Journalist – ‘Oslobodjenje’
15 000 000 COPIES OF OSLOBODJENJE ON ALL CONTINENTS
‘On the first anniversary of the war, in cooperation with Reporters without Frontiers, we printed a special edition of Oslobodjenje that came out in about 50 countries in the world. As a supplement to the world’s most important newspapers. The total circulation of that edition was around 15 million copies. And I think it was the definitive way to send out the truth about Sarajevo to all of the meridians of the globe.’
• Kosevsko cemetery is reopened after 27 years due to the lack of space for the burials of victims of snipers and shells.
• New York, April 1, 1993. The UN Security Council passes a resolution approving the use of force in enforcing a no-fly zone over BiH. At the insistence of the Russian delegation, a paragraph in the resolution is modified so that the use of force applies only to air and not ground targets.
• Cyrus Vance withdraws from his role as mediator in the peace negotiations over BiH. He is succeeded by Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• PTT reaches an agreement with UNHCR on sending and receiving letters through its weekly humanitarian flights on the Sarajevo-Split route.
• The Bosnian Serb Parliament rejects the Vance-Owen plan. The EC gives them a new deadline, April 15th, to accept the plan.
• In Sarajevo the Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated.
• 5,000,000 copies of “Oslobodjenje” are released over several continents.
• In the midst of an offensive by Bosnian Serbs on Srebrenica the international community proposes stronger pressure on the Serbs.
• UNHCR report on the airport runway: six killed while crossing.
• The PTT secures a satellite telephone exchange but cannot transport it into the city.
• In the city business spaces are stolen so that cafes and pubs can be opened. This is the most sought after asset on the market in the besieged city.
• Susan Sontag arrives to Sarajevo and meets with artists and intellectuals.
• George Soros’ foundation establishes a satellite telephone exchange for communication between Sarajevo and the outside world, through America.
• MUP establishes a new traffic system due to the large number of snipers on Strahimir Kranjcevic street.
• Joan Baez comes to Sarajevo. Her arrival is part of a campaign to bring world-famous people to Sarajevo to bear witness on behalf of the world to the fate of a European city at the end of the 20th century.
• Start of the Easter football cup. The football club “Bosna” wins the cup, and in reward receive the cup and a box of eggs.
• In Zvornik, which is under the control of the Bosnian Serbs, Serbian women dressed in black block the arrival of humanitarian aid for Srebrenica, headed by General Morillon.
• The George Soros’ foundation” distributes 16,000 bags of seed for the citizens of Sarajevo to plant in “gardens of survival”. The municipal headquarters of the Civil Defense in Novi Grad allocates plots of arable land to citizens, but without compensation.
• Easter mass is held at the Sarajevo Cathedral.
• Dr William Wagman donates his collection of phonograph records to RTVBiH.
• In an attack by the Bosnian Serb Army in Srebrenica, hundreds are killed in Srebrenica. The UN removes General Morillon from duty.
• OSBiH Commander Sefer Halilovic sends a letter to Croatian Army generals Bobetko and Petkovic. It concerns a convoy of arms for the OSBiH, which had been blocked by HVO forces, and which were intended for the rescue of Srebrenica: “You got 25 % of the arms, by agreement, and because of that you will be complicit in the crimes against Srebrenica.”
• Islam Dzugum, a marathon runner, trains for the Mediterranean Games in Montpelier for the 25 km race.
• The transportation company “Gras” prepares for peace, with reconstruction projects on shattered Trebevic.
• New York, April 18, 1993. The UN Security Council adopts the text of a resolution declaring Srebrenica a protected zone. This decision anticipates that the aggressor forces, the Bosnian Serbs, will withdraw, while peacekeepers will assume responsibility for the defense of the civilian population.
• The Canadian UNPROFOR battalion arrives in Srebrenica. Bosnia lives from one threat to the next, from one promise to the next.
• New York, April 19, 1993.
The UN Security Council adopts a new resolution which imposes tougher sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro if by April 26th Karadzic has not signed the Vance-Owen plan. According to this resolution, the marine transport of goods to or from the SR Yugoslavia is forbidden, aside from humanitarian aid with the requisite approval of the UN Committee for Sanction. Land transport can only take place at only a limited number of road and railway border crossings, also only with the permission of the UN Committee for Sanctions. River traffic on the Danube outside of Yugoslav borders is also banned. Foreign vessels that enter through the Danube into the FR Yugoslavia must be inspected and receive approval by the UN Committee for Sanctions. Twelve miles from the Adriatic coast a sailing prohibition is imposed on the FR Yugoslavia, meaning that no ship will be able to enter its territorial waters except under extraordinary circumstances and with special permission. All funds held abroad by the FR Yugoslavia are frozen. All traffic and transport vehicles found outside the borders of the FR Yugoslavia are retained and possibly subject to confiscation if found in violation of the sanctions. The same measures also apply to transport vehicles of other countries that violate the sanctions. The resolution further prohibits financial or any other ties with the FR Yugoslavia with the exception of telecommunications, legal ties or its postal system. Services related to humanitarian assistance or any other special occurrence must be undertaken with the approval of the UN Committee for Sanctions.
• Process of demilitarization in Srebrenica. Working group meeting at the Sarajevo airport. If the Bosnian Serbs attack, the UN will protect its people.
• Start of the “Sarajevo Winter” festival.
• The HVO fires at the hydroelectric plant in Jablanica, breaking off power lines to Sarajevo.
• The HVO commits war crimes against the Muslim citizens in Central Bosnia.
• The President of the self-proclaimed state of Herzeg-Bosnia, Mate Boban, and the President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, sign a new peace agreement.
• Radovan Karadzic, leader of the SDS announces: “If tonight we decide to sign the peace plan, the Serbian people will triumph, but if we decide not to, the Serbs will triumph regardless.”
• The Bosnian Serb Assembly rejects the peace agreement. This elicits the following reactions: the Secretary General of NATO Manfred Woerner advocates bombing the Bosnian Serb Army. Russian President Boris Yeltsin announces: “The Russian Federation will not protect someone confronted by the entire world community.” The Minister of Foreign Affairs BiH, Haris Silajdzic: “We cannot expect to fight against tanks with kitchen knives.”
• In Sarajevo an initiative is undertaken to revitalize the “Bentbasa” pool. Plans are immediately drawn up.
• The sanctions against the FR Yugoslavia are carried out: its borders are closed, assets and property frozen, and control is established over traffic on the Danube.
• Lord Owen: “It’s too early to bomb the Serb positions.”
• Meeting in London: Haris Silajdzic: “Let us defend ourselves. No one has the right to deny us that.”
• Slobodan Milosevic asks Radovan Karadzic and Momcilo Krajisnik to reconsider the decision of parliament, threatening to cut off economic aid. A new meeting of the parliament is scheduled for May 5th.
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.
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.
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).
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”
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.