CONVOYS TERMINATED // 07. 1993.
HAJRUDIN SMAJIC // EVACUATION OFFICE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

July 1993

Hajrudin Smajic
Evacuation Office
CONVOYS TERMINATED

‘All convoys that we had organized were stopped because of increased fighting.’

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JULY 1993


• Speaking of the peace plan for BiH, Lord Owen announces: “With this division Musilims will not just get the 10% they control but more than they expect.”
• 300 American Marines are sent to Macedonia.
• Hunger strike at the City Assembly.


• Great public interest in the departure of convoys.
• Jean Cote appointed new Chief Commander of UN troops.
• A coordination committee established for the local Croat community. Dr. Ante Kovacevic announces: “All those who wish to defend the whole of BiH are welcome.”


• Vuk and Danica Draskovic, opposition leaders in Belgrade, in prison. Vuk Draskovic launches a hunger strike in protest.
• Countless barricades set up from Split to Sarajevo. Conducting humanitarian missions becomes impossible.
• HUNGER in Sarajevo. Gardens and balconies become the only sources of food.
• A Sarajevan actor says: “Sire, the actors are dying! On stage I act as if I were sated and we will keep on performing even if there are two catafalques on stage in which actors are truly dying.”


• Russian withdraw from Cuba, having first arrived in 1962.
• Hunger strikers at the City Assembly lose 1-3kg daily.


• Sarajevo becomes HELLISH.


• Although there is no oil, the TV news is still broadcast.
• Almost all work is suspended at hospitals. There are no diagnoses, and doctors skip tests before operations. Even when there is oil, the generators cannot provide enough power to operate the medical equipment.
• Lord Owen calls on the BiH government and the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, to agree to the division of the country as soon as possible.


• The Presidency of the City Assembly ends its hunger strike under pressure from doctors and public appeals. Once the strike ends they announce: “Our conditions have not been met, but we’re terminating the strike.”
• Prices at the market: Cooking oil - 30 DM; 1 kg flour - 10 DM or 2 packs of cigarettes.


• Convoys prevented from leaving the city.
• The Draskovics are released from prison, after receiving a visit from Lord Owen who announces this to Slobodan Milosevic.
• Designer Josip Nose fashions a regulator for gas.


• Susan Sontag comes to Sarajevo to direct a performance of “Waiting for Godot.”


• 8,000 new UN soldiers arrive to BiH.


• Publication of the diary of Sarajevan girl Zlata Filipovic.


• Promotion of the slogan of the season, months, years, the ultimate slogan of the siege: “With cigarettes you’re never alone”.


• The famous Nazi war criminal hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, makes an appeal to former camp inmates and members of the resistance movement during the Second World War: “speak out against the barbarism and brutality in Bosnia.”


• Geneva, July 27, 1993. In Geneva, the peace conference on Bosnia continues. Participants include: Alija Izetbegovic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Mate Boban, Radovan Karadzic. Co-chairs: Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg.


• New rules: Expecting mothers in Sarajevo must bring with them to the hospital when about to give birth: bed sheets, diapers, soap and water. Immediate after giving birth they must go home.
• The humanitarian organization “Caritas” asks for its own airplane, seeing UNHCR status.


• Peace negotiations in Geneva: Ceasefire signed and free passage for a convoy of humanitarian aid, as well as non-aggression towards UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb Army attacks UN troops, but air strikes are absent.
• Geneva, July 30, 1993. In Geneva at the peace negotiations, Izetbegovic, Karadzic and Boban order an end to the war. They agree that daily meetings will be held at Sarajevo Airport between the commanders of the armed forces, together with UNPROFOR commanders. Owen and Stoltenberg offer a new compromise peace plan for BiH. Under this plan the country will be divided into three republics, but not along ethnic lines, and will be under loose federal control.


• Geneva: BiH remains a single country within its existing borders, with three republics not formed exclusively on the basis of nationality.
• The U.S.A. seeks support from France and the U.K for air strikes to lift the siege of Sarajevo.

Convoy

Convoy is the term which equals organized exit, a ticket with no return. For all such journeys there are lists, and there is time to be spent in waiting, filled with uncertainties. They are organized by Children’s’ Embassy, Red Cross, by the Jewish Community, by the Slovenian government before the elections. Those who entered one of the lists in June, who have all the needed documents, are not sure that they will be leaving the city in December. There is always a new document required, a new rule to obey, a new delay. And, no wonder, each convoy has its own rules. Children’s’ Embassy takes out children, mothers, the very old and the exhausted. The Red Cross is taking out old, sick and children. The Jewish Community took out Jews and their friends, supplying them with false documents. Slovenes took out their citizens and those who could remember one Slovenian in the family in past seven generations. At these sad departures, you could often hear anxious questions: “Father, what’s your name? Mother, what’s your name?”
One more paradigmatic dialogue:
Question: “When are you leaving?”
Answer: “Well, I am on the list Still waiting for a confirmation from Geneva.”
Discreetly, but to no one’s surprise, the City was left by wives, children, parents and friends of various officials. Illegal channels were used, starting in Stup, Ilidza, Kobilja}a. From there, to Kiseljak - a Hong Kong of Sarajevo - if heading West. To Pale, if going East. On each of these starts, there was a ‘connection’, a guy dealing with the formalities which basically means exchanging tangible hard currency with the invisible bus ticket. Starting fee is 100 to 200 DM. Additional amounts were supplied by Muslims, for they often needed false documents.
It is a well known secret that for about 1000 DM, deposited in one of the cafes close to the Veterinary college, one could get to Grbavica (a sealed part of the town, a camp from which no one can go out, and into which no one can enter). From there for the mentioned fee, the bus would take you to Belgrade. Another part of the same secret is that there is a rule according to which for one person who enters Grbavica, one from Grbavica is being released into the City. Profit is mutual.

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