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"Help us! Help us! ... Help us!"

My colleague Jordi Pujol and I lay bleeding on the ground in Sarajevo's old city. A rocket-propelled grenade had hit ...

 

 Sarajevo old lady

Sarajevo June 1995

David Brauchli was on assignment for The Associated Press in Sarajevo in 1992,when he was wounded by shrapnel. Here is the story which went out on the wire, followed by notes from his return there, 2 years later:  

(The text is long, you may wish to copy it to your machine and read it all at your leisure)

Here is his story:

"Help us! Help us! ... Help us!"

My colleague Jordi Pujol and I lay bleeding on the ground in Sarajevo's old city. A rocket-propelled grenade had hit a house across the street and sprayed us with shrapnel.

"I'm hit. Oh Christ, it's my chest," Jordi cried as I lay on top of him, too stunned to move away. I looked at his chest and saw two small wounds oozing blood.

I kept thinking, "This doesn't happen to us. We cover this."

I dragged myself into a doorway to escape any sniper fire.

I'd seen video tape of Serbian snipers pumping bullets into a man as he lay on the ground after being knocked down by the initial blast of a mortar. I kept crying out for help as Jordi passed out on the pavement next to me.

I knew that if we didn't get help quickly, Jordi would die.

Fortunately we were just 500 yards from one of many first-aid centers set up all over Sarajevo to help those wounded by sniper fire or shelling from Serbian forces in the surrounding hills.

Within a minute of our first cries, men came running to carry us to the first aid center. It wasn't soon enough.

Jordi Pujol, 26, became the first journalist killed in the battle for Sarajevo, a city where Serbs, Croats and Muslims had for decades lived in harmony but were now engaged in ugly ethnic warfare.

Since early this month, downtown Sarajevo has been blasted by barrages of heavy artillery from Serb forces in the hills.

When other journalists left, I and several colleagues -- AP reporter Tony Smith, AP photographer Santiago Lyon, Peter Northall of Black Star Pictures, Jordi and Erick Hauck of the Spanish newspaper Avui -- decided to move into the center of Sarajevo because we thought the story was more important than the risks we might take being there.

We wanted to let the world know that Sarajevo was on the map, that the city was suffering tragically.

Now, though, I was bleeding from shrapnel wounds to my hip, groin, thigh, knee, shoulder and head. And Jordi was bleeding from the chest.

The people at the first-aid center were very kind. They told me they would work on Jordi first because he was more seriously wounded. They kept talking to me, asking me my name, my age, where I was from.

They told me Jordi was OK and being transferred to the hospital. He died shortly after arriving. They cleaned up my wounds and put me in an ambulance.

After an initial inspection in the hospital emergency room, I was sent to the urology clinic for an operation. I was fairly relaxed. I knew I wasn't too badly hurt because I hadn't passed out or gone into shock. But I was uneasy.

The last medical supplies to make it into Sarajevo had come almost two weeks before, 12 tons from the European Community that were left on the airport runway with 22 tons of food.

The shipment was stolen before a convoy could take it into the city. How well supplied was the hospital? I wondered. Do they have blood, will I need a transfusion, have they checked for AIDS? Do they have enough bandages? When I got to the operating room, I saw a nurse I'd given a ride to that morning.

The hospital couldn't administer general anesthetic because it had no oxygen. All the oxygen was being held by the Serbs and, like everything else, was a bargaining chip.

The only anesthetic was local, and it wasn't strong. Even after numbing my legs with an injection into my spinal cord, I could feel the doctors operating on my hip. The nurse had to tie my arms to the table.

After the operation, I was put into a room with five other men. The man next to me had been shot by a sniper. The man across the room, a doctor, was rescuing a wounded man when his car was hit by a mortar shell.

The doctors were professional and friendly, though they had been working four days without rest. How could they rest? they asked. Every day, more people came into the hospital. Morgues were full.

The nurses, working equally long shifts, invariably were smiling and kind.

I wanted to get out of Sarajevo, to free my bed for someone more seriously wounded and to get to a hospital outside the war zone to avoid infection. I had the choice. Most people don't.

Smith and Lyon were working miracles on the satellite phone, our only connection to the outside world. They arranged for the United Nations to transfer me to its headquarters. They also arranged to get Jordi's body and death certificate, and to buy a car to transport the body. Pretty soon, I was in the Croatian seaside resort of Split after a rocky ride over dirt roads and mountain passes. On our way out of town we had passed a huge convoy of women and children being blocked by Serb gunmen. Another bargaining chip, finally freed three days later.


-TWO YEARS LATER-


Dear folks,

Here are my feelings, diary and impressions upon returning to Sarajevo for the first time since I was hit and injured by a Serbian Tank shell on May 17, 1992.

Sept. 4/94. I left my friends in Sumuva, the southern Bohemian mountains, after a weekend of picking mushrooms, laying around in the sun and enjoying myself. I had gotten a call from Mike Feldman earlier in the week, asking me to go to Sarajevo for the impending visit of the Pope. So, with all my things packed in the trunk of my Mazda, the top down, the tunes plugged into the CD player, I drove down towards Passau, Linz, Graz, Maribor and finally Zagreb. It was a six hour drive, not shorter than the drive from Prague, but more beautiful because, until Graz, where the roads meet, the Linz-Graz road runs through the Austrian Alps, which is lovely.

As I passed through the Slovene border, the first time since 1991 when I was covering the Croatian war, I felt a strange sense of familiarity. I guess I always feel this way when I'm heading into Croatia because I have spent something over six months here since the wars started. The Slovenes have really gotten their acts together, the borders are as good, if not better, than most in Europe. The border guards are professional, courteous and helpful. As I passed through I was thinking about the time I was at the border and there were six Serb tanks parked there, shooting from their machine guns, fire flaming out of the barrels and people dying all over. Now there is no sign of the damage. The efficient Slovenes have cleaned everything up. Even driving down the road, which was destroyed by tank treads, has been repaved and bears no traces of the war which engulfed the country just three short years ago.

Sept. 5

Flying down to Split is always beautiful, over the Dalmatian coast and well away from any territory held by the Serbs. Although it would be a pleasant drive, especially in a convertible, it takes over six hours and through numerous checkpoints and blown up bridges. I prefer the 40 minute flight and the incredible view.

I was traveling with AP photographer Enric Marti whom London also asked to come in to cover the pope. He's been in Sarajevo most of the past two years, first for EPA (my old company in Moscow) and for the past four months for the AP. We met a local Bosnian reporter, Samir Krilic, in Split with a hard car. Samir was worried about the Serbs shooting at us once we crossed the pass and were heading down Mt. Igman, so he had arranged with the Sarajevo office, a guide with night-vision goggles, to lead us down the road. This was, apparently, a strictly lights off, deep night affair.

