COMMUNICATIONS AID

for the PEACE MOVEMEHT in the former republica of Yugoslavia

REPORT - September 1991 - May 1993

Eric Bachman

THE PROBLEM

Since the summer of 1991, when the peace groups of fonner Yugoslavia began to organise themselves and coordinate activities, they have encountered inunense communication diffleulties. With the start of open warfare in Croatia normal communications were disrupted. Not only did travel by train or road between Croatia and Serbia become impossible but the destruction of inany telephone connections caused an overload of the existing lines. Telephone calls between Zagreb and Belgrad, for example, became almost impossible. The few telephone lines which exist to Bosnia- Herzegovina are being increasingly destroyed by the war. The disruption of the postal system meant an almost total breakdowm of communication between the peace groups, especially those working on opposite sides of the fighting.

GOAL OF THE PROJECT

The purpose of this project is to help the peace groups in the various countries and regions of foriner Yugoslavia to be able to communicate better with each other. Additionally, it should help the peace groups there to conununicate with ,groups in the rest of the world.
In a situation where prejudice, hate and fear between people of different ethnic bacgrounds has grown almost unchallen-ed, it is necessary to start with buildiog tip communication links. Helpina people to reach out to each other, to begin a new relationships, to revive old friendships is of utmost importance.
The COMMUNICATIONS AlD is not only for an exchange of letters, messages, news and ideas among the peace groups, but it it is helping people from both sides of the conflict begin to conimunicate aoain with each other. (This idea was first expressed in a proposal of the IPPNW doctors in former Yugoslavia for a "Trust Liiik" between the conflicting sides.) lt is being unlarged to enable humanitarian aid groups and others to use the network. Additionally it can, for example, provida the basis of a commiiiiicatioti network to help reftigees and displaced persons to find each other. How far it could be developed is dependent largely upon the amount of financial support the project reccives.
This project for CONINIUNICATIONS AID for the peace groups in former Yugoslavia has been developed together with the Center for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence (Ljubljana), the Antiwar Cainpaion (Zagreb) and the Center for Antiwar Action (Belgrad). Of course it is planned to include any peace groups in fonner Yugoslavia that may want to join it.

FAXHELP - the first step

In October 1991 several peace groups (WRI, IFOR, etc ... ) from countries that still had good telephone connections to Zagreb and Belgrad agreed to relay FAXes received from one peace group on to the other group. This was a big help for the groups in former Yugoslavia and also for groups froin countries, like Gen-nany, that had great difficulties reaching Belgrad directly, but better communications was needed.
FAXHELP continues to support the exchange of fax messages as is needed. Although various initaitives have supplied the south slavie peace and antiwar groups with fax machines there is still a need for some more fax machines.

ELECTRONIC MAIL - the next step

Because the telephone lines were not coinpletely destroyed but the remaining ones were just overloaded, it was suggested that they could be used at nioht for conununication by computers using electronic mail. 1 found out that even until the Spring of 1992 it was generally possible to make telephone connections between Belgrad and Zagreb or Ljublana or even more distant cities, if it was done during the night (after michuoht). This meant that electronic mail --a BBS (Bulletin Board System) using coinputers, modems and the telephone lines-- would work-. And even if it would later not be possqible to conuect directly with another city from fonner Yugoslavia, then we would connect indirectly through Austria, Gennany or Britain.
This would also enable a connection with the world-wide networks of BES's. Some of the existing BBS's in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia were willing to support the development of a larger network. The existing AdriaNet was to be supported and enlarged.

