A SYRINGE BRINGS LIGHT // 04. 1993.
EMINA DERVISEFENDIC // HOUSEWIFE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

April 1993

Emina Dervisefendic
Housewife
A SYRINGE BRINGS LIGHT

‘We were having beans for lunch. And since there was too much fat, we were thinking, ‘what’ll we do now’? We don’t have any more oil to burn. We don’t have anything. Then it dawned on us that we could skim off the fat and use that. So we put the fat in a bowl and put a string in it to be used as a wick. It burned so beautifully that we couldn’t believe it. My husband had a syringe, he had some sort of plastic tube, I guess. And when we got some more heating oil again, we would dip the tube in the oil, and with the help of the syringe we were able to use it.’

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APRIL 1993


• 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.

Sarajevo by Night

SARAJEVO BY NIGHT means that life follows the line or the sun. Without civilization based on inventions of two Americans - Tesla, who was born in the neighborhood and who we are proud of, and Edison, who they are proud of - you have to learn to go to sleep early and to wake up early. So many evenings are spent in envy of those who have electricity. But Sarajevans have mastered the art of making kandilo, which is the light, usually hanging before an icon. To the Greeks have given the name - kandelos.
Recipe: Fill a glass jar, or a glass, half with water and a quarter with oil. Ten cut five to seven millimeters of a cork, and drag through it cotton string, or a carpet fringe, or any piece of burning material. In order for the wick to stay above the oil and burn, a tin strip of some two centimeters is used and placed above the jar. Through that strip runs the wick soaked in oil. Candles have burned long ago, even decorative ones. People who have saved petroleum lamps are very rare, and for them a liter of petroleum costs 30 DM. Batteries ran out at the beginning of the war. Still, they are being revived by cooking in salt water, five to ten minutes. They can come to life if connected to an automobile battery, if that one can be fed with electricity. All these tricks make batteries live five or six lives.
Of 1800 transformer stations in Sarajevo, more than half are out of use. To steal fuses is a regular thing. Three such fuses will cost you about 700 DM on the black market. Their real value is no more than 15 DM. Foreign currency is needed if you want to bring electricity from the station to the lobby of your house. To plug into a system, in all kinds of weird ways, is very fashionable. Another way is to run cables. You can steal the electricity from the houses which have it - on the right side of the street, and bring in to the houses which don’t on the left side. That has its price too, sometimes a deadly one. Some steal oil from the transformer stations to replace car fuel. To have a car battery in the apartment, that is a real treat. A radio can be plugged into it - and turned on ever hour, for the news. This battery is the source of light, too. Those less capable attach to it stronger bulbs and soon understand that the battery is drained too quickly. As time goes by, we all learned, and here is the advice - take the smallest bulb, like the one from the inside of a car. And carefully watch your lighter. You’ll need it, it, if not for lighting a cigarette, then surely to climb the staircases.

THE “ELEKTROPRIVREDA” BUILDING

Electricity was a rare guest in the city. The citizens made do with car batteries, candles given by humanitarian organizations, home- made oil lamps which required small amounts of edible oil and bits of shoestring, and with a variety of more or less successful inventions. Some people used battery and the so called “SOROS” lamps which required solar energy. Although there was plenty of solar energy the lamps had little capacity and quickly broke down. In the hilly parts of the city people built mini power-generating plants. The “Elektroprivreda” building was on the front line, next to the bridge which borders with the occupied Grbavica district and it was frequently shelled.

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