After collecting accreditation from the Croat Press office in Hotel Split, and a couple of flak vests, we set off. The hard car goes no faster than 50 MPH (it's British) and uncomfortably seats three. I sat in the middle and shifted. We merrily drove down the coastal road to Makarska where we stopped to enjoy a seafood dinner. No point in driving down the Dalmatian coast without enjoying some of the benefits of the Adriatic. The we headed up into the hills, towards Mostar, Jablanice and Mt. Ignam.

Mostar, the side held by the Croats, is quite facist and has a feeling of the Ustasi there. The Ustasi were the evil facists who allied themselves with Hitler in World War II and have resurfaced in this war. As a matter of interest, the Croats have renamed their currency the Kuna, which was in use only twice before, when Croatia was freed by Nazi Germany, and once, for a couple of months, in the 11th century. Mostar was filled up with men and boys, heavily armed, smoking and with lovely ladies on their arms, waltzing around town. It was sickening. Samir pointed out these guys spend all night drinking, screwing, smoking and having a good time and then get up in the morning, drive to the east Mostar front, and shoot Muslims. The besieged Muslims on the other side of the town have no such luck, being surrounded by these evil bastards.

Slowly we toiled up the road, through bridges destroyed by Croats, and roads blown up by Serbs, until we hit the turnoff for Mt. Igman. Immediately the road steepened and turned to dirt. There were no stars and no moon and it was very, very dark. We were supposed to call our guide in Sarajevo when we got to Jablanice, but we were unable to find a phone which connected through, so we hoped that Sarajevo had arranged for him to meet us at the final checkpoint before heading down. Actually, it's not that the road is that dangerous, it's not, but there are some 800 meters which are exposed and the Serbs four days before, had shot some AA rounds into a British aid convoy and killed a few people and trashed two trucks. This was the section that made Samir paranoid. Fair enough, he's been living here most of his life and is aware acutely of the dangers getting into and out of the city.

We crested the pass at 12 midnight and headed down. We didn't run into our guide at the checkpoint which the previous checkpoint had told us about. As we started to see the lights of the city below, we became increasingly paranoid until we killed all our lights except for the very, very lows, and drove slowly. We almost crashed a couple of times with cars heading the other way, but felt more secure. An AA round will go through a hard car like a hot knife through butter. Finally we reached the checkpoint where they were spacing the trucks through every five minutes or so. We waited over an hour until it was our turn to go through. Slowly we descended the hill, all three of us straining our eyes to make out the road, barely visible in the ambient light. Twice we almost ran into wrecks of cars on the side of the road and innumerable times we came close to running off the edge of the road and tumbling down the side of the hill. Christ, I thought, this is a hell of a way to supply a city. Fact is, though, the city, for the past three months, has been supplied on this road. The traffic has been decreased since the convoy was blown up last week.

After 40 torterous minutes we saw the end point and the lights of cars ahead. Samir took his hands off the steering wheel to clap and we drove off the goddamned road. Whoops. Now were were stuck, like idiots, some 100 meters from the final checkpoint and freedom. After much debate, we decided there would be no way to get the car back up onto the road, it was half over a steep embankment. Instead we decided it would be best to try and get it down into the field, through a bunch of trees and then back onto the road up a ramp. Of course there was the possibility it would tip over when we tried to move it, but it was better than waiting to get shot up. The feeling of unease is prevalent.

After skidding, pushing, shoving, moving the car made it down into the field with not so much of a scratch on it, and then back onto the road with only a smashed tail light when Samir stalled and ran backwards into a tree. Whoops. So we cleared the Bosnian checkpoint and drove towards the airport and Sarajevo. We had heard the airport was closed at night, but decided to try it anyway. I mean at 0230, it sounds like a good thing. So we drove through the suburb of Butmir, which has been pretty much destroyed by the fighting there. I've seen destroyed before, but this, just lit by the headlamps, was amazing. When we finally got to the checkpoint before the airport, the Bosnian soldiers said we could go no further because they had an agreement with the UN to keep the road closed between 2000 to 0600. Further the road was mined and there was no way they were going to remove the mines at 0330. So we decided to spend the night.

Sept. 6

At 0530 I woke up, after a decidely uncomfortable night crammed into the back of the landrover with a spare engine, tires, food, supplies and other crap we had brought along to supply the office. Samir and Enric were eager to head off, get to the office, dump the supplies and crash. Neither one of us had had what could be referred to as a good night's sleep. As soon as the Bosnian army dudes had cleared the road, we sped off towards the French occupying the airport and besieged Sarajevo.

Behind us we left the Muslim suburb of Dobrina, destroyed like nothing I've ever seen before. Shells of houses were all that remained and they went on for blocks and blocks. Just 40 meters away, the Serbs are poised in their positions, AA guns, which fall under the limit set by the heavy weapons exclusion zone, trained at the destruction.

Across the airport tarmac and into Doboj, another suburb destroyed by the Serbs. The front line of apartment blocks, built for the Olympics, have been shattered by shell barrages during the last two years. Just 50 meters behind the front line, though, people still occupy their apartments. In fact in many buildings where the tops have been blown off, people still dwell in the lower apartments.

As we wound our way through the narrow alleys which lead through Doboj, many people were pouring out of their apartments and heading off, in working clothes and makeup, presumably, to work. We passed a huge wall of destroyed cars, trucks and buses which had been put up as sniper shields. I contrasted this to the last time I was in Doboj, only once, when it was too dangerous to drive because of the snipers on the surrounding hills. That time we didn't find any pictures and weren't interested in staying around long enough to look really hard.

We finally turned onto "snipers alley" which runs from Sarajevo's suburbs into the center of town. In 92 we would drive this road up to three times a day as fast as our cars would take us. There was minimal pedestrian traffic in those days, no trams were running and only the brave, stupid or desperate were driving (or those in armor, like the UN). Now the place was alive with commuters. The trams were jammed, taxis were looking for fares and the streets were crawling with people all heading downtown.

The PTT, head of the UN in Sarajevo was looking decidely worse for wear. The windows had been blown out, replaced by sandbags. The former friendly balcony where Lee Malis and I had sunned ourselves while awaiting some information from the UN, was wrapped in razor wire. Guards poked their rifles from bunkers, looking decidely unfriendly. Down the street loomed many buildings fixed in my memory as fine, but now, totally destroyed. The Serbs had done a hell of a job making a lot of places uninhabitable. The worst among these were the two blue buildings. I don't remember their names, although the UNSYS buildings come to mind, or the Children's embassy. I had seen pictures of them burning, but to look at them now, remembering how dangerous it was just to stand behind them, filled me with sadness. Weird.