Phase I

The first phase begann in December 1991 and January 1992. Moderns were given to peace groups in Ljubljana, Zagreb, Bel-rad and Sarajevo. The connections between the AdiraNet and GreenNet were started. 1 installed these modeins and gave preliiiiiiiary training to people from different peace groups. The first steps taken to connect a BBS in Belgrade into the AdriaNet. The AdriaNet introduced two new topic areas for the use of the peace groups.
Unfortunately the system operator (sysop) of the AdriaNet BBS in Zagreb was not able to keep his system running on a regular basis. The email exchange with other BBS's in the AdriaNet did not always work. The BBS in Belgrad was also not able to carry out a regular exchange with other BBS's in the AdriaNet. The cause of these difficulties were overwork and or inavailability of the sysop and also the very poor quality of the telephone lines. The help which was given in phase 1 was not enough to get the conununication going. Several peace goups now had the means to communicate by email, but the local BBS's were not able to fllfill their role to pass on the messages.
In the mean-time a foreign volunteer experienced in email (Wam Kat) joined the Antiwar Campaign in Zagreb and connected directly into the world-wide einail network by directly telephoning to the London-based GreenNet. This step provided excellent and speedy coinmunications to and from the Zagreb Antiwar Campaign, but was very e-,\pensive. Also it was no help for other antiwar and peace groups, especially those in Serbia. Therefore it was necessary to begin the next phase of the project.

Phase II - one BBS in Zagreb and one in Belgrade

The Antiwar Campaign in Zagreb and the Center for Antiwar Action in Belgrad decided to set-up their own BBS network. In July, 1992 1 helped install a BBS system in Zagreb and one in Belgrad. In both cities the BBS was installed in a computer wIrich was in use for other purposes during the day and also had to use a telephone line which was normally used for voice communication. The new BBS's "ZaMir- ZG" (For Peace - Zagreb) and "ZaMir-BG" (Fore Peace - Belgrade) which exchanged mail by way of Austria were now connected with each other and the rest of the world. Leters could be sent overnight fi7om Zagreb to Belgrade and from Belgrade to Zagreb. Within 12-24 hours letters could be sent and received to and from any other BBS in the APC (Association for Progressive Communications) Network and associated networks. Gateways (connections) to other email networks are also available.

Belgrade -- ZAMIR-BG in the Center for Antiwar Action

Unfortunately, tlie ZaMir Network was not able to run as well as was planned. The computer in Belgrad (a laptop) was not adequate for the task of a BBS. The progranune had problems with the limited hardware. Also the single telephone line wIrich had to be shared between voice, fax and computer conununications was completely overloaded. Training for a system operator was also needed.

Zagreb -- ZAMIR-ZG in the Antiwar Campaign

In Zagreb they also needed a computer dedicated to the BBS. And a dedicated telephone line was necessary as well. Within the limits of the hardware (limited number of hours onfine each day) it was working well. In spite fo the difficulties the international e-mail exchange began to work.Ilie teleplione costs were reduced. The BBS "ZaMir-ZG" is being used by people trom the peace groups there and has attracted an increasing number number of other users. lt is also possible to use the BBS to send faxes.

ZaMirNet begins to work

The connection between Zagreb and Belgrade was working, albeit with great difficulty. To seriously iniplement this phase of the COMMUNICATION HELP there was a need for additional equipment and software. The most important item is a dedicated computer system and telephone line in both Zagreb and Belgrade. A special modern to compensate for the very bad telephone lines in Belgrade was also needed. Regular support for the costs of running the systern were and are still needed. Although the internatonal networks to which the ZaMirNet is connected (many thanks to APC, CL, Z-Netz) have waived most of the costs for the time being (they also run on a nonprofit basis and do not have excess funds), there are regular expenditures which have to be covered.
In September 1992 I installed a new computer (a 386/40Mhz with a 170 MB Harddisk) in Belgrade. It is dedicated solely to the ZAMIR- BG BBS. Together with a new modern (Trailblazer PEP) which works even on very bad telephone lines and a dedicated telephone line it was possible so set up very reliable communications with the relay BBS in Vienna, LINK-ATU.
I found an organisation (Brethren Volunteer Service) that was willing to send a volunteer to the Centre for Antiwar Action to support the COMMUNICATION AID project. In October 1 trained the volunteer (Patrick Morgan) to use the email progranunes and in November he joined the staff of the Center for Anti-War Action in Belgrade for one year. He is responsible to keep the email system runrung to facilitate communication.
During December 1992 the computer systern in Zagreb was causing big probleins. We were still usin- a borrowed computer and shared telphone lines (on a two-party line). The system operator was traveling for several weeks and during that time the harddisk crashed and the einail progranune went offline. No one there knew how to get the system rurming again. The result was that ZANM-ZG was off line for about 4 weeks. By this time there were a number of users who were actively using the email systern and were upset about the unreliability of the systein. As a result of this problem, funds were found and a new computer was bought (a 386 40 NU-Iz, 200 Nffi Harddisk). After some difficulties a dedicated telephone line was also fbund. Tbis was installed at the end of December 1992. Since then the ZaMirNet has been very reliable.

