It was a bloody spring of 1992. Just a few months earlier Vukovar fell after bloody battles for every house.
There was already a lot of crimes committed against the civilian population, and some of the offenders were convicted, but there was still hope that Vukovar is just an isolated incident at that time and that someone, whether the famous international community, or the JNA, anyone, will manage to organize peace agreements in order to stop further bloodshed.
One of the very few people who had the feeling that the violence from Croatia will spread was Ron Haviv, then a young man in his twenties. He heard about the break-up of Yugoslavia as an aspiring photographer and decided to go on the field.
When asked if he had any idea that he will testify some of the worst atrocities in Europe since the World War II, he said: “I had no idea what was going to happen exactly, but soon, through Slovenia to Croatia, it became clear what could actually happen and, unfortunately, these horrors really happened.”
Photos of Ron Haviv, especially a series of photographs from Bijeljina, went all around the world. The notorious war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan allowed him to follow his Tigers, and Haviv had that fortune in misfortune to record the first massacres against civilians in BiH.
The lens of Ron Haviv recorded the murder of Ajsa Sabanovic, a woman in a white sweater, that everyone called Tifa.
“They took two of them in front of the gate and killed them, and then they killed Tifa too. I saw Tifa, she was still alive. I can still see her knitted sweater in front of my eyes,” said Dzenita Mulabdic for Bosnian media.
In the book “Masters of Darkness” by Jusuf Trbic, Haviv said that he saw the murder of civilians in Bijeljina.
“They posed (Arkan’s men) in the mosque, with the Muslim flag, and showed three fingers. At the same time, I heard something in one room in the mosque. I walked in and saw a man, a civilian, and they were looking for his ID card to identify him. While showing his ID, they said to look at it, because he is a fundamentalist from Kosovo.
A few minutes later, I heard screaming outside and I went out of the mosque,” said Haviv.