TELEPHONE SERVICE DEPENDENT ON OIL SUPPLIES // 10. 1992.
HAJRUDIN SUMAN // EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE PTT COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

October 1992

Hajrudin Suman
Executive director of the PTT Company
TELEPHONE SERVICE DEPENDENT ON OIL SUPPLIES

‘15 litters of gas meant a lot to us for absolutely basic needs, for an electronic central exchange that would be totally economical. We had a plan to reduce the numbers for only one station which could work with just five or six numbers.’

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OCTOBER 1992


• Geneva, October 2, 1992: The conference on the former Yugoslavia in Geneva continues.
Two announcements from Geneva:
- The demilitarization of Sarajevo as the first step towards peace;
- Continued discussion on the constitutional order of BiH under the auspices of the Conference;
- Signing of the Declaration in which Croatia and Yugoslavia agree to respect existing borders, in accordance with the decisions of the London Conference. An agreement is reached on the return of refugees.
- Under the auspices of the International Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an agreement is signed on the release of civilians in concentration camps.
• The Mayor of Sarajevo issues an announcement: "Citizens, do not cut the trees! You only need to wait for the opening of the corridor, and that will probably be soon. Poplars can be cut, but those are needed by the army. "


• Statement by Rassek, the new commander of UNPROFOR, "One of the primary tasks of UNPROFOR - is to provide a continuous and smooth flow of water into the city."
• In Sarajevo, massive car theft. Although the owners remove the tires to prevent theft, thieves bring their own wheels, install them and take the car.
• The Ski Association of BiH submits an application for admission to the International Ski Federation. At the meeting they will be represented by a Slovenian delegation, because the representatives of BiH can’t leave the besieged city.
• At the peace conference in Geneva, the Foreign Minister of BiH, seeks an abolition of the arms embargo.
• New York, October 8th, 1992: the UN Security Council adopts two resolutions:
- The first forms the basis for the establishment of a commission for the investigation of war crimes in Bosnia;
- The second allows UNPROFOR to take control of the territory after the withdrawal of the former Yugoslav army from Prevlaka.
New York, October 9th, 1992:
New UN Security Council resolution 781:
The UN Security Council orders a ban on all military flights over Bosnia except for UN aircraft. The prohibition is effective immediately.
• Mile Akmadzic, Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, asks for republic officials to return to Sarajevo within five days or lose their positions.


• Generators producing electricity work in coffee shops but not in hospitals.
• Salaries of the members of the Presidency - 20 DEM - the black market rate.


• A fierce debate between the directors of the Red Cross and the Commander of the Army Forces over a convoy departure with 6,500 people from Sarajevo leaving in their private cars.
• The Volkswagen "Golf" becomes the vehicle of the season. The "Golf" can drive under any conditions.
• A convoy with 180 Jews leaves Sarajevo.


• No one has information on incoming humanitarian aid: e.g, who the donors are, the quantity of goods that has arrived, nor the quality of the goods.
• The phenomenon of survival in the besieged city:
Bicycle – in the movie "Miracle in Milan" cyclists ascend to to heaven; in Sarajevo cyclists rush through the streets to avoid a premature trip to heaven.
Heating - people search for sunlight to warm up, but can die because of it.
Bathing - you can wash yourself with a cup of water and look clean, and wash your hair with a pot of water and dry it in the oven.
Sawing- Sarajevans are awoken by the sound of chainsaws at dawn, the best time to cut down trees.
• The news of the coup in Sarajevo is launched by TV "Srna", a television station run by the Bosnian Serbs. Belgrade has taken over deceptive news broadcasts. Foreign journalists in Belgrade pass the news along to the world, bearing the TV "Srna" logo. The news comes back to Belgrade where its given the headline: "As Radio Geneva reports, a coup took place today in Sarajevo."
• On Igman the OSBiH arrests Juka Prazina, a leader of special urban guerrilla units, because of attacks on Sarajevo from Igman; cooperation with HVO units; and attacks on the BiH Armed Forces.
• "Velepekara" (a large bakery) is heavily shelled. Its mill is burnt down.
• For 21 days Sarajevo is without electricity or gas, has had no water for 19 days; and bread is distributed only on the basis of priority. The transmitter in Vogošća has been shelled. There is no electricity, and no one knows when it will be back on again.


