Director of the International Peace Centre
A HORNETS’ NEST IN THE HOLIDAY INN
‘We made a number of demands. I was there from 6th April when I came back again from the window of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 6th April when it had become obvious that the European Community was going to recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina I proceeded with a group of citizens to the Holiday Inn. With me there were Oskar Danon, Tomas Bremer and a lot of others. And Sarajevo citizens came from the other side of the State Museum of the Revolution, miners came from Zenica, armored cars from the police center were already shooting at the 4th and 5th floors of the Holiday Inn. We had moved straight into a hornets’ nest which in that moment was crushed.’
• Bosnia and Herzegovina is overcome by anxiety and fear. In Bijeljina, street clashes. The President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic: "In Bosnia they are trying to instigate conflict in order to create an image of instability in the country, just before our recognition of independence. BiH is not prepared for internal aggression - we do not have enough of a police force to cope with the swelling number of paramilitaries. The JNA is an occupying force. Its status in BiH will be resolved through negotiations. "
• 40 intellectuals from the former Yugoslavia establish the "civil resistance movement", and send a letter to BiH institutions. They demand: citizenship in all of the new republics, exemption from all military and labor duties in all of the conflicts between the new states, and the right not to be engaged as volunteers.
• JNA takes control of the water reservoir in the Mojmilo hill neighborhood in Sarajevo. The citizens of Mojmilo ask for the JNA to withdraw.
• At a session of the BiH Presidency on April 4, a decision is made to mobilize all those "who are willing."
• The private Bosnian airline "Air commerce" introduces emergency flights to Belgrade for those fleeing the city.
• The bus company "Centrotrans" introduces emergency buses to Belgrade and Novi Sad. In Bosnia, many travel routes are closed.
• No fuel at petrol pump stations.
• Banja Luka: SDS forces occupy the bureau of the daily "Oslobodjenje".
• The rector of the University of Sarajevo Jusuf Mulic approves the use of the pool at the Faculty of Physical Education for the recreation of the “blue-helmets” – UN troops.
• In Sarajevo rumors spread. The civilian authorities try to verify them and give accurate information.
• Bosnia: In Kupres, armed conflict between Croatian military formations (from Croatia) and Serbian territorials (from Serbia).
• Sarajevo: The “All People’s Parliament” in permanent session at the Parliament.
• At a citizens’ peace rally in Sarajevo, a student named Suada Dilberovic is killed by sniper fire from the nearby hills by armed formations of the SDS. She is the first victim of snipers in Sarajevo.
• SDS forces attack the MUP academy in the city center and occupy it.
• The President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, sends a letter to Alois Mock asking him to take a stand for BiH with the international community.
• The MUP of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided along national lines into Serbs, Croats and Muslims.
• At a meeting the MUP’s special units make commitments to comply with the orders of the existing MUP. Until that meeting, it was not known who commanded the special forces because of internal division.
• Meeting of the Presidency of BiH: the JNA does not calm the situation in Bijeljina; therefore, the conclusion is reached that the nation must self- organize and that the JNA needs to return weapons to the TO (Territorial Defense).
• The Serb Council for National Security issues an announcment (because of the fact that Serb representatives were not at the Presidency Meeting at which the decision for the nation to self-organize was made) appealing to the Serb people to ignore calls for self-organization from the Territorial Defense (TO), civil defense and reserve police.
• Sarajevo students begin their campaign "University for Peace."
• War throughout BiH. Bosnian Serb military forces take cities, villages, buildings piece by piece. The political leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina is blocked. The JNA does nothing. Arkan, a criminal from Serbia, rules Bijeljina. A mass exodus takes place across Bosnia
• Again, barricades are set up in Sarajevo. City traffic is paralyzed.
• The citizens of Sarajevo start a peace march starting in the new part of town. Citizens join as they go along. On 'Bratstvo i jedinstvo' (Brotherhood and Unity) street SDS snipers open fire. The citizens break down the barricade on Vrbanja bridge, shouting: "Get out, goons! Thieves!” The citizens’ procession storms the door and enters the Parliament building Assembly. They boo Prime Minister Jure Pelivan. Someone has brought along pictures of Tito. The citizens demand the resignation of those who led them into this situation. The “All People’s Parliament” is proclaimed; 200 speakers attend.