Traffic runs the regular routes now, not the safety route we used to take to avoid sniper fire. Past a few buildings into town, left towards the hospital, past the US embassy (non-existant before) and right towards the hospital up a hill before hooking a right to the office, the hotel Belvedre, which Santy, Eric and Tony found while I was getting blown up. The staff came out to greet us, they had been worried sick because of the delay, and spent most of the night awake drinking, smoking and wondering. After an exchange of pleasantries, it was off to sleep for a couple of hours before beginning to explore.

At 10 I came down from the sleeping quarters to the office (this hotel used to be a place where one would meet one's mistress for a quick lunchtime bonk) which is set up in the dining room. Our reporters were all hot on a story about some US firemen who had been kidnapped by the BIH (Bosnian army) in their own HQ. So we jumped into some cars and went down to see. The AP has a fleet of cars here, two disel Golfs, a Jeep, three armored cars. I got into a golf with the photo translator, Alysia, and we started off. I was a bit hesitant about driving at first, because I thought I didn't know my way around. It's amazing how crystal clear my memory is, I remember each turn as if I were here yesterday. Except for the destruction, more shell holes int he pavements, the city remains more or less the same. The fireman story turned out to be nothing so it was off to the UNHQ for the daily briefing. I wanted to go along to find out the arrangements for the Papal pool at the airport.

The entrance to the PTT has totally changed. We used to walk up, show some sort of press ID, I used my old Czech Press card, and walk in. Now you have to have a UN accreditation, available only in Zagreb, go through a security check, a metal detector, walk through a heavily bunkered entrance, around razor wire, through another security check and into the building. There, the briefing was already taking place and they were talking about the military situation. Seems like I was back in Vitez from last summer, they were talking about the same things, except it was Serb vs. BIH instead of Croat vs. BIH. Same difference, really, both are facist scum.

At the briefing I saw a lot of people I recognized, either from Bosnia last summer, or from Sarajevo two years ago. Amazing how the press corps remains the same. The same guys were hassling the UN representatives, Chuck Suditec, from the NYT, John Landis from UPI (he may work for someone else now), the AP and Reuters. Circular, I guess. After the briefing, I went up to most of them, said howdy, shook and talked briefly about where I had been since being blown up. Most people remember, weird.

I hooked up to one guy, Roger, who is going to be the new AP person in Bogota in a couple of weeks. He's been working for Gamma the past six years and wanted some wire hints. So we agreed to walk around together, he'd show me what he knew of the city, and I'd talk to him about the AP. So off we set in the Golf, looking down memory lane in the present.

The city looks surprisingly good for having been nuked for two years. Most of the glass in the downtown area has been replaced, some facades have been redone, the holes from shells have been bricked up and plastered over and business are running full steam. The currency here is the Deutsch Mark. You can use dollars, but the DM is what everything is priced in. Prices fluctuate according to the supply line. Last week, things here were cheaper than in Split because the road was working and humanitarian aid was coming in via the airport. Prices are on the rise now because the road has been virtually shut down and the UN has closed the airport because a plane received a couple of rounds in the body. Someone ought to get the UN out of here.

We drove down the embankment, which was too dangerous to venture out upon last time. Many of the buildings had received extensive shell damage, but were still standing. The national library, though, had been targeted by the Serbs, and they used incinidary shells to torch the entire place. So although the walls were still standing, the shell of the building, the insides had been torched, all the books destroyed including the historical documents from the Ottoman empire. The Serbs sink lower in my estimation. It was a beautiful building, it'll take millions and years to rebuild.

Then into the center of the city to see the damage there. Here I was blown away. People were walking around, especially around the streets where snipers used to maintain vigilance, like nothing was going on. Of course there are still shooting incidents, but I think people have simply gotten used to them and no longer pay attention. The cafes are open and going full steam. If you can afford to sit out, drink a coffee and be seen, then it's a great town for it. Business were in full swing, you can get everything from coffee and sugar to new shoes, clothes, furniture, carpets, telephones and light bulbs. It's just a question of having DMs.

Finally I wanted to see where I had been shot. I have a ghost to laid to rest there, Jordi's and mine. I wanted to see where the shell impacted and where we were in relation to it. Enric and I set off in the golf and I directed him purely from memory. We made one wrong turn, up one wrong hill, but then found it. I posed as Enric shot a picture. I was right, just as I thought I was two years ago, it was a secure street, high walls on both sides and an incredibly acute angle to land a shell in. The shell had impacted at the base of a house ten meters from where we were walking. Most of the shrapenel had been absorbed by the house, as far as I could tell.

As I was posing, a guy came out of his house and started to tell us of the incident there. My Bosnian isn't very good, but I managed to convey to him that I was the guy who had lived while my friend had died there. He shook my hand and invited us in for coffee. Just then another resident came out of her house and also remembered me. She shook my hand and beamed at me, glad, I guess that I was still around and wanting to visit. She also invited us over for coffee. We accepted her invitation and although we did not have a translator, we managed to chat for 15 minutes until it was time to go make some afternoon pictures. It was amazing that these people remembered me. The woman said three people were killed on that street that day, and nothing has happened since. I guess the serbs had a vendetta against that street on that day. Weird. I'm aiming to head back on Friday with a translator to really talk to these folks and see how things are there. I feel better about everything now.

Nightlife. A concept here. With the curfew strictly enforced at 2200, the partying gets under way early. People who go out were dressed up and on the streets by 1800. Most go out for a coffee, at 1 DM, it's a deal. Shots of Alcohol are substantially more so to drink and be seen, one must be dealing with foreigners, the UN, the aid agencies or the press. Most Sarajevans who go out at night are content to walk up and down the main pedestrian street in the center of town, chat with their friends and go home before curfew. There are a few street lights which keep the mall crawlers going.

Unfortunately restaurants tend to run out of food early so if they are open for both lunch and dinner, pickings get slim around 2000. I went out after work near 2100 and ended up eating the dregs of lamb and skewered meat off of someone else's plate. Waste not want not, that's what I always say. Besides, I'm not a picky eater and I was dead hungry, not having eaten all day.

