City's youth saves its hardest words for West's inaction: The decision not to bomb the Serbs has angered Muslims, writes Emma Daly in Sarajevo
Tuesday 22 February 1994
'We are here to protest about last night,' said Amir Telibecirevic. 'They should have been attacking the Serbs and their heavy weapons.' Instead, 'they want to split up Sarajevo'. 'We are all mixed - Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Jews - and we want to stay like that.' His friends nodded in agreement.
Mr Telibecirevic, 20, comes from Ilidza, a suburb held by the Serbs. 'We are refugees in our town,' he said angrily, adding that many friends who did not escape are dead. He lives in a grim concrete tower block in a flat that housed a Serbian family who fled to the other side 'of their own free will'. 'The man was a sniper,' Mr Telibecirevic said by way of explanation, and added, matter of factly: 'My father was killed on the front line by a sniper.'
He does not see air strikes as a deterrent but as a just punishment. 'We want the heavy weapons to be bombed because those are the weapons sending millions of shells on to our cities. But we know Boutros- Ghali (UN Secretary-General) does not want to act against the Serbs.'
Above, two Nato fighters roared by on a reconnaissance mission - but the rumble of jets cannot drown out the fact that Nato has lived down to Sarajevo's expectations.
A hand-painted poster in a darkened art gallery paraphrases an Elton John song: 'It's sad so sad, it's a sad, sad situation and it's getting more and more absurd . . . Sarajevo seems to be the hardest word.'
The poster is one of dozens reproduced in postcard form with black- market ink on black-market paper, which convey the feelings of Trio, a pair of graphic designers (the third member went to visit her boyfriend in Switzerland a month before the war and never came back).
'People think the cards are funny, but it's not sarcastic humour, they're stories about our life, the truth about our way of living, our way of thinking,' said Bojan Hadzihalilovic. 'I think that Sarajevans, 99 per cent, did not expect Nato to do anything. In that 1 per cent . . . we were afraid of the day after (and possible Serbian retaliation). But to get that satisfaction, we would be ready for anything.'
His wife, Dalida, was incredulous about the West's response to the market-place shell that killed 68 people. 'No one asked how many shells had fallen there before,' she said. 'I think about 30. I never went to the market because I expected shelling.'
Mr Hadzihalilovic said: 'We feel like convicts. Our destiny is that we will be in some kind of concentration camp. This is a fear echoed by many: perhaps the UN has stopped the butchery, but now what? The 'green line' scenario is mentioned often as a possible outcome, but for now there is a double siege, with the peace-keepers holding the inner line and the enemy holding the outer line.'
On the wall are cards commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 1984 Winter Games. On one the Olympic rings are made of barbed wire, on another of blood. A third bears the legend: 'The important thing in the Olympic Games is not taking part but winning.'
With a laugh, Mr Hadzihalilovic said: 'A friend of mine said 'I had a dream. I saw the sky above Sarajevo and I saw the planes firing rockets and I saw the explosions from the other side. And Sarajevans were lining the main street, applauding'.'
Such sentiments are widespread across the city. Outside Skenderija, an Olympic stadium now used as UN barracks, three girls were playing in the snow. Irna, an enchanting 10-year-old, seemed to be the ringleader. She wore gold earrings of fleurs-de-lis, the symbol of Bosnia, and she spoke for her people. 'I know that the UN wants to bomb the Chetniks (Serbs),' she said giggling. ' Of course I want it to too.'
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