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BosNet DIgest V5 #14 / Jan. 8, 1996

From: Dzevat Omeragic <dzevat@EE.MCGILL.CA>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory















    THE NATION, vol. 261, no. 22

    December 25, 1995

    'There' and 'Here'

    By Susan Sontag

    I went to Sarajevo for the first time in April 1993, one year after the start of the Serb-Croat campaign to carve up the newly independent multi-ethnic Bosnian state. Leaving Sarajevo after that first stay, I flew out as I had come in, on one of the Russian UNPROFOR cargo planes making a regular run between Sarajevo and Zagreb. The heart-stopping drive into the besieged city by the switchback trail over Mount Igman lay far in the future, on my seventh and eighth stays; and by that time, the winter and summer of 1995, my standards of peril and my tolerance of the shock of Sarajevo would have eased. Nothing ever equaled the first shock. The shock of Sarajevo itself, the misery of daily life in the shattered city under constant mortar and sniper fire. And the aftershock of re-entry into the outside world.

    To leave Sarajevo and be, an hour later, in a "normal" city (Zagreb). To get into a taxi (a taxi!) at the airport ... to ride in traffic regulated by traffic signals, along streets lined with buildings that have intact roofs, unshelled walls, glass in the windows ... to turn on the light switch in your hotel room . to use a toilet and flush it afterward. .. to run the bath (you haven't had a bath in several weeks) and have water, even hot water, come out of the tap ... to take a stroll and see shops, and people walking, like you, at a normal pace ... to buy something in a small grocery store with fully stocked shelves ... to enter a restaurant and be given a menu. ... All this seems so bizarre and upsetting that, for at least forty-eight hours, you feel quite disoriented. And very angry. To speak to people who don't want to know what you know, don't want you to talk about the sufferings, bewilder- ment, terror and humiliation of the inhabitants of the city you've just left. And even worse, when you return to your own "normal" city (New York) and your friends say, "Oh, you're back; I was worried about you" -- to realize that they don't want to know either. To understand that you can never really explain to them -- neither how terrible it is "there" nor how bad you feel being back, "here." That the world will be for- ever divided into "there" and "here."

    People don't want to hear the bad news. Perhaps they never do. But in the case of Bosnia the indifference, the lack of ef- fort to try to imagine, was more acute than I ever anticipated. You find that the only people you feel comfortable with are those who have been to Bosnia too. Or to some other slaugh- ter -- El Salvador, Cambodia, Rwanda, Chechnya. Or who at least know, firsthand, what a war is.

    A few weeks ago -- I'm writing in late November -- I re- turned from my ninth stay in Sarajevo. Although once again I came in by the only land route, this was no longer my sole option (U.N. planes were again landing on a corner of the de- stroyed Sarajevo airport), and the rutted dirt trail over Mount Igman was no longer the most dangerous route in the world. It had been widened and graded by U.N. engineers into ... a road. In the city there was electricity for the first time. The shells were not exploding, snipers' bullets were not whizzing past everyone's heads. There would be gas for the winter. There was the promise of running water. Since my return, an agreement has been signed in Ohio that promises an end to the war. Whether peace, an unjust peace, has actually come to Bosnia I am reluctant to say. If Slobodan Milosevic, who started the war, wants the war to end and can impose this de- cision on his proxies in Pale, then the successful campaign to destroy Bosnia by killing or relocating or driving into exile most of its population is, in most senses, finished. Finished, too, is what the Bosnians had held out for: their internation- ally recognized unitary state.

    So Bosnia (an utterly transformed Bosnia) is to be parti- tioned. So might instead of right has triumphed. Nothing new in that -- see Thucydides, Book V, "the Melian dialogue." It's as if the eastern advance of the Wehrmacht had been halted in late 1939 or early 1940 and the League of Nations called a conference among "the warring parties," at which Germany was awarded half of Poland (the western part), the invading Russians got 20 percent of the east, and while the 30 percent of their country in the middle that the Poles were allowed to keep did include their capital, most of the territory surrounding it went to the Germans. Of course, no one would have claimed that this was very fair by "moral" criteria -- quickly adding, Since when have moral standards prevailed in international politics? Because the Poles had no chance of successfully de- fending their country against the superior forces of Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia, they would have to be content with what they got. At least, the diplomats would have said, they still have some of their country; they were on the verge of losing it all. And of course the Poles would have figured as the most difficult at the negotiations, since they didn't see themselves as simply one of three "warring parties." They thought they had been invaded. They thought they were the victims. The diplomats brokering the settlement would have found them quite unreasonable. Divided among themselves. Bitter. Untrustworthy. Ungrateful to the mediators trying to stop the slaughter.

