ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES TO THE CITY, A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE // 04. 1994.
MIRO LAZOVIC // BH PARLIAMENT
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

April 1994

Miro Lazovic
The BH Parliament
ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES TO THE CITY, A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

‘I remember the time when we had to go to Zagreb. We passed through that tunnel and since my leg was hurt, my bodyguard suggested me to run part of the way till we get to the jeep because for the most part that path was dangerous. Luckily, I followed his advice. A few minutes after we left, a shell hit the place where we were few moments ago. Shell fragments were scattered about all over the place, but nobody was hurt. None of the members of our delegation. That was, maybe, the most dangerous part of my outlets. However, many citizens of Sarajevo know, better then I do, how difficult and dangerous it was to come in and get out of the city. And that was a certain humiliation. I remember coming back to Sarajevo after spending some time in various hotels and conference halls, where we talked about life in Sarajevo, about people being humiliated there, about the way they used to feed themselves. People at those places would simply not understand. As a result, I gave up telling such stories because I realized that people who did not experience The Sarajevo Golgotha were not able to understand the agony of the people who spent the wartime in Sarajevo. After the time I spent away from that agony, I would come down, across Igman, to that tunnel and to Sarajevo in a very humiliating way. And all the time I was feeling hurt because of the agony of Sarajevo people, because of their humiliating position. While citizens of Sarajevo were returned back to the pre-historical time, others enjoyed the amenities of civilization. We lived as animals, but we had that spirit, we had confidence in our future, we struggled for our survival because we were able to suffer and I believe that we became even stronger in spite of the agony we went through.’

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TOPIC RELATED TEXT

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."

Airport runway

Crossing the airport runway...It is necessary to cross the barricade which blocks the neighborhood of Dobrinja. You need a dark night. Wounded, or those who look like that, are taken by car. The control procedure of the Blue Helmets is very kind. With a financial agreement, one can pass in the first try. The airport runway is the only city promenade. True, in one night, the Blue Helmets may return no less than 260 people, but one can do it somehow. The attempt to run costs between 100 and 200 DM. Still, there are some tips to be remembered. The runway is equipped with photo-cells and sensors which detect anyone who might be walking by. This trap, installed by UNPROFOR, may surprise you with alarms or spotlights which go on immediately after you are spotted. Different divisions of the UN force - the Blue Helmets - react in accordance with their national, regional and personal sense of humor. The French are amused by our wit. Ukrainians are made nervous by our stubbornness, but they can be talked into a deal. The best guys are the Egyptians. They are running after the old lady who is smuggling a carton of bananas from Hrasnica to Dobrinja. They forgive the guy who is running with crutches. One such guy was forced to return no less then eight times: the ninth time he wrote his own obituary in French. Since the French have respect for the dead, he left the city on the air-transport. All sides catch smugglers, but also those who manage to crawl across half the runway. In short, the journey is hard, but once the basics are completed, and you are on the right side, everything is a matter of superstructure - skill, papers, money. It is no secret that for 1000 to 2000 DM one can fly out on a humanitarian aid plane. The only drawback is that there are no guarantees at which airport you are going to land.

THE TUNNEL

The Dobrinja-Butmir tunnel, a hole some 1.2 meters wide, 1.6 meters high and 760 meters long, is situated under the Sarajevo airport runway. In the official communication between local politicians and UNPROFOR this public secret has been referred to as “the non-existent tunnel”. Foreigners were not allowed into the tunnel and journalists were offering up to 5.000 DM for just one shot of the tunnel. Although the tunnel was an military object and intended solely for the army’s getting in and out of town, the privilege of using it was extended to the American ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Viktor Jakovic, who the aggressor did not allow to leave the city by plane. The tunnel was also used to get the members of Parliament from other towns into the city. Many of them were easily recognized during the sessions of Parliament because they had bruises on their foreheads from hitting the iron support bars within the tunnel. Some comfort was extended to the most respected politicians who were pushed through the tunnel in small wagons.
The commercialization of the tunnel brought about great changes in the economic life of the city. The tunnel became a place full of people dragging bags with potatoes o eggs. Many tradesmen were allowed to “rent” the tunnel from the army. Thanks to the tunnel many became rich, but the prices also fell within the city. The aggressor also knew about the secret tunnel and by continuously shelling its entrance it hampered its usage. They even tried to dig another tunnel of the other side of the airport in order to redirect the Zeljeznica river and flood the tunnel. In spite of everything the hole under the airport became the greatest public good of the city and it’s only link with the rest of the world. If one managed to get a permit to go through the tunnel he or she would be greeted at the exit by a marker-written sign: PARIS 3765km.

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