Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Lazar Manojlovic 1934

the headmaster who opposed the ethnic cleansing and lost his job

Lazar Manojlovic

Lazar Manojlovic

He born in 1934 in Velika Obarska near Bijeljina.

A graduate in Serbian and Croatian language and in Yugoslav literature at the Academy of Pedagogy in Tuzla he worked as a teacher and an administrator. He has written hundreds of articles and professional and literary works including a book entitled ‘’To my Teacher, With Love” and is co-author of the book ‘Having What it Takes”, 2006.

From a number of awards he received we need highlight Yugoslav recognition the ‘’Dearest Teacher’’ award in 1976. Since 1994 he works as an independent reporter.

  • As the headmaster of the primary school “Radojka Lakic” in Bijeljina, he refused the request of those who conducted ethnic cleansing to enrol only Serb children in his school and to give them a list of non-Serb pupils. He responded —before the cameras of a foreign TV station — that he recognised only two ethno-nationalities in his school: the nation of STUDENTS and the nation of TEACHERS.
  • He ignored the demand that all non-Serbian workers and teachers be removed from the school and never implemented it.
  • In defiance of official policy he refused to have priests in his school to teach religion.
  • The authorities who attempted ethnic cleansing ordered him together with his students to destroy the monument to Radojka Lakić, the Second World War heroine after whom their school was named. Again he refused, telling them that no one in his school would ever destroy that monument: to do so would be vandalism, and it would be a crime to teach students to destroy monuments.
  • After all the mosques in Bijeljina were destroyed he made a statement to a foreign TV station saying that this was both a crime against a whole ethnic group and at the same time the worst sort of vandalism: it was unforgivable to destroy sacred places.
  • He succeeded in getting several Bosniaks freed from the Batkovic concentration camp.
  • For these and other acts of civil courage as headmaster of the school he was expelled at gunpoint by two former guards in the Batkovic concentration camp. One of them took his place and is still acting as the current director.
  • He has continued publicly to confront the authorities regardless of the price that he has to pay.

  • Text taken from Gariwo-Sarajevo's Website.  

    Exemplary figures

    against ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslaviaì

    People who opposed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia during the war that broke out for the partition of the territory, after the collapse of the communist regime following Marshall Tito's death.
    In 1992 Slovenia and Croatia became independent, the war in Bosnia broke out and Sarajevo was set under siege. It was the start of the "ethnic cleansing" carried out through systematic slaughters, the expulsion of civilians and mass rape.  
    The Panel of UN experts who studied the opportunities to settle conflicts in the Balkan area defined ethnic cleansing as "the attempt to make a given area ethnically homogeneous by using force or threats to oust the people belonging to other ethnic or religious groups from it.”