    If before, people didn't want to know -- you often heard that the war in Bosnia is so complicated, it is hard to know which is the "right" side -- now more people do understand what happened. They also understand that the war -- that is, the Serb and Croat aggression -- could have been stopped at any moment in the past three years in exactly the same way and by the same minimum application of force by NATO (entirely sparing soldiers on the ground as well as civilians) as finally took place this past August and September. But the Europeans didn't want to stop the conflict (both the British Foreign Of- fice and the Quai d'Orsay are traditionally pro-Serb), and the Americans, the only major power to acknowledge that justice was on the Bosnian side, were reluctant to get involved. Now that the war has, or seems to have been, stopped, it suddenly looks less complicated. The mood is retrospective now.

    One question I'm often asked after returning from a stay in Sarajevo is why other well-known writers besides myself haven't spent time there. Behind this lies the more general question of how to explain the widespread indifference, or lack of solidarity, in Europe (most notably in Italy and Germany) with the victims of an appalling historical crime, nothing less than genocide -- the fourth genocide of a European minority to take place in this century. But unlike the genocide of the Armenians during World War I and of the Jews and the Gypsies in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the genocide of the Bos- niak people has taken place in the glare of worldwide press and TV coverage. No one can plead ignorance of the atrocities that have taken place in Bosnia since the war started in April 1992. Sanski Most, Stupni Do, Omarska and other concentra- tion camps with their killing houses (for hands-on, artisanal butchery, in contrast to the industrialized mass murder of the Nazi camps), the martyrdom of East Mostar and Sarajevo and Gorazde, the rape by military order of tens of thousands of women throughout Serb-captured Bosnia, the slaughter of at least 8,000 men and boys after the surrender of Srebrenica -- this is only a portion of the catalogue of infamy. And no one can be unaware that the Bosnian cause is that of Europe: democracy, and a society composed of citizens, not of the members of a tribe. Why haven't these atrocities, these values, aroused a more potent response? Why have hardly any intel- lectuals of stature and visibility rallied to denounce the Bos- nian genocide and defend the Bosnian cause?

    The Bosnian war is hardly the only horror show that has been unfolding in the past four or five years. But there are events -- model events -- that do seem to sum up the principal opposing forces of one's time. One such event was the Spanish Civil War. Like the war in Bosnia, that struggle was an em- blematic one. But intellectuals -- the writers, theater people, artists, professors, scientists who have a record of speaking up on important public events and issues of conscience -- have been as conspicuous by their absence from the Bosnian conflict as they were by their presence in Spain in the 1930s. Of course, it's speaking rather too well of intellectuals to think that they constitute something like a perennial class, part of whose vocation is to take up the best causes -- as it's unlikely that only every thirty years or so is there a war somewhere else in the world that should inspire even would-be pacifists to take sides. Most intellectuals are as conformist, as willing to sup- port the prosecution of unjust wars, as most other people ex- ercising educated professions. The number of people who have given intellectuals a good or (depending on your point of view) a bad name -- as troublemakers, voices of conscience -- has always been very small. Still, the standard of dissent and activism associated with intellectuals is a reality. Think of Havel, Pasolini, Chomsky, Sakharov, Grass, Michnik. ... Why so little response to what happened in Bosnia?

    There are probably many reasons. Heartless historical cliches certainly figure in the paltriness of the response. There is the traditional bad reputation of the Balkans as a place of eternal conflict, of implacable ancient rivalries. Haven't those folks always been slaughtering one another? (This is comparable to having said when confronted with the reality of Auschwitz: Well, what can one expect? You know, anti-Semitism is an ancient story in Europe.) Not to be underestimated, too, is the pervasiveness of anti-Muslim prejudice, a reflex reaction to a people the majority of whom are as secular, and as imbued with contemporary consumer-society culture, as their other Southern European neighbors. To bolster the fiction that this is, at its deepest source, a religious war, the label "Muslim" is invariably used to describe the victims, their army and their government -- though no one would think of describing the invaders as the Orthodox and the Catholics. Do many secular "Western'' intellectuals who might be expected to have raised their voices to defend Bosnia share these prejudices? Of course they do.