Thanks to all who supported us.

Thanks to all who supporied us Since the beginning of 1993 both ZANIIR-BG and ZANIIR-ZG have reliable email exchange with each other and with other networks around the world. This has only been possible with the help from a number of people and grotips in many different countries. The einail networks -- Association for Progressive Communication (APC), the CoinLink network(CL), the Z-Netz have been very helpful be providing the infrastructure for the transport of the email and have either reduced their fees or offered their Services for free. We have been especially supported by the systern operators of the following Systems: BIONIC (Bielefeld,Gennaiiy), GREENNET (London.England), LINK-ATU (Viemia, Austria) and OLN (Hannover,Gen-nany). Of special note is also the help given us by the programmers of the BBS software "ZERBERUS", both for their donations and their untiring hotline support. Without the help of padeluun and Rena from Bionie we would not have solved a number of problems we had when setting up the system in Zagreb and Belgrade.
The generous financial support from: the Heinrich B”ll Stiftung (Gennany)-, the Komittee fr Grundrecht und Demokratie (Germany); the Swedish Peace Coucil (Sweden); the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (Sweden); the Support Group for the Peace Movement in fonner Yugoslavia (Netherlands); the Gruppe Schweiz ohne Armee (SAitzerland)-, the proceeds froni publishing Wam Kat's "Zagreb Diary" the Iniative for Supporting the Peace Movenients in former Yugoslavia (Berlin) the Vereniging Dienstweigeraars (Netherlands) and the many individual who donated funds have made it possible to supply the antiwar groups with the necessary soft and hardware to set up the electronic communication Systems in Belgrade and Zagreb. Not to be forgotten are all the aroups and individuals who have donated donated computers, modems, fax machines, etc directly to the groups in former Yugoslavia.

