GRAFFITO IN THE CITY: ‘TITO, COME BACK TO US!’, REPLY: ‘I AM NOT CRAZY!’ // 12. 1994.
ASJA HAFNER // JOURNALIST
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

December 1994

Asja Hafner
Journalist
GRAFFITO IN THE CITY:‘TITO, COME BACK TO US!’, REPLY: ‘I AM NOT CRAZY!’

‘You could see plenty of graffiti on the Post Office building, a lot of people remember ‘THIS IS SERBIA’, to which someone humorously added, ‘YOU IDIOT! THIS IS THE POST OFFICE’. There was a time when people left messages on broken shop windows or buildings, for ‘those on the hill’, as they usually called them. It was one way of refusing to be manipulated, to be under siege. Like saying ‘Don’t let them get us down’, ‘Everyone’s mad here’, these were very frequent and very strong and very true statements. Some were written in English, one often found ‘Constant Pain’, direct, terribly direct and totally true for that war period. Then there was one graffito that was in its way nostalgic but it had an element of the defiant aspect of graffiti. Someone wrote on anti-sniper container, Pink Floyd, the brave death-defying face of graffiti, the name of a pop group of happier times.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

DECEMBER 1994


• The Serbs set up anti-aircraft defenses near Sarajevo.
• Willy Claes, NATO Secretary General: "The important thing is unity within the organization - Bosnia has created conflict between us.


• Sarajevo: The Bosnian Serbs close the valves on the gas lines.
• Bihac Krajina: The Fifth Corps manages to repel attacks; the aggressor is losing power.


• Radovan Karadzic threatens to order fire on NATO planes if they continue to monitor the airspace of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


• Missile attack on the Presidency building.
• A child killed by a bullet from a sniper.


• "Oil War": In 10 days diesel fuel for the UN will be gone, and in three days there will be no gasoline. The UN will stop all activities: no repairs, no escort for humanitarian aid, no anti-sniper teams.


• In the city on the post office building graffiti appears: "THIS IS SERBIA!" A reply written next to it: "THIS IS A POST OFFICE, YOU IDIOT." At another building: “TITO, COME BACK TO US!" The written reply:" I'M NOT INSANE." - with Tito's signature.
• The city takes action collecting signatures for a declaration on an undivided Sarajevo. Moscow: at the organization of the European Cultural Club, 120 public and cultural workers sign the declaration on an undivided Sarajevo.
• The Pope receives a visit from the Sarajevo choir "Trebevic."
• Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Rabin, Arafat and Peres.


• Danish convoy with fuel hijacked near the airport. They were surrounded by Bosnian Serbs with rifles pointed, who then jumped into the trucks. Ilidza is now popularly called the Bermuda Triangle, because it’s where equipment and fuel disappear.
• Gas pressure increases, the price of firewood is dropping: sacks of firewood - 15 DM.


• Chess Olympiad in Moscow. BiH – Ukraine; 3 -1 in favor of BiH.
• Moscow does not want UN troops to leave BiH, since it would mean that the arms embargo would be lifted for the Government of BiH.
• In Belgrade, Podgorica, Zagreb, France and Spain people give their signatures to the declaration for an indivisible Sarajevo.
• A new round of humanitarian aid in the city: 1 kilogram of rice, 200 grams of beans, 150 grams of oil, a can with 340 grams of processed meat, 2 kilograms of flour.
• The anti-sniper team returns fire 19 times.
• Discussion at NATO: Is the UN pulling out from Bosnia or not?
• Employees of the UN learn over the television news that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter comes to Bosnia with the latest peace initiative, at the invitation of the Bosnian Serbs. Karadzic calls CNN in Atlanta and presents this initiative to the public. On the occasion, Jimmy Carter says: "I come as a private citizen and as a representative of the Carter Center."
• Boutros Boutros-Ghali: "The UN has no money. Bangladesh could not furnish their UN team and this is why the situation is so dire in Bihac. "


• The U.S. government supports Carter's mission.
• For each released "blue helmet" UNPROFOR gives 1 ton of fuel to the Bosnian Serbs.
• 179,653 signatures collected from 35 countries for "Sarajevo, an undivided city."


• Carter meets in Zagreb with Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH, Haris Silajdzic.
• Vatican: After talks with Carter, the Pope says: "It's time that peace reign."
• Prime Minister of France, François Léotard: "We decided to deliver humanitarian aid, regardless of the consequences, to deploy a new peacekeeping force and open corridors, because otherwise the Americans will lift the arms embargo, and with that we will be forced to leave."


• A representative of the White House, regarding Carter's peace initiative: "Carter argues that the Bosnian Serbs want peace and that the American people do not understand them. The Serbs were the aggressors in this war. Americans can see what is going on there. Carter says that this is just one side of the story. The motives of this mission raise suspicion, but if it is successful, we will agree to it. "


• Carter: "The Bosnian Serbs agreed to a four-month ceasefire and during that time to begin negotiating a peace plan." Radovan Karadzic, on this occasion: "It’s remarkable, but he brought me back to the negotiating table."


