Related topics

Neither Serbs Nor Muslims Feel They Could Live Together

March 2, 1996

DOBROSEVICI, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Sejad Delic and his mother walked into their hilltop village in silence on Saturday, passing the last of their Serb neighbors hurrying to get out.

They had lived side-by-side for generations before the war and hadn’t seen each other in four years. No one said a word or even acknowledged the other’s existence.

``Let them go,″ said Munevera Delic, 54, waving the Serbs off with her hands. ``They know what they did. That’s why they’re going.″

Sejad, 22, and his mother were among about 150 Muslims who returned to Dobrosevici, just northwest of downtown Sarajevo, for a look at their homes being vacated by Bosnian Serbs. They were still homes when the Muslims were expelled in spring 1992. They are nothing more than naked walls now.

The village was part of territory around Sarajevo returning to Bosnian government control under the Dayton peace accord. Serbs, fearing retribution for Muslim villagers murdered at the start of the war, are leaving, taking with them everything they can.

``These, here, are my neighbors I grew up with,″ Sejad said, pointing at the intact home of Serbs next to his destroyed house. ``When I went there in 1992 to ask them to save me from being taken to a camp or being killed, Mileva said she doesn’t know me and slammed the door.″

Sejad first saw his next-door neighbor, Mileva Crnovcic, two days ago as she was packing to leave. She ran inside when she saw him, he said.

``She doesn’t dare to come out. She is afraid of me,″ he said, standing just yards from Mileva’s front door.

Sejad had just celebrated his 18th birthday and was suffering one of his first hangovers when, on the morning of May 30, 1992, Serbs in the surrounding hills opened fire.

Within days, Serbs captured the village and arrested his family. His mother was exchanged after seven days. Sejad and his father were brought to a detention camp in nearby Rajlovac and beaten along with the other Muslim men.

His father, Hajro, died in Sejad’s arms two days after he arrived at the camp following a 24-hour beating by a former neighbor, Nikola Stanisic, whom Sejad identified as the brother of Maksim Stanisic, a Bosnian Serb representative trying to encourage Serbs not to flee the area.

Dozens of Dobrosevici’s Muslim residents were killed in the early days of the war.

Four years later, neither the Delics, nor their Serb neighbors, feel there is any reason to live together again.

Serbs have been fleeing the areas to be handed over for weeks, and the exodus is continuing. What galls the returning Muslims is that in some case Serbs are stripping other people’s homes bare.

Sejad’s three-story childhood home had just been renovated with new windows and doors at a cost of $12,000 before war erupted. He said he saw the doors, windows and frames being driven out of the village on the back of a Serb truck Thursday.

Munevera said she had met some of her neighbors packing and leaving. They were told by Bosnian Serb police they have to leave, she said, but they don’t know where to go.

``The reason why they are leaving, really, is all around us. Just look at the place,″ she said, pointing around her. Not one house was left untouched; most had been stripped of window and door frames and some were torched.

``I hope they will wander around with those overloaded trucks forever and never settle anywhere,″ she said bitterly. ``I hope they will never put those windows and doors they took from my house and build them into another one.″

Arriving at her home for the first time on Saturday, Munevera brought coffee, a pot, some sugar and four small cups so that she could have coffee in her own house as soon as she got back.

Although the house was virtually naked _ even light switches had been ripped from the walls _ she found a small wooden stove in the yard and carried it inside to make a fire.

An old table stood in the middle of the wooden floor. Some dirty clothes were in the corner. On them, a piece of paper: a handwritten list of Sejad’s possessions. The previous Serb inhabitant had made it, planning the move.

Sejad scanned the list of furniture and stopped at the last item: skis.

``I was hoping to find them, at least. I kept them under other junk in the attic, but the bastard found them,″ Sejad said.

Munevera was even upset with her own government for suggesting that Serbs remain in the Sarajevo region and that there might be an amnesty for all but war criminals to ease Serb fears of the Muslim-Croat federation that will rule united Sarajevo.

``This government wants me to beg them on my knees to stay,″ she said. ``But I’m happy to see them go. They are all the same to me.″

Update hourly