OSLOBODJENJE NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR // 02. 1993.
ZLATKO DIZDAREVIC // JOURNALIST – ‘OSLOBODJENJE’
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1993

Zlatko Dizdarevic
Journalist – ‘Oslobodjenje’
OSLOBODJENJE, NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR

‘In London on the 21st of February, the BBC and a number of other news agencies named Oslobodjenje the newspaper of the year. It was clear that in world professional circles more and more of the truth about what was happening Sarajevo was known. They considered that Oslobodjenje played a great role in the telling the truth. This is not an award for the best edited newspaper on the face of the earth, but for the newspaper that did the most at that particular time for the freedom of expression and for human freedom in General.’

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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.


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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