On April 5, 1992 Sarajevo, the capital of
the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
was attacked. The city which lies on the
valley of Miljacka river is surrounded by
mountains on which 260 tanks, 120
mortars and many weapons of smaller
calibre were placed. The Yugoslav National
Army aided by the local terrorists encircled
the city and started to tighten the circle
around more than 500,000 citizens.
On May 2, 1992 the city was completely
blocked. A part of the city was occupied
and the part which could not be conquered
was exposed to a barrage of shelling and
artillery fire. Every day the city was hit by
some 4.000 shells and among the targets
were hospitals, schools, mosques,
churches, synagogues, maternity hospitals,
libraries, museums, and the places where
citizens stood in lines for bread and water.
The aggressor destroyed the Post Office
and the city was left without telephones
and its water, gas and electricity supplies
were cut. The food supply was fast
dissappearing. The cemeteries were
On February 26, 1996, by opening the
Northwest passage, i.e. by liberating the
Vogosca and Ilijas districts, Sarajevo was
proclaimed an open city. After the Dayton
Agreement and the arrival of the IFOR, the
aggressor started to leave the occupied
territory around the city. As they did, they
plundered, burnt and destroyed everything
On March 19, 1996 the aggressor left the
occupied district of the city - Grbavica -
which was the last part of the city to be
returned to the government of
Bosnia-Herzegovina under the Dayton
Agreement. 10,615 persons, out of whom
1,601 children, were killed in Sarajevo.
More than 50,000 persons were wounded,
a great number of whom remain invalids.
The siege of the city lasted from May 2,
1992 to February 26, 1996 or 1,395 days,
which is the longest siege in the modern
history of mankind.
(This Sarajevo's apartment building was destroyed in the war by the Serbs)
"How to live without water, electricity and food"
Author: Melisa Magodic
In a time of war people are usually faced with some strange changes that are essential for their
survival. From my own experience during the war in Bosnia I learned how to make my life
bearable even though it was very difficult. Some unique, unforgettable changes and ideas
made my life easier to survive. The most important and essential things were missing, were
things such as electricity, water and food. For example, some of the changes that my family
and I went through were that we got water and food in small amounts each week or did not
received it for long periods of time. Also, electricity was very desired by us because we didn't
have it for many months.
First of all, we didn't have water in our apartments for months. Water was shipped to us on
trucks and we could only get a certain amount at a time. When we got water we washed our
laundry by hands and dried it in the house, then we took a shower from the water which was
left. Of course we saved some water for cooking. At that time I forgot how it was to live with
water and how it was to take regular shower and to wash clothes in laundry machines. I felt
that I would never be able to live the same as I used to live before the war. At the same time,
electricity was one of the essential missing part of our lives during the war. I had to learn how
to read a book by candle light, and also I didn't know what was going on around us at that
time. We were isolated from the whole World and reality, but as always we tried to find the
way out. A specific example attempt to survive was that we tried to produce electricity. The
best way was by using generators from cars. We would use that electricity for light and to listen
to the radio. This idea gave us new hope that we could still survive. We had to get used to it
because there was no better way. We were fortunate when we found new way or a new ideas.
Still, our lives, and those ideas didn't help to stop the war. Nothing could seemed to really be
able to alleviate our frightened and hopeless souls. We continued our usual lives and routines.
Everyday seemed to be the same. We had to divide one loaf of bread and two eggs between
the members of my family. I can still remember, how one late afternoon I came home and I
asked my mom what I could eat and then she responded, "There is not much to choose from,
whatever you find is yours." In that moment I knew what was waiting for me, the same lunch
as usual; a piece of bread with oil on it, just to kill my hunger. When I got macaroni or rice,
that changed my day. Still, there was nothing to go with all that, there was no meat or sauce,
nothing! Everyday we tries to save some food in case we didn't get anything for the continuous
day. One day rice, the next day macaroni and again rice and the cycle was the same each and
Finally, writing about my experiences has made me realized that people should be more
concerned about World problems. They need to understand what surrounds them and can
occur in their nations. From listening to the news they can learn how important is to keep
peace and how hard is to live without the most important things for life. Experience has
thought me what the important things in life are. They are not material things but the things
that help us to gain them; hope, family values and
desire to live peacefully.
