DOBRINJA BLOCKED // 05. 1992.
ISMET HADZIC // DEFENSE COMMANDER
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1992

Ismet Hadzic
Defense Commander
DOBRINJA BLOCKED

‘From the 2nd of May 1992, Dobrinja was typically besieged and surrounded by chetniks’ transporters and tanks. On the 2nd of May I was in the city with a number of men from Dobrinja, trying to help our people solve that delicate situation, and we didn't know that Dobrinja was surrounded that day. On the 4th of May I was supposed to return to Dobrinja in order to hold a meeting of the regional headquarters and the district headquarters and form a Territorial Defense forces. However, as we were leaving, we found out that there were trucks on the road, and at half past two on the 4th we borrowed two cars and headed for Dobrinja with around 6 cases of ammunition, and 40 liters of petroleum, and 40 liters of gasoline. When we got to the Olympic Village, people from the Territorial Defense forces stopped us and said that we couldn't go any further to Dobrinja, because 17 chetniks had barricaded the road. We gave up and climbed up a building that was already burned, in order to observe the barricades. We observed them for about 2 to 3 hours. And from those windows we really did see trucks and about 17 chetniks. I mean classic chetniks, complete with fur caps and beards, Seselj's troups. After about two and a half or three hours, one of the chetniks invited the whole crew guarding the barricade into a nearby house for lunch, saying that we are not allowed, and that we don't have the kind of people who will go into Dobrinja. So we quickly ran downstairs and out of the building, started up our cars, and like in the movies, drove through the barricade. Somewhere near the traffic light in Dobrinja we could see the chetniks in our rear-view mirrors, running and getting their guns. By then it was too late. Aware of our situation at that moment, of the lack of electrical energy, telephones, and food, we wrote ordinances and adapted them to the state of war, to the state of siege, in which every house and every person had to behave just as ordered. From the saving of food and movement about Dobrinja, to signaling for danger from mortar fire and everything that was needed to insure survival. We ordered all people not fit for defense to form a Civil Defense and to do the work that is normally the responsibility of the Civil Defense. This included making sure that people didn't dump garbage all over Dobrinja, but that garbage ditches were dug near the edge of town, and that they would throw their garbage into those ditches. And that when a ditch got filled up they would have to be cover it with earth and dig out a new one. We made an artificial dam which, through a system of connected containers, caused the water from the Dobrinja River to raise the water level in the sewage pipes, so that we would have industrial water. Then we pulled off an ingenious technological gag that one guy from the town water works thought up. He was familiar with Dobrinja's water supply system and the main reservoir, and his suggestion to me was that we partially cut off one section of the waterworks that connected Nedjarici with the chetniks, not all the way, but only two thirds. In this way we were able to collect enough water in our basements through some sort of free fall through the water pipes. I confirmed the plan, and that gave us some of our water during the night in our basements, which saved our lives. Also, because Dobrinja has underground waters, we ordered the digging of wells.’

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TOPIC RELATED TEXT

MAY 1992


• At a peace conference in Lisbon, the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, agrees to talks on territorial demarcation. The President of the EC, Jose Cutileiro, offers a map drawn up by EC experts on the basis of the three constitutent peoples of BiH.
• In Sarajevo, 17,000 refugees from various towns settle in the city. They have either been expelled from their homes, or their houses or apartments have been destroyed by shells.


• Sarajevo is under siege. The circle around the city closes, with entrenched tanks, mortars, snipers and cannons.
• As the JNA withdraws from its Command headquaters over Skenderija bridge conflict erupts. Self-organized defenders of the city attack the JNA convoy.
• After returning from Lisbon and landing at Sarajevo airport, the JNA holds captive the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, his daughter who had accompanied him, as well as the leader of the SDP, Zlatko Lagumdzija. They are released later after long exchange negotiations with the assistance of UN Commander Louis Mackenzie.
• Juka Prazina, a city paramilitary unit leader, becomes Commander of Special Units of MUP BiH.


• Members of the Presidency of BiH, Stjepan Kljujic and Fikret Abdic, sign a ceasefire agreement for the lifting of the blockade of the JNA barracks.
• In the Old City, at the entrance to Sarajevo, an old wooden barricade is set up.


