WAR RADIO PHENOMENON // 06. 1992.
MIMO SAHINPASIC // JOURNALIST
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

June 1992

Mimo Sahinpasic
Journalist
WAR RADIO PHENOMENON

‘We tried through small doses, even of humor in the most difficult times, open telephones, giving free information, broadcasting things that were not exactly to the governing circle’s taste, you know, some uncensored news, information from the foreign media: Radio France International, Radio Free Europe, Voice of America. That drew people, drew them to see some light at the end of the tunnel.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

JUNE 1992


• A home for the blind becomes a perch for armed Serb paramilitary troops.
• The JNA leaves the largest barracks, “Marsal Tito,” in the city center.
• Telephone connection cut: Sarajevo – the World.


• The citizens, shut in their apartment blocks and basements because of the unending shelling, begin organizing block events.
• The city faces severe food shortages. The local community creates a mini farm at Buljakov stream to survive.


• When the aggressor attacks Aerodromsko naselje citizens turn their radios up to the song, “Don’t give up, Bosnia!”


• The UN leads negotiations on reclaiming the airport, which is under the control of the JNA and Serb terrorists.
• Sarajevan psychiatrists give advice to citizens on how to mentally survive: establish as many contacts as possible, avoid isolation, show solidarity, share everything with others, and do as much as possible – invent tasks rather than sit with folded arms.
• Methadone runs out, a treatment for narcotics addicts.
• The electrical power system in BiH is divided up.
• The Presidency of BiH proclaims a state of war and general mobilization.
• Louis Mackenzie, UNPROFOR Commander, brokers a two day truce as a condition for opening the airport.
• The building of the "Oslobodjenje" newspaper burns, under heavy artillery attacks.
• JNA planes target the TV transmitter in Mostre near Visoko, in the vicinity of Sarajevo.
• Serb paramilitary troop expel Muslim and Croat citizens from the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza.


• The President of the Presidency of BiH announces that he will leave for a conference in Strasbourg on April 25 if the airport is opened and if UNPROFOR secures the road to the airport.
• Before the conference in Strasbourg, special units of MUP petition against a cantonized and divided Bosnia.
• The Public Prosecutor’s Office of BiH in Sarajevo issues a ban on the SDS. The proceedings are initiated by the Center for Antiwar Activities and the Prosecutor’s office makes the ruling.
• SDS barricades halt BiH Olympians on their way to the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
• "Gras" tram conductors transport Sarajevans, and a fifth column inquires as to the departure times of trams which are then told to SDS terrorists so that they can fire upon them fro the hills.
• Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister, feels helpless rage and falls into a deep depression over the inability of the international community to help Bosnia and Sarajevo.
• Strasbourg, June 25, 1992. A summit on BiH begins in Strasbourg. Presiding over the summit is Lord Carrington. Participants: Haris Silajdzic, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman.
• Waiting for a ceasefire before opening the airport, Louis Mackenzie: the BiH government has an effective military in the city, while the Serbs state they will not fire at civilian targets, meaning they can fire at military targets.
• Sarajevans, being heavy smokers, smoke a variety of types of cigarettes in the besieged city; the healthiest are the KOKTEL cigarettes.
• MUP issues guidelines for safe movement in the city amid shelling and sniper fire.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Alipasino polje, B block, a chess competition is held.


• The peace conference in Strasbourg collapses.
• Abandoned house pets roam the city because their owners have fled.
• Sarajevo′s “Velepekara” (mass bakery) no longer produces bread, the staple food of Sarajevo, because it lacks yeast.
• Table tennis players from Sarajevo go to Crkvenica to prepare for a European tournament.
• French President François Mitterand, makes a completely unannounced landing at the closed Sarajevo airport, and later goes on a tour of the besieged city. He visits the State and Military Hospitals, and on this visit resolves the crisis over the delivery of humanitarian aid, just as he later blocks eventual air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions.
• The Presidency decides to implement work quotas for all civilians.
• The blue UN flag flaps over the runway of Sarajevo airport, three minutes before the UN Security Council convenes at the deadline of the ultimatum given the Bosnian Serbs. The first planes carrying humanitarian aid arrive in Sarajevo.
• All contact with the outside world is cut off.
• New York, June 30, 1992. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 761 which authorizes the Secretary General to employ UNPROFOR to establish the security and functioning of Sarajevo airport. Article 2 of the Resolution urges all parties to maintain an absolute and unconditional ceasefire.

Radio

Those with batteries/generators can listen to the government radio and some independent, privately owned stations. The most popular are the urban stations “Zid” and “Studio 99”.

Radio

The independent radio station „Radio Zid“ (Wall) founded and managed by Zdravko Grebo, is a station concerned with propagating an urban mentality. To be urban in Sarajevo means to participate in Sarajevo as an urban community. The station addresses itself primarily to the people who constitute the urban population but it also tries to create and educate such audience. It transmits around the clock.
„Radio 99“, managed by Adil Kulenović, is privately owned radio station which gained its popularity during the war. It brings together young journalists and those who were not journalists before the war, but became attracted by the spirit of civil resistance.
The station operates from a basement and is powered by a battery.
The troupe „Surrealists“ was one of the most popular satirical comedy troupes in the former Yugoslavia. They have a show „Microphone on Duty“, produced by Boro Kontić, on the Radio Sarajevo First Program. Their satire on the radio, transmitted every Sunday, is a smash hit with a society at war. „Mustering up humour in the face of death and despair has been an antidote for the war. Members of the comedy troupe Surrealist Hit Parade are applying the medicine in Sarajevo, lobbing barbs on the radio while all around them shells are falling“

(The New York Times, July 6, 1993).

