THE WOUNDED PASSENGERS IN A TRAM // 03. 1995.
AZEM AGOVIC // CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

March 1995

Azem Agovic
Citizen
THE WOUNDED PASSENGERS IN A TRAM

‘That day as it was the first day of the Ramadan Bajram the tram was full simply crowded. And people were happy, they were going visiting, and I also went with my friends to visit some other friends. The shooting wasn’t even heard, it happened so sudden. However, the driver was collected enough and didn’t stop but kept going. Then we just heard the next machine-gun burst and felt the pain. At the tram stop at Marijin Dvor the driver did stop and we, the injured ones, were taken out and thrown into cars, because people stopped their cars although the shooting continued.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

MARCH 1995


• The first of March is proclaimed independence day for BiH, by decision of the RBiH Parliament.
• Sarajevo: from Skenderija to Elektroprivreda, the tram follows a UN APC for protection. Antisniper protection is on standby, reserved for tall buildings with views of the streets and hills.


• The Royal Swedish Theatre introduces heat to the National Theatre.


• Serbia rejects the peace plan proposed by the great powers and required for them to lift sanctions.


• The Bosnian Serbs fire at planes with automatic weapons. UNPROFOR personnel increasingly refuse to fly to Sarajevo.
• British parliament: One MP in the Labour party accuses former UNPROFOR Commander Michael Rose of taking bribes from the Serbs, as well as receiving a photograph from Bosnian Serb Commander Ratko Mladic as a farewell present, in turn providing the Serbs with confidential NATO information on the flight schedules of NATO aircraft.


• Sarajevo trams: Antisnipers teams are arrayed from Elektroprivreda to Marijin Dvor. Nearby are UN ambulances for the injured.
• Antisniper teams cover the critical sections of the tram tracks.


• UN spokesman, Alex Ivanko: “It seems the antisniper agreement from 94 wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.”
• Richard Holbrooke, in Zagreb with Tudjman, Susak and Granic, puts pressure on the Croats to change their minds on the UN withdrawal from Croatia.
• Bihac: a bag of flour costs between 450-500 DM, while chocolate costs between 7-9 DM.


• The UN Command for sector Sarajevo establishes passive and active protection. They form plans to place large containers at the riskiest intersections and screens on the banks of the Miljacka, which would reduce visibility for the snipers. Another idea is to install concrete slabs on the tram to protect against snipers.
• “Alpine Milk” appears in dairy stores..


• The decision on changing clocks for daylight savings time in the future will be made by the minister for refugees and welfare and not the government, as before. Daylight savings time will begin the last week of March and first week of April.
• The establishment of tram traffic is only an illusory success for UNPROFOR. It is a political issue. A commission is formed for the security of tram traffic.


• At an auction in London on March 16th one can find a lock of Napoleon’s hair, as well as one from the Duke of Wellington, who won the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The latter’s lock of hair is 200 pounds. Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo; his lock of hair goes for 1,500 pounds.


• Because the road to the airport closes, prices at the market rise. At the market those who are the quickest and have exact change get the cheapest deals.
• Akashi conveys a message from the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, Ratko Mladic: “For each murdered Serb, the Serbian side will close their entrances to Sarajevo, for 30 days,” on the occasion of the murders of children in Grbavica.


• Transport of goods through BiH: a truck plunges into the Neretva with 23 tons of paint. The ongoing conflict causes goods to be uncontrolledly transported through its territory.


• The Serbs fire on the UN at Gorazde. NATO planes circle the area at the time of the attack for 4 hours. The UN does not request directly an air intervention.


• The Bosnian Serbs fire on Igman road. UN report: the Serb machine gun doing the firing is located in the center of Ilidza, so nothing can be done without endangering civilians.
• Flights to Split halted.


• Centralistic conception of the UN collapses, along with unified command for the former Yugoslavia, breaking into several smaller factions more adequate for the situation.
• Belgrade accuses George Soros of being a CIA agent who recruits youth, indoctrinates them and then sends them back to serve foreign interests.
• UNPROFOR suggests that to protect Sarajevans 150-200 containers be set down, three containers high. The City authorities reject the proposal because it would constitute a new Berlin Wall.


• Massacre in the center of Tuzla: 19 killed, dozens more wounded.
• A “Hercules” lands at the Sarajevo airport.


• Renewed shelling of Tuzla.


• UNPROFOR meets with the warring sides and receives assurances that UN planes will not be fired at. It is hoped that this oral agreement will be enough to reassure UN pilots.


• The UN issues an ultimatum for the Serbs to return stolen arms, as well as to destroy a portion of them. UNPROFOR believes that the stolen mortars with traces of mud and snow were used for military training. During the UN visit, the Serbs weld part of the cannon.
• Muhamed Filipovic, leader of one of the opposition parties in BiH, visits Belgrade. He meets with Slobodan Milosevic, who is not ready to recognize BiH.


• Bosnian Serb television station “Srna”: “Radovan Karadzic will announce an immediate end to the war if ARBiH forces withdraw to their positions from December 24th, when he signed the agreement on the ceasefire.”


• Radovan Karadzic proclaims a general mobilization.
• UN mandate in BiH extended till November 30.


• Radovan Karadzic appears in uniform after the defeat of Serb forces in Majevica. He extends an invitation for negotiations, and sends a letter to the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Boutros-Ghali in which he demands an immediate end to the ARBiH’s actions to liberate itself. He claims that if there is continued conflict it will grow into a Balkan war.
• Owen, in an interview with the BBC: “The sides have to gather around the negotiating table or it will be a bitter war, to a degree we’ve never seen before,”


• Austria introduces a visa regime for Bosnians; the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in BiH protests

Transportation

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
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
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
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.

TRANSPORTATION

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.

TOPIC RELATED VIDEO
POLLS
POLL
MAPA SIEGE OF SARAJEVO