FUNCTIONING OF THE MILITARY POLICE IN DOBRINJA // 05. 1992.
KERIM LUCAREVIC // COMMANDER OF THE MILITARY POLICE IN DOBRINJA
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1992

Kerim Lucarevic
Commander of the military police in Dobrinja
FUNCTIONING OF THE MILITARY POLICE IN DOBRINJA

‘Because we withstood the first blows, dealt with the fifth column, took steps to protect people, built barricades all over the town. 169 barricades were erected in Sarajevo to save people from being killed. After they were in place people weren’t killed any more. They were put up by the engineers unit of the military police, in a space of 72 hours they were all in place. Then we reopened the prison, and military court, organized a military hospital in Dobrinja, assisted in all hospitals, and went with the military police to get naphtha from enemy territory because some pumps were on the demarkation line. Some even deeper in enemy territory. They took naphtha by night to supply the bakers, and so that Oslobodjenje could work and the TV. And so that the hospitals could function because for operations a power generator was essential. I went with the police unit to see what was happening. When I saw how long the column was and what was happening, Doko demanded that I let through the weapons immediately or he would start criminal proceedings because he was minister of defense and I should be responsible if things went wrong, and that we could have the building. Then I demanded that we immediately demolish the buildings and they could take the bricks, and we would take the weapons, because they had been paid for by the people. A conflict situation developed and I routed all three. General Boskovic threatened to use the airforce and flatten Sarajevo. Then I routed him too. Then we attacked and took everything. That’s how we got the weapons. The weapons for Mojmilo, Zuc, Dobrinja, it put us in a position that from defense we turned to the offensive. Now we can see the importance of that when you remember that every action we engaged in with those weapons was successful. Remember that in ’92 alone there was the biggest liberation of territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina until September in New Town district, on that territory Orlic was liberated, that means sector 750 part of Zuc, Mojmilo, Dobrinja, the front line was in Otes in a circle where not a single bullet got in. That means we waged war without logistical support which is impossible according to military theory. It had a special significance and it was carried out by the formations of the Military Police under my command, and I must remind you that the capture of those weapons was so important that if you look at the Bosnian Serb TV Srna, then they often said that on such and such day the Muslim Army robbed the Jusuf Djonlic barracks. I asked for volunteers to go with me. I would lead and probably none of us would get back alive, to remember that, but that we were defending 40,000 people. 22 men came with me and were worth 500. I said we didn’t need any more and we went. We got to Dobrinja that night. When we got down I saw the situation, it was catastrophic, panic, chaos. People carrying bags, shrieks, crying, then those who had got away from the Airdrome estate told what had happened and what they had done, then the panic grew even worse. I went round the whole line. That was about 11 in the evening, the rain was terrible. We were under fire, they shelled us but we managed. Nobody was wounded. Now I’d gone round the entire line with only 22 men. I knew they would attack in the morning. Because they had made that first successful attack. They’d massacred the civil population in a way and this had given them wings to go forward. I inspected the complete line and asked myself: If I was in their place what would I do? I decided that they were most likely to attack from Dobrinja V because there was a 10 meter gap in their defenses there. I concentrated all my strength there, placed them in a good, convenient place where they had a large meadow in front of them. That means that if I’d made a wrong decision we were dead. We’d pay the price of that mistake. But in the morning, exactly at 4.30, about 150, Nis special service troops came that way. We let them onto the meadow and then massacred them. Not one got out alive. The next day the news spread and raised the morale of the people down there. And nobody was wounded and that in those trenches. The shelling was terrible, 5 - 7 thousand shells fell, down there it was at breaking point. But the next day we counter attacked which they hadn’t expected. So the next day we killed 150. That was down there, you see, down there in Nedjarici where those houses are, that’s what we captured. But before I went to Dobrinja I had arranged with my great friend and comrade in arms who had been with me from ’91, we were indivisible. That was Ramiz Salcin. I left the guns that I had taken from Jusuf Djonlic with him up on Mojmilo. We dug them in exactly aimed at where we wanted to hit. Those guns taken from the barracks did the main part of the job in Nedjarici. So I arranged with him. If we’re still alive this evening, tomorrow we shall counterattack. You aim exactly at where we tell you, and we’ll provide the infantry. And exactly that next day the battle began and decided the fate of Dobrinja. Because we broke the noose and neutralized their forces. They even had their elite groups the Pirates there from Lebanovac. Those are the ones with scarves, with painted faces, they were very dangerous. We later calculated that in breaking the blockade at Dobrinja we destroyed 48 armored vehicles. 24 on Mojmilo, 14 towards Lukavica, 4 personnel carriers at the village at C-5. Some were damaged, later 2 tanks in Nedjarici but that was later. And we damaged them later too and they later got them out. So that when you look at it that way that battle was specific, it was waged in very difficult abnormal conditions and it decided fate. If we had been 7 or 8 hours later Dobrinja would have fallen.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
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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