ADVICE FOR SELF-PROTECTION // 05. 1995.
FUAD BABIC // CIVIL DEFENSE
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1995

Fuad Babic
Civil Defense
ADVICE FOR SELF-PROTECTION

‘One could feel that this was the end of the war. And people started to relax. There was still terrible fighting, especially in May. Heavy shelling. But you couldn’t get anyone down into the basements. This was one of the horrible things because people became fatalists, what happened, happened, and that was the worst. Everything is fate. Fate is if I hide and they don’t shoot me, if I don’t hide they’ll shoot me. It’s normal. We instructed everybody to go down to the basements and to keep those blankets, but the worst problem was gas. People forgot, you know, they left their gas-stoves on to keep the place warm for when they would come back up. And so they came up and the apartment would blow up. This is what happened. I think that in 1995 gas was our greatest problem. No matter how much we appealed to them to go down you couldn’t get them to think, to behave normally. They simply let go.’

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MAY 1995


• In Sarajevo, Akashi tries to negotiate a truce. The premier of the Federation of BiH, Haris Silajdzic, says of the attempts: “We cannot confuse peace talks with negotiations over a ceasefire. Insofar as they do not kill us, the Government will not actively engage members of the ARBiH. According to the Geneva Convention, starvation amounts to the illegal killing of our people and genocide.”
• Mostar: Brian Eno and David Bowie decide to finance the construction of one of the most vanguard music schools in Europe, on the eastern side of Mostar.
• In Sarajevo a center for music therapy is created.


• The Krajina Serbs shell Zagreb, on the orders of the Croatian Serbs: 5 are killed and 120 wounded on the streets of Zagreb.
• Richard Holbrooke: “No side is strong enough to deliver a decisive blow.”
• Radovan Karadzic: “We have resolved to defend every Serb. I’m now free to ignore any resolution, particularly those from UNPROFOR.”
• Donors do not deliver oil. Buses do not work. The tram runs a short line from Cengic Vila to Alipasino polje.


• Massacre in Butmir. A commentator on the Serb television network, “Srna”: “The Bosnians staged the massacre, and dragged the bodies of Bosnian soldiers to the site of an accident.” UN: “We have concluded that this was in fact a tragedy, with no staging."
• A new French president is elected, Jacques Chirac.


• Akashi rejects a request for air strikes, which had been made by the UNPROFOR Commander, General Rupert Smith.


• Sarajevo is slowly suffocating.
• Bill Clinton travels to Moscow.
• At the “Unis” building, a French soldier from the anti-sniper protection force is killed. The UN does not know where the shot came from, and does not respond with fire.


• UN spokesman, Alexander Ivanko: “The UN has received a fax-request from the Bosnian Serbs on a new status for the airport, some of whose demands ‘are hard for the UN to swallow.' UNPROFOR is preparing a draft, and will re-negotiate."


• After the liberation of occupied territory in Croatia, an exodus of Serbs ensues from the Croatian Krajina to areas of Bosnia held by Bosnian Serbs and to Serbia.
• “Drina” cigarettes arrive at kiosks.


• Humanitarian aid decreases by 50%.
• Karlos Menhem elected the new president of Argentina.


• General attack on Sarajevo.
• The Civil Defense advises the citizens of Sarajevo: “Go to your basements, check your gas, electricity and water, and prepare blankets, food and water."


• Sarajevo: no transportation, low gas pressure, and inadequate water.


• Radovan Karadzic, in an interview with the German magazine “Der Spiegel”: “In the case of an intervention, we will take the 'blue-helmets' hostage.” He approves of the withdrawal of the UN, because then the Serbs could take the “safe areas”, including Sarajevo, to the extent that the Muslims in those cities were disarmed.
• Throughout the city shipping-containers are sought for protection against snipers. UNPROFOR refuses to endanger the lives of its own soldiers when placing the containers. On the streets visual anti-sniper protection is put in place.


• A commission is formed for pan-Serbian unification.


• The Serbs steal two pieces of heavy artillery on Poljine. Alexander Ivanko, spokesman for the UN: “The safe areas are there, but they have eroded.”
• Protection measures already implemented: setting up of written warnings for sniper fire: “CAUTION - SNIPER”; setting up of visual anti-sniper protection – blue tarps; issuing of orders on darkening apartments and living spaces; basement cleaning; and after three years, the introduction of a sniper alarm. Depression descends on the city.. People begin to quickly wither and deteriorate.
• In Romania, fuel smuggling has flourished since the embargo on Serbia and Montenegro.


• The Fifth Corps of the ABiH liberates 70 km of occupied territory.
• Slobodan Milosevic again rejects proposals to recognize BiH in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
• Fuel stolen from a UN observers’ vehicle in an incident south of Lukavica.


• Hellish day in Sarajevo. Rupert Smith gives an ultimatum to the Serbs and the ABiH to halt fighting, otherwise they will risk military strikes. Akashi: “We demand a ceasefire without delay.”
• Survey of the magazine “Ratni Dani”, in Bosnia: 74.67% of respondents have a positive attitude towards the former Yugoslavia, while 4% have a negative attitude.


• Massacre in the center of Tuzla: 63 dead, 200 wounded.
• NATO fires at a depot near Pale. The Bosnian Serbs respond with an attack on Tuzla.


• Another NATO strike has occured in order to compel the Serbs to return stolen weapons and withdraw their artillery from banned zones.


• Battle on Vrbanja bridge in Sarajevo. The French UNPROFOR battalion take back an observation post which the Serbs had taken from them through deception. Two French soldiers are killed in the incident.
• 231 UN personnel are taken hostage by the Bosnian Serbs, under threat of death if NATO attacks again. The Serbs use all of their weapons at the UN checkpoints. The Serbs first disarm the UN soldiers at the checkpoints, then capture and blockade them. Three UN soldiers bound to posts are used as a human shield against bombardment.


• A guided missile hits a helicopter carrying BiH Foreign Minister, Irfan Ljubjankic.


• At different locations, Bosnian Serbs surround 116 “blue-helmets.” The Bosnian Serbs give an ultimatum: “Withdraw or be attacked!” The Serbs seize UN equipment and a trailer from a soldier at Poljine.


• The ABiH liberates new territory at Ozren. Radovan Karadzic: “UN resolutions, NATO ultimatums and UN agreements mean nothing!”
• “Velepekara” lacks oil, electricity, water and yeast for producing bread.

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!

SHELLS

The city was shelled y mortar shells of 82, 120, 150 and 250 millimeters. The 82mm and 120mm shells were used in the Market and the Vase Miskina street massacres. The larger caliber shells, often incendiary, were used to destroy important buildings. Guided missiles of the Maljutka type as well as plated shells which could penetrate several walls before exploding were used for the some purpose. Anti- aircraft guns and machine-guns were used for random shooting. The biggest destruction was achieved by the modified bombs, the so called “sows”, which were fired from specially built launchers. The shells, unless they are plated, explode at first contact. When it rained a wet spot on the ceiling usually meant that there was an unexploded shell (“an Alien”) in the attic. When the shells explode they produce shrapnel. There is almost no building in Sarajevo without shrapnel. The mark made by a shell explosion was called “a rose”. At the time when the 120mm shells were used the most extensively the city bulletin ran the headline “120mm Is Not Much” signed - Cicciolina.

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