HRASNICA ROAD, EL DORADO ROAD // 02. 1995.
LJULJA DASI // CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

February 1995

Ljulja Dasi
Citizen
HRASNICA ROAD, EL DORADO ROAD

‘It was like a small Paris for me, in my mind. I imagined it like a small town. We know it was a provincial place, that before we never even paid attention to that Hrasnica place. I imagined that I would sit there, that it was already illuminated that there is something like a small garden, that we’ll have a nice cup of coffee. But then, when I came to the tunnel, I thought, since I have claustrophobia, I first asked what it looked like. Then they told me, well, nobody really told me anything except that I won’t suffocate, that I’d be all right, I was lucky that there weren’t many people. We set forth at three in the morning, and then they told me that there was a very low ceiling, but that the height wasn’t very. I am such a short person that I wouldn’t have problems with it. When I got inside, I looked and saw it was more spacious, I kept jumping up till I came to a lower beam, where I hit my head rather hard. I mean, the tunnel was OK, when there were no people. Oh, when I got out, that meant something to me, I wondered: ‘Well, folks, am I free now?’ The first thing I did, coming out from the tunnel was that I grabbed the ground, that is the soil, and I kept saying: ‘Is this free territory?’ Well, that exit was, I felt like sinking, under the ground, like I was in some mud. Then when I came outside, it was like getting out of the water, and then I saw the ground and that connection with Europe. Harmonica actually was Europe for me. And then I imagined that when you get out of the tunnel, that it was all covered, that there was no shooting, that we were completely protected, but it wasn’t so. There where a huge meadow in the open, where the chetniks were close, where they could see us just like that, and I even heard those chetniks’ songs and I felt that fear again, and I said: ‘This isn’t freedom’, and I wanted to go back to the tunnel again.’

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FEBRUARY 1995


• The Bosnian Serbs remember that 50 % of the goods should belong to them if they sign an authorization to open the path across the airport.
• “Sarajevogas” issues a brochure on the use of gas to educate citizens, “Use gas carefully,” in 30,000 copies.


• The government of Yugoslavia issues a statement on its wish to close the “Josip Broz Tito” memorial center.
• The tomb of Alexander the Great is found, near the oasis of Siva, 750 km west of Cairo.
• The English and Spanish monarch have honorary mounted guards - , Croatian president Franjo Tudjman now has one as well.


• France and the U.S. seek to organize an international conference on the former Yugoslavia. This is only one among a number of plans the U.S considers.


• Designer Josip Nosse fashions a device providing security for high and low pressure home gas installations.


• In Russia negotiations are held on the delivery of gas to Bosnia.


• Combat episode involving two UN observers: A Nigerian kills a Finn, because he is mentally deranged.


• Black market in Sarajevo: Dealers will not accept dollars, but give them back as change in sales and sell them. The value of the Swiss frank falls.
• The road across the Sarajevo airport is open from 10am-12pm and from 3-5pm.


• An American space shuttle approaches within 12 km of the Russian space station “Mir”.


• The “blue routes” are a surrogate for freedom. The “city train” operates, providing free transportation.


• Momcilo Krajisnik, one of the leading figures of the SDS, says of the terror in Sarajevo:
“… The war must end in Sarajevo, just as it began there.”
• After the rejection of the peace plan in Pale, the international community deals directly with Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia.


• Shells and snipers batter the city.
• Arrest of Svetlana Boskovic, a UNHCR staffer, who had passed on to Bosnian Serbs information on the names of passengers in UN vehicles on their way to the airport.


• The UNHCR recommends that drivers, Bosnians, not drive trucks of humanitarian aid from the airport into the city as a result of which a crisis involving overfilled warehouses ensues.


• NATO will practice its eventual military support of UN troops before their withdrawal from Bosnia through “computer maneuvers” from the 13th to the 21st of February behind closed doors at Ramstein base.


• The Contact Group is informed by the Bosnian Serb Assembly that they have rejected their plan with a vote of 44 to 6.
• The road in Hrasnica is filled with smugglers and regular citizens who shop in Hrasnica.


• UN report: The ARBiH protects the border of the Bihac safe area.


• Snipers fire at the tram


• The international community in dealing with Slobodan Milosevic makes the recognition of BiH and Croatia a condition for the lifting of sanctions.


• “Type A” flu arrives from China.


• UN report: 5,700 people a day cross the road across Sarajevo airport.


• Announcement of vendors at the Sarajevo market: “Your frying pans no longer have to wait for fish to arrive.”


• Slobodan Milosevic: “The time has not yet come to recognize Zagreb and Sarajevo.”
• Diplomatic relations established between Sarajevo-Moscow.


• Spectacular wedding in Belgrade of Zeljko Raznjatovic, Arkan, a war criminal from Serbia whose paramilitaries killed and plundered on the battlefields of Croatia and BiH, and popular folk singer Ceca. The wedding turns into a world media spectacle..


• The transportation company “Gras” lacks the funds to pay off its debt to Elektrodistribucija. They find that now is not a good time to charge for tickets, and hence have no revenue.


• The Serbs close the road to Visoko after the UN refuses to give them 20 liters of fuel per day.
• Moscow accuses George Soros, financier and philanthropist, of being a CIA agent because his work provides long-term stipends to Russian scholars who later emigrate permanently.
• U.S. Ambassador Viktor Jakovich, on “Krug 99”: “BiH is defending the principles of western civilization.”


• Five passengers wounded on the tram.



THE TUNNEL

The Dobrinja-Butmir tunnel, a hole some 1.2 meters wide, 1.6 meters high and 760 meters long, is situated under the Sarajevo airport runway. In the official communication between local politicians and UNPROFOR this public secret has been referred to as “the non-existent tunnel”. Foreigners were not allowed into the tunnel and journalists were offering up to 5.000 DM for just one shot of the tunnel. Although the tunnel was an military object and intended solely for the army’s getting in and out of town, the privilege of using it was extended to the American ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Viktor Jakovic, who the aggressor did not allow to leave the city by plane. The tunnel was also used to get the members of Parliament from other towns into the city. Many of them were easily recognized during the sessions of Parliament because they had bruises on their foreheads from hitting the iron support bars within the tunnel. Some comfort was extended to the most respected politicians who were pushed through the tunnel in small wagons.
The commercialization of the tunnel brought about great changes in the economic life of the city. The tunnel became a place full of people dragging bags with potatoes o eggs. Many tradesmen were allowed to “rent” the tunnel from the army. Thanks to the tunnel many became rich, but the prices also fell within the city. The aggressor also knew about the secret tunnel and by continuously shelling its entrance it hampered its usage. They even tried to dig another tunnel of the other side of the airport in order to redirect the Zeljeznica river and flood the tunnel. In spite of everything the hole under the airport became the greatest public good of the city and it’s only link with the rest of the world. If one managed to get a permit to go through the tunnel he or she would be greeted at the exit by a marker-written sign: PARIS 3765km.

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