IT TAKES AN HOUR TO PREPARE THE NEWSPAPER, NO OIL FOR THE GENERATORS // 12. 1992.
MEHMED HALILOVIC // JOURNALIST – ‘OSLOBODJENJE’
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

December 1992

Mehmed Halilovic
Journalist – ‘Oslobodjenje’
IT TAKES AN HOUR TO PREPARE THE NEWSPAPER, NO OIL FOR THE GENERATORS

‘Most of our journalist and editors worked in the Oslobodjenje bunkers with candlelight only and small amounts of naphtha mostly got on the black market in Sarajevo and paid for at high prices and used for getting the rotary printing presses in action to print the paper and get them out on the streets next day.’

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DECEMBER 1992


• Due to the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the siege of Sarajevo, the prevailing general attitude of the international community is that "the Serbs should be reasoned with, but not be defeated by us; we should leave them room for an honorable exit from a situation they themselves have created."
• Satish Nambiar, Chief of Staff of the United Nations for Bosnia, says: "This is a vicious circle. I do not really see a solution. "
• A conference of Islamic countries is held. The decision is made to request the repeal of the arms embargo on BiH. The oil reserves controlled by Islamic countries give power to this request
• Religious, scientific and literary institutions in Sarajevo send a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton; these include ANUBiH, "La Benevolencija", "the Pen Centre", “Napredak”, “Preporod”, and the University of Sarajevo.
• Geneva, December 2nd, 1992. A resolution by the Commission on Human Rights is adopted unanimously that clearly identifies the aggressor and its atrocities.
• Bosnian Serb forces launch a heavy attack on Otes, a suburb of Sarajevo.
• Each Sarajevan is entitled to 0.333 kg of bread; 0.174 kg of flour is delivered instead to those parts of the city where bread can’t be delivered.
• Croatia ultimately abolishes the transit visa.
• OSBiH General Stjepan Siber protests UN organizations allowing Bosnian Serb soldiers to use white UN vehicles to drive across the airport runway.
• City’s Red Cross Center tends to refugees in refugee camps.
• The OSBiH is forced to retreat from the suburb of Otes in the face of the aggressor’s artillery attacks. Residents are evacuated. As they flee they cross the Dobrinja river.
• The Sarajevo branch of the HVO organizes a Christmas tournament for indoor soccer. Sixteen teams participate, the tournament lasts 17 days.
• Through the humanitarian organization "Adra" a large shipment of packages arrives from Belgrade.
• Russia does not want to deliver gas to Sarajevo because of its large debt for gas. The BiH delegation is in Moscow negotiating the release of gas.


• At the peace conference in Geneva, the delegations are working on maps. The BiH Foreign Minister suggests that BiH be divided into 13 cantons.
• The airport is closed. Sarajevo awaits a new round of humanitarian aid.
• Due to the difficult situation in the city, a ban is passed on coffee shops and bars staying open after 6pm.
• OSBiH soldiers take back a position on Zuc hill 850 meters high. This hill was one of the fiercest Serb strongholds for shooting at the citizens of Sarajevo.
• In Sarajevo the 'Blessed builders of peace' arrive. At the "Radnik" cinema they hold an ecumenical gathering
• At the peace conference in Geneva all three sides give written guarantees that they will not shoot at planes so that Sarajevo airport can be opened again.


• The President of the Croat-formed Herzeg-Bosnia, Mate Boban, blocks the entry of weapons for OSBiH before Sarajevo. Sarajevo is now besieged by three layers: the Bosnian Serbs, the UN, and Herzeg-Bosnia.
• The leader of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic, in Geneva makes a statement on ending the war on December 17th, but his assembly needs to adopt a resolution on the termination of the war.
• In order to be published daily, the newspaper "Oslobodjenje" needs a barrel of oil for its electrical generator, while journalists have one hour to prepare the news. Due to the small number of copies of the newspaper, citizens post copies on city walls.


