MASSACRES IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CITY // 01. 1994.
FARUK KULENOVIC // TRAUMA CLINIC
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

January 1994

Faruk Kulenovic
Trauma Clinic
MASSARCES IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CITY

‘As a doctor and a surgeon, and not merely as a citizen of Sarajevo, I can remember numerous massacres which took place in Sarajevo. I probably wouldn’t be able to list them chronologically. Some left an impression on me not only because of the number of people wounded and killed, but, because of the quality of the injuries, the types of injuries, and the population, the age of the population. The first massacre that took us by surprise, because until then we hadn’t even imagined that something like that could happen, occurred in the former Vase Miskina Street in May of ‘92. We were surprised by the extent of the injuries. Polytraumatism, that’s what we call it when several organs are injured. Polytraumatism, and its seriousness. I cannot tell you the exact number of wounded, but there was somewhere around 40 or 60 wounded and about 20 dead. And that all happens in one split second, at one location. And all of those patients come to us, to our clinic. The situation came upon us all of a sudden: a great number of patients with extremely serious injuries all at the same time. We weren’t used to; we weren’t expecting something like that to happen. In military battles we knew that there can be large numbers of injuries, but they arrive successively. They also arrive with some directions as to what kind of medical help they need. Here the patients were practically delivered some in trucks, some in automobile trunks, and some in the back seats of automobiles. That was a great shock even for medical personnel and us doctors. Unfortunately, that was not the last time. It was our first shock, but not our last. We got used to it to some degree. Very quickly we learned to experience it as, I won’t say that it became a normal thing, but we learned how to handle such a large number of injured people arriving at the same time in a professional way. The anniversary of that massacre was not long ago. When those children were killed in Alipasino Polje. Innocent children, who had been sledding in the snow. Six or seven boys and girls were killed. That was extremely difficult even for us, who were used to it all, which had seen terrible injuries and the tragedies of others every day. That was tough even for us. I know that my people cried when they saw those children. The next one, one of the next massacres was at the Central Market, also in Alipasino Polje. There were about 15 killed, and 30 wounded as well. The massacre in Dobrinja, when mortar shells fell upon the soccer field while a match was being held. I think that time there were some 40 wounded and 12 killed. Again all of those patients were taken here. A small number of less seriously wounded people were taken care of in the Dobrinja Hospital, but the rest came here to the Traumatological Clinic. Another massacre, the one that occurred at the Sarajevo Brewery, we were able to see; actually, the events that occurred after it were even shown on Sarajevo television. But the thing that we who work at the Traumatological Clinic will always remember is the moment when all those patients started arriving that day. I feel confident in saying that unfortunately that particular massacre actually saved the lives of the entire team that was working that day. Because in the room on the ground floor of the clinic where we had been sitting, which faced towards Poljine and Mrkovici, and I sat there in order to have quick access to the wounded. At the moment when those first patients from the massacre began to arrive at the clinic, we all got up and went to the surgery. And between the room where we had been sitting and the surgery there was a distance of about 15 meters tops. At that moment a tank grenade ripped through that room and totally destroyed it. If we had stayed there for just one minute longer, probably most of us would have been killed or butchered.’

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JANUARY 1994


• Barbara Hendrix, opera diva, holds a New Year's concert in Sarajevo, as a gesture of solidarity with the sufferings of the city.


• Massacres of civilians from artillery attacks by Bosnian Serb positions in all parts of the city.
• Massimo Schuster, puppeteer-director from France, directs a play at the Sarajevo Youth Theatre: "I'm here because I am a citizen of Europe. This play is a means of spiritual support to this city. "
• In Belgium, the body of the Sarajevo guerrilla Juka Prazina is found in a car in a parking lot.


• Illegal connections to electricity removed in sweep as well as revocation of electrical cables used for stealing electricity from priority cases.


• UNPROFOR's General Bricquemont withdraws from office. He no longer reads UN resolutions because conditions are unfavorable to implement them on the ground.
• In Vienna, meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Croatia and BiH, Mate Granic and Haris Silajdzic. They agree on the need to devise a plan for the permanent cessation of hostilities between Bosnian Croats and Muslims.
• Bosnian Serb forces carry out the false executions of 11 Canadian UN troops just before Christmas.


• UNPROFOR's General Jean Cote says of the Bosnian Serbs: "They are cowards, bastards who shoot children, women and the elderly. We will set up an anti-sniper system so they think twice before they shoot. "
• Croatian Cardinal Franjo Kuharic visits Sarajevo to attend a concert, along with the 'concert' offered by falling shells. His message: "The inner spiritual resistance to evil is eternal and always triumphant over the forces of darkness." At a dinner at Kamerni teatar 55 in honor of the Kuharic’s visit, actor Vladimir Jokanovic recites the verses of Pope John Paul II.
• During the siege of the city, Kamerni tetar performs 652 multimedia projects, an average of two a day.


• French President François Mitterrand sends a New Year’s message: "Our policy must be brave and wise. There will be innovations in our policy toward Bosnia in 1994”.
• UNPROFOR's report reads: Problems with electricity in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina are a vicious circle. The Bosnian Serbs refuse to repair the Vogosca-Velesici lines. The system at the thermal power plant in Kakanj broke down; it has been repaired, but the Muslims won‘t connect it, asking for the Serbs to first repair the Vogosca-Velesici lines. The Croats requested that the Muslims switch on electricity from the power plant in Kakanj (TE Kakanj) so that people in Kiseljak can have electricity. This has not been done, so in the end, near Kiseljak, the Jablanica-Kakanj lines were cut, leaving the Muslims without electricity. As a result of all of this, BiH largely remains without electricity.
• The curfew in Sarajevo is repealed for the celebrateon of Orthodox Christmas: Orthodox priest Avakum Rosic sends Christmas greetings.


