When Grbavica, one of the largest settlements in Sarajevo, was occupied by members of the army of Bosnian Serbs and the Yugoslav People’s Army in early 1992, the local population did not believe that this settlement will become a major concentration camp and a place of suffering, torture, murders and rape.
During almost 4 years of occupation, Grbavica was cut off from the rest of Sarajevo, from the junction at Vrbanja Bridge downstream Miljacka River up to the intersection with building Loris and the stadium of Zeljeznicar.
That was happening until the 19th of March 1996, when Avdo Hebib, the then Minister of Police, first entered the territory of Grbavica accompanied by his units.
“Sarajevo was not reintegrated but liberated. Sarajevo was not disintegrated, it was occupied, and occupied territories are liberated. Reintegration is just a deception of the international community and we have to be aware of that fact. So, after the release of Ilidza, we started with the liberation of Grbavica and that day we went to Vrace and Trebevic and set up a big flag with lilies,” said Hebib.
“We found a real horror when we entered the territory of Grbavica. The settlement looked like a concrete jungle with vegetation, while most of the buildings were robbed and set on fire, and the installation were completely devastated,” recalled Hebib.
“In one of the apartments that were on fire was heard a baby’s cry. Members of the Italian Brigade Garibaldi, which were stationed in Vrace, went into the apartment and rescued the baby. The Ministry of Defense of Italy rewarded these soldiers.”
“Grbavica looked much like Hiroshima. They burned everything before our entry, they removed tap of water pipes so that the water was flowing in apartments, and many apartments were set on fire. Citizens appeared on windows, and they cried and applauded to our entry. It was emotional when you see people waving, crying after four years in prison and concentration camp, after everything these people had gone through,” said Hebib.
With the entry to Grbavica, the last settlement that was occupied by the aggressor, the transfer of power in the municipalities of Sarajevo was completed, which according to the Dayton Peace Agreement belonged to the FBiH. The same day were liberated other parts of the Municipality Centar in Sarajevo: Pionirska Dolina, Nahorevo, Sip, Betanija, and Mrkovici, which were occupied during 1992-1995.