• The JNA dismisses Blagoje Adzic and relieves from duty the Chief Commander of the sector of Sarajevo, Milutin Kukanjac.
• The Sarajevo neighborhood of Dobrinja is surrounded by SDS troops. SDS terrorists give an ultimatum to the defenders of Dobrinja. The SDS sets up a barricade with armed soldiers between the neighborhoods of Dobrinja and Mojmilo.


• Within the blockaded JNA barricades conflicts erupt between individual soldiers.
• Gunfire from the barracks at vehicles and passersby. The area around the barracks becomes lethally dangerous.


• The JNA leaves, destroying everything in their path.
• Fighting goes on around the JNA barracks.
• Transmissions halted of the independent news program “Yutel.”


• With the shelling of the Central Post Office from the surrounding hills by Serb paramilitary groups, 40,000 telephone lines are scorched. The reserve Telephone Exchange on Obala (bank of the Miljacka river) is mined. Sabotage is carried out by specialists from Nis.
• Street fighting goes on in different parts of the city.


• The Tobacco Factory in Sarajevo is burned after being hit by firebombs.
• Urban fighting goes on in Pofalici between Serb units and the city’s defenders. The defenders liberate this neighborhood.
• The Headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force in Sarajevo is evacuated.


• The Presidency of BiH sets May 19 as the deadline for the withdrawal of the JNA.
• In Ilidza, a convoy leaving the city with 5,000 women and children is stopped by SDS troops.


• The agreement on the confederation of Bosnia and Croatia comes as a bombshell.
• The Presidency of BiH proclaims the JNA an occupation force.
• BiH becomes a member of the UN.


• After lengthy negotiations, the convoy of women and children abducted in Ilidza is released.
• SDS troops forcibly expel patients from the hospital in Jagomir. 113 mental patients roam the city.
• Sarajevan writer Abdulah Sidran, an avid chessplayer, seeks donations from 50,000 DM for BiH chessplayers to compete in the Chess Olympiad in Manila.


• In an attack on the city, the large Olympic complex “Zetra” is targeted.


• The MUP files criminal charges against members of the SDS, including former members of the BiH Presidency, Biljana Plavsic, Nikola Koljevic and Momcilo Krajisnik.
• Sefer Halilovic is named Commander of the BiH Territorial Defense.
• SDS troops attempt to break into the city through Vraca.
• Lisbon, May 24, 1992: A resolution is adopted, after new rounds of negotiations.


• Portugese Ambassador, Jose Cutileiro, initiates new rounds of negotiations. The Croat delegation from BiH led is led by Mate Boban. Radovan Karadzic represents the Serb people. The representatives of the Muslim people and delegation of BiH is led by Haris Silajdzic.


• JNA leaves the “Viktor Bubanj” barracks.
• Report from the Botanical Gardens: unique specimens are in jeopardy from incessant bombardment.
• The Apiarist Association of BiH sends out a statement to the world on the true state of affairs in the city.


• Heavy artillery attack by the aggressor on the maternity ward.
• Shelling in the city center. Massacre of civilians waiting in line for bread.
• The Presidency of BiH refuses a convoy exit from the city because of the possibility it will be taken hostage by the aggressor.


• JNA units evacuate the city barracks “Jusuf Dzonlic.”
• Artillery attack on the city. The city burns. Attack on the “Oslobodjenje” building.
• The destruction and burning of the city causes the interruption of the peace conference in Lisbon.
• The JNA leaves the Pazaric military compound.
• New York, May 30, 1992. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 757, which imposes sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro and which:
- prevents the import of all products and commodities from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- prevents the sale of all products and commoditites to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- makes unavailable any financial resources, including Serbian and Yugoslav assets in foreign countries;
- denies permission to aircraft to take off from, land or overfly member states’ territory if it is destined to land or has arrived from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro, except for special flights approved in advance on humanitarian grounds;
- prohibits the maintenance of aircraft registered in, or serving the purposes of Serbia and Montenegro, delivering spare parts for such aircraft, providing insurance for them and charging for such services;
- reduces the level of diplomatic and consular staff in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- prohibits participation in sporting events to persons or groups representing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro;
- suspends scientific, technical and cultural exchanges and visits with individuals and groups supported by or representing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, i.e., Serbia and Montenegro.

THE BORDERS

Apart from the trenches which were used for fighting there were many trenches within the city which served primarily the civilian population. By using those labyrinths between buildings the citizens were protected against sniper fire when going to fetch water, when going to work or to meet each.

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