NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS AT THE CITY’S ENTRANCE AND THE EXIT// 10. 1993. • NIJAZ DURAKOVIC// PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY/MEMBER OF THE BH PRESIDENCY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
President of the Social Democratic Party/Member of the BH Presidency
NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS AT THE CITY’S ENTRANCE AND THE EXIT
‘The first time I got out, I think, was the 28th of October 1993. I was supposed to accompany some delegation. The tunnel, like everybody else, affected me the most because I made the mistake of putting on heavy clothes. It was night, around three or four o’clock in the morning. I had sweaters and coats, and other things on. And about halfway down, I felt like I was going to suffocate. Because there were some eggs that had been dumped onto the floor of the tunnel, and you can only imagine how eggs can stink in a tunnel with no ventilation. Actually, the tunnel was nothing. The real horror began with Igman, in particular with that curve after coming out of Hrasnica. That was really convincing. I don’t believe that there was anybody who was not afraid. The sky glittered from all those tracer bullets. We would walk with no lights on. Trying to find the way by heart. All the way through Igman, then down to Lokve, and then through the barrage again. I went with a group of people. I would always make jokes about us trying to find our way blindly. I knew since I used to go into the field, that the BH Army controlled this part of the territory. Eight times I went round all the battlefields, from Teocak and Sapna to Blagaj, Bugojno to Gradacac. I visited some places, I think, 56 times back and forth. And every time it was kind of like having nervous breakdown.’
• The executive committee of the city reaches a decision on the increase of apartment rent from October 1st.
• An “interreligious event” is held: participants include the Orthodox priest Avakum Rosic, head of the Catholic church Vinko Puljic, Reis-ul-ulema Effendi Ceric, Brother Petar Arandjelovic, President of the Jewish community David Kamhi. A mass is held at the Sarajevo cathedral and liturgy at the Orthodox church.
• During the siege of Sarajevo 120,000 refugees enter the city.
• For the first time during the war the Art Gallery of BiH is opened. There is an exhibition of photographs by Annie Leibovitz. The exhibition is opened by Susan Sontag.
• Susan Sontag becomes an honorary citizen of Sarajevo.
• The Pope sends a message of peace: “Bosnians, you are not alone!”
• “Velepekara” stops working. It has neither gas nor oil.
• The Blessed Peace Buliders wounded in a peace mission across the Vrbanja Bridge. One of them dies.
• Sarajevo Brewery produces 1,000,000 beers a month as a substitute for water. The factory has a stock of raw materials that could last for two years.
• Adi Sarajlic, journalist for the radio station “Zid”, tells his early morning listeners: “260 listeners phone in between 3:30 and 4 o’clock in the morning.
• The HVO wants control over Jablanica. The owners of power plants are set to address the issue of financing Herzeg-Bosnia by exporting electricity to Dalmatia.
• In Sarajevo the smuggling of drugs, works of art and food is widespread.
• Medical evacuations reach an impasse.
• The Directorate for Refugees and Displaced Persons founds a counseling center.
• Survey by the radio station “Studio 99”: The majority of Sarajevans are in favor of the introduction of a protectorate.
• The Sarajevo air bridge is the longest running of its kind in history. It lasts 467 days – longer than that of Berlin.
• In the city frequent gas explosions result of improper installations.
• 10,000 signatories across the world for the establishment of a Court for War Crimes. War criminals cannot bring peace. The declaration is signed by George Soros, Wiesenthal, Umberto Ecco, Ginsberg…
• Serbia under sanctions. Pirates hijack oil on the Danube.
• New members of the Presidency of BiH are appointed: Nijaz Durakovic, Stjepan Kljujic, Ivo Komsic. Miro Lasic and Boras relieved from duty.
• Fikret Abdić, former member of the Presidency of BiH, signs a peace agreement with the Bosnian Serbs. Fikret Abdic works in alliance with Mate Boban.
• Opening of the Film Festival in Sarajevo. Many guests stay in Ancona, not having been able to arrange for UN planes. The slogan of the festival: “We can’t promise you anything.”
• The International Court for War Crimes begins working on November 17.
• Operation undertaken by MUP and the Army of RBiH against the 9th motorized and 10th mountain brigades of the Army of RBiH. 530 people are detained. The main culprit, Caco Topalovic, is killed, and Celo surrenders. MUP and ABiH take back bases from the criminals. According to an “Oslobodjenje” survey, citizens are relieved and believe that rule of law will be restored.
• The Jewish pharmacy in Sarajevo dispenses 10,000,000 medicines to citizens.
The Dobrinja-Butmir tunnel, a hole some 1.2 meters wide, 1.6 meters high and 760 meters long, is situated under the Sarajevo airport runway. In the official communication between local politicians and UNPROFOR this public secret has been referred to as “the non-existent tunnel”. Foreigners were not allowed into the tunnel and journalists were offering up to 5.000 DM for just one shot of the tunnel. Although the tunnel was an military object and intended solely for the army’s getting in and out of town, the privilege of using it was extended to the American ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Viktor Jakovic, who the aggressor did not allow to leave the city by plane. The tunnel was also used to get the members of Parliament from other towns into the city. Many of them were easily recognized during the sessions of Parliament because they had bruises on their foreheads from hitting the iron support bars within the tunnel. Some comfort was extended to the most respected politicians who were pushed through the tunnel in small wagons.
The commercialization of the tunnel brought about great changes in the economic life of the city. The tunnel became a place full of people dragging bags with potatoes o eggs. Many tradesmen were allowed to “rent” the tunnel from the army. Thanks to the tunnel many became rich, but the prices also fell within the city. The aggressor also knew about the secret tunnel and by continuously shelling its entrance it hampered its usage. They even tried to dig another tunnel of the other side of the airport in order to redirect the Zeljeznica river and flood the tunnel. In spite of everything the hole under the airport became the greatest public good of the city and it’s only link with the rest of the world. If one managed to get a permit to go through the tunnel he or she would be greeted at the exit by a marker-written sign: PARIS 3765km.