• Counterfeit banknotes are noticed in the city in denominations of 5,000 BiH dinars. 1.2 million counterfeit banknotes have entered the city.
• The Bosnian Serb television network in Pale, "Srna", exerts constant pressure on Serbs in Sarajevo to leave the city.
• "Spiders" (tow-trucks) tow away improperly parked cars. The utility company "Rad" urges the public to stop parking on the streets.
• Geneva, December 18, 1992. A ministerial conference on the former Yugoslavia is completed on December 18th, 1992.
• Lawrence Eagleburger says that Milosevic and Karadzic systematically violate the agreements that they themselves have signed; pledges to punish all war criminals, naming some of them; suggests that the UN Security Council review the arms embargo on Bosnia; says that pressure must be exerted to open up pathways for humanitarian aid and efforts to prevent the spread of the war, particularly in Kosovo, should be stepped up; and that sanctions in order to stop the war as soon as possible should be strengthened
• New York, December 18th, 1992. The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution in wich they request the Security Council to lift the embargo on arms exports in Bosnia and to authorize military intervention if Serbia and Montenegro continue after January 15th with their violations of previous Security Council resolutions. 102 countries vote in favor of this resolution, with 57 abstentions and none against.
• At a session of the BiH Presidency it is decided that Alija Izetbegovic will remain president during the war.


• The first ambassador to BiH is appointed, Croatian Ambassador, Dr. Sancevic.


• The BiH airline "Air BiH" is established, comprised of former JAT employees. A company representative says: "Given that the Sarajevo airport is under UN control, the people of Sarajevo will have to use other airports to travel but all the reservations can be made through the newly formed company Air BiH."
• Three maps for demilitarization are made in Geneva.


• "Velepekara" asks for gas burners from the Medical school in order to enable another line of production of bread because its situation with oil is critical.
• Celebration of Christmas at the UNPROFOR base. The French Battalion, sings "We pray for peace in Sarajevo."
• The headquarters of UNPROFOR is shelled. General Morillon, the UNPROFOR Commander, wants to withdraw because of these events in Sarajevo. The government of BiH gives him guarantees that they will investigate the shelling.
• In Geneva on December 28th, 1992 a peace conference on the former Yugoslavia begins.
• Curfew abolished for New Year‘s celebrations.
• UNPROFOR sends a proposal to the BiH goverment that UNPROFOR can return men who try to run across the airport runway in order to flee the city. They propose to organize joint control with the BiH government over the corridor.

Newspapers

The daily OSLOBODJENJE which is published in a completely destroyed building. When there is no sufficient paper it is published in small edition and the news vendors stick the sheets onto the facades. Also available are RATNI DANI and BLIC, the magazine TENNIS, the magazine of the Architects’ Association. Travelers also bring into the city old issues of the dailies and weeklies from the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere. These papers circulate from house to house.

News

The building housing „Oslobođenje“, which published a daily newspaper of the same name, is today a heap of rubble. However, the daily Oslobođenje is still published. Its size, printing run, the colour of its paper and print depend on the circumstances. It is produced, as before, in the basement, under the rubble, and it is sold by its journalists.
Oslobođenje has won numerous international press prizes this year including the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.
There is also a privately owned paper Ratni dani (Wartimes Days) and this fall there has appeared another independent, privately owned weekly – Blic (Flash).
Some other, more specialized, papers are also published in the city: Ljiljan (The Lily), Muslimanski glas (The Moslem Voice), the Jewish community paper, and there is even Tennis for the lovers of the sport.

“OSLOBODJENJE”

In the summer of 1992 the great skyscraper of the “Oslobodjenje” newspaper publishing house was hit by tens of inflammable shells and it started to burn. The building was being systematically destroyed by everyday shelling. In spite of that, even during fires and the worst shelling, the printing shop plant located in the basement of the building produced newspapers on a daily basis. The journalists were getting in and out under the burning building carrying bundles of newspapers which they distributed throughout the city.

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