Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

The Warrior

Former combatant swaps rifle for camera to track down birds, not men.

Cvjetko Udovicic and his friend Irnes Mujic are up early in the morning moving silently through the Bosnian countryside, almost invisible in their camouflage gear.

Soldiers on opposing sides during the Bosnian war of the 1990s, the two men are fanatical birdwatchers and photographers.

Mujic served in the Bosnian government army, and so initially did Udovicic although he is of Serb ethnicity.

After two years in the government army, Udovicic crossed the lines and enlisted in the Bosnian Serb army in 1994..

“As someone who was in both armies, I may be in a position to talk about what really happened during those years,” he says. “It seems to me that there is little truth in what politicians on both sides say when they talk about wartime events.”

It was life on the front line that sparked Udovicic’s love of birds.

“Why do I actually photograph birds? I remember that during those crazy war years, there were many birds on the front lines, singing near the trenches,” he says. “They were free to fly across the lines. There were no borders for them then, just as there are no borders for them today.”

Udovicic sees himself as “a true pacifist”, saying, “I don’t like war. However, a man simply gets used to it over time, maybe unconsciously, and becomes a part of that killing machine. I never personally shot at or killed people and I am glad that I came out of the war without a stain on my conscience.” 

This film was produced as part of the Ordinary Heroes project, funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo. IWPR is implementing the project in partnership with the Post-Conflict Research Centre in Sarajevo.  

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