Despite the large number of witnesses, who still remember the tragic events in Sarajevo 25 years ago, politicians, historians and ordinary citizens still don’t have a unified version of the Dobrovoljacka street shooting.
Like in many other cases in the one country with two entities and three nations, the truth is halfway between two lies. But there are facts that cannot be disputed, despite numerous attempts from both the Serb and Bosniak side.
In the first days of May 1992 the political situation in BiH was on the edge of war but there was still a chance for negotiations. One round of talks was held in Lisbon and delegations were on the way home. The fact is that former BiH Chairman of Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, was held on the Sarajevo International Airport by members of Jugoslav National Army (JNA). Later he was transported to city downtown, in the Army HQ building, where several hundreds of young soldiers was held under siege for several days. The following day, May 3, another fact is that it was the last chance for BiH nations to reach some kind of agreement about peace, but they failed.
The fact is that JNA general, Milutin Kukanjac, Alija Izetbegovic, and several other officers were in the armored UNPROFOR transporter vehicle which was supposed to deliver Izetbegovic on a spot near the Presidency building and then continue to the town suburb area. After the transporter, according to agreement reached the evening before, wasa column of military trucks with soldiers which were supposed to be liberated of the siege. The fact is that, right after the column entered the narrow Dobrovoljacka street, several shots were fired and that column was broken in two parts. Another undisputed fact is that some of the soldiers and members of medical staff that were following the trucks were wounded or killed.
Another fact is that part of the military convoy was destroyed, Izetbegovic was delivered in the Presidency building and former Bosnia and Herzegovina, from that point, crossed the line and was drowned in the blood of its citizens. The fact also is that all the main actors of the events on the beginning of May survived, but thousands from those who didn’t want a war didn’t.
These are the facts, but all sides are reading them in a different way. Bosniaks, leaded by Izetbegovic’s son, Bakir Izetbegovic, who is now also member of BiH Presidency, claimed that the events of May 1992 were fights which decided the future of BiH as an independent state.
“These events represent the successful defence of BiH and Sarajevo as its capital. On that day, barehanded patriots prevented agresor Jugoslav National Army from occupying BiH Presidency building and cut the city in two parts. We were not supposed to let it happen because of our independency and the will of people as was depicted on the referendum on independence”, said Izetbegovic in any occasion linked with these events.
A large number of citizens also believe that soldiers in trucks in Dobrovoljacka street had weapon, despite the agreement which defined that they could leave the building without riffles. They also believe that the Army’s plan was to take control of the city downtown in order to force Bosniak politicians to withdraw the decision on independency.
Serbs, on the other side, claim that soldiers in trucks were barehanded, and that organized Bosniak paramilitary organization “Green berets” attacked them just because most of them were Serbs.
“Twenty five years ago, in Dobrovoljacka street, one of the biggest crimes ever in BiH took place”, said Serb member of BiH Presidency, Mladen Ivanic.
According to Serb documentation, 42 JNA soldiers were killed, 71 was wounded, 207 soldiers were captured. Nine of them were taken to “Big park” in Sarajevo downtown and brutally executed. As the main creator of all events in and around Dobrovoljacka street, Serbs mark Bosniak politician at the time, Ejup Ganic, who, according to many participants of these events, wanted the war at all costs.
Events after the Dobrovoljacka street incident show that the Bosniak side was not without weapons, as they claimed, that many Serbs had some kind of revenge as the reason for war and that, in fact, all of them, including Croats, had reasons to start a war. The only disputed issue looks like a replica from the Oscar awarded BiH movie “No Man’s Land” where actors, depending who possess the only riffle, are asking each other: Admit now, who begun the war?
But, that day’s events is not possible to explain and analyze without an impartial, scientific approach, without national or other influences. This must be done while part of the main actors are still alive, in any other case it will be useless.
Wise people know that a lie becomes the truth when its creators begin to believe in it. In Bosnia this proverb has taken root./IBNA