MARATHON OF PARAPLEGICS // 09. 1994.
ZULA SELIMOVIC // THE PARAPLEGICS ASSOCIATION
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

September 1994

Zula Selimovic
The Paraplegics Association
MARATHON OF PARAPLEGICS

‘We sometimes stood for an hour on a street crossing held up by snipers. We couldn’t cross. We wasted time. We sometimes worked from morning until 8 or 9 in the evening; we waited for the shelling to stop so that we could walk home safely. Our members had terrible problems at the time when there was no electricity, no water. It’s well known that besides paralysis, paraplegia also means incontinence. That’s the inability to control physiological needs. But at that time we could not acquire the nappies used by incontinent paraplegics. So those many of our members were exposed to sores, to ulcers, under those war conditions, because they couldn’t keep proper hygiene. We tried, they helped as much as they could, the electrical company. For a time they included us in the priority use of electrical energy, they gave our members a slightly greater number of hours a day. So we survived somehow.At the time, I can’t remember, I’m really lost in that time. When we were shelled, that is, when the airplane bomb hit the Bitas building, a colleague and I were in the office. We were just discussing the visit of some Italians, an Italian delegation that wanted to come to visit us. We felt terrible when it hit, luckily I couldn’t run, a ceiling lamp just fell on me. I didn’t even have any scratches, although it was so near by. I think the marathon in ’94, was organized by the Alliance for Sports and Recreation of BH. Just to get people out in the streets. A wheelchair race. A period of quiet was used and we went out in the streets, and raced. There were no problems.’

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SEPTEMBER 1994


• Sarajevo airport: A Serbian liaison officer announces that the Serbs cannot guarantee the security of planes that land for more than 30 minutes.


• Pope's arrival is confirmed. On the streets of Sarajevo, posters appear with the image of the Pope and the message: "You are not alone, we are with you!"


• Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, arrives in Sarajevo.


• Papal nuncio Francesco Montesi visits Pale. After his visit, he sends a report to the Vatican. The UN is responsible for the safety of the Pope at the airport, while MUP will be responsible for it in the city.
• On the occasion of the Pope's arrival, the head of the Catholic Church, Vinko Puljic, makes a statement: "Out of all the news from Bosnia, Pope always knew that the news is true. If Holy Father does not come, life goes on, but the pain will remain in heart. "
• The Jewish New Year is celebrated in Sarajevo: L’shanah tovah tikatev, 5755.


• The Pope does not come. UNPROFOR could not guarantee his safety.


• "Blessed are the peacemakers" arrive in Sarajevo. They had come to see the Pope. They carry flags, and sing and dance in the streets. After all, in Kamerni teatar 55 the evening had been prepared for the occasion of the Pope's arrival: the actors recited the Pope's poems, choir “Trebevic” sang Pope’s hymn
• Increase of prices on the market. Bananas now cost 6DM.

• At the hydropower plant Jablanica, there water supply will last for just 10 days. At the substation in Sarajevo, the process is ongoing to shut down power to those substations that have illegal electrical connections.
• Akashi meets with the Mayor of Tuzla, Selim Beslagic: "The Serbs will allow the opening of the airport in Tuzla."


• Increase of prices on the market. Bananas now cost 6DM.The Bosnian Serbs attack Bihac. The UN commander for Bosnia and Herzegovina warns the Serbs that they will be exposed to strikes if they do not stop their attacks on Bihac.
• Snipers again fire at Sarajevo.


• Paraplegic marathon held.


• The Popemobile stays in the city. There is a possibility that the Pope could come before the end of the month.


• Ongoing deployment of observers on the Serbia and Montenegro-BiH border. In return it is expected that sanctions against Belgrade will be eased. A ban is placed on the Bosnian Serbs for any travel abroad.
• Risto Dzogo, TV commentator on the extreme nationalist television network of the Bosnian Serbs, "Srna,” is killed. His corpse is found in Zvornik Lake.


• On Sarajevo streets once again containers are used for protection against snipers.


