HOPELESSNESS, FEAR, HUNGER AND DEATH IN THE CITY// 09. 1992. • ZLATKO DIZDAREVIC// JOURNALIST – ‘OSLOBODJENJE’
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
HOPELESSNESS, FEAR, HUNGER AND DEATH IN THE CITY
‘By the end of September ‘92, I think we were coming to grips with the fact that the war would be long and horrible. It was clear that it wouldn’t end while the days were still sunny and while we were still able to live off of what little food we had stocked up at home. Everything indicated that this was the beginning of a long winter and long, long and tortuous nights.’
• The Presidency of BiH decides the evacuation of children by the organization Children’s Embassy will only be carried out under the strictest security.
• Slobodan Milosevic dismisses Milan Panic, the new president of the government of Yugoslavia.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Stup, the site of a bustling market, the situation grows tense. The HVO, BiH Territorial Defense and Bosnian Serbs erect barricades against each another.
• The city’s government battles epidemics of entercolitis and dysentery.
• Sarajevo’s Jewish community announces: “We want to be Bosnian Jews. During the Second World War, the Muslims acted the most justly. They protected the Jews.”
• Russian media blames the Muslims for all of the Serbs′ actions.
• Serb snipers fire at journalists from “Oslobodjenje” as they enter their office.
• An overland corridor is established between Split and Sarajevo.
• The Serbs agree to place their heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control after the expiration of the deadline of the ultimatum.
• Associations are established in Sarajevo for citizens expelled from other towns in BiH.
• An Italian humanitarian flight is shot down.
• Geneva, September 4, 1992. In Geneva, under the auspices of the UN and EC, in the Palace of Nations, an international conference begins on the former Yugoslavia.
• Humanitarian aid networks bring the citizens of Sarajevo 400 kg of food daily.
• The Children’s Embassy convoy is put on hold.
• The Ministry of Education issues a statement that enrolment in school is dependent on security conditions.
• Geneva, September 6, 1992. At the international conference, the aggressor’s side is asked to place all of its heavy artillery around Sarajevo, Gorazde, Bihac and Jajce under UN control by September 12. Karadzic doesn’t sign the agreement on placing heavy artillery under UNPROFOR control.
• Despite the deadline given Radovan Karadzic on handing over arms to UNPROFOR control, he continues to negotiate over the size of artillery pieces to be confiscated.
• Robbery of the “Fruktal” warehouse in Stup. HVO units and Juka’s unit compete over who will take more. The headquarters of the HVO in Mostar is given an ultimatum by the Armed Forces of BiH in Sarajevo to withdraw from Stup within 48 hours.
• Premier performance of the play “Skloniste” at the War Theatre “Sartr.”
• The “Holiday Inn” Hotel makes $230,000 in two months because it is the only hotel that can receive foreign journalists and supply them with food, water and electricity.
• Citizens rip out seesaws and benches from parks to survive the winter.
• The citizens of Sarajevo can buy a barrel of water up to 30 liters for 10 Deutsche Marks. Those that are able to get water from one of the rare sources in the city know that one canister of water could cost them their lives because of exposure to snipers and shelling.
• Dr Mario Landeka, at the “Paleta” gallery, displays 22 paintings on the theme of water.
• Bosnian Serb forces place their arms under UNPROFOR control at 11 positions.
• The Bosnian Serbs launch a heavy offensive. HVO units flee Stup, retreating from the city’s line of defense.
• The BiH delegation travels to Geneva for peace negotiations.
• The city lacks chlorine for the chlorination of drinking water, leading to negotations with UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb offensive on Stup continues, in an attempt to enter the city through its weakened defensive lines.
• The children’s choir “Palcici” writes to Princess Diana to tell her what’s happening to them.
• 20 authors display a portfolio of prints “SA 92”.
• Football league matches are held in Sarajevo under the slogan “It’s important to participate.”
• The city is ravaged by hunger, illness, despair and death.
• Muslims and Croats flee Grbavica, the occupied part of the city, paying ransoms on their own lives to the Serbs.
• A match is played between Sarajevo and UNPROFOR. The final score is 12 - 3.
On the fifth of April, 1992, around Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had about 500,000 inhabitants, around the city in the valley of the river Miljacka surrounded by mountains which made in the host of 1984 Winter Olympics, in the very center of what was Yugoslavia, appeared: two-hundred-sixty tanks, one-hundred-twenty mortars, and innumerable anti-aircraft cannons, sniper rifles and other small arms. All of that was entrenched around the city, facing it. At any moment, from any of these spots, any of these arms can hit any target in the city. And they did hit, indeed - civilian housing, museums, churches, mosques, hospitals, cemeteries, people on the streets. Everything became a target. All exits from the city, all points of entry, were blocked.
He was born in Sarajevo. He is journalist and editor in daily “Oslobodjenje”. Before the war, he was correspondent from the Middle East (Cairo, Beirut).
He was the first editor of the “Oslobodjenje” - war editorial. He published the books: “The War Diary”, “The Portraits”, “Silence and Nothing Else”. The awards: “Annual award 1992” - Reporteurs sans frontiers, “Bruno Krajski” - award for human rights - Vienna 1993, “Premio capri” - Italy; annual literary award, 1994. He is corespondent for “Time”; “La Republica”; “Frankfurter rundschau”.
It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
Again like a human. As Zlatko Dizdarevic, with little more cleverness, if possible.
How do you describe perfect happiness?
As being a resident of “that”
What is you biggest loss?
The life I lived before the war.
What is your biggest gain?
The preservation of personal freedom.
When and where were you happiest?
When I was convinced that my sons have definitely accepted the Sarajevo system of values and the Sarajevo point of view.
What are your lost illusions?
I don’t have lost illusions, I may only feel a bit sorry for the people whom I believed in, and who ended up as poor individuals.
Describe your day at work.
Survival, writing, the pub.
It is a privilege that we have had it.
What words don’t you use anymore?
There are no such words.
In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Of course it is.
Where would you like to live?
In “that” Sarajevo, or in Sinai.
How have you survived?
With the belief that I can and will survive.
What are you afraid of?
Does the past exist for you?
Of course it does, I love the past.
This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
There is no recipe, you have to believe in your own abilities, and you must not bend your spine, nobody is worth it.
How would you like to die?
I don’t know, I guess without pain.
Do you need hope to live?
It is good to have, but not something outside that should be given to us.
What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
We were foolish, then disappointed, and finally, realistic and strong.
How would you call this period of your life?
Dramatic and brutal.
Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
To the world: You are miserable, you have no balls, and that is why you will die alone and sad. I feel sorry for you.
Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I have no idea what it is, but I love it, I guess because others do not rule it.
The city was shelled y mortar shells of 82, 120, 150 and 250 millimeters. The 82mm and 120mm shells were used in the Market and the Vase Miskina street massacres. The larger caliber shells, often incendiary, were used to destroy important buildings. Guided missiles of the Maljutka type as well as plated shells which could penetrate several walls before exploding were used for the some purpose. Anti- aircraft guns and machine-guns were used for random shooting. The biggest destruction was achieved by the modified bombs, the so called “sows”, which were fired from specially built launchers. The shells, unless they are plated, explode at first contact. When it rained a wet spot on the ceiling usually meant that there was an unexploded shell (“an Alien”) in the attic. When the shells explode they produce shrapnel. There is almost no building in Sarajevo without shrapnel. The mark made by a shell explosion was called “a rose”. At the time when the 120mm shells were used the most extensively the city bulletin ran the headline “120mm Is Not Much” signed - Cicciolina.