By Mladen Dragojlovic – Banja Luka
Members of Republic of Srpska Association of detainees build a cross on the Trebevic hill, less than a kilometer from the first houses in Sarajevo; an act that raised the tensions between Serbs and Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The cross was made overnight and, as the president of the Association, Branislav Dukic, told IBNA, it represents a temporary monument to Serbs killed in Sarajevo during the war in 1992-1995.
“In the Association we believe that those Serbs who decided to stay in Sarajevo and were killed and detained in concentration camps in the city, deserve to have a monument. It was not possible to build that monument in Sarajevo, so several years ago, we decided to build it on place called Zlatiste”, said Dukic.
He added that the Association has completed the project of a permanent monument, which includes a small chapel and a big cross that will be visible from any part of Sarajevo. Dukic emphasized that the Association will gather donations to provide money for permanent monument.
“A long time ago, the Association had announced that this cross will be raised in Zlatiste. Now, we have built it and, despite criticism and threats, we will not back down”, said Dukic.
Since Sunday morning, when the cross was raised, political parties, international organizations and Sarajevo residents have been demanding its removal. They argue that the reason they want the cross taken down is the fact that, during the war, Zlatiste was one of the strongholds of the Republic of Srpska Army (RSA), which opened fire on citizens in the city, killing them with snipers and shells.
During the war, Sarajevo was besieged by RSA and Trebevic hill was a frontline between RSA and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AR BiH). In the city, Bosnian Muslims were the majority and the small number of Serbs, who decided to stay in their homes in Sarajevo, were tortured from other nationality neighbors, rebel groups and, in some cases, government institutions. Several commanders of AR BiH units captured Serbs and forced them to dig trenches on the frontline and some of them were executed in Kazani and at the frontline near Zlatiste, on Trebevic hill.
During and after the war, the leaders of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) called those atrocities over Sarajevo Serbs “isolated incidents” and never admitted the existence of concentration camps for Serbs in the city.
On the other hand, it is also true that thousands of Sarajevo residents of all nationalities were killed by RSA shelling and sniper fire from hills over and around the city. Among them were more than a thousand children.
Since the cross was built during the electoral campaign, several opposition leaders in Republic of Srpska also demanded its removal saying that its function is the promotion of the ruling SNSD party. They also argue that it is not a proper monument to the memory of Sarajevo Serbs.
During the night, Sunday to Monday, a group of young men from Sarajevo tried to pull down the cross by force, but were apprehended by the police.
At present, the cross still stands on Trebevic hill.