    And this is not the 1930s. Nor the 1960s. Actually, we are al- ready living in the twenty-first century, in which such twentieth- century certainties as the identification of fascism, or imperi- alism, or Bolshevik-style dictators as the principal ''enemy" no longer offer a framework (often a facile one) for thought and action. What made it obvious that one should side with the government of the Spanish Republic, whatever its flaws, was the struggle against fascism. Opposing the American ag- gression in Vietnam (which took over the unsuccessful French effort to hold on to Indochina) made sense as part of the worldwide struggle against Euro-American colonialism.

    If the intellectuals of the 1930s and the 1960s often showed themselves too gullible, too prone to appeals to idealism to take in what was really happening in certain beleaguered, newly radicalized societies that they may or may not have visited (briefly), the morosely depoliticized intellectuals of today, with their cynicism always at the ready, their addiction to en- tertainment, their reluctance to inconvenience themselves for any cause, their devotion to personal safety, seem at least equally deplorable. (I can't count how many times I've been asked, each time I return to New York from Sarajevo, how I can go to a place that's so dangerous.) By and large, that handful of intellectuals who consider themselves people of conscience can be mobilized now solely for limited actions -- against, say, racism or censorship -- within their own countries. Only domestic political commitments seem plausible now. Among once internationally minded intellectuals, nationalist complacencies have renewed prestige. (I should note that this seems true more of writers than doctors, scientists and actors.) There has been a vertiginous decay of the very notion of inter- national solidarity.

    Not only has the global bilateralism (a "them" versus "us") characteristic of political thinking throughout our short twentieth century, from 1914 to 1989 -- fascism versus democracy; the American empire versus the Soviet empire -- collapsed. What has followed in the wake of 1989 and the suicide of the Soviet empire is the final victory of capitalism, and of the ideology of consumerism, which entails the discrediting of "the political" as such. All that makes sense is private life. Indivi- dualism, and the cultivation of the self and private well-being - -- featuring, above all, the ideal of "health" -- are the values to which intellectuals are most likely to subscribe. ("How can you spend so much time in a place where people smoke all the time?" someone here in New York asked my son, the writer David Rieff, of his frequent trips to Bosnia.) It's too much to expect that the triumph of consumer capitalism would have left the intellectual class unmarked. In the era of shopping, it has to be harder for intellectuals, who are anything but marginal and impoverished, to identify with less fortunate others. George Orwell and Simone Weil did not exactly leave comfortable upper-bourgeois apartments and weekend country houses when they volunteered to go to Spain and fight for the Republic, and both of them almost got themselves killed. Perhaps the stretch for intellectuals between "there" and "here" is too great now.

    For several decades it has been a journalistic and academic commonplace to say that intellectuals, as a class, are obso- lete -- an example of an analysis willing itself to be an imperative. Now there are voices proclaiming that Europe is dead, too. It may be more true to say that Europe has yet to be born: a Europe that takes responsibility for its defenseless minorities and for upholding the values it has no choice but to incarnate (Europe will be multicultural, or it won't be at all). And Bosnia is its self-induced abortion. In the words of Emile Durkheim, "Society is above all the idea it forms of itself." The idea that the prosperous, peaceful society of Europe and North America has formed of itself -- through the actions and statements of all those who could be called intellectuals -- is one of confusion, irresponsibility, selfishness, cowardice ... and the pursuit of happiness.

    Ours, not theirs. Here, not there.

    Susan Sontag's most recent books are a novel, The Volcano Lover and a play Alice in Bed (both Farrar Straus & Giroux).


    Mostar, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - Tension in Mostar provoked by four armed incidents in the past two weeks when two persons were killed and wounded in each of them, has not been calmed down.