Sept. 7/95

The pope cancelled his visit last night and I got instructions to go home. Actually, my instructions are to go to Zagreb and help out with the papal visit there. Suits me, anywhere to earn a buck. There wasn't a whole lot of reaction to the pope cancelling his visit, mostly angry Italian journalists who had gone through a lot of time getting here and a lot of trouble setting themselves up for exclusive feeds, etc. To make sure he isn't coming, the UN closed down the airport because a couple of their aircraft received a couple of rounds. Good reason to close the airport. I really dislike the UN.

The mood in Sarajevo has changed signifigantly since the last time I was here. No longer is everyone overly friendly and eager to help out. Now they are a bit angry with the press, with the UN and with the world at large. They've been suffering for 29 months and the world has stood by and watched. They don't think it's fair, neither do I, and neither one of us has a solution for the problems here. Young kids, who used to wave every time we drove by, flipped us off. Most journalists here don't use flak vests around town any longer because it alienated them from the people living here. Likewise driving armored cars. It's preferrable to drive a soft golf around town and take the hard car only out to the airport where the UN demands you use an armored car to get across the tarmac. I feel bad for the Sarajevans, they've been screwed by the world.

The Serbs still hold all the high ground around the city and have replaced their heavy weapons with AA guns. Firing 75mm rounds, just under the limit, these guns can do as much damage as a mortar round. The only thing they can't do with an AA gun is launch a shell five or six kms. That means there are now certain areas of the city, out of the line of sight, which are safe. Of course the Serbs didn't give all their heavy weapons to the UN, they are still using some of them, or have brought more in, to shell the eastern part of the city. Just a reminder that no one is ever really safe here.

I went with Enric to a place Lee and I had visited when we first got here to look at the lay of the land. It's above the old town and has a magnificant view of the city. Enric explained to me where the Serbs are and frankly, it's not much different from the places where the Serbs held when Lee and I were here. Just goes to show you the more things change, the more they stay the same.

That's it, hope it gives you some impression of what life is like in the Bosnian Capital.

Love David

-------------------------------------------

March 21, 1995

 

The amazing sqwaking of the walkie talkies in the background is a familiar noise in the Sarajevo AP office. They scan everything here, the UN, the aid agencies and perhaps even communications between Serbs or Muslim forces. It's ordinary here but compared to Prague, you can tell things are alive and buzzing.

I arrived here today after a journey from hell. I was supposed to fly in with the UN, nice and simple from the Croatian capital, Zagreb. That was canceled as soon as a couple of UN aircraft received a few rounds from unfriendly Serbs. In fact they canceled all flights until Friday, messing up the chances of another AP correspondent Dave Crary, to come in by plane. On the other hand, I've never flown into central Bosnia or Sarajevo, so driving up from Split would be nothing new. However, not having a working hard car, I was dependent on someone else. What a bummer.

I discovered much to my delight in Zagreb, a good friend and Reuters photographer, Laszlo Balogh, also going into Sarajevo. He was on the same flight as I was and consequently was also screwed by the UN. He had the good fortune of having a hard car in Zagreb. Maybe that wasn't such good fortune as he had to get it from Zagreb to Split and then from Split to Sarajevo. Well, I volunteered to help him drive it thereby ensuring myself a ride as well. He thought that was a good idea and after clearance from London, it was decided.

We set off on Sunday morning from my hotel in Zagreb. We hadn't gone more than 500 meters when the Croatian cops pulled us over and asked us for our papers. We showed them our UN Id's but couldn't find any papers for the car. We hunted high and low, but there weren't any. Panicked, I called to Reuters to see if they could send some one down to help us out. By the time I got back, though, the cops had relented and said we could be on our way. For good measure I taped the number-plate that Laszlo had found behind one of the seats to the slot on the front, over the Bosnia number plate which read RTR100. At least that looked official and we would be able to carry on (hopefully) without getting stopped unnecessarily by the cops (speeding wouldn't count).

We made it to Split later in the evening without any more intervention from the police. We actually had a pretty nice drive, buzzing down the Dalmation coast which is a long curvy road and enjoyable, if your care isn't armored and drives like a tank on wheels. The armored land rovers are really a bummer to drive and being on the wrong side of the road doesn't help either.

The next day, Monday, we set off from Split with another colleague, Joel Brand of Newsweek, in the car. Three people in these cars is a real drag because the gears are in the middle and it's a hassle to drive. So Laszlo, the smallest, sat in the middle and shifted. I drove and Joel navigated. Conscious of not having papers for the car and not wanting to get any cops mad at us, we drove carefully along the Croatian roads, up away from the coast and towards the Bosnian-Croat border. After a couple of hours we passed the border without incident. Everything was going pretty well, we expected to be on the dreaded Mt. Igman road by 1400. Actually, we were starting to feel a bit peckish when we topped the hill to go into Mostar. There a nasty Croatian policeman (what he was doing in Bosnia I don't know) pulled us over and demanded our insurance paper. I wasn't sure what he meant, so I said, I'm sorry, we don't have an insurance paper. So he asked for our car papers. I'm sorry, I said, we don't have those either. Hmmm, he puzzled, you must pull over and wait for my chief.

Drat, we thought, this is going to take a long time. After 15 minutes he instructed two of us to get into a ratty cop car while I drove the land rover down the hill after him, to the main police station. There we were escorted into a waiting room to be interrogated, like criminals. Half an hour of cooling our heels didn't do much for Joel's temper, he wanted to be in Sarajevo making reports and money. Then three detectives walked in to interrogate us. They started off with the usual questions, where do you come from, where are you going, why doesn't your car have papers, etc., etc., etc. I explained to them that this wasn't our car, it belonged to the company Reuters and Laszlo was a representative of that company. We didn't have papers to the car because we were told they didn't exist. They checked our passports, our press cards and after some discussion decided we weren't criminals and could go. It only took an hour. Amazing.

Just as we were about to walk out the door another policeman motioned for us to follow him up the stairs. Feeling reluctant, but caught, we agreed. He said something about papers which I understood to mean he was going to get his colleagues to write us up some papers to get us through the rest of the checkpoints in Mostar. Wrong. I didn't know that then, though. We sat around for another half hour (all the time the cops were saying, moment, moment) until, fed up, I asked what was going on. They didn't know and sent us to another room. I asked in there and worse luck, we ran into the only cop in the station who spoke English. We were just about to walk out when he asked us where the papers for our car were. We explained we didn't have any papers, but we had just been through this with the cops downstairs and everything was all right and we would be on our way now. Nope, he had to see everything, do everything again, and, turns out he's the only honest cop in the station, so he refuses to let us take our car.

