A TRAM SHOT, ONE PERSON KILLED, 6 WOUNDED// 11. 1994. • IBRAHIM JUSUFRANIC// EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ‘GRAS’, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Executive director of the Gras, Public Transportation Company
A TRAM SHOT, ONE PERSON KILLED, 6 WOUNDED
‘At that time we decided that the trams would have to stop running, at least temporarily. Because they wanted to confirm, using the tram as an example, that life is getting back to normal in the city. But that was far from the truth. I remember the tram that made it back to the tram-depot. It was heavily damaged. Covered with blood. Investigation squads were constantly coming and checking. Our workers washed the tram and it was running again.’
• The Army of BiH liberates the mountains of Bjelasnica and Treskavica, near Sarajevo. United States rejects the idea of General Rose to strike the ARBiH.
• Kupres is liberated with the combined forces of the HVO and ARBiH.
• From Osmica on Igman buses travel to Zagreb, Split and Zenica.
• New York, November 5th, 1994 a new resolution on Bosnia adopted in which the UN General Assembly urges the Security Council to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, if over the next six months the Bosnian Serbs do not sign a peace treaty. 97 countries vote in favor of the resolution, while 61 countries in the General Assembly refrain. No country votes against.
• The ARBiH counters the renewed attack on Sarajevo. NATO planes fly low, and fighting ceases.
• The average wage in the city is 2 DM; for a family approximately a 350 DM salary is needed.
• The financier and philanthropist, and founder of the "Open Society Foundation", George Soros accuses UNPROFOR Commander General Michael Rose, for being pro-Serb. "UNPROFOR has become the kapo of a concentration camp."
• U.S. will no longer oversee the arms embargo on the Government of BiH. The command is issued to the U.S. Navy to no longer intercept ships carrying weapons for the Government of BiH.
• "Miss World" pageant held in South Africa. President Nelson Mandela is surrounded by 87 beauties.
• In a speech at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Lord Owen says: "Humanitarian intervention was a fatal mistake. Without humanitarian aid, the war would have already finished."
• Radovan Karadzic’s message to Croatia, "I will bomb Zagreb if you continue to support the Muslims around Bihac."
• Secretary General of NATO, Willy Claes: "The time has come for action."
• NATO bombs the airport in Udbina. 30 planes fly in the mission. All planned objectives are hit: the runway is destroyed, while the aircraft are intact. SAM 7 missiles are fired at NATO planes. The aim of the operation: prevention of future attacks by the Serb army on Bihac. It was at the time biggest action undertaken by NATO in its history.
• William Perry: "If they again carry out a bomb attack, we will return and destroy their planes." Michael Rose: "We are here to help deliver humanitarian aid and maintain the survival of the surrounding areas, and in addition we are here to support the legitimate government of this country. Because of this, unfortunately, from time to time we need to use force in self-defense, and to support the territorial exclusion zone." Akashi notifies the Bosnian Serb about the attack, and then travels to Pale to apologize for the attack.
• An even fiercer attack by the Bosnian Serb Army on Bihac follows. Buzim and civilian targets are bombed.
• Throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian Serbs block UN arms checkpoins and block UN movement.
• A tram is hit: one passenger killed, 6 wounded.
• NATO has offered the UN a number of solutions: for example, successive air strikes. The UN refuses. It turns out that the world's military potential will be employed in a rescue operation of the UN in Bosnia, not of Bosnia itself. The UN resolution on the “safe areas” and the ban on flights are violated.
• In the wartime cinema "Apollo" a festival is held: "Days of Swiss Film."
• Airport: Negotiations on a cease-fire. General Rose is the mediator in the negotiations. A ceasefire is agreed upon for the entire country. 2,000 U.S. Marines head to Bosnia to rescue the UN and to give support to NATO.
• Meeting: Willy Claes, Andrei Kozyrev, Haris Silajdzic. Kozyrev discusses Russian opposition to further punitive action.
• Vatican: Vinko Puljic appointed Cardinal.
• Sarajevo shelled.
• The Fifth Corps of the ARBiH manages to repel attacks in Bihac's Krajina. The UN fails to protect the Bihac "safe area". The UN: "We have only words, not the means."
• The U.S. Congress, Newt Gingrich: "If we want to break the will of the Serbs, then NATO should lead an action to break down the will of the Serbs. Occasional tactical strikes are extremely ineffective in intimidating the enemy, which is a lesson from Vietnam. "
• The Bosnian Serbs blocked 495 UN personnel throughout Bosnia.
• The Queen of England wins $17.70 in the lottery, which divided between 18 members of her court.
• The French Library opens in Sarajevo.
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.