    Six armoured IFOR vehicles and 5O Spanish soldiers have patrolled along the Mostar Boulevard since last night, said the IFOR Spanish brigade spokesman, col.lieut. Ramon Alvarez. IFOR started the operation on demand of EU administration in Mostar.

    Regarding recent incidents in Mostar, a group of Croat politicians, high officials of the B-H Federation and the so- called Herzeg Bosnia issued a statement. In the statement, Kresimir Zubak, Mato Tadic, Jadranko Prlic, Martin Raguz, Neven Tomic, Bozo Ljubic and Vladislav Pogracic, stressed their displeasure due to frequent incidents.

    With gen. Luis Palacios Zuasti, commander of the IFOR Spanish brigade as a president, a meeting was held between the representatives of the B-H army (Dzahid Muratbegovic), Serb military (Milivoje Milosevic) and Croatian Council of Defence (Ivica Pusic). IFOR informed that their troops secured unimpeded traffic on the routes Stolac-Ljubinje, Stolac-Bileca-Trebinje and Mostar-Blagaj-Nevesinje. /end/ A.S.


    Zenica, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - After meeting held at the seat of IFOR Turkish troops with the HVO and the B-H army commanders in central Bosnia with the col. Drago Dragicic and gen. Sakib Mahmuljin, the US IFOR troops commander for North-East sector, gen. William Nash said: "The first IFOR's task is to start separation of forces. We have left enough time for the task. I do not want, gentlemen, any of the sides to say on Jan 18, that was not able to meet the demands due to bad weather or something similar. In the separation areas everybody can live except for military men. If the soldiers want to live there, after being registered at IFOR, they will have to leave their arms with their basic units. We are concerned with foreign forces in local units. They have to leave. If, however, they enter some other organization, they must act extremely well although it is the best for them to leave. /end/ A.S.


    Washington, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - The US aviation will next week send reconnaissance U-2 planes to Bosnia within the IFOR operation. Three such planes, flying on high altitude will take off from the Istres Le Tube air base in France, which used to be the base for the US planes-tankers KC-135. Regular base for the U-2 planes is Fairford in Britain, but France decided to accept the U-2 planes as a sign of its approaching NATO. France, being closer to Bosnia than Britain, it will make the reconnaissance mission easier for the pilots. /end/ A.S.


    Sarajevo, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - Vicar of Rome's bishopric and president of the Bishopric Conference of Italy, cardinal Camilo Ruini said mass in the sarajevo Cathedral on the holly day of Epiphany. He brought to Sarajevo a torch of peace which Pope lit in 1994 wishing for peace in the world. The torch has been brought to several areas (Palestine...) and according to Pope's wish, Sarajevo is its final and permanent destination. Cardinal Ruini repeated Pope's wish for his soon visit to Sarajevo. Ruini had to leave Sarajevo in an armoured vehicle, as Serbs opened fire on the US plane planned to transport Ruini. The plane returned to Tuzla and the IFOR French spokesman said: "We do not know the reasons for fire. Serbs might be celebrating their Christmas. One must always be on guard." /end/A.S.


    The Hague, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - In the interviews for French paper "Le Soir" and Belgium "La Croix", Richard Goldstone, the main prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for crimes in ex-Yugoslavia said about the charges against Milosevic: "I never speak about a person who is not brought charges against. I cannot speak with you neither about Milosevic nor anybody else. All I can say is that we bring charges against those we have the evidence and only if we are certain they are enough. If we have not indicted a person, the conclusion is that the evidence is lacking.(...) Provide me with the proof of Serbian president's blame. So far, waging war, supplying with arms, manpower and ammunition has not been a war crime. We will accuse any person whose involvement in war crime can be proved. I guarantee you. I kindly ask anyone who has the evidence against Milosevic to inform us. The Tribunal does not search for those who are responsible of war but those who committed a crime. Yet, it is important to indict the leaders. So we have already indicted Karadzic and Mladic. It is important for the victims."

    Rijeka - Correspondent of the Berlin paper "Tageszeitung", Andreas Zumach who found out that the US and West had information on Serb assault on Srebrenica before its launching, said for "Novi List" that The Hague Tribunal had had Milosevic's order issued gen. Perisic to launch the attack on Srebrenica since November 1995. Zumach still foresees that till next year, no charges will be brought against Milosevic and Perisic who might be also accused of crimes committed in Mostar in 1992.