• In Sarajevo, a command is issued to finally reckon with the crime in the city: all armed groups must be incorporated into the city defense or be forcibly disarmed. All stolen goods must be returned within 48 hours. A subsequent operation uncovers warehouses of looted goods.
• In Belgrade, Koca Popovic dies, one of the greatest figures in partisan and political circles of Socialist Yugoslavia.
• Sarajevans find water using a divining rod.
• Under UN supervision, a meeting is held between a working group comprised of military representatives from the Armed Forces of BiH and the Bosnian Serb Army.


• Sarajevo Mayor Muhamed Kresevljakovic returns from a tour. On that occasion he says: “If ships from Spain arrive in Ploce, and the Croatian side allows transport, Sarajevans could have 300 tons of potatoes." He brings a bag of letters from Ljubljana to Sarajevans.
• UNPROFOR headquarters is returned to Sarajevo.
• One of the military negotiators of the Bosnian Serbs, General Gvero, asks the UN organizations to open up roads for 60,000 Serbs to leave Sarajevo.
• Commander of the BiH Armed Forces, Sefer Halilovic, sends a message to Sarajevo: "Instead of continuously walking (strolling) on the streets, it would be better if you would sit at home and from home knit sweaters and socks for those who are defending us."
• Bosnian passports are beeing issued in limited numbers.
• Geneva, October 29, 1992.
- At the Geneva negotiations on Bosnia a proposal is made to divide the country into seven to ten provinces within its existing borders;
- The central government would have responsibility for foreign affairs, defense, government, international trade, and taxes for the central government;
- Education, cultural institutions, radio programs and a host of other issues would be the responsibility of the provinces.
• Razija Colic, a film professional, loses both of her legs while trying to rescue a film archive from fires caused by the shelling.
• A transit visa is introduced for Croatia.

Telephone lines

Telephone lines are going through satellites since August of 1992. Those expensive phones - each about $ 50,000 - are with foreign correspondents in the Holiday Inn, in the Office of Defense, in the Police Ministry, and in two industrial strongholds. Since December, citizens could try to get on a waiting list at the Post Office. Waiting is about a week long, and payment is in US dollars, 15-20 per minute, three minutes maximum. Some foreign journalists were known for charging ‘their’ communication favors i.e. use of satellite telephone, for double the price. That only shows you how expensive it is to go out into the world. However, it has been observed that lines with that world are working when the Postal tower on the occupied mountain of Trebevic sends a red light. Pay attention in case you have a working telephone and a view of the tower! Telephones are also working while the news from Belgrade is on, and while reporters from Pale, from the TV channel called Serbia in Bosnia, are linking into the Big System. Lines are open during their reports. What you need, again, are a working telephone and quick reflexes.

City communication is reduced to yelling under and in front of large blocks. Where there is no electricity, there can be no bells! Messages are delivered through messengers who carry them from one part of the town to another. Post offices are not selling Bosnian stamps yet. They haven’t been printed. To tell the truth, they aren’t necessary. There are no letters that can be mailed. It is only those scarce taxi-drivers who can establish links between sealed parts of the town. It happens this way: a cab-driver in one zone calls by the car radio his colleague in Grbavica. Then the colleague goes to the address of the person who is being looked for. He tells her to come in the car. While they are driving conversation goes on. The only disadvantage is that everyone in any cab can eavesdrop.

THE POST OFFICE

The Austro-Hungarian building of the Post Office, located on the riverside, was destroyed during the night of May 2, 1992. Terrorists placed the dynamite inside the building and after it blew up it was shelled by inflammable shells until it burnt down. The bags containing the last Sarajevo mail to places outside Sarajevo burnt down. The phone-boxes were destroyed by the shelling. The outcome of the destruction of the central Post Office and the lack of electricity was, according to the Sarajevo Municipal Assembly data from April 1993, that out of more than 150,000 phone lines only 2,000 were operational. Telephone lines between Sarajevo and the rest of the world were not operational during the whole time of the siege. During the siege the communication with the outside world was maintained by amateur radio operators and a few satellite phones. Links with relatives, friends and business partners were established through foreigners who brought in and out the messages, which often grew to book size. In February 1996, an exhibition of sculptures was placed inside the burnt out Post Office building.

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