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December 11, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 219

Serbs in Sarajevo

by Milan Milosevic

On November 29, a large meeting was held in Ilidza. The local residents of Dobrinja, Lukavica, Vojkovici and Kasindol on that day crossed the Sarajevo airport on foot. Slogans like "We won't give Sarajevo up!" dominated. Four days later, a large meeting was held in Grbavica. Three days later, on December 7, another, largest in this series of meetings, was held in Grbavica.

Around 20 000 Serbs from Sarajevo have signed a petition: "Freedom and peace for Serb Sarajevo".

In Banjaluka, according to certain sources, protest meetings are discouraged by official institutions, while the same institutions in Serb-controlled parts of Sarajevo, as it seems, encourage them. The Parliament Speaker of the Serb Republic in Bosnia (RS) Momcilo Krajisnik, announces in Vogosca that Serbs do not want to give away Sarajevo and do not wish to move out, but in case they are forced to do so, their evacuation should be organized with the help of the government and by an announcement to the citizens which would give them ample time. The opposition leaders from the RS (liberals, socialists, communists) demand that the Serbs from Sarajevo be told the truth - that the territory will be handed over to B-H Federation. They estimate that possibilities for evacuating Serbs from Sarajevo are nonexistent.

The Bosnian government and a few top politicians (Izetbegovic, Silajdzic and from the Serb Civic Council - Pejanovic) have asked all Serbs from Sarajevo to remain in Sarajevo. They have invited UNHCR to open up their offices on Ilidza, which should guarantee the safety of civilians.

In Serbia, nationalist opposition parties are using the position of the Serbs in Sarajevo to accuse President Milosevic of treason. The pacifistic parties are demanding international guarantees, advocating peace and reconciliation, while advising Serbs from Sarajevo not to abandon their homes.

Announcements have been made of collective evacuations. Some, like Dragan Dragic, have announced that the Serbs, if they retreat, shall burn everything behind them. Mothers of fallen soldiers are threatening with collective suicide. An older man from Grbavica has committed suicide, while in Vogosca the tragedy of a man who killed two children, his wife, and finally himself is also connected with the impossibility of reconciling with Sarajevo's reintegration.

The Reuters Agency notes on December 1 that smaller groups of women and children have started to leave Ilidza. The ones that are leaving are mainly those who have relatives in other places, while it is said that those who have no other refuge shall leave at the last moment.

The Fonet Agency, stating United Nation and Bosnian Serb sources, published that on December 3, authorities from Pale have denied exit to the people who were trying to leave parts of Sarajevo under the control of the Bosnian Serbs. The authorities from Pale have not made any official announcements, but, citing witnesses accounts, the AFP Agency announces that police on the territory of Ilidza, under the control of the Bosnian Serbs, are not allowing people from that part of the city to leave with their property.

The police claim that the authorities "have reached a decision on that towards the middle of last week".

A member of the UN peace force on the Sarajevo airport states that the Bosnian Serb police force is "returning all cars loaded with household objects". He mentioned a convoy "of around 15 vehicles, full of mattresses, blankets, kitchen appliances", which tried to enter Lukavica, a settlement which, according to the Dayton agreement, is to remain under the Bosnian Serb control.

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