After much talking, they decide we need to get the car papers from London. However, the cop shop closes at 1600 and it's already 1530. Good luck, huh? So we leave the car at the cop shop and go off to a hotel, we have no other option, and hope that London is going to fax us (and the cops) the papers that night. Of course I'm sure the cops were hoping the papers wouldn't come through and then we'd have to leave the car and then it would conveniently be gone by the time we organized everything. However, Reuters London came through and faxed our hotel the papers so we were set when we needed to come back in the morning. We spent the night at Meja Goria, a religious site where many pilgrims come to see some former children behold the Virgin Mary, feeling holy.

Next morning, we rushed back to the police station, our car was still there, gave them proof of papers and were on our way. Hooray, we almost shouted as we left Mostar. I liked Mostar last time I was there because it was under siege in 1992 and it was everyone against the Serbs. Now it seems like a big Croatian Mafia town, full of stolen cars and unscrupulous cops. Hmmph.

Driving up the canyon towards Sarajevo is beautiful. The road follows a beautiful river in a deep canyon which is spectacular, to say the least. The water is clear blue and looks refreshing. The bridges which have been blown up during the fighting have been replaced by temporary bridges built by a corps of Slovak engineers. They work and are pretty ingenious. As we got closer to Sarajevo the snow started to get deeper. I was kind of hoping for a spring in Sarajevo, but being a former ski area (and it would have been a beautiful year for skiing here) there's still a ton of snow. Oh well, maybe spring in a couple of weeks. The road ascended into the mountains when the car started to swerve wildly. I thought it was a problem with the power steering which had been leaking fluid the entire trip. We almost crashed into an aid truck heading the other way so I stopped and discovered we had a flat tire.

Well now, aside from not having papers, this car also had no spare tire. CHRIST! We jacked it up, took off the tire and flagged down another aid truck who gave Joel and the tire a ride to the nearest vulkinizer (a tire fixer) seven kms down the road. He was back in 40 minutes, a record it seem to Laszlo and me, we put the tire back on and were off, merrily headed to the road over Mt. Igman.

After waiting at the Train checkpoint to cross Igman for more than an hour, Joel finally starts to talk to the soldiers at the station and after 15 minutes of talking and a couple of packs of cigarettes, we're on our way again. Igman during the best of times is no picnic. The road is narrow, unpaved, winds up one side of a ski hill and down the other. It cuts through trees and meadows, I'm sure it used to be one of the most beautiful jeep roads around Bosnia. Now, it's the only supply line via road into Sarajevo and it's well traveled. Many cars, military and civilian, plus trucks, use the road every day, which hasn't helped its condition. And it had a ton of snow on it making it very, very difficult. I put the land rover into four-wheel drive and set off. We went straight up for a few kilometers around bends, avoiding tractors pulling logs behind them and through the woods, on the safe side of Igman. All the sudden the car was sliding, out of control, slowly to the edge of the road which headed over the cliff. We had already climbed quite high and the road was over a precipice. Joel leaped into Laszlo's lap. I jammed the brakes and prayed. The car slid and slid and slid. Finally it came to a rest, the front left hand wheel almost hanging over the cliff. I was too terrified to take my foot off the brake, perhaps the car would continue it's descent over the cliff. Slowly I put on the emergency brake and then engaged reverse and we managed to back away from the edge. We were all sweating. And we hadn't even encountered the difficult part of the journey yet, the part where the Serbs shoot at you as you drive slowly along.

I last came over the road last September when the Serbs were shooting convoys and the guys I came with felt it necessary to drive over the road at night. So I wasn't familiar with it's curves or the beauty of it. There was so much snow that it would have been fantastic skiing. It was a beautiful drive. We wound our way slowly over the top, stopping once to don our flak vests and helmets when a French UN soldier told us that there was some fighting near the city proper. However, we hadn't come this far, with this much hassle to go back now. So on we went. Down through the snow, down through the bad road, down towards the Serb lines where we may get shot at.

The mind is a funny thing. Joel had said we were going to go through a dangerous bit, then through a very dangerous bit and finally through the shooting gallery. Well, I remembered going through the shooting gallery at night after the final checkpoint on the road, but as we were driving down towards the final checkpoint, I was feeling mighty exposed and pressed on quickly in order to reach the safety of trees. Turns out, of course, that no one had been shot at, but I didn't know that. It could have been a lazy day but my mind was screaming DANGER so we went as fast as I felt safe. There was no talking in the car at all, we were all concentrating on getting down the hill as quickly as possible. As we came up to the checkpoint, I said to Joel, is that the really dangerous part finished yet? He said, Nope, we are coming up to the really dangerous part and then there's the shooting gallery. That made me and Laszlo feel really good.

We checked with the soldier at the checkpoint and he said there hadn't been any shooting on the road. Also all the cars that were in front of us weren't there, indicating they had all gone on without a hitch as well. That was good, we were happy, we were still afraid. So we set off, determination renewed to make it to Sarajevo before dinner. We zoomed down the road, almost colliding with two cars heading up, feeling very vulnerable as we edged around each of them. All the time we're going down, we're all thinking about getting shot at, shot up, shot, and what we're going to do if that happens. I thought I would try to drive on, keep the car on the road and make it to safety. In fact, I had set my mind on that, if I wasn't dead, I was going to drive to safety. Turns out the other day a bunch of French UN peacekeepers drove off the road, fell 50 meters and nine of them died. Good thing we didn't know that at the time.

I asked Joel if we had passed the shooting gallery yet and he said, nope, at the corner. We sped to the corner and lo, there was a huge French UN base set up, obviously to prevent the corner from becoming a shooting gallery. So we drove carefully around the corner and sped off, down to the final checkpoint and off the mountain. We felt pretty good, we had made it after the trip from hell.

 

March 22

I like Sarajevo. I liked it when I was here in 1992, I liked it when I was here last year for a day for the aborted papal visit and I like it now. I think it's a charming city, small yet sophisticated. There are many beautiful buildings which haven't been destroyed by the fighting. The people are still fairly upbeat despite the circumstances they find themselves in. There are goods in the shops although the Deutsch Mark rules and there is no Bosnian currency to speak of. How many people can afford to buy things in DMs I don't know. However, I'm overcome by a sadness, at least now, for the city and for the people. I remember back to 1992 when I was here before the war had struck in earnest and how happy and beautiful everything was. People were dining out in cafes, eating outside, not worrying about getting shot or shelled and not knowing at least one person to have gotten killed in the war. I walked past the stadium which is full of graves, graves from this war because the normal cemetery has overflown. I walked past buildings which I knew from '92 which had been shot at and which hadn't been fixed, no materials to fix them and no will to do it. I walked to a small cemetery where Lee Malis and I used to take pictures and saw it was full of graves, all the headstones reading 1993 or 1994. That's really, really sad. I even shot a picture of a woman mourning her 33-year-old son who was killed in 1994. Bummer. And I'm sad because no matter how important I thought the story was in 1992 and no matter how many stories countless correspondents have written about it, have broadcast about it, how many pictures have been made here, the situation is still the same and the people are still getting screwed. And that's the most depressing thing of all.

