President of the Jewish Community
JEWISH CONVOYS LEAVE SARAJEVO
‘We mustn’t forget that during the war the Jewish community and the Jewish cultural and humanitarian organization La Benevolencia organized a total of 11 convoys by means of which close to 2,500 people got out of the city. 1,000 were Jews and 1,500 were Sarajevans from other ethnic groups. Of course it was a very tough journey. I led two of those convoys to Split, and we had to cross 4 army controls, 6 police controls, and all together from Sarajevo to Split there been 38 checkpoints. Quite often we didn’t even know who would be waiting for us at a particular checkpoint, and which papers we had to show in order for them to let us pass.” As there were already quite a few journalists who entered and exited the city freely, we tried - because every one of them, of course, asked what they could do to help - we tried to persuade them to act as mail carriers. And this is how the La Benevolencia postal service began, which in 1993 alone carried more than 120,000 letters in and out of the city. This was simply the only channel of communication by which letters were sent out of Sarajevo and arrived in Sarajevo, until in November 1992 they started running the radio station, which for a long time was the only open channel of constant communication with both Belgrade and Zagreb, and with the rest of the world via Zagreb by telephone connections.’
• A convoy leaving for Germany carrying parentless children is fired on by Serb snipers, killing small children on one of the buses.
• Roma from the neighborhood of Butmir leave for the winter for Italy.
• The aggressor blackmails the city with water. The Bacevo reservoir is cut off. 90% of the city is without water.
• The airport is closed due to shelling.
• The home for the elderly now in a terrible state, being located in no man’s land.
• Israel participates in the air bridge and the provision of humanitarian aid.
• Statement of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the events in Bosnia: “Every time the international community says that it will not use force it encourages the aggressor.”
• UNPROFOR becomes the intermediary for restoring electricity and water in the city. Repairing the destroyed power lines is a Sisyphean task. Workers from the state electric company first seek approval from UNPROFOR. Later on the ground they are constantly exposed to snipers and shelling. They repair power lines that will once again be destroyed – and once again they start from scratch.
• Dino Merlin composes the Bosnian national anthem.
• Sarajevo music studios produce numerous hits.
• The Children’s Embassy suspends work. Protests follow by mothers against the Presidency of BiH.
• A Jewish convoy leaves Sarajevo.
• The President of the Yugoslav government, Milan Panic, arrives unannounced in Sarajevo. Alija Izetbegovic refuses to receive him.
• New York, August 14, 1992. The UN Security Council adopts two resolutions on BiH: Resolution 770, approving the use of military force to carry out humanitarian actions in BiH; and Resolution 771, condemning human rights abuses in BiH and enabling the use of military force to enter concentration camps.The UN Security Council confirms resolutions 713 from September 25, 1991; 721 from November 27, 1991; 724 from December 15, 1991; 727 from January 8, 1992; 740 from February 7, 1992; 743 from February 21, 1992; 749 from April 7, 1992 godine; 752 from May 15, 1992; 757 from May 30, 1992; 758 from June 8, 1992; 760 from June 18, 1992; 761 from June 29, 1992; 762 from June 30, 1992; 764 from July 13, 1992; 769 from August 7, 1992. The Security Council reiterates the necessity for an urgent political solution through negotaitions to the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the aim of enabling the country to live in peace and secure its borders.
• The Security Council, acting on Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations:
1. Reaffirms its demand that all sides and interested parties in BiH immediately cease hostilities;
2. Urges all states to take the necessary measures in cooperation with the UN or through regional agencies and arrangements to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Sarajevo and other parts of BiH, wherever needed, by UN humanitarian agencies and others;
3. Requests unimpeded and continuous access to all camps, prisons and internment centers for the International Committee of the Red Cross and other relevant humanitarian organizations; and that all prisoners be treated humanely, and be provided with adequate food, shelter and medical care;
4. Urges all states to submit a report to the Secretary General on measures undertaken in coordination with the UN with the goal of implementing this resolution, and invites the Secretary General to continually consider further measures that could used to secure the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid;
5. Requests all states to provide appropriate support to actions undertaken that are pursuant to this resolution;
6. Requests that all sides and interested parties take the necessary measures to insure the safety of the UN and other personnel engaged in humanitarian aid;
7. Requests that the Secretary General periodically issues reports to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution;
8. Reaches the decision that will actively follow this issue.
• A Papal envoy attends mass at the Sarajevo Cathedral for the Feast of the Assumption.
• Shelling of Hotel "Evropa”.
• A Children’s Embassy convoy leaves for Belgrade.
• The Airport is closed because a British Hercules C-13 was shot at.
• War vouchers become currency and replace the Yugoslav dinar. The BiH dinar is printed but cannot enter Sarajevo.
• The last active Orthodox Priest Dragutin Ubiparipovic leaves Sarajevo.
• Nenad Kecmanovic, absconded member of the Presidency of BiH, issues an announcement through the Yugoslav news agency “Tanjug” that he is no longer member of the Presidency of BiH.
• Bobby Fisher plays a match in Sveti Stefan, despite the embargo on Yugoslavia.
• A football game is held between the Sarajevo and Zeljo clubs; the final score is 8 – 5.
• The National Library burns after a heavy artillery attack.
• London, August 27, 1992. A peace conference in London begins on the former Yugoslavia under the joint chairmanship of British Prime Minister John Major, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd of the United Kingdom. The BiH delegation is led by Alija Izetbegovic, and the delegation includes Mile Akmadzic, Haris Silajdzic and Nikola Kovac. The Croat delegation is led by Mate Boban, and the Bosnian Serb delegation by Radovan Karadzic.
• Jose Cutilliero resigns from his position as EC chairman.
• The Serbs are given an unconditional ultimatum to withdraw its heavy artillery within 96 hours.
• In Sarajevo hospitals doctors and medical workers are starving.
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.