TRSCANSKA STREET // 01. 1993.
AMINA BEGOVIC // ACTRESS
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1993

Amina Begovic
Actress
TRSCANSKA STREET

‘The 4th of January was important for me. It was one of those days when one says: ‘from now on I celebrate my second birth’. I found myself right in the middle of that Trscanska Street, because I was crossing to the other side. I had to go to the Unis building to the Children’s Embassy. And because it was foggy and I thought they didn’t see me on the street. And so I slowly went across and what happened. They started to shoot. And, of course, I didn’t see them, they saw me. I hear shots and I see something ricocheting off the ground. And now, those are the things one experiences only in dreams. I suppose all of you have that something when one dreams that one is running, but cannot move the legs. They are terribly heavy. This happens in dreams and it used to happen to me often when I was little, much more often. But it happens in life, too. Suddenly you find yourself stuck in the middle of the street. You are aware of what that street is and suddenly somebody shoots and you cannot move. And this is it, just for one moment and then you move and go. I mean, on the whole, throughout the war the people did not go into Trscanska Street, because they knew what it was. I also knew what it was. But nevertheless there were several reasons why I went into that street. Because there was a system of getting out through the side door. We all went out through some side door. Fortunately we had an entrance into the yard and one could go through that yard. But those are old yards, with soil on the ground and when it rained it was muddy. I clean my shoes and have to go out, have to do a performance or have to appear at some book promotion, and it is important to dress up, to look nice, we all wanted to look nice. So I clean my shoes and in God’s name how am I to walk through that yard when it’s muddy. Who cares that a sniper is shooting on the street? He won’t hit me and I won’t dirty my shoes. And there was another reason. In my yard there were two dogs, the neighbors’ dogs. And they let them run around. However, I’m terribly afraid of dogs, ever since I remember, I’ve been terribly afraid of dogs. But ever since I remember I haven’t been afraid of snipers, because I didn’t know what they were. It means I don’t go into the yard if Cici and Riki are in the yard because I’m terribly afraid of dogs. And the sniper won’t hit me, so I can go into Trscanska Street.’

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JANUARY 1993


• UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali arrives in Sarajevo. Sarajevans protest the Presidency over UN policies in Bosnia.
• MUP begins issuing new identification cards. The expiration dates of the ID cards are dependent on the course of the war. They are printed in BiH. To obtain an identification card one needs two witnesses if during the war documents attesting to your identity had been destroyed.


• In 1992, the average Sarajevan survived on bread. To compare, the average European in a single year eats 55kg of bread; an average Sarajevan in 1992 ate 180kg of bread.
• Geneva, January 2, 1993. In Geneva a peace conference is held on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participants at the conference include: Mate Boban, Alija Izetbegovic, and Radovan Karadzic, as well as military leaders Sefer Halilovic, Milivoj Petkovic and Ratko Mladic. Also present at the meeting are Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and President of the SR Yugoslavia Dobrica Cosic.


• UNPROFOR publishes figures on Sarajevans crossing the airport runway in order to flee the occupied city: in November 1992 there were 3,879 attempts; in December 1992, 6,653 attempts, on New Year’s Day 1993, 339 attempts; and on January 2, 1993, 346 attempts.
• At the Sarajevo maternity ward, deliveries are performed by candlelight. No one comes for them; no one helps them.
• In the Sarajevo neighborhood of Dobrinja branches of a “Credit Bank” operate. Envera Karkin, a bank clerk, says: “You do whatever you can not to fall into a depression, it‘s all a defense mechanism. With a driver I broke through the barricade between Dobrinja and the city and I came back to barricaded Dobrinja. It was the first shipment of money that made it past the blockade in Dobrinja. I feel safer in Dobrinja than in the city because I know every corner.”
• The residents of Dobrinja print issues of the newspapers “Vecernje novine” and “Oslobodjenje” themselves – and preserve copies for the museum. These are faxed copies of the 20/30 issues received from papers in the cities.
• Weather forecast: COLD.
• Geneva, January 4, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: the president of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosić, together with the president of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, commit to a BH confederation composed of three parts. The President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, and the leader of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic, negotiate for three hours with mediators, but without progress. Alija Izetbegovic announces: “I want you to know that we never advocated for the principle of ethnic division.”


