His name was Nikola Gardovic

Milan Pavlovic (pavlovic@pantheon.yale.edu)
Sun, 1 Mar 1998 14:05:08 -0500 (EST)

March 1, 1998 marks exactly six years since the brutal killing of Nikola
Gardovic, the fist victim of the Bosnian war. This killing marked the
start of the Bosnian war, and as such is an important historical event.
Remarkably, the international media has consistently failed to report on

March 1, 1992 was a Sunday. Nikola Gardovic's son was getting married at
a Serbian Orthodox Church in central Sarajevo. The wedding procession
was not dressed in Serbian national costume, they were unarmed civilians,
and they walked from one Serbian Orthodox Church to another, which is the
custom on such an occasion. Suddenly, a car without license plates
overtook the procession, and waited for it in front of the Orthodox
church at Bascarsija, the center of Sarajevo. When the procession
arrived, Ramiz Delalic Celo and his two accomplices got out of the car,
and immediately started firing. Delalic shot Nikola Gardovic at point-blank
range. Why? Because Gardovic was carrying a Serbian flag. This, apparently,
was considered an unforgivable sin in Alija Izetbegovic's bastion of
multiethnicity, multiculturalism, and tolerance -- Sarajevo.

Nikola Gardovic died, while his son-in-law, Radenko Mirovic - an
Orthodox priest - was wounded.

The day after these events, Izetbegovic trampled on the memory of Nikola
Gardovic by alleging that the entire event was a provocation to make the
Muslim people (Ramiz Delalic is a Muslim) look bad. Nevertheless, Delalic
would be arrested and tried for the murder, Izetbegovic promised.

Delalic was not arrested, nor was he tried. He was promoted! He became
the deputy commander of the Ninth Motorized Brigade of the Muslim Army of
Bosnia and Herzegovina. His brigade carried out many massacres during the
war, including a massacre of 32 Bosnian Croat civilians in the village of
Grabovica. Delalic was finally arrested on October 26, 1993 for "military
insubordination". He was tried and sentenced to 3 and a half years on
that charge, but after spending only seven and a half months in prison,
he was amnestied by Alija Izetbegovic.

Delalic was never charged or tried for the murder of Nikola Gardovic.
Today, Delalic owns a pizzeria at Bascarsija in downtown Sarajevo, not far
from the spot where he murdered Gardovic. Delalic lives in Sarajevo.
Remarkably, he has not yet been indicted by the Hague Tribunal.

It is important to note that Gordana Knezevic, an editor of the
Sarejvo daily "Oslobodjenje", also trampled on the memory of Nikola Gardovic
by writing a column for "Oslobodjenje" a few days after his murder, in
which she blamed Gardovic -- the victim -- and stating that he was a
provocateur who should not have been waving a Serbian flag in Sarajevo!
This is like saying that a raped victim provoked her own rape, and it is
not the rapist's fault since he was provoked by her skimpy clothing.

Incredibly, Knezevic has been widely praised in the Western media over
the past few years, even though she publicly mocked an elementary civil right
that exists in every democratic society -- the right to carry one's national
flag. If people in New York had the same approach to civil liberty as
Ramiz Delalic and Gordana Knezevic do, there would be massacres here
every other weekend, whenever a national parade marches down Fifth Avenue.

The murder of Nikola Gardovic indicates what life was like for Bosnian
Serbs under the rule of Alija Izetbegovic. They were harassed, tortured,
and murdered. They did not have elementary civil rights or civil liberties,
yet the international community barely took notice, and -- oh irony of
ironies -- praised Izetbegovic for his rhetoric about the virtues of
"multiethnic, multireligious, and tolerant" Sarajevo.

May the loving memory of Nikola Gardovic live forever.

Milan Pavlovic,
New York