    Sarajevo - Director of the Sarajevo Institute for Research of the crimes against humanity said for "Ljiljan" that People's Permanent Tribunal, at the meeting in Barcelona late last year, announced there was enough evidence for charges to be brought against F. Tudjman, S. Milosevic, and B. Ghali. Seat of the permanent Tribunal is in Rome and is successor of Russel's court and his member is Antonio Cassese, president of the International Tribunal for crimes in ex-Yugoslavia in the Hague. /end/A.S.


    Sarajevo, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - IPC high commissary for B-H, Bildt announced establishing a Commission for Sarajevo which, along with IFOR and international representatives, includes three Serbs, two officials of the city current authorities and the B-H Federation, each. Bildt rejects the option for Mostar model to be applied in Sarajevo. Chairman of CGV (Serb civil Council) and member of B-H presidency Mirko Pejanovic has addressed to Bildt claiming that the SGV delegation visited Ilidza and is convinced that most of Serb population there wanted to remain after Feb. 3, when the area will come under the B-H Federation authorities, but extreme Serbs are preventing them by organizing massive expelling of people and devastation of the area. /end/ A.S.


    Mostar, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - Seven Bosniak journalists from Mostar - Dinka Jetin, Alija Behram, Mirsad Behram, Senad Efica, Azer Jugo, Samir Nozic and Izudin Sahovic addressed an open letter to the seven Croat political leaders (Zubak, Prlic, Pogarcic, B.Ljubic, N. Tomic, M. Raguz, M. Tadic) who demanded "cessation of anti-Croat campaign in Muslim media." Croat politicians claim that Bosniak media are one-sided, biased stating only the proof of Croat blame not only in case of Mostar. Bosniak journalists write that Croat politicians in question were enabled a comfortable stay in the "Holiday Inn" hotel in Sarajevo every time they visited Sarajevo, while Bosniaks who used to live in western Mostar cannot pay even a short visit to that part of town. In the past 2O months of "peace" in Mostar was killed 2O Bosniak civilians. They state that more evidence on Croat crimes in B-H and Mostar was provided by foreign than Bosniak media which, due to easing the tension did not write enough about rapes, plunders, concentration camps and killings committed in previous years by Croat extremists. Bosniak journalists remind of the EU administration annual report on its mandate to Mostar which estimates: "Local HDZ leaders are mainly a particular sort of nationalists, connected with some gang bosses,(...) Local Croat leaders are terrifying lords of war. (...) Many Croats on power do not want to see any Muslim in western Mostar.(...) Overcoming the resistance of those leaders will be a true test for declared policy of Zagreb on providing general support to Federation and particularly the policy of integral Mostar." The journalists' message is that Mostar is as much Croatian as it is of all other people living there. /end/ A.S.


    Tuebuengen, Jan 7, 1996 (Press TWRA) - German theologian Hans Kueng called Catholics, Muslims and members of Eastern Orthodo Church for common plead of guilt. No nation or religious community is without blame in the Balkans war; communities there should change the picture of stereotype enemy, contributing to the atmosphere of trust, claims Kueng. /end/ A.S.


    Moscow, jan 6, 1996 (Press TWRA) - Russian foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev (45) has resigned. President Yeltsin accepted his resignation last night and confirmed the resignation by president's decree. It was formally explained by the election of Kozyrev as a member of Russian Parliament, which being legislative function cannot be adjusted to the executive function of the government member. Observers agree that reasons for Kozyrev's resignation is nationalists' severe criticism he was exposed to but also criticism of the president Yeltsin alone and particularly of the communists who won the majority vote at recent elections.

    Kozyrev's successor has not been appointed yet. His post will be temporarily taken over by his so far assistant Sergey Krilov. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Grigory Karasin explained his appointment by the fact that Igor Ivanov, first deputy of the foreign minister was on holidays. /end/ A.S.


