11-year-old Bosnian Genocide Survivor Recounts Serbian Terror
24 May 1992.
SPLIT, Croatia — Part of the biggest wave of refugees in Europe since World War II, Adnan Hebib describes what it’s like to be an 11-year-old held hostage in the hell of Sarajevo.
“In our shelter I saw a man with his arm torn off, and another one with his intestines hanging out of his stomach when a shell hit us and killed four people,” Adnan recalled.
He and his mother, Adnija Hebib, 40, a Slavic Muslim [Bosniak], and brother Admir, 9, reached the port of Split late Friday in a column of 3,000 people, mostly mothers and children. They had spent three days of captivity in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, at the hands of Serb irregulars.
The irregulars let them go after Bosnian authorities let food through to besieged barracks of the Serb-led federal army in Sarajevo.
A total of 650,000 people have fled fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina since the republic declared its independence Feb. 29. The breakup of Yugoslavia has produced 1.3 million refugees, the United Nations says — the biggest wave of human misery in Europe since World War II.
The refugees in the latest wave said Serb irregulars killed two of the drivers, took away five others and gave little food to the women and children.
Mrs. Hebib, her face lined with worry, watched with incredulity as her son, Adnan, spoke calmly of the gore in Sarajevo and the heavy guns pointed at them during a three-day wait in Ilidza, a suburb of Sarajevo.
“We were most afraid when they put an anti-aircraft machine gun in front of us in Ilidza and told us they would not let us through,” the 11-year-old said.
Driver Nunaj Pren said he and a colleague were beaten with clubs, then spared. He and his fellow driver, who would not give his name, showed yellow and blue bruises.
“They let two of us leave late at night, but in front of us, on a dark meadow between two buildings, they killed two of our colleagues, Ismet, 38, and Zoran, 32, after putting silencers on their guns,” he said.
“They killed Ismet by putting the gun in his mouth, and Zoran from a short distance in the back of his head,” Pren said.
“Zoran was a Serb, and they killed him for not joining their forces, and on Ismet’s money-pocket they found a Bosnian Territorial Unit sticker,” he said.
Another driver, Mustafa Vildzic, 57, said he had been in a group of 10 men taken away by the Serbs in Ilidza. Five were let go, and he didn’t know what had happened to the others.
“They let me go as I insisted I was driving a 25-day-old baby in my car. The baby saved me,” Vildzic said.
Not surprisingly, it had been hard to find drivers to volunteer for the convoy. It also was hard to find buses, said one of the drivers, Tomislav Budimir, 36.
“I’d heard some Muslims had hidden buses and I thought they would give them to us without problems, but they didn’t want to, so I forced them with a gun,” Budimir said. “Without weapons you can’t do anything anymore.”
Budimir said he had brought 107 children and mothers to Split in a dirty red Sarajevo bus with wooden seats that the people had padded with jackets and luggage to make the 24-hour trip over bad roads endurable.
Now they have no place to stay in overloaded Split, and will have to spend several days in their cars and buses, officials said Saturday.