.Later, I understood what had happened. A group of about 150 Bosniak and Croat men, who had escaped from the villages attacked by the Serb forces, had gathered in the woods on the periphery, and attacked the town. Their plan was to capture all the important
objectsplaces in town like the radio station, the hotel, and the police station, and call the Bosniaks and Croats to rise up. uprising.They managed to fight their way to the town centre, but their rifles were no match tofor the tanks and other heavy weaponry of the Serb forces. The majority of the attackers were killed, and those few who had survived were transported to the prison camp, where they were tortured for days before being murdered. The local authorities had also used this opportunity to get rid of the unwanted citizens. As the Serb forces were repelling the attackers, at the same time, they were destroying homes, restaurants and shops belonging to the Bosniaks and Croats. They pulled men out of their homes and shot them on the spot. Hundreds of them had lost their lives on that day. My father’s good friend, Asim, was also murdered in his house. He was in our kitchen laughing and joking a few days before, and now it was unthinkable that I would never see him again. My former classmate, Damir, went outside to see what had happened to his father, who did not return from his job. He was stopped by a Serb soldier and killed. He lost his life not knowing that his father was shot dead an hour or two before. Some of the killings had been atrandom, but in other cases, the victims were carefully chosen. Judges, lawyers, professors, doctors and other intellectuals and distinguished citizens had been among the first to be executed. If they had beenThey weren't fortunate enough , they wouldto have ended up, like others, in a prison camp, where they could at least have had at leasta chance to survive.
The psychiatrist with his
luxuriousluxuriant hair and his generals had until now executed their plans perfectly. I was furious at them, but even more,I was even more furious at all those leaders of European countries who remained silent, and seemed not to be bothered at all that just a few hundred kilometres from their capitals, thousands of innocent people were being murdered and keptor incarcerated in prison camps. Their silence and indifference were more hurtful than any amount of physical and mental abuse I could receive from the Serb soldiers.
Immediately after the attack, the local authorities had issued a decree on local radio for all non-Serbs to mark their homes with white sheets or flags, and to wear a white band on their arms if they were leaving their homes. I went on my balcony and
turned around 360 degrees, like a panoramic camera, and my eyes caughtlooked all around, but I just saw a macabre scene. From the fences, porches, doors, windows, balconies, and roofs hung pieces of white cloth in all shapes inand sizes. One neighbour had even hangedhung a large white sheet on a long wooden pole and fastened it to the chimney of his two-story house. It fluttered high in the wind like a large sail. A few women strode on the nearby street with the white bands on their arms. People probably believed this piece of cloth was going to save them, but it only marked them for shooting. Now soldiers did not need to ask them for their names. They could kill them on the spot or throw the grenades on their homes on a whim or for the heck of it.
The next day, I heard
therumours that we would be rounded up. Although I had been expecting that newsfor weeks, my stomach churned. The thought of being imprisoned by thepeople who enjoyed torturing their victims and cutting their throats, made me shiver with fear. As I pondered over what to do, I heard shots from the neighbouring suburbs. I rushed onto my balcony and saw in the distance tanks rolling and trailing thick clouds of dust. I panicked and ran into the empty street. I had lost control over myself. I was like a huntinghunted animal sensing the end was near. I had to escape this nightmare or I would becomego mad. But where could I run away when all the roads had been blocked? To reach Croatia, I would have to walk about 30 km through theSerb-controlled territory, and I would certainly lose my bearings. If the military woulddid not catch me, the civilians certainly would. And they would hack me to death. Then I thought of my father, and I was stung with shame. How could I leave him alone? I went back into the house and changed my clothes. I put on a thick winter jacket, hoping that at least it would give me some protection against the beating, although I knew if someone had decided to take out his frustration on me, nothing would protect me from his blows.
TO BE CONTINUED
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