• Attacks on Sarajevo. General Rose warns the Serbs to stop attacking or air strikes will follow. The Serbs ordered their troops to pull out all heavy weapons from UN checkpoints.
• The city returns to its old scenes - lines for water, canisters.


• In honor of his guest tour of Sarajevo's MESS in Paris at Peter Brook's theatre, the famous director says: "Thanks to culture, they can endure in the face of absolute negation. They say whoever lives will have the last word. They came here to allow us to share their safety with them. "


• The UN issues an ultimatum for the Bosnian Serbs to withdraw heavy weapons from the "safe area". Due to a shell landing in front of the Sarajevo Cathedral, UNPROFOR publishes a report: "The entry trajectory has not been identified, or the position from where it was fired; however the radar antenna was oriented such that part of the downward trajectory was registered as well as the location of its flight."
• Because of the UN ultimatum, Radovan Karadzic says: "We will attack the international force when and wherever we choose."
• U.S. General John Shalikashvili: "Whenever we have attacked them, the Serbs have understood the message and retreated."


• The Bosnian Serbs give the UN an ultimatum: "If you do not apologize within 24 hours for ordering airstrikes, we will retaliate. The UN is an occupying force and cannot be tolerated. "
• Demand for wood in the city: a sack of hornbeam wood - 20 DM.


• At the Clinical Center in Sarajevo treatment is performed under field conditions.
• The Bosnian Serbs established restrictions for the movement of the UN.


• U.S. President Bill Clinton in his speech at the UN General Assembly, says that "Sarajevo must be saved."
• Harsher sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs; those against Yugoslavia to be eased.


• United States insists on stronger NATO strikes. The U.K. is against them.

Recreation

Everyone is in sports clothes, for they are warmer, more comfortable and enable you to run quicker. Most of the members of the Bosnian Armed Forces wear deep white sneakers with the logo Yugosport. Their uniform, at the beginning, consisted of jeans, masking parts, ingenious improvisations made of bright colors. Bulletproof jackets are very rare They can be found at the price of 200 DM. Citizens renew wear and footwear by moving into abandoned apartments.

Walking
Six kilometers a day-that is the average for those who don’t need to go far. Some believe it helps you to keep in good shape.

Running
That is the favorite sport, practiced by everyone in Sarajevo. All cross-roads are run through as are all the dangerous neighborhoods. One runs with stolen wood, to the line where others are standing. Something is on sale, and you will know it only when you join the line.

Rock-climbing
Urban rock-climbing is a compulsory sports discipline. Instead of adequate ropes, one uses sheets. Climbers are solving distances between balconies, from higher to the lower ones which are not yet reached by fire.

Soccer
Often played with soldiers of UNPROFOR. On the other side - Bosnian Armed Forces, police and professional city players who are still here. Games take place in the hall of the burned Skenderija. The game is hard, masculine, with lots of injuries. Foreigners lose here, as they always did.

Chess
Played on staircases, in basements and in shelters. Sometimes even in the chess club Bosna, which has a good and very expensive buffet.

Tree-cutting
An entirely new city discipline. Tools for this sport are an electric saw and axes, small and big. One gets trained by cutting, trimming, splitting and piling the wood on the balcony or in the room, where they don’t suffer so much humidity. Wood is stacked in the bedroom, hall, living room, in the next apartment whose owners have left of disappeared.

DANGEROUS ZONES

Every area of the city was a dangerous zone. At every moment, from all the places in the mountains surrounding the city the snipers could hit every target in the city. Therefore the most dangerous zones were those directly in the line of fire Bridges, crossroads and streets exposed to the mountains. Those were the places where the possibility of getting shot was somewhat lessened if one was a fast runner. Such places also seemed less terrifying than other parts of town where one was never sure whether one should walk fast or slow. Would the shell land where you are or in front of you? The signs DANGEROUS ZONE or WATCH OUT, SNIPER, as well as the signs showing the direction of traffic were written in oil-based paint on pieces of UNHCR plastic sheets, or on pieces of cardboard, wooden board or simply written with chalk on the wall.

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