    Moscow, Jan 6, 1996 (press TWRA) - With 137 votes "for" and two "against" and "abstained" each, Upper Home of the Russian Duma has approved sending IFOR Russian contingent to Bosnia. 1,6OO Russian soldiers and 4OO officers will be deployed mainly on Serb corridor in northern Bosnia, around the town of Brcko the fate of which should be settled by the international arbitration within a year. Russians were given one-year mandate by Duma till Jan 15, 1997. To transport Russian brigade waiting in a town Kostrumi, 4OO km northeastern from Moscow, are needed 6O transport planes and four trains. Brigade has 12O armoured vehicles, 16 mobile zenith-rocket systems and 31O light, heavy and special vehicles. Transporting the brigade to B-H should start in middle of this month and end till Jan 31, 1996.

    The main problem is financing of those forces. Defence minister asked USD 78 mil., needed for transport of the contingent, use of the equipment, gas, ammunition and food. He asked for USD 2O mill. more for soldiers and officers' pay. The problem of the costs, Duma left to the government which in the approved budget for 1996 has not enough money even for the Russian troops in Aphasia and Tajikistan. Part of the finances will be taken from the budget of regular army. IFOR Russian forces are made mainly of the soldiers serving the army in the airborne troops. Russians in UNPROFOR/IFOR were paid USD 9OO unlike the Belgians and French who received (USD 3,OOO). The difference of USD 2,OOO per capita Moscow used do decrease the debt to the UN budget. To cover the costs of Russian participation in IFOR, government demands the aid of Russian rich private businessmen. Diplomat Afanasyevski and gen. Shevtzov told parliamentarians it was important for Russians to be a part of IFOR due to maintenance of Moscow's influence not only in the Balkans but also in Europe. /end/ A.S.


    Mostar, Jan 6, 1996 (Press TWRA) - Tension in Mostar is growing. At 12.10 today, on the Boulevard being the separation line between Croat and Bosniak side, Croatian police sergeant from western Mostar Zeljko LJubic was three times shot. He soon died of the wounds. Details on his death are not known yet except that he was shot near the place where two Bosnian policemen had been injured two nights ago. WEU police commissary in Mostar Helmuth Janiesch informed the head of Bosnian police in Mostar Sefkija Dziho on the incident who offered cooperation in the investigation on the case. In the letter which EU administrator to Mostar H. Koschnick addressed to the Mostar mayors Safet Orucevic and Mijo Brajkovic due to the incident, the possibility for EU to restrict movement in Mostar was announced to protect residents from the danger if the situation is not improved or calmed, urgently and entirely.

    Col. Helmuth Janiesch replied to the letter in which the head of Croatian police in Mostar Zdravko Soldo criticized WEU police of acting unprofessionally, cowardly and unfairly and which is "stick to the basement", instead of being on the ground and get informed on what is going on to avoid misinterpretation of the events. Janiesch warns Soldo that EU policemen acted bravely and as required, ignoring with dignity all threats coming from Croat policemen. Janiesch also warns that Croatian police, unlike Bosnian, did not adequately cooperate with WEU in the investigation on the death of Alan Mustovic (17), Jan 1, 1996. Croatian police released false statements, prejudiced finding of the investigation using the cold-war propaganda, states Janiesch.

    Local Croatian TV released the interview of the editor Smiljko Sagolj, well known for spreading hatred towards Bosniaks, with the commander of one of the HVO brigades in Mostar, Mladen Misic. Misic says: "I and my ustashas like all Craots in Mostar and western Herzegovinia do not give up our goal - Mostar is a territory of Croatian state along with the whole of western Herzegovina. It should be clear to balias." "Balia" is derogatory term used by Serb and Croat extremists for Bosniaks. Asked if IFOR would let "Croatian goals to be achieved", Misic said: "IFOR remains here for one year only and we will never give up. Balias should know that the world has already divided B-H into Serb and Croatian part and they have to choose - here or there." Misic and Sagolj criticized Kresimir Zubak, Jadranko Prlic, Vlado Soljic and other leaders of "Herzeg Bosnia," accusing them of supporting "some Federation, instead of consistent Croatian policy."

    Sir Martin Garrod, head of the EU administration in Mostar announced that Croat side withdrew from the hydro electric plant Mostar which was mended in the past few days by Croat workers according to their own decision, although the agreement is that both sides would use the object. Croatian side refuses the common mending but there are chances for agreement to be reached. /end/

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