The present Situation

In Beograd there are a total of 375 users, of which only 7 are groups. In Zagreb there are about 125 users including 27 groups. (see list in the appendix) The large amount of individual users in the Belgrade BBS is due to the fact that other channels of electronic communication from Serbia to the outside world are still very difficult, if not imposible. Ihe systern operators in Zagreb have done a lot of work to involve as many groups as possible to join and use the systern. In Belgrade there is much more work to be done on this aspect. Tliere is a lack of the necessary equipinent for the groups and also a lack of training to introduce groups to the System.
Each of the BBS's send and/or receive approxiiiiately 500 to 2 000 kilobytes a day. this includes public and private messages. This costs approximately 300400 DM a month for each system. Users of the ZaMirNet are still not charged for the communication Services. The local running costs (telephone, electricity) have been covered by the Centre for Antiwar Action in Belgrade and the Antiwar Campaign and Suncokret in Zagreb. Future plans call for raising more funds and spreading the costs among the users.
The ZaMirNet has ist own conferences which are exchanged betewwn the System in Zagreb and Belarade. Additionally the BBS's offers approxiiiiately 150 international conferences (trom the APC, CL, Z, T, Usenet, etc.) which can be read and written to by the users. (see list in the appendix)
In Zagreb there has been at least one meeting of users to help organize the BBS. More and more organisations are using the email Systems. The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) an NGO that has a task force for aid to fonner Yuaoslavia has set up its own BBS in Geneva (ICVAGE). Since April 1993 it uses the ZaMirNet to have better contact with it's meinber orgnisations working in Serbia and Croatia. An overlay network of ICVA conferences is now available on ZAlvM-ZG and ZANER-BG. The next step for the ZaMirNet is to install the newest version of the BBS software. It has been donated to us by the progranuners (Zerberus GmbH). This software update will allow two users to connect simultaneously to the BBS. lf we can manage to pay for a second telephone line, then more users will be able to use the Systems.
To complete this phase of the project we still need to install the uninterruptable power supplies (UPS). The UPS prevent electrical power failures from destroying data. The UPS have already been donated, we just need to do some programming work to install them with our software. We also need to install a streamer in Belgrade. A streainer makes backups of the hard disk so that in the ease of a hard disk crash (or other disaster), the data will not lost. In Zagreb we already have a streamer installed. If the amount of data and the usage of the Systems grow has already grown beyond the space available on the hard disls. In Zaereb we have temporarily loaned another harddisk (about 120 IvM) until we get a larger one. In Belgrade we habe also had a schutdown due to a full harddisk.
These additions are necessary to enable us us to have a more efficient mail exchange and increase the capabilities of the BBS. To complete phase II we need DM 6.000 to buy larger hardisks and DM 8.000 - 12.000 to cover the running costs for one year and about DM 3.000 to cover software costs (some progranuns have not yet been paid).

Phase III - support for Groups; another BBS

It is not only usefull for the peace goups in Zagreb and Belgrad to be able to communicate ,Aith each other and the world, but it would be very helpful for groups from other cities to be able to use this means of communication. This means finding financial support to buy modems and software for the other groups. Due to a lack of computers it will also in some cases be necessary to find funds for the necessary hardware. Peace groups from Rijeka, Subotica, Pristina and other cities are interested in linking up and using the email System.
The next place that a BBS is needed is in Sarajevo. This would be a bigger investment because of the higher costs (satelite connections, emergency electricity provisions, etc.) We have also had a request for aid to set up a BBS in Skopje.
More training especially for users of the BBS (and for systern operators) is needed. We are training people from Croatia and Serbia with the goal that they carry on the training work. This takes much time and funds are needed to support such work. Unfortunately there are not enough funds available for all the requests that we have.

Future Possibilities --just some ideas

Possible future developments of the communication System could include the following ideas:
To find volunteers or to find funds to pay people so that each major city would have a person who could facilitate thr refugees access to the communications network. This could also mean that the necessary hardware (a computer ten-ninal) would also have to be financed. This was proposed by Wam Kat in bis "MODEM PEACE PLAN".
A further possibility would be to set up a BBS in each of the capitals of the republics of forrner Yugoslavia, or other major cities as would be necessary.
As noted above, the BBS's could be used not only for the peace groups, but it could, for exainple, be the basis of a communication network to help reftigees and displaced persons to find each other or to aid the alternative media spread their reports and exchange information with each other.
In fact the APC has started a conference for refugees (at the request of ZaMirNet) to serve as a forum to help facilitate finding lost relatives and friends. The ICVA is also working on this and we shall be cooperating with them and of course Suncokret to facilitate searching for and finding lost persons.
As the usage of the system growes, it may be necessary to install more telephone lines and a local network with several computers to enable more users to use the system.

Eric Bachman, Koordinator of ZaMir Transnational Netzes
Spendenkonto für das ZaMir-Projekt: 2138113 Sparkasse Bielefeld (BLZ 48050161)

Kontaktadressen:
Eric Bachman Milchstraße 83
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Tel: +49-5221-67191
Fax: +49-5221-67978
eMail: e.bachman@bionic.zerbenis.de

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