Defender of Sarajevo in the Yugoslav conflict, Jovan Divjak, passes away

Sarajevo, April 9 2021: Jovan Divjak, a former Bosnian army general, one of who ethnic Serbs to fight fotr the Bosnian army during the devastating Yugoslavian conflict of the 1990s, and who defended Sarajevo during a 44 month siege, passed away on Thursday in the Bosnian capital. He was 89 years old. Divjak, a champion of a multi-ethnic Bosnia, Divjak died after a terminal illness.

A retired Yugoslavian army officer, Divjak was a member of Bosnia’s territorial defence forces when the conflict broke out in 1992. He immediately joined the ranks of those defending Sarajevo, which was besieged for nearly four years. At least 10,000 residents of the city were killed during the war. “It was natural to be with those who were attacked, who did not have weapons.”, Divjak told press in 2017, rejecting the “good Serb” label.

He said, “The idea of a multi-ethnic Bosnian army had won me over.” However, disappointed by the grandiose funeral organised after the conflict for a Sarajevo thug suspected of having summarily executed Serbs, he renounced his rank of general in 1999. After that, Divjak devoted himself entirely to his association, which granted thousands of scholarships to orphans and also to children from poor families.

Divjak was awarded the Legion of Honour by France in 2001 for his civic sense, his refusal of prejudice and ethnic discrimination.  His role in the war was badly viewed by most Bosnian Serbs who considered him a “traitor”. Serbia demanded Divjak’s extradition over a 1992 attack on a retreating Yugoslav army convoy in Sarajevo. The ex-general denied the allegations and insisted that he ordered the shooting to stop, a claim that seems to be backed up by television footage from the time.

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