S.F. Chronicle, April 10,1996
Bosnia's Tragic Lovers Return to Sarajevo
by Sean Maquire
Three years after they died for love, the Muslim woman and Serb man whose fate
symbolized the madness of Sarajevo's ethnic division have been brought home.
The bodies of Admira Ismic and Bosko Brkic were exhumed from an untended grave in
a Serb military cemetary and sent back to the reunified city whose wartime horrors they
tried to flee.
They will be buried side by side today in Sarjevo's Lion cemetery in graves within
sight of the cafe where they courted.
Lowering the coffins into their final resting place will mark the end of a journey that
began in hope in May 1993.
Confident that they had guarantees of safety, Admira and Bosko walked from Bosnian
government frontlines in the heart of the city, between buldings bristling with guns, toward
Serb-held Grbavica. They planned to go to Belgrade and on to a life abroad.
But gunfire cut them down. Admira crawled toward Bosko, put her arms around him,
and together they died.
For eight days, their bodies lay in the sun as the two sides disputed who had killed the
lovers and who should risk death to gather them for burial.
"Some people don't realize the greatness of their death," said Admira's father, Zijah
Ismic. "He stayed in Sarajevo because of her, and she wanted to reward him by leaving
with him to the Serb side."
Zijah and his wife, Nera, found Serb friends to exhume their daughter and the boy they
treasured as a son from territory that the war's end has net yet made safe to visit.
"At first I didn't want to disturb them in their peace, but my wife and mother insisted
we get them so that people can come to their graves and visit them," Zijah said.
The couple were sweet-hearts for eight years before their deaths at age 25. They grew
up in a city where inter-ethnic marriage was common until nationalist hatred blossomed.
"If they'd had religion on their mind they wouldn't have been together," said Zijah of
his Muslim daughter and her Orthodox Serb boyfriend. Today's funeral will be
"It's not my decision. it's theirs," Zijah said. "They left a message with their death
about how they felt about such things."
Zijah paid for an autopsy on both bodies. He believes that the two were shot by
Bosnian Serbs. But because he will never know why, the knowledge brings no comfort.
"It's more important to bury them here than find out who shot them, as they're dead
anyway," he said. "I can't change what happened, can't bring them back to life."
Nera h as visited the spot where here daughter died.
"It was difficult," she said. "Italian soldiers helped me to lay some flowers, as there
were still mines all around. They knew all about the story once I explained.
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