Friday, January 27, marks 30 years since the death of Srdjan Aleksic, a young Bosnian Serb who lost life defending his Bosniak neighbour from Bosnian Serb soldiers in the southern town of Trebinje.
“Thirty years is long, I aged, I can barely walk, but you who cherish Srdjan's actions give me strength and motivation to visit his grave, because I really wish Srdjan's action becomes action of every young person. We are here to honour Srdjan but also all young people who died in that period of madness,” his father, Rade Aleksac told N1.
Speaking about his son, Aleksic said he did everything with a smile and was always ready to help the others. He raised above the time he lived in, and responded to violence with humaneness and love.
“If I walk the city and young people greet me with ‘hello, Mr Rade’, I know that's Srdje in them and that they recognise me after him,” he added.
Dragoslav Banjak, the Chairman of Trebinje City Assembly, also visited Aleksic's grave, where he said that the city keeps memory of the young man.
“The world is constantly torn between some tendency to instability and conflict and again a tendency to reign in lasting peace. This is reminder of Srdjan Aleksic and many other heroes who did a similar act to understand the horror of war and the level of insanity that constantly follows every such situation, and on the other hand, it helps to bring people together,” he said.
At the beginning of the Bosnian 1992-95 war, Aleksic became a member of what was then called the Army of Republika Srpska.
In 1993, he saw a group of his fellow soldiers harassing his friend, Alen Glavovic, and decided to intervene. The soldiers turned against him and beat him into a coma.
Aleksic passed away in the local hospital six days later, on January 27, 1993.
The young man was posthumously awarded a Charter of Bosnia’s Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. He also has a street in Sarajevo named after him, as well as a passage in the Serbian cities of Pancevo and Novi Sad, where there is also a plaque commemorating him. A sports tournament in the Bosnian city of Tuzla also carries his name.
Serbia’s former President Boris Tadic awarded Aleksic with the ‘Milos Obilic’ medal for courage and heroism in 2012, while Milorad Dodik, the former President of Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s Serb-majority region, awarded him with the ‘Order of honour of Republika Srpska’ in 2013.
Alen Glavovic today lives in Sweden and is married with two children. He comes to Trebinje every year to visit Aleksic’s grave.