OSLOBODJENJE IS PUBLISHED IN FRENCH // 01. 1993.
ZLATKO DIZDAREVIC // JOURNALIST – ‘OSLOBODJENJE’
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1993

Zlatko Dizdarevic
Journalist – ‘Oslobodjenje’
OSLOBODJENJE IS PUBLISHED IN FRENCH

‘On the 18th of January Oslobodjenje was published in French, and not just in French, but in a lot of different foreign languages, in a great many countries of the world. However, Reporters Sans Frontieres were the first. They were really the first to come to Sarajevo. It was they who first brought us a radio station, which we used to make contact with the outside world. It was they who first secured us some paper, the first who brought us food. And looking back on things now, if it weren’t for them during those critical days, Oslobodjenje would not have survived. One of their first ideas that was realized was Oslobodjenje in French, which was printed in Paris and which brought us closer to the world.’

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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.

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.

Zlatko Dizdarevic
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).

THE SIEGE
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”
Sarajevo.

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.

Sarajevo?
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?
Loneliness.

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?
Miserable.

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.

“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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