 

March 24

The UN does some good things. Today they airlifted out three seriously sick kids, two with lukemia and one with a spinal virus. It's always nice to see people getting helped and not just screwed. It also makes a nice story and nice pictures. I just wish that somehow these pictures and these stories could somehow help to alleviate the situation that has developed here in the past three years.

Cheers, David

 

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March 27/95

Things have definitely changed around here. Yesterday Laszlo and I got arrested, for taking pictures of women washing their clothes near the Bih army barracks. OK, I understand them not wanting us to shoot photos near the barracks but the soldiers who took us in were extremely aggressive. One guy even punched me in the ribs as we were walking into the HQ, which I thought was a little unwarranted. And the manner in which they took us in was also a little rough. Instead of informing us that we weren't allowed to take pictures near the army barracks after checking our accreditation and asking us to leave, they came up to us, grabbed our arms and physically hauled us into the headquarters. Totally unnecessary, anyone could see we weren't Serbian spies. It's too bad, as well, because the guys in the army used to be really friendly and didn't mind having their pictures shot. Now everything is a military secret. One wonders if they have learned their tactics from the Serbs.

Every time I get close to "Sniper's Alley," I get scared. It's like the feeling of someone watching your back the whole time. I realize the chances of getting shot by a sniper are fairly remote, but it's happened to enough people to make me antsy. I vary my pace, cut sharply left and right and try not to walk in a regular pattern in order to make myself a more difficult target, but even still, there's always this fear. I don't even like hanging around or driving through sniper's alley, but I'm sort of forced to by competition. This is the strange thing about photography and wire photography in particular. I'm forced to be competitive day in and day out with the other wire guys. If one of the other wires is showing with a picture of a person downed in sniper's alley, I'd better have a pretty good excuse why I don't have it. I wonder if London would accept that I had a bad feeling, I was afraid and didn't want to go near there. So I swallow my fear and go along with my colleagues, hoping that nothing happens to any one of us.

I also learned that the snipers are a lot closer than I thought they were. I was always under the impression when I was here in `92 that the snipers were in the hills. Not so, they hide in houses, perhaps 50 or 100 meters from the main road and take their shots from there. No wonder they are so accurate.

Things here have been pretty peaceful. The UN is threatening to bomb the Serbs if they go after civilians. They are using the excuse that they have a new general here and he's not taking any guff. I don't believe it, the chain of command is still the same and everything still has to go through New York. Still, tensions, if you could call them that, are on the rise.

There were a couple of sniper casualties today, which is bad. There were pretty fierce skirmishes last night on the outskirts of town, also a bad sign. The Serbs 85mm mortars fall under the heavy-weapons exclusion-zone limit and mortars can do a lot of damage. Who knows how many are pointed now at Sarajevo and how many will be shortly. Of course you can't fault the Bosnian government. For three years they've been pounded and now they've taken the offensive, are doing pretty well and the Serbs are crying for mercy. I think, and the government thinks, it's a ploy by the Serbs to regroup and turn the tide. If I were the government I wouldn't relent either. Unfortunately it's going to lead to a wider war here, it's just a question of when.

 

March 29

We were all expecting things to get out of control yesterday. Fortunately, mother nature intervened and dumped tons of snow throughout Bosnia. Not even the snipers want to work in such weather (much less photographers). The UN reported today that yesterday was one of the most quiet in weeks. It was plain snowing too much. However, it's cleared up, the temperatures are on the rise, and so are expectations.

March 31

The great snow storms continue, tons of wet white stuff continue to pile up on the Bosnian capital's streets. The UN has their bulldozers out to make the streets passable. They should consider doing the snowplough service in Grozny as well, it would make driving around there a lot easier. The nice thing about all this snow, aside from the skiing aspect, is it's keeping everyone in line. Of course nothing at all may happen, but then again, no one is attacking in the snow.

There is an interesting change in people's attitudes here which I never noticed before. It's called "Sarajevo Syndrome," to those who have been here through the majority of the war and siege. Before and during the beginning of the war, there was this disbelief, people couldn't believe that the shells were really falling on their city, that their friends were dying, some from being in the army, some from having shells fall randomly on them, in a bread queue, water queue or walking down the street. This lead to a sort of shell shock and a "when is this going to end?" mindset. After three years of this, though, it's an ingrained attitude, even in the younger people who should have hope and aspirations for the future. One girl who works in our office said she has nothing to look forward to because she can't see the end of the war. I pointed out to her that things weren't really as bad as they seemed. The shops all have food, transportation is free, there is electricity and gas and water in the city, elevators work and it's not as bad as it was. Also, it looks like there is going to be a resolution to the war at some point. I told her that the war in Lebanon went on a lot longer with a lot more damage done to Beirut than has been done to Sarajevo, and it's doing pretty well now. I don't think it changed her attitude at all. It seems to me that people living here think they have the world's exclusive rights on suffering. Hmmph.

Dave Crary did an interesting story recently. He's the correspondent from Paris who's in for a month or so, helping out the local staff. He's been here a lot, maybe eight times during the course of the war, and he's noticed that there's been a hardening of attitudes. That's because, though, the population of the city has pretty much changed. Before the war it was a city of artisans, students, intellectuals and the like. Most of those people, it appears, have fled. Refugees from the country have taken their place, more fundamental in their attitudes towards everything from religion to living, and with it a shift in the city's attitude. It seems to Dave (and me) that the city is finally geared up for war, ready for what the Serbs may throw at it because the folks who are now living here are sick of the eternal siege, the UN driving around in their white vehicles, the press hounding them like dogs and living life in a fishbowl. If the war gets serious, the government Army denies access to the press and the UN alike, that's OK because the war is going to be finished one way or another and there will be peace. That's why I think there's going to be some sort of solution, resolution, soon.

Will it happen in Sarajevo? Probably not. Sarajevo is too much of a symbol. If the Serbs do nuke Sarajevo that may be the one thing that could prompt serious international intervention. So the battle will be fought in the hills around Sarajevo with the occasional round falling downtown, enough to terrify the denizens, but not enough to cow them.