Independent Radio Station – Radio Zid

Radio Zid is an independent radio station not supported by any governmental or other sources.
Radio transmits program 24 hours per day on the frequency 89,9 MHz from Sarajevo.
Radio can be listened by 500/600,000 people. Established at the end of 1992. Radio Zid constantly transmits its program although faced with many difficulties caused by war in the besieged Sarajevo.
Radio Zid promotes the ideas of civil society which is threatened by aggression from outside, as well as by a trend towards „monolithic media“ from inside. Up to now Radio Zid has successfully kept its independence from both pressures.
Radio Zid is not politically close to any party existing in Sarajevo.



Projects – Radio Zid Sarajevo

THE COLORFUL WALL (ŠARENI ZID) – Children's Program was created with the help of UNICEF Sarajevo office.
THE COLORFUL WALL is broadcast every working day from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM and is intend to reach the kids, the greatest victims of this cruel war, in order to free them from the burdens of reality. The program is designed to be educational and entertaining. THE COLORFUL WALL includes 30 minutes of radio school which helps elementary school kids with their regular school courses. THE COLORFUL WALL radio school was, for a while, the only available official school in town authorized by the Ministry of Education of the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is important to note that this was the first and remains the only children's program in these territories created and run exclusively by children.
The children's drama department, part of THE COLORFUL WALL, remains innovative and active, having already produced Sarajevo's first-feature length children's drama „Charlie and The Chocolate Factory“ with the financial help from our friends in England. Charlie and the great Glass Elevator is another project of this department, presently abandoned because of financial difficulties.

TEENAGE PROGRAM intended for an audience of 14 to 19 years of age is in preparation. Teenagers are much neglected by Sarajevo media. Research has shown that under the present living conditions in Sarajevo the teenagers are one of the most jeopardized groups in the city in a psychological sense.
Often well educated, but having been forced to neglect their studies because of the war and re-construct a new youth culture, they are hungry for an outlet for their ideas and concerns. This program, produced, planned and scripted by Sarajevan teenagers, will give a voice to their passions.

THE HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAM
The goal of this program is to provide our listeners with the information necessary for them to establish a healthy life style. The program plans to cover and systematically subjects unlikely to be in depth at school or in the work-place.
THE HEALTH EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM aims to act preventatively. We want our listeners to be: correctly informed, do some thinking and take independent decisions.

20,000 MINES UNDER THE GROUND
It is well known fact that several millions of lethal projectiles (mines, grenades...) have been fired upon Sarajevo, and that a significant number of them never exploded.
With this in mind RADIO ZID SARAJEVO along with experts in explosives plans to initiate an extensive public information program warning risk groups of the many dangers of unexploded bombs and projectiles.
With this project we hope to raise awareness in the general population and give easy to follow instructions on how to react when confronted with suspicious objects or more obviously deadly devices.

Radio Zid – Art radio

Ever since the beginning of the project we have consciously tried to develop our radio station as an art concept. We thought that defending and preserving Sarajevo's cultural identity was an important as its actual defense. Besides we have tried to transmit in our programs to the people of the city current information about all cultural events in Europe and the world. The Zid was the organizer or helped to organize a large number of cultural manifestations in Sarajevo during the war, some of which were proclaimed the first rate media-events. One of those was the Hiroshima Day on August 6, 1993 which brought together a number of the most prominent artists in the world, while more than 700 of those who could not come to Sarajevo sent messages of support. The „Zid“ was one of the organizers of the two week „After the End of the World“ film festival where some of the best current films were shown and seen by tens of thousands of people. In March and April 1994 we organized a review of the commercially most successful films of the previous year and screened some twenty films, mainly produced in Hollywood. The „Zid“ also promoted in its programs Susan Sontag's production of „Waiting for Godot“ and Susan Sontag whenever in Sarajevo participates in the radio's programs. The „Zid's“ commitment to theatre can also be seen in its contribution to the performance of The Wall (an adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's short story) which has been filling the theatre for the past three years. The station also gave its support, media promotion and organizational skills to Joan Baez's concert as well as to „Dystopia“ project which brought together some of the world's most acclaimed architects. A part of the „Zid's“ activity is devoted to publishing. It published and promoted the book titled „100&1 Nights“ (Sarajevo,1994) and presented „The Sarajevo Survival Guide“ (FAMA, Zagreb 1993)
The „Zid's“ gallery organized exhibitions of photographs and caricatures by foreign and local artists.
Simultaneously, right from its beginnings the „Zid's“ program has been oriented towards presenting all aspects of culture. Apart from informing about the current cultural production the „Zid“ presents every day between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. specialized program devoted to a variety of arts and culture in general (theatre, film, music, poetry, fiction, architecture, history of art, religion, etc.). Although operating under totally unacceptable technical and other conditions, at the beginning of the year the „Zid“ managed to produce by its own stuff (technicians and actors) the only radio drama in Sarajevo during the past two years. Its presentation of culture differentiates the „Zid“ from all other media in the city, both the electronic (radio and TV) and the newspapers. The mentioned activities and the program orientation resulted in the „Zid“ being officially proclaimed the Sarajevo media event of 1993. Working towards preservation of the city's cultural identity the „Zid“ has also made efforts to break the informational blockade trying to inform people of Sarajevo about all important cultural events in the world. Due to the „Zid's“ successful coverage Sarajevo, even during its siege, was very well informed about all the relevant cultural manifestations in the world.

TOPIC RELATED VIDEO
POLLS
POLL
MAP SIEGE OF SARAJEVO