Tuesday, January 3, 2012
3) Bosnia and Hercigovina twenty years later a child crosses a bridge from which he can never return
(Bosanska Dubica bridge)
1) Do you remember were you were when you realized the war was imminent?
I lived in Bosanska Dubica a border town on the river Una. Across the river was the Croatian Village of Dubica. A classmate recently moved to Dubica into a newly built house. On a warm spring day I rode my bike across the bridge to visit my friend as I crossed the bridge I noticed an improvised checkpoint on the Croatian side with the new Croatian flag. I did not pay much attention to it and continued on to my friends new house. Upon arrival I rang the doorbell and his mother answered the door. I asked if my friend was home and her answer was “Oh no, he is at his grandparents in Bosnia”. I was confused for a second and left to go back home. Only this time, while I was on my bike riding a road I have done so many times before, it did not feel the same anymore. Then I realized what was different this time, this is the last time I will ever ride my bike on this road, nobody has ever in my life referred to the other side of the river as Bosnia. It never occurred to me that one side is called Bosnia and the other Croatia. This division between two places, which never existed in my life, changed everything that day. I was suddenly riding my bike to Bosnia from Croatia and no longer just going from my friends house to my house. As I came to the bridge I looked again at the Croatian Flag that never hung there before and I noticed a young Croatian policeman. He was a guy in his early twenties sitting in a camping chair with his feet up sunglasses on military pants and an olive green t-shirt. Next to his chair was a Yugoslav army replica of the infamous AK-47. He listened to radio and smiled as I stared at him. He was a member of the MUP (Ministarstvo Unutrasnjih Poslova) also known as Mupovci as the Serbs called them. I started riding across the bridge in front of me was Bosnia and behind me Croatia. Left behind that day was an amazing childhood to come was war. Three weeks from that day war started between that young Croatian Mupovac and a JNA armada stationed in my Bosnia.
2) Do you remember were you were when the war broke out?
It was around 9 pm. My brother and I were in the living room of our house. The windows of the living room faced north towards the river and Croatia. The dark windows suddenly became bright as strong flashes of light lit up the night sky. There were 3 flashes and the sky became filled with anti-aircraft tracers. Next day it was said that two JNA plains attempted to take surveillance pictures of the Croatian side and the Croatian Army responded, however not hitting the plains.
3) Where were you when the war came to your town?
I was home alone around 5pm doing homework on the floor of the living room as a loud explosion ripped through the town almost shattering the windows. That day the Croatians attempted to blow up the bridge that connected Bosnia to Croatia. They inflicted significant damage but did not take down the bridge. In days to come they were attacked by the JNA and forced out of Dubica into the inners of Croatia. They returned back to the border during the 1995 operation Oluja.
4) The most memorable event of the war for you was?
One day during the war our neighbor, a single Serb mother who was a store owner, had a bunch of Serb Cetniks in her back yard celebrating their recent looting escapades in Croatia. They were drinking all day long and unloading a truck full of stolen goods from Croatia. My friend Zlatan and I have been messing around my back yard all day long. As the Cetniks were unloading the truck we snuck up behind my aunt’s house that was about 30 meters away from them. We peeked around the corner and saw 5 Cetniks talking to each other about the loot. They were all drunk. Two of the Cetniks started yelling at each other and cussing each other out. One had his back turned to us as the other faced us. The argument got heated and the Cetnik facing us went for his hand gun but was too slow and got shot 4 times before he could fire once hitting the other guy in the leg. The Cetnik facing us fell to the ground and we started running. We ran for about 20 meters and jumped behind the fence in my yard. As soon as we got behind the fence the wounded Cetnik that had his back to us ran by us holding his leg and humping down our street. We were afraid but also very happy as we realized that the one Cetnink killed another. One less ARBiH had to deal with.
5) What made you hopeless during the war?
One day Cetniks attacked a predominantly Moslem neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Later on that day Moslem inhabitants of the neighborhood (Polje or Krajisnici) made their way on foot and in vehicles across town to Krivdica Brdo neighborhood. It was a sad day watching people you knew forced to leave their houses.
6) What gave you hope during the war?
Knowledge that somewhere in Bosnia there are free Bosnian armed forced fighting to their last breath to defend their homes.
7) Did you lose anyone close to you during the war?
No I did not. My mother’s close family is from Kozarac many died.
8) Were you wounded during the war? Were you wounded?
9) Your biggest loss during the war was?
I lost my home my city my neighborhood my childhood forever. I would lose everything many times over again if it could bring back loved ones many people have lost.
10) What was the hardest part about the war?
Being helpless and having problems dealing with the fact that you cannot resist. Not being able to participate in the fight for Bosnia was hard.
11) Did you leave the country during the war?
Ethnically cleansed on March 03 1993 from Bosanska Dubica
12) 20 years later, what do you think of what happened?
Much unfinished business is still left.
13) Are things better or worse than what you expected 20 years later?
14) Do you think war will return to BiH?
War is bad very very bad. I wish it never happens to anyone but Bosnia may see conflicts again.
15) What do you think the future of BiH will be?
From the time of Illyria and for the rest of days Bosnians have suffered and will continue to suffer. I like to use the allegory of the cave to illustrate the Bosnian. The Bosnian knows no better he suffers and keeps telling himself and others “Suti, neke je ziva glava, bice bolje” = “Be quiet, we are lucky to be alive, it’ll be better”