• Personal deliveries of Politika arrive from Belgrade. At the "Partizan" theatre, lists are posted of their recipients.
• The Soros Foundation donates $50,000,000 in humanitarian aid for assistance to BiH.
• Meanwhile the names of the city’s streets are changed.
• The UNHCR releases a report on the extent to which Bosnian Serbs have themselves taken from every humanitarian convoy that has arrived in Sarajevo.
• A promotion is held for the conceptual designs of the first BH postage stamps.


• Celebration of Orthodox Christmas.
• Daily report by the UNHCR on crossings over the airport runway: 558 attempts, with some people attempting to cross every night.
• The weather turns cold. Trees are felled in Sarajevo for firewood.
• Sarajevo neighborhood councils carry out the rationing of humanitarian aid in cycles. For example: In order to close as soon as possible cycle IX and move on to cycle X, communities take lesser set amounts of food to distribute and in doing so harm the citizens, because they’re not compensated in the next cycles of aid.


• The President of the BiH government Hakija Turajlic is killed on the road to the Sarajevo airport in a UN vehicle. He is killed by Bosnian Serb troops. The Presidency holds UNPROFOR responsible because President Turajlic was under their protection. UN Colonel Sartre, who was in the vehicle behind, is not made available to MUP in Sarajevo for their investigation.
• The Peace Center receives a “Direct Action” team who hand out aid directly to the citizens, without mediators, leaving them on poor terms with the UNHCR. Mobility is their greatest quality.
• Exhibition by the painter Affan Ramic: “War documents '92”. The painter in his own works incarnates the burning of the Post Office, City Hall, Olympic Museum, and the “Oslobodjenje” headquarters.
• Pensions increase by 32.3%, with payments depending on (the availability of) electricity or oil, so that clerks are able to process them.

• Geneva, January 15th 1993. At the peace negotiations in Geneva, the Bosnian Serbs are given a deadline of six days to accept the peace plan.


• Bosnian Serbs fire shells at a line waiting for water at the “Sarajevo Brewery.” World TV stations release only sound, but no video of this terrible massacre.
• A vote is held for the song that will represent BiH in the “Eurovision '93” contest. The jury listens to demos.
• A water pump is set up in Novo Sarajevo.
• On their 32nd anniversary, the “Bosna” chess club holds a fast chess tournament.


• French philosopher Henri Bernard Lévy and French humanitarian official Bernard Kouchner are presented with honorary doctorates from the University of Sarajevo for their help and commitment to BiH.


• The General Staff of Croat units in BiH, the HVO, decide to implement the Geneva agreements, creating imaginary lines for provincial borders. Through these measures the Army of BiH becomes an enemy. The OSBiH issues guidelines on conduct in response.
• “Oslobodjenje” is published in French, as support to the extraordinary efforts to have the paper printed daily in the besieged city.


• Croat leaders and all Croat officials in government agencies leave the city over night. This decision is based on their interpretation of the implementation of the Geneva negotiations.


• Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic church in BiH, calls on the Pope to come to Sarajevo.


• The Bosnian Serb Assembly accepts the Geneva agreement.
• Bill Clinton becomes the new president of the USA.
• Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran seek cooperation with the West on the situation in Bosnia.
• A convoy is halted in Ilidza.
• An exhibition of paintings opens.
• Dire conditions at the oncology clinic in Sarajevo.
• Director Nedzad Begovic prepares the animated film “Cupavac”. He creates his hero by drawing him on foil leaning against his window.


• The delegation of HDZ BiH arrives in Sarajevo, with international mediators Robert Owen and Cyrus Vance, to sign a ceasefire between Croat forces and the Army of BiH.
• The Prosecutor’s Office in Sarajevo requests that immunity be dropped for Louis Mackenzie, former UNPROFOR commander.


