PEOPLE ARE SHOT IN THE TRAM // 04. 1994.
IBRAHIM JUSUFRANIC // EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ‘GRAS’, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

April 1994

Ibrahim Jusufranic
Executive director of the ‘Gras’, Public Transportation Company
PEOPLE ARE SHOT IN THE TRAM

‘We felt that the tram should be running again. So what did we do! In order to protect at least the driver and the passengers we put thick metal plates made out of steel next to the driver and the passengers. This was the only thing we could do at that point. We did not have any material, or gas or oxygen. Somehow we managed to do that. And thanks to that the tram started to run again.’

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APRIL 1994


• The Croatian Party of Rights, regarding the Croatian-Muslim conflict, and the establishment of the Federation: "We will crush the HDZ, which brought conflict between the Muslims and Croats."


• The Bosnian Serbs carry out an attack on Gorazde.
• Stephen Spielberg wins an Oscar for the film "Schindler's List".
• The leader of Montenegro's liberals, Slavko Perovic, challenges to a duel with pistols the Montenegrin Minister of the Interior in a protest over violence against two Muslims who were his guests.


• Only a limited number of citizens and only those with escorts can visit homes and relatives in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Grbavica held by Bosnian Serbs.


• On the occasion of 110 years of Elektrodistribucija BiH the street lights on Titova Street, Ferhadija and Trg Oslobodjenja (Liberation Square) are turned on.


• Sarajevo is heavily shelled.
• Statement of the Basic Court II: divorces are produced as if by assembly line. In most cases the sued party is the wife. If the spouses are separated for two years and if the address of one of the spouses is unknown, the plaintiff automatically receives a divorce.
• A telephone line with Croatia is established. Numbers can be dialed only from the Post Office.


• Because of Bosnian Serb Army attacks on Gorazde and Sarajevo, General Michael Rose requests air strikes, Akashi approves, and NATO carries them out. UNPROFOR telephones Ratko Mladic at 14:00 hours, sends a fax to him at 14:50, and then drops two bombs.


• Because of the air strikes, Boris Yeltsin grows angry at Clinton because Washington did not consult him.
• In Pale, the Bosnian Serbs decided to block all access roads to Sarajevo, including for the UN and international humanitarian organizations.
• The television network of the Bosnian Serbs, "Srna ", shows footage from Somalia with a bound and murdered U.S. soldier and adds the comment: "If this can be done in Somalia, think of what the Serbs can do!"


• Branko Mikulic passes away, one of Tito's closest associates in communist Yugoslavia.


• Bosnian Serb soldiers commit a massacre in Gorazde. The UN sends a message to the Bosnian Serbs that they are not their enemies. NATO strikes do not mean victory for their opponents; NATO is only helping them comply with UN rules. In Gorazde, 200 UN personnel are detained, as well as 58 observers who are kept prisoners.


• Akashi obtains a cease-fire for Gorazde.
• Passengers shot in a Sarajevo tram.


• Because of this new crisis Yasushi Akashi says: "We do not have the resources to cope with the situation, all this is beyond the capability of the UN. Everything depends on the Security Council and Boutros Ghali."
• Heavy artillery attacks on Gorazde.


• Sarajevans hold a meeting on the rescue of Gorazde.
• Michael Rose: "Without large troops it is impossible to protect the Gorazde UN 'safe area'."
• The head of the Catholic Church in BiH, Vinko Puljic, sends an appeal to the world: "If the bases of UN institutions are broken, from which starting point is human civilization possible?"
• The organization "Doctors without borders" seeks the resignation of Yasushi Akashi. Two of their colleagues are in Gorazde and provide help for the people there: "It is shameful how the international community has surrendered politically in Bosnia."


• Russian President, Boris Yeltsin urges Bosnian Serbs to withdraw and permit the entry of UN troops into Gorazde. Yasushi Akashi boycotts Karadzic until he releases the UN workers and lifts the siege of Gorazde. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vitali Churkin, because of the crisis in Gorazde says: "The Serbs for days were deceiving me." He asks Russia to suspend talks with the Serbs. Turkey wants to lift an arms embargo on Bosnia to save the country.
• In Lukavica, the Bosnian Serbs seize anti-aircraft rifles from a UN checkpoint. 150 Bosnian Serbs confiscate the weapons of 30 UN French soldiers.
• Pale: Serbs have signed the UN agreement on a ceasefire and the deployment of UN troops.


• In Gorazde, the Bosnian Serbs do not slow down. In Sarajevo, the Serbs return the anti-aircraft rifles but they seize an APC form the UN checkpoint. Yeltsin insists that only the UN Security Council can order the strike - in the UN Security Council the Russians have a veto.
• A report from a Sarajevo pharmacy: 30 tons of medicines should be destroyed. The aid shipments were arriving with drugs as many as 10 years old. In the pharmacy for humanitarian aid there is no information about the drugs’ origins and it remains unclear why the UNHCR never checked their information when receiving them.