• Crisis in Srebrenica; Canadian UN troops are surrounded by the Bosnian Serbs. French General Jean Cote asks for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali refuses. The UN chain of command is established so that the commanders in the field cannot issue an order. Commands can be issued only by the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Yasushi Akashi.
• Sarajevo airport has already been closed for a long period. President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, does not travel to Bonn for a meeting with Tudjman due to the suspension of flights at the Sarajevo airport. Departure from Sarajevo is impossible.
• In Belgrade, the capital of the new Yugoslavia, the inflation rate is 1 million%.


• U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on possible air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs: "Air strikes could threaten the delivery of humanitarian aid. If requested by the alliance, whose units are on the ground, we will take part in the strikes."
• NATO develops a project for enlargement in Eastern Europe called "Partnership for Peace."


• At a NATO meeting the decision is made to support the Franco-British proposal for fast-action in the release of Canadian UN troops in Srebrenica, and the opening of the airport in Tuzla. The prevailing opinion is that negotiations, rather than battlefield agreements, will resolve the conflict. On this occasion the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Yasushi Akashi, states: "The Bosnian Serbs are for a multicultural Bosnia, and will stop all hostilities. It's best not to bother the Serbs during their holiday. This is why the ton of oil for the Sarajevo hospital will have to wait till the end of Serb New Year celebrations. "
• Vatican: "The lack of collective action is the most shameful cowardice."
• The Office for Relocation announces that new documents are required for those who want to leave the city in convoys.
• Pensioners will receive flour, instead of their pensions.
• The Soros Foundation builds an alternative water system.


• Boutros Boutros-Ghali requests from Akashi a preliminary study about the situation on the ground: the Bosnian side from the center of the city fire shells at the positions of the Bosnian Serbs, who fiercely counter by shelling civilian targets in Sarajevo. Foreign journalists located in the city are angered by the report, believing it an attempt to prevent intervention.
• The British are against attacking because their troops are on the ground.
• The city alternates between massacres from the shelling and cultural events.


• Lord Owen thinks that Bosnia should be divided. He accuses the Muslims of prolonging the war.
• French snipers assigned to the establishment of an anti-sniper team are on their way to Sarajevo.


• Islamic countries renew their request for air strikes and announce the possibility of oil sanctions against those countries that support the division of Bosnia.


• Akashi is against NATO operations for the release of Canadian UN troops in Srebrenica and the opening of Tuzla airport.
• Susan Sontag arrives in Sarajevo. She and David Riff, a writer from New York, bring a donation for Sarajevo writers that was gathered as a sign of support at a literary evening in New York.


• The burial of a Sarajevan: You need to have Deustch Marks or oil, otherwise you must arrange everything yourself. Someone brings the body in a handcart to the mortuary. Burials cost 60 DM. In the city there is no oil. On the black market oil costs between 25-30 DM. People acquire planks for coffins and gravestones from smugglers. There are no tools. In order to made a coffin school desks and cabinets are used.
• Establishment of a cultural corridor from France to Sarajevo.


• Children are massacred as they go sledding at the C block of Alipasino polje.
• British General Michael Rose takes over as Commander of UNPROFOR from General Bricquemont, who resigns. Bricquemont said that he felt personally humiliated in Bosnia, where on his arrival at a checkpoint, boys between 18 and 20 years old drunkenly held him at riflepoint.


• The UN issues a statement implicating UNPROFOR in the smuggling of cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, fuel, people and drugs, as well as prostitution.


• The new UNPROFOR commander, General Michael Rose, arriving to his office announces he is not afraid of the challanges that face him in Bosnia.
• Through a decisive MUP operation the “rat canals” which ran from downtown to the occupied territory of Grbavica held by the Bosnian Serbs is cut off. Seven fugitives arrested. The group includes five doctors and one nurse. The Bosnian Serbs react sharply with a threat of blackmail: "We will not treat the Muslims in our territory and we will not let medicines come into the city."


• Marathon runner Islam Dzugum is on Mount Igman as a ARBiH soldier. He runs between 16-22 km daily. He is satisfied with the quality of training on Igman, "And now I just need the chance to race somewhere. In the world in 1994 there will be a number of sporting events. "


• U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher dismisses claims that the United States have been standing aside and watching idly the bloodshed in Bosnia.


• At a meeting the Government of BiH ascertain that the Croatian Armed Forces are conducting open aggression against BiH.


• The Commander of UNPROFOR, General Michael Rose: "Sarajevo is not under siege."

Medical care

Medical care: its main characteristic is very friendly personnel, which was not the case before the war. It is very efficient. Aside from the hospital and emergency rooms, you will hear quickly about all the improvised ambulances. The maternity hospital has been shelled and is out of use, so babies are born in the regular hospital. When visiting the dentist, you should take your bottle with water, and gloves, which she can use while treating you.
Pharmacies are working, but medicine is mostly missing. Bring your own vitamins. In emergency - look for the locations of Benevolencija and Caritas.

HOSPITALS

In Spring 1992 the public-health service in the Old Town was shelled. In May 1992 the State Hospital was intensively shelled and it was hit by more than 200 shells during the siege. The victims were patients. The Kosevo clinic suffered the same fate. Its operating theaters and intensive care units were hit. The hospitals were usually shelled with plated shells which would pass through several rooms The patients were often evacuated and the surgeons frequently performed operations without electricity or water, using candles and five-liter canisters. Hundreds of citizens were admitted to hospitals each day.

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