The government, at this point, seems to have the advantage. They have a 200,000 person army, more than twice as large as the Bosnian Serb Army (BSA). Their internal supply lines are shorter and deftly organized. They are getting weapons from somewhere as well as uniforms and boots. Their morale is up and they are winning for the first time on the battlefield. The Serbs, on the other hand, have obstinacy, territory and weapons on their side. It's going to be an interesting summer.

Cheers,

David

 

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Hey you guys, this is a response to my dispatch from a Bosnian friend of mine who is living in Sarajevo. I think you'll find it interesting, thoughtful, thought-provoking and sad. I thought I'd share it with you.

 

David -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Aida Cerkez,

To: David Brauchli, 71553,1735 Date: Mon, 17 Apr 1995, 21:48

RE: Chasing falling shells

David,

very nice, your thoughts.

Do you realize that as of today, I can't leave this city either?

For two and a half years I am separated with my only child. He left when he was 2,5. Now he is 5 and calls my Mum - Mum. For him - I am Aida.

Now, one day when I get together with him, what am I going to tell him? Where have I been?

We should think about all this, but not only for one week. We should also think about what we are going to tell the next generation.

Is this going to last forever? Next generation too? Are we ever going to improve?

The solution to this is - forgiving.

If we continue to build our hostilities towards those who tried to exterminate us, we will become paranoid. Then we will be the exterminators. And this is the pattern. People start wars out of fear. Fear not to be number one, not to rule, to be attacked ...

The Serbs now say, "so what? The Turks killed us 500 years ago." But what does that have to do with me and my son Igor?

They also say: "The Croats exterminated us 50 years ago."

This cannot justify genocide in this generation.

All ghosts from the past.

Religion - the opium for people again.

We see the world too pink. We want to see only nice things, we don't want to be bothered with bad things. We don't accept the fact that we (somewhere deep inside, everybody) are killers and rapers. We just need a good reason and we turn into monsters. Everybody. The Germans, the Serbs, the Spanish, the britts, the French, the Americans, Chinese, Japs... Just look at the reasons all those nations turned into monsters. It was always fear of something.

How and when are we going to get rid of our fears - reasons - crimes?

How?

Love,

Aida

 

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Oct. 30/95

Tarcin (pronounced Tar-chin). There used to be a magical quality about that word. Tarcin. It doesn't mean anything unless you've been to Sarajevo. It doesn't mean anything to people who haven't had the luxury of being able to leave the city. But to those select few, those privileged individuals, either media, government officials or those with the proper papers and money, Tarcin meant that you were out of Sarajevo, out of the besieged city, out of the terror raining down from the Serb guns surrounding the city and free to pursue your life again. Tarcin.

When I arrive to Tarcin, I know I am going into Sarajevo. I am going in for a month or longer, to be with the citizens of the city, to share their fate, to document what was happening with my pictures. And when I leave, Taracin is a sort of relief valve. Like the top of a steam kettle. When I would get into Tarcin after crossing the Mount Igman road, all the tensions built up inside me, all the aggression and frustrations, are released, slowly draining away like water down a drain. The drive to Split after this is always pure pleasure because I know I am going home.

You see Tarcin was the start of the Sarajevo experience. One needed to bribe the army guys to get over the hill, or to have your name on a list that they had been faxed the day before. But since it was a small outpost on the far side of Igman, frequently there was no name on the list. And once past the checkpoint, it was up and over Igman, into the teeth of the Serb guns and then into Sarajevo proper. Coming out was no easier, although the guards at the bottom of the Igman road had the list and the names were correct, there was still no accounting for what the Serbs were planning to do down in Ilizda. There is also Fear, that subliminal feeling of unease that makes one drive faster than necessary up a narrow winding mountain path in order to avoid getting shot, because it HAS happened to others. So to reach Tarcin was to conclusion the Sarajevo experience as well.

But Richard Holbrooke has changed that. Not for everyone, of course, but for the foreigners in Sarajevo with access to a hard car or a soft car with foreign license plates. For Bosnians there is still no hope of going through Serb territory unescorted because there is still a war, still immense hatred. So Bosnian citizens make the journey over Mount Igman.

Except for the select few who either volunteer or don't realize what's happening. Yesterday, in order to prove the road was "open" between Sarajevo and Tarcin, the UN decided to escort a bus full of people. Some people didn't realize their bus was going to go down the Taracin road, through hostile Serb territory and some did, but were willing to risk it in order to save almost three hours, which is how long it takes a bus to climb up and slowly over Igman. Six light French tanks and six APCs full of French soldiers accompanied the sole bus on its passage through Ilizda and Hadizi. There were no problems, the Serbs know it's foolish to mess with the UN in these circumstances.

The UN was happy, they have proved that the road is indeed safe for civilians. But I disagree. I don't think any Bosnian would willingly travel to Tarcin through Ilizda without six APCs and six light tanks. The risk is too great. However the UN can say that the Serbs are complying with the conditions of the ceasefire and the road is safe for use by civilians. I think lifting the siege of Sarajevo and freedom of movement means that people living in Sarajevo can come and go as they choose on roads they choose and they don't have to rely on the UN to provide a huge armored escort.

But for people like Peter Andrews of Reuters and me, well, it is free. We made it to Tarcin in 15 minutes once we crossed out of Sarajevo at the new checkpoint at Stup. Fifteen minutes. It used to take at least an hour and ten minutes and that was if there was no traffic on the Igman road, nobody hassling you at the checkpoints and no shooting. Fifteen minutes to freedom, no fear, no troubles, no worries. Amazing how the times they are a changing. I just hope they stay this way.

Nov. 6

The cornerstone of the peace plan now being negotiated in the US is the federation comprised of Bosnian Muslims and Croats vs. the rebel Bosnian Serbs. The idea is the federation will control some 50% of Bosnia and the Serbs the other 50%. The federation has been in place almost a year and has worked extremely well militarily. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case politically.

Tony Smith, an AP reporter who was here when I got shot in 1992, Delphine Kargayan, French Radio Europe 1 reporter and I all went out to see about the federation and how it was getting along. The premise of the trip was an announcement in Dayton, where the peace talks are being held, that 200 Bosnian Muslim families would move back to Croat-held Jajace and 200 Croat families would be moving back to their homes in government-controlled Bugojno, both in central Bosnia. A US diplomat, Phil Laidlaw, was also interested, so he could report to Ambassador John Menzies about the implementation of the peace-plan on the ground, and to see about the federation.

