HOW TO MOUNT CURTAINS UNDER SNIPER FIRE // 05. 1995.
SALKO MURATOVIC // CITIZEN
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1995

Salko Muratovic
Citizen
HOW TO MOUNT CURTAINS UNDER SNIPER FIRE

‘There were a lot of rainy days. Foggy days, And that fabric we were putting up was collecting a lot of moist, and rain and because of its weight it would often fall down, as the car would pass by. So we had to lift it up often during the day, sometimes two to three times a day, which was creating a problem, as the sight line towards the Trebevic was someday very good, and someday not so good. But still we had to lift it up, so that people could comfortably walk down the Titova Street and Dalmatinska Street.’

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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.

SNIPERS

At the beginning of the siege the Yugoslav National Army and the SDS terrorists (the Serbian Democratic Party members were proclaimed terrorists by the Bosnian government) deployed their snipers in tall buildings and in the barracks to shoot at citizens. Even when they were removed from the city the distance between the city streets and the tall buildings on the hills in the occupied territory was sufficient to allow sniping by semi-automatic guns produced by the Yugoslav army. According to the data gathered in 1995 the snipers, shooting from small holes made in the walls of the buildings or from the bushes, had wounded 1030 and killed 225 persons, 60 of whom were children. In some European newspapers one could read reports about the “war tourism” which included sniping the citizens of Sarajevo. The Russian avant-garde writer Limonov was caught on camera indulging in this “enjoyable sport”.

DANGEROUS ZONES

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.

THE POST OFFICE

The Austro-Hungarian building of the Post Office, located on the riverside, was destroyed during the night of May 2, 1992. Terrorists placed the dynamite inside the building and after it blew up it was shelled by inflammable shells until it burnt down. The bags containing the last Sarajevo mail to places outside Sarajevo burnt down. The phone-boxes were destroyed by the shelling. The outcome of the destruction of the central Post Office and the lack of electricity was, according to the Sarajevo Municipal Assembly data from April 1993, that out of more than 150,000 phone lines only 2,000 were operational. Telephone lines between Sarajevo and the rest of the world were not operational during the whole time of the siege. During the siege the communication with the outside world was maintained by amateur radio operators and a few satellite phones. Links with relatives, friends and business partners were established through foreigners who brought in and out the messages, which often grew to book size. In February 1996, an exhibition of sculptures was placed inside the burnt out Post Office building.

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