Summer of 1997
SARAJEVO'S ROMEO & JULIET
"...Sarajevo's Romeo and Juliet was a name given to a young couple who was killed in a sniper fire in
May of 1993, on one of the most dangerously located
bridges at that time. 25 year old Admira Ismic had
come from a
Muslim family, and her sweatheart, 25 year old Bosko
Brkic, was a Serb. Despite their different background
and the strong influence of politics at the time,
the couple had been together for 9 years, and they both
stated that nothing but a bullet could keep them
from being together.
After the siege of Sarajevo started, the two decided to
leave the city and seek a safer future some place
else. While they made a deal with the Bosnian government
to escape over the bridge, Serbs on the other
side kept the area under fierce sniper fire. Admira and Bosko had
almost crossed the bridge when a bullet
killed Bosko, and then, another one wounded Admira.
Devasted, she crawled to Bosko's dead body, put her arms
around him and died wiithout even trying to fight for life without Bosko.
Because of the tense and dangerous situation around the area, the bodies were buried in a joint grave, in
Lion Cemetary, by a Serb-held suburb, a week after they died. The story outgrows the couple's love and death
to symbolize the city's light..."
(Special Thanks to Melisa Bahtanovic for picture of Bosko and Admira's grave, which was taken in Sarajevo.)
A LETTER FROM SARAJEVO
One Thousand Days of Solitude
Rightly or wrongly, many Sarajevans lay the blame for the
bankruptcy of Balkan policy at the feet of the U.N. and its
Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Their bitterness
and desperation are reflected in the following dispatch by
TIME contributor Zlatko Dizdarevic, which was translated by Ammiel Alcalay:
Time, December 12, 1994
IT IS COLD IN SARAJEVO, AND PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY AGAIN.
During the summer, after two months of having a road
open to the outside world, we had the feeling that things
might turn around. Then, at least, there was some hope;
now all hope has been buried. We hear people say, "Sarajevo is
abandoned, left alone" It's remarkable how people who say
such things really don't have a clue. The world at least the part
that makes decisions was never with Sarajevo or Bosnia to begin with.
To say we've been abandoned now only adds insult to injury.
Come Jan. 1, Sarajevo will have been under siege for 1,000 days
1,000 days of solitude. How can anyone say that it is only now that
we've been abandoned?
Some may remember the recent image of that seven-year-old boy who
was hit in the face by a sniper's bullet in the middle of Sarajevo, holding on
to his mother's hand as they ran past a U.N. armored personnel carrier.
As the boy lay dying, his face was turned toward the asphalt, his left hand
raised to his head, soaked in his blood. His name was Nermin Divovic. He wasn't
killed by surprise, by a shell. He was sought out by a Serb sniper who waited
got him into his telescopic sights, looked at his face and then pulled the trigger.
Then the same sniper shot Nermin's mother in the stomach so she would not die
immediately, but would watch her son die first.
That is the reality of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the place where U.N.
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali says that a war is being waged between
"Side A and Side B." Sarajevans wanted to tell Boutros-Ghali last week that
Nermin Divovic, tracked down in a rifle sight and shot in the face, is not Side A,
just as that creature who killed him is not Side B. That is why Sarajevans welcomed
Boutros-Ghali on his recent visit to the city with a concert of boos and hisses the
likes of which haven't yet been heard in this city. Two placards stood out:
one, scrawled on a piece of cardboard torn from a box that once perhaps contained
humanitarian aid, simply said GHALI HITLER; another said GHALI ISN'T A MAN.
The first summed up political opinion around here, namely that fascism's heavy boots
have marched over the backs of Bosnian civilians to steal into Europe, aiding and
abetting a new Hitlerism. The second slogan was Sarajevo's own special way of
expressing its contempt for the U.N. Boutros-Ghali was probably unaware that these
four words dealt the lowest possible blow ever dreamed up by the legendary sports
fans of Sarajevo. In former days of glory, die-hard fans used to berate bumbling
referees with the same slogan: "The ref isn't a man." One of the referees said later,
"I feel miserable. It's not a question of manliness, but that they've told me
I'm nothing, a zero." Apparently he got it.
Did Boutros-Ghali get it? Perhaps. His assessment that he needn't exchange his black
cashmere overcoat for a bulletproof vest was right on the money. Nobody in this town
would have fired a shot at him because he represents an organization for which the
people of Sarajevo feel contempt rather than hate. If you looked closely at the faces
of the girls shoving placards under the noses of the Secretary-General and his military
entourage, you would have seen that they were laughing at them. The Sarajevo diehards who
chanted "The ref isn't a man" will be the same people to help the blue helmets get on
their way one of these days, even though U.N. commanders keep warning what "a difficult
and complex operation" that will be. To leave the battlefield without having fired a shot
has always been a difficult and complex operation.
