JBTZ Affair

JBTZ Affair
JBTZ Affair
JBTZ Affair
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    Committee for Protection of Human Rights

    The good doctoroften says that Slovenian independence was not won by a handful ofindividuals, but by the people of this country. Obivously, the whole thing would have not gone assmoothly as it had, had it not been for a perfect blend of a clear-headed communist leadership,fervent, vocal but nevertheless rational oppostition and brave, resolute and civil people whosensed that a lot was at stake supported the process of democratisation as such, not neceserilyalways agreeing either with the communist leadership which was gradually relinqushing power orthe oppositon which was getting ready to take power.

    70.000 people demonstrating in support of JBTZ, demanding a fair trial and use of Slovenelanguage (photo: Tone Stojko)

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    The so called Slovenian Spring started in earnest on May 31, when Janez Jana (yes, the guy)was arrested for allegedly being in posession of a top secret military document. This was thestraw that broke the camels back. As Ali H. erdin, author of Generals Without Hats, a brilliantbook about the period, notes, the masses were ready and were waiting for the signal. And as luckwould have it, four people of very different walks of life we arrested, starting the JBTZ trial

    (Jana, Bortner, Tasi, Zavrl a very good beginners guide on the trial is here).

    Janez Jana, David Tasi, Ivan Bortner and Franci Zavrl moments after the trial ended (photo:Tone Stojko)

    Immediatelly, a rescue operation was mounted and it took the shape of Committee forProtection of Human Rights (Odbor za varstvo lovekovih pravic), headed by Janas long timefriend Igor Bavar. But it soon became obvious that the Yugoslav army, the only true force stillholding Yugoslavia together was not just on a show-of-force mission, but was dead serious abouttrying, sentencing and locking up these four people for high treason. And the Army wanted to doit in Serbo-Croatian. This was reason enough even for people who intentionally stood out ofpolitics way. Language is one of the few things on which Slovenes agree most of the time and asfar as the Army was concerned, it all went downhill from there. People were out on the streets,

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    repeating a simple demand: A fair trial in Slovene language. As erdin later noted, it rarelyoccurs that such a simple idea has such devastating consequences.

    Ordinary citizens throwing flowers at the feet of conscripts guarding the military court inLjubljana (photo: Tone Stojko)

    To commemorate this rarely seen unity of Slovenians and to give credit to everyone of hundredsof thousands of people who either took part in demostrations or became members of theCommittee, who to put is simply were there when it mattered, to all those a web museumnamed Slovenska pomlad is being set up (Slovene only, Im afraid), but if you happen to be inLjubljana one of these days, a real-life exhibition opens today at Mestni Muzej Ljubljana(Ljubljana City Museum).