TRAMS ARE MOVING TARGETS// 10. 1994. • SEFKIJA OKERIC// CITY GOVERNMENT
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
TRAMS ARE MOVING TARGETS
‘Every day we took upon ourselves the maintenance of the city and its functions with a huge stubbornness and an enormous risk. Every morning consulting ourselves we would decide when the tram was going to run. And then, while the tram was running, we waited to hear the information about the traffic. Whether there was shooting, or snipers. It used to happen that bullets, shells or snipers attacked passengers on the tram. In such cases we called the UNPROFOR representatives who gave us promises that there would be no more shooting. They would come again and again telling us that they were not able to control all the points and that a team which was in charge of a certain intersection simply failed. They gave us various explanations, which were of no help to the victims on the tram.’
• U.S. Secretary of Defense, William Perry, expects NATO to take action. Disagreements between NATO, the United States and the UN on how to punish the Serbs. NATO asks that the UN to determine adequate provocation for attacks. NATO strikes are an important part of international pressure.
• Owen and Stoltenberg say that the Serbian border is closed and that the sanctions against Yugoslavia should be lifted.
• Phantom negotiations over the airport. The Bosnian Serbs claim that they will not allow the use of the airport if UNPROFOR does not guarantee that in the case of a UN withdrawal the airport will be handed over to the Serbs. Presidency member Ejup Ganic: "In 1992, the legitimate BiH goverment signed an agreement surrendering the airport to UN troops. This is the only legal agreement. "
• The Bosnian Serbs set up a missile system near Bihac.
• While the Belgrade and Podgorica airports are open in reward for cooperation, Tuzla and Sarajevo airports are closed. Nothing enters the town, and the Serbs do not give consent for the passage of humanitarian convoys. Natural gas pressure is decreasing.
• NATO claims that the suppression of Sarajevo is sufficient reason for NATO air strikes. They request permission from UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to launch strikes.
• Willy Claes becomes the new Secretary General of NATO.
• With the "Sow of Death" (M-84 machine gun) the Bosnian Serb form a stronghold in the hills from which they attack a tram. The driver is killed, 12 people are wounded. UN soldiers hid behind containers and APCs. Tram traffic is suspended. Akashi is shocked by the incident: "It is a clear violation of the agreement on the termination of sniper fire."
• The airport is closed because several aircraft are hit, as pilots discover upon landing.
• Promotion of the new BH dinar.
• Road brigands on Bosnian roads. Serbs attack and abduct UNHCR convoys.
• TV School for survival gives 2500 advice on the topic "Let's plant on every bit of our land!"
• The ARBiH is required to withdraw from the demilitarized zone on Igman. They request that the UN protect Igman road when they withdraw.
• In California a “sniper lifeguard” is invented as protection against snipers after one of its inventors watches a Serb on television boast of having killed 300 civilians through hilltop sniper fire.
• The film "Bosnia" by French philosopher Bernard Henri Lévy screened.
• The National Theatre has its premiere performance of "Romeo and Juliet" for children. Director - Olja Kostic.
• The Fifth Corps of ABiH is advancing.
• The Institute for Strategic Research in London issues an analysis of the situation in BiH: "The Serbs are slowly losing the military supremacy that they had at the beginning of the war."
• There is no oil in the city. The minimum amount reaches the city, and goes toward UN needs.
• The City government expects that UN troops will again ride the tram as protection, as well as UN APCs to follow trams Marin Dvor to Dolac Malta. The City government again requests anti-sniper teams
• François Léotard, French Defense Minister: "Our troops will be withdrawn from Bosnia if the arms embargo is lifted for Bosnia."
• The BBC shows video footage of Russian writer Eduard Limonov in 1992 shooting at Sarajevo from its surrounding hills.
• Progress in cooperation between NATO and UN. They agree on the prompt use of strikes and the choice of multiple targets without warning.
• Igman road is unprotected, as Bosnian Serbs fire on it.
• Liberated territory of BiH expands.
• By decision of the Pope, Vinko Puljic, head of the Catholic Church in BiH, will become a cardinal.
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.