• Juka Prazina is on Igman, harassing the OSBiH forces, before going on the run. A warrant is issued for his arrest.


• A letter from the “PEN center” BiH to the world “PEN center” seeking assistance through writing articles or visiting Sarajevo.


• Prices at the Sarajevo marketplace:
One month’s pension = 2 eggs
OSBiH fighters are paid 20,000 dinars = 4 coffees at a cafe or a box of cigarettes
1 kg of beef = 50 DEM.
• Damage to the “Heating” and “Waterworks” centers.


• The parents of fighters in the special units of Juka Prazina protest in front of the Presidency, asking: “Where are our sons?” They had been arrested and detained in the OSBiH barracks in Tarcin.
• Ceasefire between the HVO - ABiH
• UNPROFOR transfers the Franciscan Slovenian archive from 1357 to Ljubljana, with numerous difficulties and hazards. The archive had been part of an exhibition at the Franciscan Monastery before the city was besieged.


• Juka Prazina, with a HVO militia, sets up barricades in Jablanica and Konjic.
• Geneva, January 31, 1993. Negotiations in Geneva: Mate Boban, president of so-called Herzeg-Bosnia, signs all three proposed maps. The state delegation of BiH does not sign on to the maps dividing the Republic of BiH into 10 provinces and the military agreement. The Bosnian Serbs sign nothing.

Amina Begovic
She was born in Sarajevo on June 4, 1963. She graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo

THE SIEGE
With the beginning of the siege, she became more active in the theater. She worked in all Sarajevo theaters. She spends most of her time in the children's program department at Sarajevo television.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
I would like to be a snail. Wherever be goes that’s where his home is. He is not a refugee anywhere.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness is only for fools.

What is you biggest loss?
I never lost anything that bad.

What is your biggest gain?
I don’t ask for much, and what I do win, I win.

When and where were you happiest?
When I gave birth to my second daughter.

What are your lost illusions?
That I can’t have illusions any more.

Describe your day at work.
Cannot be described.

Sarajevo?
Sarajevo!

What words don’t you use anymore?
Supermarket, mini-market, shopping mall...

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
I would have liked it if I was brought up with less feeling for morale.

Where would you like to live?
Where I live now.

How have you survived?
I decided to survive.

What are you afraid of?
Darkness, since the war started, and dogs, forever.

Does the past exist for you?
I respect the past.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
It will either be beautiful and clean, or we will sink into filth. There won’t be a middle.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
You decide that nothing will change you, and you stick to it.

How would you like to die?
In dreams.

Do you need hope to live?
How could we live without it?

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
94 looked like 93, 93 like 92, and 92 like no other before it.

How would you call this period of your life?
Until the last breath.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
If it a perfect circle, that the end is where the beginning was, and vice versa.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I love it anyway. I live.

TRSCANSKA STREET

Located on Marijin Dvor it was the place where the greatest number of Sarajevans was hit by sniper fire For a while the citizens were protected from fire by large cement blocks. After the February 1994 market massacre the UN Security Council ordered the removal of the aggressors’ weapons from around the city and the blocks were removed from the city streets. However, in 1995 they were put back.

SNIPERS

At the beginning of the siege the Yugoslav National Army and the SDS terrorists (the Serbian Democratic Party members were proclaimed terrorists by the Bosnian government) deployed their snipers in tall buildings and in the barracks to shoot at citizens. Even when they were removed from the city the distance between the city streets and the tall buildings on the hills in the occupied territory was sufficient to allow sniping by semi-automatic guns produced by the Yugoslav army. According to the data gathered in 1995 the snipers, shooting from small holes made in the walls of the buildings or from the bushes, had wounded 1030 and killed 225 persons, 60 of whom were children. In some European newspapers one could read reports about the “war tourism” which included sniping the citizens of Sarajevo. The Russian avant-garde writer Limonov was caught on camera indulging in this “enjoyable sport”.

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