A SNIPER INCIDENT// 06. 1994. • NEDIM KERES// CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
A SNIPER INCIDENT
‘The tram was packed as usual, and I always wondered why all those people took the risk in view of the danger. They probably all, as well as me, held on to the thought, it won’t happen to me. As they probably did throughout the war, while they were collecting water and I-don’t-know-what-else. ‘It won’t happen to me, it won’t happen to me’, but when we came to that part, let’s say the most dangerous part, around the State Museum, there was no noise in the tram. Everybody was still, waiting to get through that part. And just as I thought that we had already passed, that it was over, finished, it was a moment, an instant, we all know it, well at least the ones who were in Sarajevo. That bang I mean, it was a machine gun, not a sniper. A sniper is just one shot, maybe two, but this was a burst and it is simply one moment. You could maybe hear a few screams at that moment, but we all reacted normally, as in we got closer together in that crowd, well, you can’t lie down, can’t hide, nothing, we were all just like that. And when it passed I got up to see where my mother wondered where I was. When I got up I saw a man in front of my feet in a big pool of blood.’
• Kresimir Zubak becomes president of the Federation of BH. The session of the Constituent Assembly of BiH is completed.
• Amendment to the indictment against criminals in the city changes the charge from "opposition to authority" to "military rebellion". Military prosecutor Ismet Mehic says this is intended to calm tensions in the city.
• A fashion show, "Back to No Future," is held.
• The BiH delegation will not go to Geneva for peace negotiations because the Bosnian Serbs have not retreated 3 km from Gorazde.
• The Writers' Union of Russia gives the "Mihail Solohov" prize to Radovan Karadzic for his poetic works.
• Bob Dole, the Republican leader in the U.S., arrives in Sarajevo.
• Peace negotiations in Geneva: cease-fire signed.
• Sarajevans get water during the night, due to reduced power consumption.
• A BiH mountaineering expedition headed by Muhamed Gafic climbs Mont Blanc on June 8th, at 3pm.
• U.S. Congress opposition to Clinton: Congress urges the President to unilaterally lift the arms embargo on Bosnia.
• Larry Hollingworth, a British aid worker, is knighted. He has worked completely alone, without protection, walking in front of the first trucks in convoys with humanitarian aid.
• Inside the building of the burnt out National Library Mozart's "Requiem" is performed. Conducted by Zubin Mehta, Carreras sings to pay tribute to the fallen people of Sarajevo and those killed across the country.
• Sniper incidents occurr- a passenger is injured in a tram near the hotel "Holiday Inn". A UN APC, which is supposed to protect the tram, did not react retreated. A second UN APC arrives to shelter the tram.
• Sculptor Alma Suljevic builds "Centaurs" from the burnt out shells of trams.
• Haris Silajdzic is appointed President of the Federation BiH; his deputy is Jadranko Prlic, who represents Croats.
• Sarajevans attend foreign language courses. The "Interlingua" school operates throughout the siege.
• NATO is ready to send 50,000 troops to implement the agreement if an agreement is reached in Geneva.
• The Humanitarian Organization "Marie Stopes International" opens to counsel for "post-traumatic stress disorder." Based on their votes, most women choose aerobics as their treatment.
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 - 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 - 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 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.
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.