President of the Jewish Community
EVACUATION OF JEWS
‘The 6th of April is the date when I feel the war began in Sarajevo. When the war really began many of them citizens came to the Jewish Center pleading us, ‘Take me away from here. I survived once and I don’t want to try it a second time.’ Since preliminary preparations had already been made, we had no problems with the first evacuation. At that time even the JNA was willing to lease us a plane. With the help of our friends in America we paid for a plane, and organized an evacuation on the 10th of April 1992. Several planes left Sarajevo carrying about 300 people. Some of them were members of the Jewish community; the rest were Sarajevans representing all other ethnic groups.’
• 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.
Convoy is the term which equals organized exit, a ticket with no return. For all such journeys there are lists, and there is time to be spent in waiting, filled with uncertainties. They are organized by Children’s’ Embassy, Red Cross, by the Jewish Community, by the Slovenian government before the elections. Those who entered one of the lists in June, who have all the needed documents, are not sure that they will be leaving the city in December. There is always a new document required, a new rule to obey, a new delay. And, no wonder, each convoy has its own rules. Children’s’ Embassy takes out children, mothers, the very old and the exhausted. The Red Cross is taking out old, sick and children. The Jewish Community took out Jews and their friends, supplying them with false documents. Slovenes took out their citizens and those who could remember one Slovenian in the family in past seven generations. At these sad departures, you could often hear anxious questions: “Father, what’s your name? Mother, what’s your name?”
One more paradigmatic dialogue:
Question: “When are you leaving?”
Answer: “Well, I am on the list Still waiting for a confirmation from Geneva.”
Discreetly, but to no one’s surprise, the City was left by wives, children, parents and friends of various officials. Illegal channels were used, starting in Stup, Ilidza, Kobilja}a. From there, to Kiseljak - a Hong Kong of Sarajevo - if heading West. To Pale, if going East. On each of these starts, there was a ‘connection’, a guy dealing with the formalities which basically means exchanging tangible hard currency with the invisible bus ticket. Starting fee is 100 to 200 DM. Additional amounts were supplied by Muslims, for they often needed false documents.
It is a well known secret that for about 1000 DM, deposited in one of the cafes close to the Veterinary college, one could get to Grbavica (a sealed part of the town, a camp from which no one can go out, and into which no one can enter). From there for the mentioned fee, the bus would take you to Belgrade. Another part of the same secret is that there is a rule according to which for one person who enters Grbavica, one from Grbavica is being released into the City. Profit is mutual.