THE SQUARE OF HEROES// 01. 1995. • JELKO MUAMER// CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
THE SQUARE OF HEROES
‘We had to find ways of surviving. If I tell you that during those four years not a single ambulance entered that area, then you can imagine how it was. The aggressor had the intention of isolating that part of the city, just as they isolated Grbavica, by leaving the Marshall Tito barracks. I was there quite by accident. Just before the war I had been living in Hadzici. I came to the area because of my parents. I was a state inspector under the government of BH and the Ministry of the Interior hired me to defend the area with my troops. I stayed till November 2, 1992 when I got severely injured. I was shot through the head by a machine gun. We had to remove pipes from radiator from the heating system, radiator pipes, waterworks. In a primitive way, actually connecting to the muff joint, to bring it slowly from the boiler-room and create a single ring in the whole settlement, to get to every apartment. Then we tried through the local Council, with a bit of their cooperation, to get their permission to use one vertical heating system pipe-line per high-rise to let gas through them. All the experts considered it, and their conclusion was that it was dangerous. But, believe me, it turned out to be very good. With little investment we practically had a gas system ready for every apartment. We just had to secure the pressure regulators. The first regulators during the war had been taken from private houses, linked into series, and pipe profiles enlarged. We managed the best we could. And made it in the end.’
• President of the Presidency of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, and the Commander of the ARBiH, Rasim Delic, sign a four month long truce: an end to hostilities, a complete ceasefire; withdrawal to the international borders of BiH and Croatia by the troops of Croatian Serbs and Muslim paramilitaries of the former member of the Presidency, Fikret Abdic; the opening of “blue routes”; complete freedom of movement for UNPROFOR and UNHCR; the release of all prisoners of war and the release of missing persons.
• Anthony Lake, the U.S. national security advisor: “It is too early to say that BiH has been written off, and Congress should work toward resolving the crisis.”
• Kresimir Zubak, President of the BH Federation, signs a truce on behalf of the Croats.
• In Split an Olm is discovered at a depth of 200 meters during the siphoning of a lake.
• ARBiH must withdraw from the demilitarized zone on Igman – as part of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities.
• Violations of the ceasefire in Bihac.
• Richard Holbrooke in Sarajevo: “There are no changes to the peace plan.”
• Smilja Gavric, head of the BH chess association, takes the chess team representing BiH to the championship in Paris. Younger players get two-day tickets to visit Disneyland.
• Ramp set on the “blue route”, near the airport. The military authorities in Pale do not accept the agreement.
• UN and NATO confirm that UNPROFOR Commander Michael Rose, with the aim of cooperating with the Serbs, gives them the flight schedule for NATO planes above BiH. A NATO officer had made the schedule available to him. After this conflict, NATO stops disclosing military flight schedules, which was part of a regular report to the UN on the daily activity of NATO planes over BiH.
• Japan: An earthquake in Kobe claims 1,800 victims.
• Sarajevo: Every fourth sample of water taken in the last two years has been bacteriologically substandard.
• The Soros Foundation pays for vaccinations for dogs against rabies.
• Very successful undertaking by Elektrodistribucija with the equitable distribution of 100 KW per household.
• Preparation for the launching of the “city train”, from Alipašino polje to the central city station.
• At a banquet Miss Roma is chosen, Lindita Tatri.
• The international center for Vedic studies organizes the “Hare Krisna Rock-session”.
• General Michael Rose makes a farewell visit to the Presidency of BiH.
• UN appoints British General Rupert Smith to replace Michael Rose.
• Appeal by “Krug 99”: “Stop the crimes against the Chechens!”
• Contact group in Sarajevo: Member of the Presidency of BiH, Ejup Ganic, and President of the Federation of BiH, Kresimir Zubak, announce that the peace process can continue if the Serbs accept the peace plan.
• General Rupert Smith assumes duty as UNPROFOR Commander for BiH.
• The Contact Group meets with the Presidency of BiH, which has a new make up: Ivo Komsic, Tatjana Ljujic, Nijaz Durakovic, Mirko Pejanovic, Alija Izetbegovic.
• Evacuation of patients carried out, maybe the last, as donor countries are no longer providing funds for evacuating the wounded and their accommodation.
• Russian President Boris Yeltsin, .during the incident with the Norwegian sounding rocket carries a BLACK SUITCASE with the infamous nuclear keys which he always keeps within easy reach.
• The Bosnian Serbs refuse to accept the peace plan. The Contact Group for BiH temporarily abandon their mission because of their failure to persuade them.
• Due to poor weather the Sarajevo airport is closed.
• Celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
• UN halts operations at the “Dubrave” airport in Tuzla because they have no security guarantee from the Bosnian Serbs.
• 1,000th day of the siege.
Cold weather and the arrival of winter brought about new arrangements in the apartments. Chimney outlets were opened even in houses with central heating. From the basements and from the attics, from friends are acquaintances, old stoves were brought. Boiler-rooms are not working. In the absence of chimneys, people fix extra flues and stick them out of their windows. Flues are lurking on streets, smoking. Cooking still continues on the balconies, among empty flower-pots, housewives stirring the fire with newspapers. The basic stove is a tin one - furuna, made by craftsmen on Bascarsija or even by self-taught masters. Material and imagination define the form, size and the purpose (for coffee, cooking, or heating). Furuna are being sold on several markets, but only for DMs. But the major problem is fuel. You cannot buy wood or coal.
During the first summer, all dry benches, trees and wooden material were collected. This fall, parks, alleys, courtyard and cemetery trees started to fall birches, poplars, ash-trees, plane-trees, plum- trees, apple-trees, cherry-trees, pear-trees, all the way down to brushwood. Wooden backs of benches in parks were taken away, frames and doors of ruined apartments, handrails from the hallways, shelves from abandoned stores and kiosks, wooden stools and bars from restaurants, even the crosses and pyramids from the cemeteries. All bombed houses and barracks were dismantled with enviable speed. But fuel is still scarce. Those who were wise took scrap wood from their garages early in the summer. Now paper versions are being manufactured. Plastic bags, a part of US lunch packages - a leftover from the Persian Gulf War - can heat five liters of water... UNHCR supplied the city with a numerous but not sufficient thermal foils for windows. On every window, from the outside, one can read their name: UNHCR - they are the owners of our lives. November temperatures were very nice. Meteorologists have informed us they were very high, by comparison with times no one remembers any more: about 9 degrees C (Centigrade) in the apartment. It was warmer to take a walk then to sit inside. Fortunately, everyone can get warm while searching for water and wood.