy, human, and civil rights, the President of the AFL-CIO and his right-hand man, Tom Khan, offered duplicating and mailing assistance. With the changes in the AFL-CIO and the untimely passing of Mr. Khan, CADDY was deprived of this essential help.

Apart from Mihajlov's unceasing activity - lectures, articles, interviews, as well as the publication of the Bulletin itself - the Committee participated and cooperated in other activities associated with human rights.

In August 1982, the Helsinki Committee, U.S.A., published a 30-page booklet Yugoslavia, Freedom to Conform. Included were 25 biographies of political prisoners and of those who were actively working against the "people and the state" - the information was provided by CADDY.

Committee member Dr. O. Gruenwald and K. Rosenbaum-Cale coauthored a 670-page book: Human Rights in Yugoslavia. Mihajlov wrote the preface while, among others, a number of Committee members contributed.

Yugoslavia, the Failure of "Democratic" Communism is a book published by New York's Freedom House as a result " . . . of a conference which brought together fourteen migrs and dissidents from Yugoslavia." The conference was held in June 1987 and the 88-page book was published the same year.

The U.S. State Department contended, and verbally communicated to Mihajlov, that Yugoslavia would be on the way to disintegration if the U.S. aid were made conditional to the improvement of human rights.

The chairman and the editor of the Bulletin sent a joint letter (March 2, 1994) to the members, friends, and readers advising that Bulletin 73 was the last to be issued. The entire letter was published in Paris-based Dialogue (v. 3-9, 03/1994, p. 64). The difficulties with official America are well-expressed in the following paragraph of the letter:

While others have done so before us, since 1980 the CADDY Bulletin has been advocating democratic reforms in former Yugoslavia as the only way to avoid conflagration. On September 5, 1980, The Congressional Record published a partial list (furnished by CADDY) of political prisoners in Yugoslavia. This was the first time an acknowledgment was made of the repressive nature of the Titoist regime. It was such a shock that it brought the U.S. Ambassador flying in from Belgrade to lecture State Department officials on the merit of fossilized pro-Titoist U.S. policy. Since then and until the former Communists started slitting each other's throats, a period of ten years, not a single forceful gesture towards democracy was made by the State Department.

For Mihajlo Mihajlov's efforts and dedication in organizing and promoting CADDY, he has earned our eternal gratitude. May he rest in peace! *

"If we forget what we did, we will forget who we are." --Ronald Reagan

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