May 1995

Nedzad Hadzialic

‘Using a bicycle to get from one place to another you sometimes had to pass through what were known as danger points, sniper alleys. Bicyclists felt they had an advantage over pedestrians because they could get through places like that quicker. But bicyclists often got hit too. The value of bicycles rises in a war for obvious reasons; you couldn’t use a car because there was a permanent shortage of gas and because it might get confiscated by paramilitaries or by various kinds of criminal.’


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.


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 - 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 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.


Every area of the city was a dangerous zone. At every moment, from all the places in the mountains surrounding the city the snipers could hit every target in the city. Therefore the most dangerous zones were those directly in the line of fire Bridges, crossroads and streets exposed to the mountains. Those were the places where the possibility of getting shot was somewhat lessened if one was a fast runner. Such places also seemed less terrifying than other parts of town where one was never sure whether one should walk fast or slow. Would the shell land where you are or in front of you? The signs DANGEROUS ZONE or WATCH OUT, SNIPER, as well as the signs showing the direction of traffic were written in oil-based paint on pieces of UNHCR plastic sheets, or on pieces of cardboard, wooden board or simply written with chalk on the wall.