We met Phil and his two guys with guns in their HumVee (the army's new version of the jeep, made popular during the gulf war) at a road-stop in Vitez. After a cup of coffee and a few pleased-to-meetchas, we set off, the dip and his guns in their armored HumVee and we in our armored land rover. We stopped in Travnik, a beautiful and ancient Bosnian city with many colorful mosques and a wonderful history and interviewed the mayor about the return of refugees to his city. He said, yes, the refugees were going to come back as soon as he could get materials to repair houses where they were going to be placed. He said he had teams on the ground now assessing what the city would need and when he knew, he would send a fax along to the Embassy with his request for supplies.

Pleased, we continued on our way, out of Travnik and up the hill towards Donji Vakuf, a town that Scott Peterson and I had visited a month before that was now full of life. Soldiers, kids and others abounded in the streets, not like a month earlier when people were just being moved back into the city. But we didn't stop, we continued to Bugojno, a government-controlled city to talk with the mayor there. After a wee wait, we were led into his office where Tony and Phil asked about how, if and when Croats were going to be allowed to settle. He pulled out a paper and said, well, as a matter of fact, we had three families settle yesterday and have had 17 come in today. But, he said, the Croats aren't letting our people return to their homes in Jajce, according to the agreement, in fact the Croats aren't even letting people get into Jajce at all.

He pointed out to us that the day before (Nov. 3) there were some 700 Muslims who wanted to visit the graves of their loved ones in Jajce and, according to an agreement signed with the Croats on the 27th of Oct., they were to be allowed to go, provided they gave the Croatian authorities details of who was going to come and at what time. When seven buses full of expectant Muslims showed up at the Jajce checkpoint, they were unceremoniously told to turn around and go home, they weren't going to be allowed into Jajce that day. Instead of provoking the heavily armed Croats, the buses somehow managed to maneuver backwards until there was enough room to turn around and went off peacefully. The mayor told us that the buses had given in the proper details in enough time and further Croats had come to Bugojno to celebrate All Saint's and All Souls days without troubles.

After talking with the mayor for more than an hour, we decided it would be good to try and talk to a refugee family that had returned to Bugojno and see if there was any antagonism against them and then go to Jajce and get the Croat side of the story. When we found a family, it turned out that the people had moved back three weeks earlier but had been legally registered in their house the previous day. Tony called it Bosnian counting. But at least the folks were coming back to their homes that they had left three years before.

So we got back into our cars and headed up the road to Jajce. It's a beautiful road, winding along the Vrbas river. We crossed through a couple of government checkpoints. When we arrived at the Croat checkpoint 11 kms before Jajce, the Hummer was stopped by Croat guards. Phil got out and told the guys that he wanted to go to Jajce to talk with the mayor. The soldiers said that would be impossible, they needed to see a permission from a certain commander whose post was back in Vitez. Phil explained that he was from the American embassy and there was supposed to be free passage through central Bosnia, but the soldiers didn't care and wern't going to let anyone through until they had their piece of paper. Phil walked back to our car explained the situation and said he wasn't going to jump through their hoops, he'd call the embassy and let them deal with the Croats.

So we drove back down the valley, back to Bugojno to meet with the Federation's mayor of Jajce in exile, a Muslim guy who had managed to only get back to Jajce three times in three years (even after government and HVO forces had captured the city. Apparently the mayor ran into the same checkpoint we did). We interviewed him in a smoky cafe and listened to his greivences and complaints against the Croats and their interpretation of the federation. He explained that the Croats want autonomously clean ethnic units so eventually they'll be able to integrate with Croatia proper. Looks like a good way to start phase two of the war to me. Anyway, after the interview, we agreed to meet up with the Americans in Donji Vakuf in the morning and we headed back to Vitez to sleep at Viktoria's because at the hotel in Bugojno there was no heat and no hot water and we didn't have sleeping bags. The Americans decided to stay in Bugojno because apparently after the death of the American diplomats on Mt. Igman this past summer, they are under orders not to take any risks and a snow storm had just blown in making the road rather more treacherous than it normally is.

The next morning after driving through piles of snow on the road, we met the Americans at nine sharp. They gave us disappointing news, we'd have to wait until 11 to find out whether the Croats were going to let us into Jajce. So we went back to Bugojno to talk with more refugees and investigate the situation with the Catholic church (it was, after all, Sunday). When we got to Bugojno, we found a family whose daughter had returned the day before and was waiting for Muslim refugees to move out of her home before returning home. The whole family was happy, though, to be reunited in their city. The church was also brimming with people, all celebrating Sunday mass. At least in government-controlled cities there is still freedom of religion, which can't be said for Croat or Serb controlled territory.

At 10:30 we called the embassy and they said the Croats had agreed to let us into Jajce. So off we headed again, up to the nasty Croat checkpoint. Waiting for us there was a military escort including Zivko Totic, the military commander of Jajce region for the HVO. He was a nasty piece of work, he talked in a raspy voice reminicent of Darth Vader, his teeth looked as if they had been filed to points,they were coated by black nicotine from the cheap cigarettes he was chain-smoked. He sat in on our meeting with the council president who was acting as mayor. The mayor always looked uneasily at Totic as he answered our questions and constantly had a bead of sweat on his upper lip despite the fact that his office was no more than 10 degrees. Tony asked about the Muslims that were turned back at the checkpoint two days earlier. Totic didn't let the mayor open his mouth before replying that the buses had turned up 40 minutes late, the Muslims on the buses refused to have their ID's checked and they wanted to hold an illegal religious ceremony. The Muslims then, according to Totic, decided they didn't want to go to Jajce anyway so they left. There was nothing on the Croat side to make the Muslims want to leave. I don't think Totic liked us very much.

Tony then asked about why all the Muslims from Jajce were now living in a small village 15 kms outside of town when they were expecting to return. Tony called it a ghetto. That really got Totic. He said it wasn't a ghetto, it's just that no Muslims wanted to live in Jajce right now. When we asked to see some Muslims in town, Totic asked the mayor if he knew where he was and the mayor said, no, I know where he workss but I don't know where he lives. Wry humor, only one Muslim left in Jajce.

Then we got an escorted convoy around Jajce, to check out the sights; houses of Croats that were destroyed by Serbs, Catholic churches that were destroyed by Serbs, and, surprise, a tour of a Muslim family that only live 11 kms out of town. The Muslims there were happy to see the Croats, welcomed them effusively, happy that the liberating army didn't have beards, allowed them to buy beer and listened to their complaints. However the Croats still wouldn't let the Muslims past the checkpoint into town either to buy food or firewood. Seemed to me the conditions were the same, only the army had changed. I don't think this is how the Federation is supposed to work.

That's all for this trip.

Cheers, David

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