MASSACRE IN THE MARKET PLACE // 02. 1994.
HAKIJA TOPIC // CAMERA-MAN - BH TV
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1994

Hakija Topic
Camera-man - BH TV
MASSACRE IN THE MARKET PLACE

‘The crews went to do some work, and we waited for someone to bring a camera in working order. At that time, we heard that shells hit the Cathedral near the market. And since my whole family and all my relatives lived at Bascarsija, by the Cathedral, I immediately called home; my wife answered the phone. She was crying, she was not able to speak. I wanted to know whether the children were all right. She said that they were fine, she said dead people were being taken away by trucks because a shell hit Markale. I took a camera, the one that was there, a battery, a tape and I left because I wanted to shoot some scenes. Since the market was far away and I had to walk for a long time to get there, and I did not want to arrive too late, I tried to stop a car. People did not want to stop, so I stood in the middle of the street and made one car stop. The driver took me to the Eternal Flame. He did not feel like driving any further. He was afraid that another shell might fall, so I got out of the car and started shooting my film. There were many cars with foreign plates. There was much confusion. I turned on my camera. I was running. At first, I was not paying due attention, and I did not notice the dead bodies lying all around me. I was only paying attention to the camera and I did not want to make a mistake. I knew that a second shell follows the first. And then I decided to keep on shooting, no matter what. I was only concerned about the red light of the camera. I saw those terrible things. And from that moment, I was not aware of what I was filming. I just wanted to register what was in front of me. I recognized my neighbor's two sons. And later on I recognized some other neighbors. All of them were people from the Old Town. Later I found out that the families had gotten some cigarettes. And they came to the market to exchange them for food. Usually, mothers and fathers and wounded soldiers would come to exchange those cigarettes. But they stayed there. They got killed. So, I don’t know, I don’t know what to say.’

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FEBRUARY 1994


• Prediction of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman: Bosnia and Herzegovina is possible only as a NATO base.


• Sarajevo visited by the president of the Turkish government, Tansu Ciller, and the president of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. From Sarajevo, the two presidents send universal messages to the world about civilization, tolerance and coexistence.


• Massacre of civilians at the football field in Dobrinja.
• UPI, the agricultural directorate, provides tips on raising plants in an apartment.


• Massacre at the marketplace "Markale" in downtown Sarajevo. 66 dead, 197 wounded. Reactions across the world: NATO Secretary General William Claes: "Attack!" The U.S.: "First, we need to determine who fired the shell." The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the U.K., Douglas Hurd, "We need to return to negotiations." UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali: "An abhorrent act of violence."


• The Mayor of Sarajevo, Muhamed Kresevljakovic, tours the marketplace - the site of the massacre - with the UN General Michael Rose, Yasushi Akashi, and Jean Cote. Akashi asks for a complete ceasefire.
• BiH authorities demand that the Bosnian Serbs remove their artillery from the surrounding hills. The Bosnian Serbs refuse to withdraw their guns.
• By order of the police (MUP), all the markets in the city are closed.


• Statement of the Croatian government regarding possible sanctions for Croatia due to the entry of the Croatian army in Bosnia and Herzegovina: "If Croatia is hit with sanctions we will expel all of our Bosnian refugees to the countries which support these sanctions."


• The French Foreign Minister Allain Juppé demands decisive action or the withdrawal of troops.
• In Paris, a demonstration for the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo. The philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy organizes the demonstration.
• SDS leader Radovan Karadzic seeks an immediate expert investigation of the shell crater at the "Markale" market and autopsies of the victims: "The fate of all nations, as well as the fate of Europe itself, now depends on it."


• NATO sends an ultimatum to the Bosnian Serbs: Ordnance must withdraw to 20 km from Sarajevo. If not, air strikes will follow. On this occasion, the U.S. president, Bill Clinton, says: "With NATO's decision, the United States has shown it will no longer be only an observer to a conflict that offends the conscience and endangers peace."
• A UN team of experts makes a ballistic analysis: "The direction from which the missile approached was approximately at an angle of 18 degrees between north and east, which corresponds to the wider region of Mrkovici, which was controlled by the Bosnian Serbs."
• The U.S. recognizes Macedonia.


• UN troops are placed along the line of demarcation.


