SHIPPING CONTAINERS AS PROTECTION FROM SNIPERS // 02. 1993.
FUAD BABIC // CIVIL DEFENSE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1993

Fuad Babic
Civil Defense
SHIPPING CONTAINERS AS PROTECTION FROM SNIPERS

‘On February 15, 1993 we had one row of containers at the Public Health Institute. It was not enough, because snipers were killing us. Then we decided to put another row of containers on top of the first one. We put in a request to the UNPROFOR to haul two containers to us. They immediately answered that they didn’t have gasoline to do it. Because no planes were landing. There’s an interesting detail about gasoline. At that time there was no place on the globe, all the way to Mars, where gasoline was more expensive. Not because the black marketers were selling it, but because it arrived by plane in barrels. So it wasn’t that the UNPROFOR didn’t want to do it, but they couldn’t because there wasn’t a drop of gasoline. They even didn’t have enough for their own injured and sick people. That was the most awful period, 1993. And by the way, we needed those two containers at the Public Health Institute. To put them on top of the first row which would protect it up to the third floor.’

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FEBRUARY 1993


• The Geneva negotiations move to New York.
• Sarajevo is surrounded by five rings :
1. The Bosnian Serb Army 2.The UN 3. The HVO 4. The black market 5. The current government


• The Bosnian Serbs shell mourning processions, funerals and hospitals in Sarajevo.
• Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic church in BiH, meets with the Pope. From Sarajevo he conveys the Pope’s message to the world: “Stop the savagery, let humanity prevail!”


• Lord Robert Owen comes out against the USA, who had rejected a plan that favored the Bosnian Serbs.
• SUBNOR, an association of soldiers from the Second World War, makes an appeal to its members to fight against facism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and for communal life.
• Advice to patients: If you go to the clinic, bring a log, because the heating situation is critical.


• The city is struck by wartime hyperinflation .
• The International Center for Peace receives representatives from the Helsinki Citizens Forum from France who need to monitor the situation in Sarajevo, and then report to the European and world public whether civil society exists in Sarajevo.


• The UNHCR suspends flights.
• High schools begin to operate at neighborhood council centers, business premises, apartments.
• Radio “Studio 99” reports news on the division of the city. Panicked listeners contact the program. Vance-Owen mediators are in the city; this information originates from them.


• Killed and wounded lay on the airport runway. During the run across the tarmac UNPROFOR reflect lights on it, giving Bosnian Serbs the chance to aim at the moving target. Afterward UN procedures are followed – those caught are placed in UN vehicles and the blue-helmets take them back to wherever they came from.


• The best sportsmen are announced for BiH in '92: chess players Vesna Basagic and Ivan Sokolov.


• The City Assembly decides that Sarajevans, in a gesture of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia, will not accept humanitarian aid until a humanitarian convoy reaches Eastern Bosnia.


• The first wartime cinema opens, “Obala”. Screenings are held in Sarajevo basements.
• Because of the city government’s refusal to accept humanitarian aid, supplies are left lying on the airport runway. Pilots refuse to land because of the piles of undelivered food.


• “Oslobodjenje” is visited by Bianca Jagger.
• The UNHCR decides in Geneva: Government officials cannot be transported on UN planes. The previous month, Geneva had approved local reporters’ use of UN planes from the besieged city.
• The Civil Defense requests two containers from the city authorities to protect Sarajevans from snipers at intersections. The Civil Defense is unable to tow them because they have no fuel.


• Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), halts humanitarian aid to BiH, while the executive council sticks to its decision to refuse humanitarian aid out of solidarity with the citizens of Eastern Bosnia. Once this decision is reversed the air bridge is reestablished.
• New York, February 20, 1993. The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a new resolution extending the mandate of the 13,000 blue-helmets in Croatia. This resolution provides for the temporary extension of the UN mandate through March 31st. Resolution 807 urges the UN Secretary General to provide additional arms in order to enhance defense capabilities and allows the use of arms in the event of an attack on the peacekeepers, under paragraph 7 of the UN Charter. In addition, the temporary extension of the mandate includes the same tasks as the previous two terms, meaning the neutralization of heavy arms and the corresponding withdrawal of warring sides.


• “Oslobodjenje” proclaimed the world’s newspaper of the year.
• The information blockade of TVBiH is broken – the programming includes Studio Zenica live during the TV news.


• At gatherings across the world, amid protests against the impotence of the EC and UN to halt the bloody aggression in Bosnia, posters appear: “In Bosnia, Europe dies”.
• New York, February 22, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts a new resolution on the formation of an international court for war crimes within the territory of the former Yugoslavia. According to the text of the resolution, all war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia from the first of January 1991 will be reviewed. All those charged with war crimes, mass killings and rapes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity will be brought before this court.
• The executive council of the city halts the boycott of humanitarian aid.
• The “Alsace shipment” arrives in Sarajevo. It is at the time the largest humanitarian convoy to arrive in Sarajevo.


Recreation

Everyone is in sports clothes, for they are warmer, more comfortable and enable you to run quicker. Most of the members of the Bosnian Armed Forces wear deep white sneakers with the logo Yugosport. Their uniform, at the beginning, consisted of jeans, masking parts, ingenious improvisations made of bright colors. Bulletproof jackets are very rare They can be found at the price of 200 DM. Citizens renew wear and footwear by moving into abandoned apartments.

Walking
Six kilometers a day-that is the average for those who don’t need to go far. Some believe it helps you to keep in good shape.

Running
That is the favorite sport, practiced by everyone in Sarajevo. All cross-roads are run through as are all the dangerous neighborhoods. One runs with stolen wood, to the line where others are standing. Something is on sale, and you will know it only when you join the line.

Rock-climbing
Urban rock-climbing is a compulsory sports discipline. Instead of adequate ropes, one uses sheets. Climbers are solving distances between balconies, from higher to the lower ones which are not yet reached by fire.

Soccer
Often played with soldiers of UNPROFOR. On the other side - Bosnian Armed Forces, police and professional city players who are still here. Games take place in the hall of the burned Skenderija. The game is hard, masculine, with lots of injuries. Foreigners lose here, as they always did.

Chess
Played on staircases, in basements and in shelters. Sometimes even in the chess club Bosna, which has a good and very expensive buffet.

Tree-cutting
An entirely new city discipline. Tools for this sport are an electric saw and axes, small and big. One gets trained by cutting, trimming, splitting and piling the wood on the balcony or in the room, where they don’t suffer so much humidity. Wood is stacked in the bedroom, hall, living room, in the next apartment whose owners have left of disappeared.

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”.

DANGEROUS ZONES

Every area of the city was a dangerous zone. At every moment, from all the places in the mountains surrounding the city the snipers could hit every target in the city. Therefore the most dangerous zones were those directly in the line of fire Bridges, crossroads and streets exposed to the mountains. Those were the places where the possibility of getting shot was somewhat lessened if one was a fast runner. Such places also seemed less terrifying than other parts of town where one was never sure whether one should walk fast or slow. Would the shell land where you are or in front of you? The signs DANGEROUS ZONE or WATCH OUT, SNIPER, as well as the signs showing the direction of traffic were written in oil-based paint on pieces of UNHCR plastic sheets, or on pieces of cardboard, wooden board or simply written with chalk on the wall.

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