• Citizens give an ovation to the MUP special unit commander, Dragan Vikic.
• The President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, is booed. The citizens give the delegates a deadline to come to the Parliament building.
• Nenad Pejic, editor-in-chief of TV BiH, reaches an agreement for the SDS leader Radovan Karadzic, the Sarajevo district commander, Gen. Milutin Kukanjac, Chief Justice of the EC (European Community) and Alija Izetbegovic to meet at RTV. Nenad Pejic, after an agreement is reached before the cameras, reads a press statement announcing a ceasefire in Bosnia; the decision that the JNA go back to Vraca; to separate out SDS forces, instructors and students from the MUP academy, and to continue negotiations under the auspices of the EC. At the invitation of Satish Nambiar, UNPROFOR commander for the former Yugoslavia, the negotiators after the deal visit his residence.
• The EC recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sanctions against Serbia are abolished.
• Ongoing battles in the Sarajevo municipality of Stari Grad.
• A public meeting is held before the Parliament building. Speakers alternate at the window. Snipers fire into the crowd from the nearby Holiday Inn hotel. Vikic′s special forces capture eight gunmen and save them from being lynched by the mob, as after being shot at the citizens storm the hotel, unarmed. Buses arrived from Tuzla as well as trucks with miners from Kakanj, to support the peace rally.
• At a Parliament session citizens announce the formation of the Committee for National Salvation.
• JNA General Muharem Fetahagic comes out with a military announcement addressed to the citizens: "Be with us, we are protecting you! The JNA has prevented the entry of paramilitary troops into the city. Those from Pale (SDS forces) are dressed in our uniforms, which is causing confusion among the citizens of Sarajevo. "
• The United States recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina.
• Sarajevo: A curfew is introduced.
• Jure Pelivan, BiH Prime Minister, resigns.
• Chaos in the Parliament building. Crowds are dispersed. Those who remain are exhausted and despairing. Citizens stay on the first floor, members of the Committee for National Salvation on the second floor, and delegates of the Parliament of BiH on the fourth floor.
• Proclamation from the Republika Srpska - Biljana Plavsic and Nikola Koljevic resign from the BiH Presidency.
• On the streets of Sarajevo crime groups operate.
• Rajko Kusic is caught, an SDS terrorist who attempted to occupy the hospital "Kosevo". The JNA issues a warning in response: "Either you release Rajko Kusic or we will bombard the city."
• Sarajevo doctors leave the Military Hospital (Vojna Bolnica). They are leaving the city.
• Dissolution of BiH institutions: the police, parliament, the army, hospitals, municipalities, unions.
• Huge crowds of people at the passport department of MUP, trying to leave the city.
• Chaos in Sarajevo. Shops are being looted everywhere.
• Citizens establish patrols at the entrances of their buildings due to the large number of snipers shooting at the streets from terraces and windows.
• On Kosevsko hill a conflict between the JNA and TO is avoided as the latter searches for snipers.
• In the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, MUP no longer has any employees who are Muslims.
• Evacuation organized of Jews from the city.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Mojmilo an agreement is reached between the citizens and the JNA.
• JNA seizes the weapons of the TO from the barracks Faletici.
• JNA General Muharem Fetahagic reads this press release: "The people of Bascarsija are staging the bombings themselves."
• The SDS takes medical equipment from the Sarajevo Military Hospital (Vojna Bolnica) and transports it out of the city.
• In Belgrade, a plane from the Bosnian private airline "Air Bosna" is seized.
• SDS snipers shoot at factory workers from the Sarajevo Dairy factory as they enter the building; the snipers’ aim is to halt production.
• "The Olympic Museum" is set on fire after information from Sarajevo media that the American Embassy will be located there.
• All TV relays in BiH are occupied by JNA and SDS terrorists.
• Through an independent television news program on TV Sarajevo, "Yutel," a ceasefire is announced during a journalist’s interview of President Alija Izetbegovic and the leader of the SDS party, Radovan Karadzic.
• Transport Company "GRAS" under constant fire.
• In the city vehicles without license plates have appeared.
• The PTT transports shipments through and around the city in vans.
• MUP battles SDS forces in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Grbavica near the Electric Power headquarters.
• The airline company "Air Bosna" establishes a Sarajevo – Munich line.
