VISITING GRBAVICA, WITH GUARDS// 03. 1994. • NIDZARA ALJOVIC// REFUGEE FROM GRBAVICA
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Refugee from Grbavica
VISITING GRBAVICA, WITH GUARDS
‘I got in showing my ID, across the Brotherhood and Unity Bridge. It was this huge desire to see my apartment, my parents. There was no fear of getting in. I don’t know why. Probably this great desire. It was awful. It was awful during the paper checking and I had a bad feeling. There was no abuse, really, but it was a bad feeling. The weather was somehow gloomy and ugly. Grbavica was deserted. There was nobody. I was happy once I came to my apartment, although nothing was the way I left it. Since I slept through that night, the fear caught up with me in the night. It was really unbelievable, the fear, next to my parents, I didn’t sleep at all. When I came back to this side again, it was as if I had been liberated from it all, although my parents stayed there. Afterwards, you know, the day we all crossed the bridge, it was a completely new feeling. Those strange people weren’t there. There were very few people. Those who had been living in Grbavica, but it were all different. As if there was no, as if there was no more danger. I simply got back to find everything the way it was before. I simply got back to that life I had. I still live in Grbavica and I think it’s definitely the nicest neighborhood. Birds sing at two in the morning.’
• NATO operation following the violation of the prohibition of the no-fly zone in the airspace of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Four JNA planes are shot down.
• Washington: The Muslims and Croats sign an agreement on the Federation BiH.
• The Bosnian Serbs block the departure of a UN Canadian convoy from Srebrenica for 30 hours.
• After signing the agreement on the Federation of BiH, the Chiefs of Staff of the ARBiH and HVO will hold a meeting as soon as possible, in which they will, with teams of experts, draw up plans for the dynamic transition of ARBiH and HVO into a common, then later single, armed component of the future Federation of BiH.
• General Laprell succeeds Gen. Cote.
• Four travel routes to and from Sarajevo are opened.
• Fluctuations in the local markets caused by the announcement that roads are opening. Prices at the markets have dropped.
• Washington, March 18, 1994. Peace agreement signed on the creation of the Muslim-Croatian Federation in BiH and the basis for the confederation of the Federation BiH with Croatia. The agreement is signed by: Haris Silajdzic, Kresimir Zubak, Alija Izetbegovic, Franjo Tudjman and Bill Clinton.
• A football match is held at "Kosevo” stadium as a symbolic sign that Sarajevo is no longer a dangerous city. Entrance is free. The game is attended by 15,000 people. The game is played between Sarajevo and UNPROFOR. The result is 4-0 for Sarajevo.
• Tuzla airport is opened. The first passenger is Yasushi Akashi.
• A kilo of coffee on March 7th is 120 DM; on March 21st, 40 DM. Still at the markets goods can be bought for cigarettes and other bartered goods.
• A Swiss clown visits Sarajevo.
• Debate over where the center of Sarajevo is caused by the withdrawal of artillery. The Bosnian Serbs claim that the center is near the Cathedral, whereas NATO experts claim that the city center is 1 km west of the Cathedral. The Serbs need to withdraw their weapons 20 km from the city.
• For the first time since the siege began, Sarajevans can cross from one bank to another. The first bus from the city arrives in Hrasnica, a suburb of Sarajevo, accompanied by UNPROFOR.
• A Turkish UN battalion is coming to Bosnia. Turkish soldiers return to Bosnia after 116 years.
• Due to the developments in Sarajevo, Yasushi Akashi says: "I see light at the end of the tunnel."
• The Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated.
• In a show of solidarity with the citizens of Sarajevo the world's Olympic greats arrive in Sarajevo.
• Madeleine Albright in Sarajevo: "The future of America and your future are inseparable. This ceremony must show that to everyone.”
• The constitution of the Federation BiH is adopted.
• William Eagleton appointed as the civilian administrator of the UN in Sarajevo. He will devise a plan for the restoration of basic public services.
Those who were lucky, still live in their apartments. Refugees and those whose apartments have been burned or destroyed by grenades are inhabiting the apartments of those who left Sarajevo before or during the war. Temporary leases and bills of sale are being issued. Some entered flats by breaking the doors and changing locks. You can change the apartment if one of your friends manages to leave the town. Some people have two or three apartments. Depending on what each of them can offer electricity, gas, water, or minimal security - they move from one apartment to another. Those who are looking for you, will find you on the address where you collect humanitarian aid. Some are living in communes. Old families have disintegrated - new ones are being formed. Windows are gone destroyed by perpetual detonations. It was kind of pleasant during the summer - plastic came only with first rains. People were fixing it to the window-frames with wide tape used in factories for packing. Glue gave up under the rain and winds. Then people used nails. Whoever had no plastic - more than a precious item on the black market - would close the windows with cardboard boxes left behind from the humanitarian aid. The best for the purpose proved to e those smaller sacks for the rice provided by UNPROFOR - the only thing you needed was good friend who happens to be handling humanitarian aid!
Some windows are protected by the lumber brought from the basements and roofs. Those homes are dark as graves. Witty people are taking down doors from closets or rooms in order to ‘fix’ the windows and damaged parts of apartments. Bricks which can be found around destroyed buildings are used by those who still have walls and holes to fill. For the sake of security - merely psychological security - one closes windows with heavy cupboards, mattresses, books, carpets. Windows are dark after daylight is gone. People accumulate all their precious belongings in some corner of the apartment which they consider safest. Bathrooms, which somehow often happen to be in the center, are storage for paintings. Photographs, documents, jewelry, money, passports are in the bag next to the exit. In the bag are a few more items: medicine, zwieback, thermos, canned pate, and blankets.
Apart from the trenches which were used for fighting there were many trenches within the city which served primarily the civilian population. By using those labyrinths between buildings the citizens were protected against sniper fire when going to fetch water, when going to work or to meet each.