• The Russian army attacks Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
• At the chess Olympiad in Moscow, the BiH team wins a silver medal. A Christmas concert is held at the National Theatre, organized by the "King Tvrtko" brigade for morale.
• The Ministerial Council of the European Union: "We agree to the mediation of Jimmy Carter, provided he agrees to achieve a peace plan according to a 51:49 division."


• Santa Claus arrives from Cannes.


• Ceasefire agreement for 4 months and 7 days


• Command of the United Nations for Bosnia receives permission from Karadzic's Serbs for 11 convoys of the requested 12.
• Christmas Mass held in the Cathedral. Nine popular Christmas carols are sung by the choir "Trebevic".


• The aggressor does not respect the cease-fire in Bihac.
• At the border of Bosnia with Serbia and Montenegro: shooting at night, so observers hide in nearby houses, while passage for smuggling of "anything" is free. Because of the observers, the helicopters are flying with a false label of the Red Cross. They carry smuggled goods.


• The Mayor of Venice arrives in Sarajevo.
• The Bosnian Serbs give consent for candles, blankets and tarps to enter Sarajevo. Negotiations are ongoing over the delivery of firewood.
• For New Year’s every Sarajevan can turn on one lamp and a TV. The utility company Elektrodistribucija hopes citizens will respect it.
• Among their humanitarian aid residents receive 50 year-old biscuits.


Modern Sarajevan

He has to have, and on a visible spot, at least one accreditation, seemingly just a piece of paper with his photograph. But beware - accreditation is the law in the besieged city, a proof of belonging to someone which makes you important. Those with local ID. are not more than the second-rate citizens. So, the modern Sarajevan has the accreditation, weapons, a good car, and a complete uniform. The owner of a bullet-proof vest is regarded with honor. The one who doesn’t wear uniform, has an ax in his right hand for cutting down the trees, and a series of canisters on the left shoulder. His image would be complete with a mask against poison gas.
A modern woman from Sarajevo cuts the wood, carries humanitarian aid, smaller canisters filled with water, does not visit a hair-dresser nor a beautician. She is slim, and runs fast. Girls regularly visit the places where humanitarian aid is being distributed. They know the best aid-packages according to their numbers. They get up early to get the water, visit cemeteries to collect some wood, and greet new young refugees. Many are wearing golden and silver lilies as earrings, as pins, on the necklaces.
Sarajevo is a city of slender people. Its citizens could be authors of the most up-dated diets. No one is fat any longer. The only thing you need is to have your city under the siege - there lies the secret of a great shape. Everybody is wearing their youthful clothes of teenage size. Sarajevans lost about four thousand tons (400,000 citizens lost about 10 kilos each). They greet each other with - TAKE CARE!

Experience of Survival

During two years of war, Sarajevo has stabilized within its post-cataclysmic environment. Sarajevo became a new city with a new way and philosophy of living. The 4,000 shells falling per day onto and into this urban landscape brought destruction, but it also brought another insight into the understanding of humanity; the answer to the question of how individuals can create a community out of nothing, and how this particular community in Sarajevo can create a new social group for the 21st Century.
This new philosophy exists in Sarajevo. It is called Survival. It is a philosophy created as a response to terror, a way of recapturing freedom by retaining the fundamentals of humanity; a set of morals, a culture, creativity, tolerance, a clarity of mind, a lack of fear. Humour and innovation have been integrated into every part of life. Even without the hardware of buildings, water, electricity or gas, Sarajevo has not become a dead city. It actually – and in spite of everything – has the software the rest of the world needs.
Sarajevo became a self-contained model of how an urban structure can survive a modern cataclysm. The time of the Warsaw ghetto entered history. The siege of Leningrad has been almost forgotten. The siege of Sarajevo, its 900 days under siege, surpassed all the horrors we've seen in documentaries and read about in history books. Sarajevo's fate, its actual day to day life has become something we've only seen in science fiction movies. Sarajevo's The Day After has proved that the city holds the skills and the knowledge needed to respond to the greatest degree of change in life, using human instincts and keeping the ideals of humanity on a practical level. The knowledge and the skills Sarajevo has accumulated are the knowledge the rest of the world needs in preparation for the 21st Century.
Everything is possible. Subsisting on the bare necessities, Sarajevo doesn't use pesticides or create pollution. It has become the greatest of all green cities on Earth. The entire city is trying to realize the New Age objectives of health, ecological, agricultural awareness, recycling and self sufficiency.
But, this perfect model of Survival can only be realized through the support of the international community. Sarajevo needs technology, education, and cultural information from the rest of the World.
The World needs Sarajevo's experience of Survival.

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