bosnia report
New Series No. 9/10 April - July 1999
 
The bomb and the TV
by Zlatko Dizdarevic

Many normal people and especially professional journalists throughout the world have condemned the bombing of the Belgrade television building, and the killing of what they call innocent civilians. The TV picture of the leg of the unfortu nate make-up girl sticking out of the ruins of the building was certainly dra matic and disquieting. The revolt against it is now called defence of journal ism. But the memory of the unfortunate Sarajevo comes flooding back - the days, and even more the nights, that we equally innocent and terrified civilians spent in the cellars of the Oslobodenje building, which was being stubbornly and sys tematically destroyed for days, weeks and even months until it became a complete ruin. Our building was bigger and more beautiful that of the Serbian TV, and many more fathers and mothers worked in it than in the building destroyed in Belgrade. I also recall the terrifying scurry across to reach it, before and af ter sniper shots: like a destiny, they stubbornly and coldly waited for us even inside the building, with the sole aim of killing us. Some indeed found their target.

I am sorry for remembering all this, and for not being sufficiently good and forgiving to forget it. I see that many of those who live abroad no longer remember this, if only for the sake of journalism, high principles or the memory of those caught by the bullet. They are fighting on behalf of journalism which, they say, should not be killed by bombs. I do not view this in the same way that they do, and it is possible that they are simply better than me, more attached to high principles, journalism or freedom - in general. I too was once attached in general to all such principles, which we were taught in our youth, in those happy days before the guns arrived and snipers appeared above our editorial of fices.

In recalling those days I do not feel angry or embittered. Nor do I call for re ÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ venge. This I will never do. But I can no longer be a `superman' and believe that one can fight against crime with flowers and prayers. Nor am I willing for the case of 'The Bastille' 1  to be placed on our conscience, or that we as jour nalists should feel guilty for not mourning for `The Bastille'. The best we can do is to be indifferent.

We in Sarajevo were taught this indifference against our will. It was a long and difficult education. This is why we feel that it is best to remain silent about goodness and forgiveness. So much about innocent people and destruction. As for the Serbian TV, there is one further fact. Professional solidarity would be mis placed, since what its journalists have been doing has nothing to do with the profession to which we belong, however good or bad as journalists we may be. By acting as snipers with their cameras and personal computers they became responsible for planned killings. I do not understand why the journalists' unions are raising their voices, where these people are concerned. Perhaps they do not know whom they are defending.

Ignorance, however, does not free them from guilt. I would like to remind them that one of the first victims of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a man guarding the TV relay on Mount Vlasic just outside Sarajevo. He was not hit by a bomb. He was killed in cold blood by Serb soldiers, who came to take over our big TV an tenna and turn it, like a big gun, in the desired direction. It was only then that the war could begin. It did and it has been going on, as we see, to this very day.

Many people here too speak of aeroplanes, bombs and principles burdened by de ceit and bias. Here too deceit, lies and bias are being produced systematically and aimed in precise directions. It must be a great relief to be persuaded that the crime you have committed was in fact an act of heroism and should be used in ever greater quantities against other people. This is what the `journalists' in the destroyed building in Belgrade have been doing all these years. It has noth ing to do with professional journalism.

Slobodan Milosevic has been at it for the past ten years. His first victims in Kosova did not die suddenly and unexpectedly. Three hundred thousand dead in Croatia and Bosnia came before Kosova. Hundreds of destroyed bridges, torched cities, vandalised villages and destroyed newspaper, radio and television build ings happened before Kosova. Also journalists killed for no other reason but that they were good at their job. If Serbian television had ever and in any way reported on any of this, they would now have the right to say that their TV is nothing but a media centre and would deserve that we all raise our voices against its destruction. If they had done this, the inhabitants of Serbia would not be where they are now or be asking why they are being bombed when they have done nothing.

1. This is the name given to the Belgrade TV building by the Serbian opposition.

Zlatko Dizdarevic is editor of the Sarajevo weekly Svijet. A longer version of the text appeared in the issue of 2 May.

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