• Units of the JNA attack members of the police in the Sarajevo neighborhood Bistrik. It was the first attack of JNA on legal guardians of order in Sarajevo.
• Criminal groups break into the Sarajevo National Theatre and plunder it.
• A group of policemen is arrested in front of the JNA command in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Bistrik.
• SDS troops fire on the building of the Children's Embassy which is organizing the transfers of children from the city.
• SDS troops, in collaboration with paramilitary forces from Serbia, begin an offensive in the area of the municipality of Novo Sarajevo.
• At various places in the city battles erupt between the paramilitary units of the SDS and police units.
• A state of war declared in the Sarajevo municipality of Ilidza.
• Statement by the Minister of MUP: "Sarajevo will not fall!"
• A battle near the hotel "Bosna" in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza lasts for 10 hours.
• The JNA establishes a buffer zone in the Sarajevo settlements of Sokolovic colony, Hrasnica and Butmir, between SDS units and the legitimate forces of the MUP, as well as self-organized defenders of the city.
• The Serbian Parliament declares the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and with this announcement the JNA in Bosnia finds itself within foreign territory.
• At the exit of the city, in Ilidza, members of the SDS stop a convoy of women and children.
• In the city checkpoints are set up by various military groups. Ambulances are searched because they are often stolen and used for military purposes.
• Residents of the village Gornji Kotorac above Sarajevo do not surrender their weapons to SDS troops when asked.
• In Sarajevo, the headquarters of the TO is established.
• In order to control TV broadcasts, SDS terrorists hijack the TV transmitter on Trebević, a mountain above Sarajevo.
• Negotiations in Macedonia between the military leadership of the JNA and the President of the BiH Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic. Izetbegovic sets this condition: either withdraw the JNA from Bosnia or transform the JNA.
• Residents of the village Gornji Kotorac above Sarajevo, under pressure from SDS paramilitary troops, surrender their arms.
• The Presidency of BiH renders a decision on the withdrawal of JNA forces from BiH, as the declaration of the formation of the new Yugoslavia makes the JNA an occupying military force in foreign territory.
He was born on May 10, 1952 in Sarajevo. He graduated from the Philosophy College (comparative literature and theater science). He has been the director of the festival Sarajevo Winter since 1984. He is the president of the Sarajevo International Peace Center, the president of the Sarajevo Citizens Forum and the president of the Bosnian Civic Democratic Party. He is into publishing and the editor of the magazine for human rights and freedoms “Why.”
He received many peace, human rights and humanism prizes from various international organizations. He says his biggest acknowledgement is that a European family named its child Ibrahim.
It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
In the same shape.
How do you describe perfect happiness?
As happiness of perfectionism.
What is you biggest loss?
The deportation of my family.
What is your biggest gain?
The return of my family.
When and where were you happiest?
In Sarajevo April 28, 1984.
What are your lost illusions?
Illusions about the values of the European “human rights.”
Describe your day at work.
Meetings visits, designing, coordination, reading, listening.
What words don’t you use anymore?
I hate the misuse of words and people.
In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes, if virtue is moral.
Where would you like to live?
How have you survived?
As a Sarajevan.
What are you afraid of?
Of women’s weaknesses.
Does the past exist for you?
Just like the future.
This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
The one who knows that this is the end of one civilization knows what the next one will look like.
Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
You cannot give a recipe for mental health.
How would you like to die?
If we knew this, life would have no meaning.
Do you need hope to live?
What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
How would you call this period of your life?
Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Earth is, as poet Mak tells us: “Forgive me, but spiteful even of a dream”.
Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I do love it! But, what is the secret of life altogether?
THE HOLIDAY INN
Before the siege the Sarajevo hotel capacity was 49,000 beds, but during the long siege the Holiday Inn was the only functioning in the city. The hotel was built during the Winter Olympic Games. On April 6, 1992 it was the location of the SDS terrorists who were shooting at the Sarajevo citizens gathered in front of the Parliament. As foreign journalists were staying at the hotel it was less frequently shelled than the surrounding buildings. Nevertheless a great number of rooms was burnt or destroyed. It was one of the few hotels in which the most prized rooms were those without a view. A view of the mountains meant a view of a snipers’ nest. During the siege the rule was: If you see him, he sees you The hotel took in guests all through the siege.