Jovan Divjak

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Jovan Divjak
Jovan Divjak.jpg
Born (1937-03-11) 11 March 1937 (age 77)
Belgrade, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Allegiance Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Years of service 1992–97
Rank Brigadier General
Commands held Commander in Sarajevo
Battles/wars Bosnian War
Siege of Sarajevo

Jovan Divjak (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Дивјак) (born 11 March 1937) is a retired general from Bosnia and Herzegovina who served in the Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) from 1992 to 1995, during the Bosnian War. He was the deputy commander of the Main Staff until 1994. He has publicly declared himself a Bosnian born into an Orthodox Christian family.[1][2]

Early life and military career[edit]

He was born in Belgrade to parents originally from the Bosanska Krajina region of Bosnia.[3] His father was stationed in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) in Serbia. He and his family currently reside in Sarajevo, where he moved in 1966.

From 1956 to 1959 he attended the Military Academy in Belgrade. In 1964 and 1965 he attended the l'Ecole d'Etat Major in Paris. From 1969 to 1971 the Cadets Academy in Belgrade and from 1979 to 1981 the War and Defense Planning School in Belgrade. After several posts in the JNA, Divjak was made Territorial Defense Chief in command of the Mostar sector from 1984 to 1989 then the Sarajevo sector from 1989 to 1991. In 1991/2 Jovan Divjak was court-marshalled by the JNA for issuing 120 pieces of light armour and 20,000 bullets to the Kiseljak Territorial Defense, and sentenced to nine months imprisonment. He avoided this sentence by leaving the JNA.

On 8 April 1992, Divjak became the Deputy Commander of the Territorial Defense forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a month later he oversaw the defence of Sarajevo from a major JNA attack. Between 1993–97, General Divjak served as the Deputy Commander of the Headquarters of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, charged with cooperating with civilian institutions and organisations (administration, economy, health, education).

His life today[edit]

Today, Divjak is the executive director of the association OGBH, "Obrazovanje Gradi BiH" (Education builds Bosnia and Herzegovina). He was one of the founder of OGBH in 1994. The association's goals are to help children whose families were victims from the war, by providing them money, for instance; but also to help the increase of education in Bosnia, even in the poorest parts of the country, by providing them financial and material support.

Jovan has won many international and national awards, including the French Legion of Honour, Order of Lafayette, Sixth of April Award of Sarajevo, the International League of Humanists Plaque and the Plaque of the Sarajevo Canton.[4]

Since 2004, he has been a member of the Steering Board of the NGO Reference Group, Sarajevo. Since 1998, he has been a member of the Association of Independent Intellectuals "Krug 99", Sarajevo. Before 1998, he has been an active member of other associations, such as sports associations, or faculty of physical education in Sarajevo, and has been a very active member of various NGO in Bosnia. He tries to help his country as much as he can, and hopes that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is clearer than its past.

He has also written two books:

  • In French "Sarajevo, mon amour". Entretiens avec Florence La Bruyere; published by Buchet-Chastel in 2004 with a foreword by Bernard-Henri Lévy.
  • In Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, "Ratovi u Hrvatskoj i Bosni i Hercegovini 1991-1995", an offprint on the aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina. "Dani" and Jesenski and Tura in 1999.

He appeared in the BBC documentary The Death of Yugoslavia in 1995. In 2006, he was nominated for the title of Universal Peace Ambassador by the Worldwide Council of the Universal Ambassador Peace Circle in Geneva, and awarded.

On 3 March 2011, Divjak was arrested in Vienna due to a Serbian arrest warrant. However, Austria said it would not extradite him to Belgrade.[5] On 8 March 2011, he was bailed from custody in Vienna. On 29 July 2011, he was released after Serbia's extradition request was denied by an Austrian court based on lack of evidence and the inability to guarantee a fair trial.[6]

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