Fortunately, there are also those who stay in the battle, like my neighbor Amir. Unlike NATO,
which cannot fly when it gets dark or foggy or when targets "retreat into the woods," he has
already chalked up by himself 15 Serb tanks. The army of Bosnia and Herzegovina has invested
the following in Amir: half a uniform, one blanket, a dozen cans of food and an insignia.
His mother provided the rest: a shirt, two pairs of socks and a sweater. So much for Side A
and Side B.
In our part of the world, fathers, that is, the men, have a duty to protect their
seven-year-old kids. This is thought of as a natural duty. Around here, someone who doesn't do
it but could (since he has missiles and rockets and planes to call upon) isn't considered a man.
The Sarajevo diehards said what had to be said whether it was then, at a game, or last
week, to Boutros-Ghali and the U.N. The only difference is that this isn't a game. This is
human misery, and the account has not even begun to be settled. Until that happens, it's
worth surviving and watching the children. Then it's worth winning. There is no other way out.
The book "SARAJEVO-A WAR JOURNAL" by: ZLATKO DIZDAREVIC IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOK FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW SOMETHING MORE ABOUT PEOPLE'S EXPERIENCES DURING THE WAR IN SARAJEVO!
described by Alex Seredin
Ethnic cleansing is not the land issue, it is not about the division of lands, mountains and lakes, it is
not about the political power, it is not about the freedoms real and imagined, it is not about
religion, it is not about historical entitlements, nor about historical rights.
Ethnic cleansing is about children hugging their mother's skirt, standing in the doorway, watching
burly, men, crazed with plum brandy approaching them. It is about pushing the mother inside and
ordering her to strip naked... before our eyes... for the first time..."You are too young for
playing..." the man said.. as he pushed mother on the bed.
Ethnic cleansing is about a child...thrown out on the pavement...head bleeding...older brother
dragged away...with men...also bleeding..crying. "Your mother will be out, when we are finished
with her...Turk. This word I heard before...once when mother...refused to buy produce...the seller
said: "Turk"...and spat in front of mother.
Ethnic cleansing is about children...waiting...as mother screams... in pain..."what are they doing to
her?...She comes out bleeding from the mouth... crying...dress torn...Her finger bleeding where the
ring had been...
Ethnic cleansing is about: children, watching as their father is being...chased...caught... and killed...
with knife... like lamb... at Bajram. 1)
Ethnic cleansing is: tramping...bare feet...on stones...along the road...jeering,scowling women and
men...mother pleading for food...water ...pork...forbidden is offered...scowl...and
Ethnic cleansing is: young brother...who played chess...with father...his head...now
smashed...laying...at mother's feet.
Ethnic cleansing is about: a young man, mother's student...staring at the floor barely
seventeen...standing before her bare legs..."You be the first", they said
Ethnic cleansing is about: hunger...cold...threatening shadows..."the road is mined"...they
said...with a scowl. It is about mother crying... unable...to help...feed...and heal...our
wounds...caused by falling.
Ethnic cleansing is about Senad...neighbor...being... blown up...before ... my...disbelieving eyes...a
Ethnic cleansing is about: the Holy Book...torn from its embroidered bag...thrown....trampled
on...and urinated on...before my eyes...book gifted...by old imam
Ethnic cleansing is about: mother...asking nurse to be given...a pill...to die...so she would...not
have ...to face ...another day in captivity...slave.
Ethnic cleansing is about: old imam...his beard...white...with wisdom... being dragged...like a
lamb...to slaughter...asking to pray...no time...must die
Ethnic cleansing is about: homes: built and filled...with love...now empty...burning...their contents
strewn...doll...not mine...but like mine...blood... smell of death...everywhere.
Ethnic cleansing is about: schools...filled with vermin...bodies... unwashed...smell of plum
brandy...home...of ...torture...and ...mothers crying...day and night.
Ethnic cleansing is about: men...beaten...hungry...desperate...tortured bodies...ribs like sticks of
birch...showing fear of imminent...death ...waiting
Ethnic cleansing is about: friends...betrayed...neighbors scowling... "Turk, go to Turkey"...they
said....fear of friends...is worse...than ...the fear of enemies.
This is what ethnic cleansing is...despicable...inhuman...torture...and destruction of everything
which is good, and replacing it with evil.
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