Mostar is an accident waiting to happen


Last month SFOR shut down Hercegovacka Bank, which was suspected of funding the radical separatist party HDZ. The HDZ wants the 'Hercegovina' part of 'Bosnia-Hercegovina' to be its own country. People on the west side of Mostar went crazy.

Gina was walking home from a morning out with a friend when the riot broke out. Led by twenty-something males with too much testosterone, they started throwing eggs at SFOR workers, and then quickly escalated to rocks. Gina changed her route to bypass the riot, and encountered an even bigger riot on the main street through town. Thousands of people were gathered, hurling eggs and rocks at everything SFOR or UN. Three SFOR Land Rovers were overturned, all the glass smashed out and the bodies crunched and dented to shreds. As SFOR personnel gathered in full riot gear, piloting their armored cars, Gina walked down the street in a skirt, wishing she looked less Western. An old man running in front of her, whom Gina thought was attempting to escape the rioting, was actually just gathering stones. When he found some, he started throwing too. Rocks were rolling around at Gina's feet when she decided to try a side street. Life was continuing as usual back there; kids were playing soccer, people were going to the market.

Gina got home and told me what was going on, and I thought this would make some good material for the web site. I bet this is my mom's worst nightmare--curious Chris goes out to snap some pictures of a war. Sorry, mom, I won't do it again. Anyway, I went out to survey the damage, and there was a couple of destroyed vehicles, a pile of SFOR soldiers in riot gear, and a few hundred Bosnian Croats mulling around. I started to take a picture of some tanks, but then about six police officers accosted me and took my
film. It was kind of fun, having film confiscated--just like the movies!

So they sent me home, and it looks like I've got to settle for this archive photo of me in front of an SFOR compact car. Sorry everybody, I tried as best as I could.

Ever since, Mostar's been crawling with SFOR soldiers. Mostly a bunch of 20-year-olds doing mandatory military service for Spain or France, all packing automatic rifles and full riot gear and stationed on every street corner. They drive around town in these massive army-green vehicles with huge guns mounted on top. It's a grim reminder that we don't live in Canada anymore.