A TRAM IS SHOT. ONE DEAD, 19 WOUNDED// 01. 1996. • IBRAHIM JUSUFRANIC// EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ‘GRAS’, PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT
Executive director of the Gras, Public Transportation Company
A TRAM IS SHOT. ONE DEAD, 19 WOUNDED
‘At that time, we tried, working together with the UN, as well as with our own government and police, to find a way to protect the tram. People talked about some curtains, about protection, we tried to protect the tram in different ways. We used our buses as a screen; we also hung linen sheets in order to prevent them from seeing the tram running. That did not make us happy, but we did it. Tram stopped running for a little while, but later on it was running again, and actually it was running during the entire war.’
• Bono Vox, frontman of the group U2, celebrates New Year's in Sarajevo.
• The future of Bosnia not only depends on IFOR and high politics, but also on whether Santa Claus will survive.
• The Baptist Church in Sarajevo: "We preach love and only love."
• Kozyrev dismissed from duty.
• The former French President François Mitterrand dies at 79 years of age. He was in office in France from 1981 - 1995.
• Instead of receiving them from Santa Claus, children in Ilidza receive their gifts from the Civil Defense.
• The tram in Sarajevo is shelled. One person killed, 19 passengers injured.
• The "air bridge" is closed after three and a half years, the longest in history. The Sarajevo "air bridge" involves 13,000 flights and delivered 160,677 tons of humanitarian aid. Twenty countries participate. Airplanes transport thousands of journalists.
• "Path of fear," the road through the recently reintegrated areas of Sarajevo and Ilidza.
• In the city's parks and green areas of Sarajevo this year gardens will not be allowed to be sown.
• U.S. State Department: In Bosnia, there are between 15 and 20 mass graves. The Serbs are responsible for most.
• The Serbian Civic Council, on the departure of the Serbs from formerly occupied parts that are now parts of the Federation: "The majority of the population in occupied Sarajevo wants to stay, but they are under great pressure to leave form Pale."
• Meeting between Izetbegovic and Clinton at the U.S. military base in Tuzla. On this occasion, the U.S. president in his address to the American soldiers says: "You are creating a new history. You are prepared for war, but your mission in Bosnia is peace - you are part of a mission of heroes. In Tuzla you are defending American values and American interests. "
• The CIA and the Pentagon, for the first time in Bosnia, set up a secret intelligence operation to identify the political and military opponents of the Dayton Peace Accords.
• NATO forces continue to arrive in Bosnia and deploy.
• Admiral Leighton Smith: "If during our performance of official duties we come across criminals, or they us, it is our obligation to detain them and hand them over to the international tribunal. Research on mass graves is not part of our job. The establishment of a state in which others will be able to do their jobs falls within my duties. "
• IFOR controls water, electricity and gas.
• NATO takes over the airport in Visoko with 100 soldiers and 16 armored vehicles.
• Richard Holbrooke in Sarajevo.
• About 60 mujahideen left Bosnia
• Hasan Muratovic is the new mandator of the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The SDA withdraws the candidacy of Haris Silajdzic.
• Richard Goldstone, chief judge of the Hague Tribunal arrives in Sarajevo. He visits the sites of war crimes.
• Japan recognizes BiH.
• "Migrations of dead souls" from reintegrated areas of Sarajevo. Entrepreneurs from Serbia demand 800 DEM for the exhumation of bodies.
• Radovan Karadzic on TV "Srna" shows off an urban plan for Pale, including a stadium, a university and a “small church” in “Serb Sarajevo."
• The first private civilian plane lands at Sarajevo airport from the “Top Air” airline from Istanbul. The pilot is American, "I wasn’t afraid, but I was very proud to have landed in Sarajevo."
• In Florida, the boy who will become the Dalai Lama is discovered.
• Russian Cossacks offer asylum to Karadzic and Mladic, on the Don. This is a historical tradition. The Cossacks never delivered anyone from the Don when Christian serfs fled to the Don. A General of the Cossack Army was a volunteer in Bosnia from December '92 to March '93. Karadzic grants him the rank of General in the JNA.
• The Pope releases two white doves from his window, telling them: "Fly to Sarajevo. Let your flight carry a symbolic message of hope and peace throughout the world. Fly to Sarajevo, and may the almighty God bless you. "
• Chris Janowski, spokesman for the UNHCR, from the bridge of "Brotherhood and Unity": "From this bridge, you can almost touch Grbavica, you can see it from this side, but still you can’t cross over to it."
• The great Russian poet Joseph Brodsky dies. During the war, he wrote a poem about Bosnia.
• Nikola Koljevic visits Sarajevo on a trip overseen by Bildt.
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 - 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.
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.