Jovan Divjak (1937 - 2021)

despite his Serbian origin, he has openly sided with the Bosnian, Croatian and many other Serbs in defense of Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina

He was born in 1937 in Belgrade. He started the military career in National Army of Yugoslavia and took his diploma at the Military Academy and at the War College. In 1966 he was taken to Sarajevo, where he now lives with his Moslem wife.

He was Commander of the Territorial Defence in Sarajevo and in Mostar, reaching the degree of Colonel before the beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In 1992 a military court of the National Army condemned him to nine month of prison and to two years of suspension for letting the men of the Territorial Defence of Kiseljak take munitions from a deposit of the National Army. But the war started and he was not imprisoned.

On the 6th April 1992 Divjak left the Army of Yugoslavia, took side with the Territorial Defence and took part in the Military Cabinet, a 12-members council that was presided by the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina Alija Izetbebovic.

On December 1992 the Bosnians arrested him. He was accused of being a traitor, a spy and a dealer of weapons, but there was not evidence against him. After 27 days he was released and could go back to Sarajevo, where he became a protagonist of the defence of the city. He was nominated General and participated to the negotiations with the ONU in order to raise the siege of the Serbian troupes.

He fought, at the same time, for the civil rights of the Serbian people that was in Sarajevo and created, in 1994, the "Foundation for Building Bosnia-Herzegovina through Education", for the wounded or orphan children of every ethnical group.

His fame grew; the Army and the people loved him and considered him a hero. In 1995 the French newspaper "Le Nouvel Observateur" described him as the "most popular man of Sarajevo".

In 1997, being an inconvenient protagonist for every political part, he was pensioned without being alerted in advance.

From now on he dedicated all his energies to his Foundation for the children victims of the war.

In the summer of 2001 he was received at the Elysée by the French president Chirac, who awarded him with the Honour Legion.

In November 2001 the City of Padua, in Italy, prized him for his engagement in Bosnia for the pacific cohabitation of the different ethnic and religious groups.

The year 2004 witnessed the publication of Sarajevo Mon Amour, a long interview released to a French journalist summing up the extraordinary events that characterized his human experience, which has come to belong not only to the history of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also to the European one.  

He died of illness in Sarajevo on April 8, 2021.

Gardens that honour Jovan Divjak

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Individuals who opposed ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia during the war sparked by the division of territory following the dissolution of the Communist regime, after Tito's death.

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