• The City government in Sarajevo makes the decision to ban alcohol, poker machines, gambling, video games, live music - everything that makes noise and disturbs the peace of citizens.


• 59 people killed in Gorazde.
• Russia is trying to bring military action to diplomacy.
• NATO is waiting ready with 200 aircraft if the Serbs continue with violations in the "safe areas".


• Yasushi Akashi, "The Serbs have complied with the terms of the NATO ultimatum. The situation does not justify air strikes. "
• UNPROFOR Commander Michael Rose yet again goes to sleep. He does not wait for the expiration of the ultimatum. The U.S. and NATO want to strike, but the UN prevents them.
• Former President of the United States, Richard Nixon dies.


• The Russian Duma recommends: "Negotiations, not war."


• NATO ultimatum: Bosnian Serbs must withdraw their weapons 20 km from Gorazde. 4500 troops and 200 NATO aircraft await commands.


• The Bosnian Serbs comply with the ultimatum.
• Sarajevo: The humanitarian association "Roma Brothers", with the help of donors, organizes the "Roma Ball."


• A performance on the Miljacka is held: on the river a raft with a flag is launched. Bottles are thrown with the message: "This is not a wall! Hello Europe, we are the world! "


• The Bosnian Serbs issue their edition of the daily "Oslobodjenje", entitled "Srpsko Oslobodjenje."


• Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the U.K.: "The Serbian attacks on the 'safe areas' is an insult to humanity."

Transportation

Imagine driving through streets with no street lights (which are torn down or not working), without any traffic signs (for they are gone), without any attention paid to pedestrians, with a maximum speed across the crossroads and other dangerous spots. People are driving recklessly in both directions. No one pays any attention to crashes. Broken cars are being abandoned easily and damage is being negotiated in quick conversations. This is the war with the biggest civilian motor pool. The war is being waged in Audis, in BMWs, in Mercedes and VW Golfs, as well as in expensive yuppie jeeps. The Sarajevo car of 1992 is a GOLF DIESEL It is painted in military camouflage, and has no windows. It is entirely covered by nylon, foils, tin, cardboard and hardboard. Its fenders have been ruined, it is full of holes made by bullets, has no lights. Depending on the taste of a driver, or of his girlfriend, lights are covered with tapes in different colors: red, blue, green, all for a night drive in the city which is totally dark. Driving is fast and dangerous. There are no rent-a-car services. You rent a car with a driver - former taxi-driver-and you pay 100 DM per day.

City transportation
City transportation - trams, buses, vans, trolleys, cable rail-way-does not exist. Sometimes rarely, you can see double buses but only until October, almost half of a year after the war had started. A bus is running between Alipasino polje to the French Hospital (it was once military), in case it gets fuel from UNPROFOR. When the fuel is gone, passengers leave the bus and continue on foot. Cars are running, if run by or for officials. Most were taken away form private owners, with or without, a receipt, especially if they ran on diesel. New models appeared, home-made armored cars which look like moving closets, only with a hole in front of the driver. They are slow, shaky and loud.

Bicycles
Bicycles - which were never too popular in this hilly terrain - are being rediscovered and put to use.

Shopping carts are now used for the transportation of water canisters, of coal and wood. Renting is not too expensive.

Taxis
Taxis do not exist.

Parking is advised only on spots protected from grenades and thieves. Such places are scarce. Whole cars are stolen, but their parts are not safe either: wheels, fuel, batteries, seat-covers, lights.

Gas stations are not working. Fuel can be found at UNPROFOR, and on the black market where the price per liter is 15 DM. You can get five liters of oil in exchange for a porno video - very appreciated by the Ukrainian members of the UN forces. Don’t expect that the gas or petrol are going to be of good quality.

Car-repair, exclusively arranged through connections. There are no visible signs where repairmen are working. But they exist.

TRANSPORTATION

As early as the first year of the siege the official statistics showed that the number of vehicles fell from 105,000 to 5,000; of the 200 city transportation routes there remained one and of the 6,000 city transportation vehicles there remained 60. In May 1992 the city Public transportation depot was shelled and a great number of buses, trams and trolley buses were destroyed. The trolley buses stopped operating. A few buses and trams, provided there was fuel and electricity, took to the streets where they became favorite targets. The VW Golf cars, made in Sarajevo before the war, were the most widely used means of transportation. Due to the high speeds and a great number of drivers without driving licenses a poster appeared during the first months of the siege: DRIVE CAREFULLY, DON’T GET KILLED IN VAIN. It also informed the citizens that THERE WERE 300 DEAD AND INJURED in traffic accidents. White UN vehicles, which killed several Sarajevans, were the most frequent sight on the streets.

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