• Stocks fall on European stock exchanges: world capital concerns over the possible eruption of conflict in the former Yugoslavia.


• Negotiations in Geneva fail. Thorvald Stoltenberg: "Will the Serbs withdraw from territories that the Muslims are asking for? We were unable to resolve this issue. In late February or early March we expect to continue negotiations. "
• BH Olympians participate in the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.


• The Bosnian Serbs halt the handover of heavy weapons, setting new conditions. "Hercules" planes monitor them by night and locate places where the Bosnian Serbs are hiding weapons.
• Croatia lays out requirements for the withdrawal of the Croatian army in Bosnia: They request that the UN insure the security of the Croat enclave in central Bosnia.


• U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin meet: They agree on their respective roles: the U.S. will influence the Muslims and the Russians the Serbs.
• Meeting between Akashi, UN and NATO representatives. They discuss air strikes. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali gives authorization to Akashi to perform the strikes. Officials at embassies are leaving Belgrade because of the danger of attacks.


• February 21st is D-Day for the withdrawal of the Bosnian Serbs′ heavy artillery. The procedure for the strike and the beginning of the strike: Commander of UNPROFOR, General Michael Rose, revokes the strike, while Yasushi Akashi approves the strike. British Prime Minister John Major has the task of convincing the Russian president, Boris Yeltsin that the Brussels ultimatum does not mean that the West is leaning toward the government in Sarajevo, but rather is an effort to end the massacre and terror against civilians.
• In Sarajevo, a new round of humanitarian aid, containing: 1,250 grams of beans, 333 grams of oil, 300 grams of sugar, 1 kilogram of flour.
• Sarajevo doctors complement professional medical nomenclature: dispersio corporis or total disappearance of individuals from the effects of an explosion.


• The commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic: "We will not withdraw our weapons, we will not leave our people defenseless before fanatical Muslim units." Radovan Karadzic, leader of the SDS, "The Atlantic Alliance wants to show its power to the Russians over the Serbs. This could lead to World War III, and the Serbs have never lost a war.”
• China is against attacks.


• Juan Antonio Samaranch visits the former Olympic city, Sarajevo.


• Vitali Churkin hands a letter to Yeltsin requesting the Serbs withdraw their weapons in order to stop the bloodshed. The Serbs promise to withdraw their weapons.


• Clinton rejects Yeltsin's proposal for holding an international conference on Bosnia. In the future, yes, but not now.


• UN checkpoints where the heavy artillery of the Bosnian Serbs is kept are guarded by 10 UN soldiers. The checkpoints are located in populated areas making air strikes impossible. Even if the international community wanted to perform an intervention over these weapons, they would not be able to do it.


• Manfred Woerner, NATO Secretary General: "We will follow the recommendations of Akashi, Rose and Cote not to carry out a strike, but if they attack Sarajevo we will intervene."
• Russia has a diplomatic breakthrough. A Russian UN battalion arrives in Pale, the capital of the Bosnian Serbs. Radovan Karadzic: "With the Russians beside us, we have nothing to fear."
• Question from journalists for UNPROFOR General Michael Rose: "What will you do one hour after midnight, when the ultimatum expires?" Rose: "I'll be in bed."
• Radovan Karadzic: "We'll shoot back if we‘re attacked."


• In an interview for TV BiH, Alija Izetbegovic states, "They have retreated, and it is our victory, because they are not killing us anymore. You can let your kids go skating freely, they can go to school. "
• Moscow: "This is our diplomatic victory. The ultimatum has not been strictly respected, and a penalty has not been imposed. "
• Re-establishment of the "air bridge."


• In Washington, negotiations start between the Croats and Muslims on the establishment of the federation.


• The UN Security Council discusses the French proposal of lifting the siege of Sarajevo and setting up a civilian administrator.
• Life returns to the city. People walk on the streets, children play.

THE MARKALE MARKET

The covered market built in 1894/95 is often described as resembling a theater rather than a place where meat and vegetables are sold. During the siege its sellers and customers were somewhat more protected than those in the open markets. The three most atrocious massacres of Sarajevo citizens happened either near it or in front of it. In the last one on August 28, 1995 a mortar shell killed 41 people and wounded another 85. This incident was the immediate cause of the NATO air strikes, the signing of the Dayton Agreement and the gradual lifting of the siege.

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