Amir Reko from Gorazde, a former JNA officer and later member of the Army of BiH, saved 45 Serbian civilians from the village Bucje from certain death, only three days after his mother and family were burned in his village Gudelj.
In the whirlwind of madness and war in BiH, it was hard to be a decent man. Amir Reko from Gorazde, while briefly describing his life for Deutsche Welle says: “It was like a lived three lives in one and I experienced things that I would not wish anyone to happen.”
He is a trained officer of the JNA from which he deserted in April 1992. He passed through Serbian territory with a colleague, also JNA officer, a Serb Dragan Simic, and they went to Bosnian territory in Gorazde, the territory where he thought that his family escaped. Simic saved his life from Serbian Police back then.
“I am alive only thanks to him because they wanted to kill me on the Serbian checkpoint in Ustipraca because I’m a Bosniak,” he said.
However, there started the most difficult and tragic life’s temptations for Reka. He became the first commander of the 43rd Drina Impact Brigade of the Army of BiH from Gorazde thanks to the diploma from the Military Academy, but he still could not reach his family in village Gudelj, which was under Serbian control.
“One day, not knowing that it is my village, courier reported on the crimes of the Serbian side in the village Gudelj and locals who were detained in the house and burned. I heard the name of my mother, my grandfather, and all those who remained in the village. Although I was a soldier, an officer, it was the end of the world for me,” he said.
Just a few days later, they received the command from the Municipal Territorial Defense Staff to clear the village Bucje with Serbian majority, because it represented a potential threat because of Serbian forces. For many, this would be an ideal opportunity for bloody revenge, but…
“But the way the command wanted to realize the attack on the village was totally unacceptable for me. I could not agree with that. Even I was told that I do not want to do what is ‘perfectly normal’, that I am weak, a traitor, and even other units were sent to do it, and I had to stop it. Although some of them were well armed, I had to save those people because that was not the way to do it … a crime was not supposed to happen,” said Reko.
All residents from Bucje survived, of which 45 Serbs and several Bosniaks. However, his act was not welcomed by everyone. Some considered him as a hero, others as a traitor.
He made a monument to his brutally murdered mother and family in his native village, on the ashes of the house. He went with his family to the Kingdom of Denmark because he felt unnecessary in BiH. In Denmark, he began a new life as a successful businessman. He is expanding his business in BiH today.
Two years ago, about Amir Reka was shot a documentary entitled ‘Makedonac’- after his nickname that he received because of his long service in Macedonia in Bitola. A shooting of feature film about him will start soon, and there are initiatives to propose this man for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“My grandmother was saved by a Serb in the WWII, I was saved by a Serb, my mother gathered the neighbors, Bosniaks and Serbs, but she was killed by Serb criminals. But we cannot blame the entire Serbian people. I’m no hero, I’m just a man,” says Amir Reko about his life story.
However, it seems that the story of one man in the whirlwind of war is still quieter than the story of war criminals.