SNIPER FIRES AT THE CONVOY // 11. 1993.
HAJRUDIN SMAJIC // EVACUATION OFFICE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

November 1993

Hajrudin Smajic
Evacuation Office
SNIPER FIRES AT THE CONVOY

‘The biggest convoy was about 600 Serbs who wanted to go to Serbia through Lukavica and with an UNPROFOR escort. By pure chance a sniper hit one of the vehicles, broke the glass and wounded a driver.’

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NOVEMBER 1993


• The French UN battalion helps residents of Alipasino polje with repairs, house painting, expelling water from their basements, and bringing materials for the supply of gas.
• Death of the great Italian director Federico Fellini.


• ARBiH in conflict with the troops of Fikret Abdic in the area of Velika Kladusa.
• For weeks the city is without electricity, water, gas and humanitarian aid. The situation is worsened by the BiH delegation’s refusal to sign the peace agreement.
• The First Corps of the ARBiH issues a decision to abolish the HVO General Headquarters in Sarajevo, integrating the HVO brigade “Kralj Tvrtko” into the ARBiH 1st Corps. George Soros visits Sarajevo.


• George Soros visits Sarajevo.
• The HVO destroys the old bridge in Mostar.
• Massacre of students in Sarajevo. Classes are suspended until security measures are introduced
• UNPROFOR discontinues its service of accepting and sending letters on behalf of Sarajevans. In Split, 50 sacks of letters addressed to the people of Sarajevo are thrown into the sea.


• Another massacre of the citizens of Sarajevo.
• Presidency member Ejup Ganic refuses to receive Thorvald Stoltenberg.
• On the occasion of the massacre, American President Bill Clinton states: “The only thing we can do, if Sarajevo is shelled heavily is to receive approval by the UN for NATO and the U.S. to use airstrikes.”
• Rules introduced for the holding of classes: school sessions last 15 minutes. From December 24th till March 1st the students will have a break. Regardless there is no heating.
• Exhibition of the Sarajevan paintings “Witnesses of Existence” at the BiH Art Gallery.


• U.S. Embassy on November 10th relocates to Vienna.
• A joint declaration signed on the free movement of humanitarian convoys.


• A convoy carrying food for Sarajevo from Macedonia is held up because of ice and snow on Vlasenica. It consists of around 20 trucks. The Children’s Embassy appeals to UNPROFOR for aid.


• Symposium held on war medicine: “Medicine during War '92-'93”.


• A package arrives in Sarajevo of 960,000 candles from the Czech Republic worth about $48,000.


• The convoy of food from Macedonia is stopped in Pale.


• In Geneva, negotiations continue.


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.

SNIPERS

At the beginning of the siege the Yugoslav National Army and the SDS terrorists (the Serbian Democratic Party members were proclaimed terrorists by the Bosnian government) deployed their snipers in tall buildings and in the barracks to shoot at citizens. Even when they were removed from the city the distance between the city streets and the tall buildings on the hills in the occupied territory was sufficient to allow sniping by semi-automatic guns produced by the Yugoslav army. According to the data gathered in 1995 the snipers, shooting from small holes made in the walls of the buildings or from the bushes, had wounded 1030 and killed 225 persons, 60 of whom were children. In some European newspapers one could read reports about the “war tourism” which included sniping the citizens of Sarajevo. The Russian avant-garde writer Limonov was caught on camera indulging in this “enjoyable sport”.

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