In line with the Rulebook on Awards, the Steering Board of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina unanimously decided on 26 March 2007 to award posthumously Srdjan Aleksic (right) with the Charter of Helsinki Committee for exceptional contribution to protection of human rights and their promotion. (29-MAR-07)

This article is based on the Helsinki Committee press release and upon a number of other articles, already published. The editing and rewriting into one, new article for publication here has been done by HRH / Mirsad Pandzic.

The twenty-seven years’ old Srdjan Aleksic, a model sportsman (junior swimming champion of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and a theatre-lover, the first and the only soldier who had, after enlistment, horrified with what he had seen on the Dubrovnik battle front, went to the Trebinje Municipality building in the winter of 1992 and ostentatiously threw away his machine gun. After this event, Srdjan Aleksic continued to draw attention of his fellow citizens by protecting his Bosniak neighbours, who were facing terror by local abusers and evil men.

Duty of a human being
In those difficult times of dragon-like nationalism, Srdjan Aleksic confirmed his faith in people, regardless of their ethnicity or faith, once again on 20 January 1993. In the centre of the town, near the town market, very close to the police station, a group of uniformed, drunken and armed people were apprehending and harassing his fellow citizen Alen Glavovic. When one of the people took out a knife in front of astonished and frozen passers-by to kill the unfortunate Glavovic, Srdjan Aleksic jumped in. As a sportsman, he managed to stop the frenzied people in their intentions, while Glavovic used the commotion to escape. He is married now and lives happily with his family in Sweden. Aleksic saved his life by sacrificing his own. The “patriots” then took out their outrage and uncontrolled madness on Srdjan Aleksic. In the unfair duel of four against one, with knuckle-dusters, pistol-whips, kicks with boots, unselective hits, Aleksic was beaten to unconsciousness.  He was transferred to the Trebinje hospital, where a great human heart, after a seven-day coma, failed to make it.

With such examples of self-sacrificing for other people being so rare, Srdjan Aleksic showed that one can remain a proper human being even in the worst of times. In essence, Aleksic could not have acted differently in the critical movement. He had built his love for others within his family, who, after the death of their son, published an obituary of unique content: “He died doing the duty of a human being”.

“Fourteen years ago, my son’s heart had stopped beating, but it is still beating inside of me, but also the souls of all those who remember this event, who are teaching their children to live noble lives. Srdjan was raised in such surroundings, where no-one cared who belongs to which class, who has more money, let alone ethnic backgrounds. Only the humanity mattered”, Srdjan father’s Rade has said.

Disappointed in people
For a long time, the courageous gesture of the young man from Trebinje had been covered with a veil of silence. The raging “black cavalry” has considered him a traitor. Only recently has the greatness of this sacrifice become understood. There have been initiatives for construction of a monument in Trebinje, naming a street in Novi Sad after him. Srdjan’s example is now being discussed on all sides. On the B92 web site, the following thoughts of a young man from Trebinje can be found: “I was in primary school when the tragic, but at the same time gloriously heroic act took place at the Trebinje market. I am adult now and I carry a part of human value that he had left us. Thank you Srdjan, on behalf of young and healthy generations of the town of Trebinje and wider.”

In one interview, Srdjan’s father has said: “We are disappointed with what had been going on in the war, we are mostly disappointed in people, but Srdjan and I knew that there was no collective madness in Trebinje and that not all people, despite being silent due to fear, hate other people, so I was really proud when people, never him, would tell me about his “war accomplishments”, like: Srdjan helped this man, he saved this person’s house, he protected a friend, a neighbour, in one word, protected his and his family’s dignity … They did not intend to kill Srdjan, it just happened. But, it did not have to happen and reach such cruelty, they did not have to attack unprotected young men in the street, nor that scared Bosniak, nor my son. It does not matter any more who they were, it is important that they then attacked a human being, wishing to annul with their boots and pistol-whips everything that is humane and noble, what had represented the most beautiful part of Trebinje. That is what hurts the most.”

Because of all this, because of the fact that his act now influences positively the young generations, raising high on the pedestal the person’s right to life, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights decided to award Srdjan Aleksic posthumously with the Charter of Helsinki Committee for exceptional contribution of protection of human rights and their promotion. The greatest award of the Helsinki Committee will be handed over to the family of late Srdjan Aleksic at the next session of the Helsinki Committee Assembly.