- Mile, the grenade fell among the volunteers. Let's help them, let's get the people, the ones that can be helped...
- Tibor, let it go. You see that there are snipers everywhere, they are shooting... And command said that we must not lose any more people!
- Come on, how can you listen to the people crying, someone might survive...
- No, you can't go. Neither you nor anyone!
- F*ck you! I am going alone! You p*ssy!
This is how the mother Kata recounts the last dialogue of her son, young Tibor Cerna (20) from Debeljaca, who died on Kosare in 1999, defending the borders of Serbia and his comrades. He didn't listen to the order from the top in order to help the wounded soldiers in the trench where a grenade fell. A sniper spotted him and took him out.
- A bullet went into the neck, and it exited through the cheek. There were no wounds on the chest as they were saying. There were no scratches on him, nothing. Only the hole in the neck and the other one in the cheek. When a sniper hit him, Tibor fell down on his knees and he even took out the bandage to put on himself. Then he just dropped down and he bled to death - bravely said the mother Kata about every detail told to her by Tibor's comrades.
She doesn't believe in the version of the story where Tibor got up in order to determine the sniper and he acted as bait. She is not sure that his last words were "it's worth dying for this country". Kata spoke openly about everything because she knows it doesn't diminish his heroism, his humanity, and bravery.
IF I SURVIVE THEY CAN SEND ME TO THE COURT
- Even without those words, my son was a great patriot. Tibor loved Serbia, and even if he survived, he would have never left it. He loved living here, that is how we raised him. I know for sure is that he didn't follow the order that day and he left to help his wounded friends. He has said: "If I die, I have died. If I survive, they can send me to the court, I can't listen to them without helping them". He has had it with war and I think he knew that he was about to die. Later on, I found out that he wasn't killed by an Albanian, but a Dutch, hired sniper, and he was caught later on - said Kata.
It's not hard imagining what Tibor was like when you step in the home of the family Cerna. Father Jozef and mother Kata welcome you with a hug and with a smile, and then they give you something to drink and eat. When he talks about his son, Jozef's voice trembles, as if he is about to cry, but then he just takes a deep breath and he continues talking after that short break.
Kata, on the other hand, is a lion. She speaks loudly, she laughs loudly, she is not afraid to say anything and she has been fighting for the truth for 20 years. And what is the truth?
The truth is those young men who served the military service were sent to defend the Serbian border from the breaches of Albanian terrorists, they had no military experience. Tibor was one of them. He was 20 years old, he had a girlfriend, a band where he played keyboards, and he performed in taverns, he graduated for a car mechanic and he wanted to open his own repair shop.
That was supposed to happen when he returned from the army. He went there in June 1998, and in September, a package Kata sent to him returned to her.
- I called Nis to ask why it came back, they just responded: "the soldiers are no longer here". Where are they, I asked. Down, on Kosovo - they said - remembers the mother of one of the most terrible moments.
She barely managed to get Tibor to come home for his birthday on November 8th, and she was supposed to go on back surgery on 18th, so Tibor received a short break. Jozef and Kata couldn't wait to see their son, not even imagining that the war already marked him.
MY PEOPLE ARE DOWN THERE, YOU CAN'T STOP ME
- He was walking the whole night, he couldn't sleep - Jozef remembers, staring at the wall.
- They were all drinking meds to calm down. They returned everything to me in a bag with his things. He changed physically. When you are down there for so many months, when you see all the horrors, you start thinking differently. When he said, for example, "Mom, all of them should move out of Serbia and someone from Azerbaijan should move here, anyone..." I asked, what do you mean, they were born there, and he said: "No use. As soon as they are born, and when they start talking, they are taught to hate Serbs". When you see all the horrors, you start thinking differently...
- One night, he said, he went to the tavern with his friends and he cut his face with a glass from a broken bottle. Kata, as all mothers, hoped that she can stop it, that she can return that happy young man who loved life, and she would find a way to stop Tibor's return to Kosovo, because she has a lot of relatives in Germany and Hungary, but he didn't want to hear anything about it.
- No way. He used to say "My people are down there", thinking about his comrades. He would never leave them. He was hearty, he did everything sincerely, which is not good for war. This heartiness, gentleness, and courage are not qualities desirable in the war, and this proved to be correct - said Kata.
On May 1st, 1999, they told him that he died. It was the morning, they had no phone, so they contacted the neighbors. The days later, a military vehicle stopped in front of the house. The coffin wasn't accompanied by the military, there were no officials, no flag. No one to say, he was like this or that.
- And I wondered if we are burying our son a hero, or a deserter... The officials came for 40 day's mention, they brought a flag. The medal arrived for our son. The medal for defense and maintaining of security... But my son is my greatest medal, and he is gone and he is never coming back - adds Kata.
I WANTED TO DIE AND I GOT CANCER
She didn't want to live after that. She ended up on the psychiatry department, and then she had breast cancer. She came back to her senses when her older son Robert came to her and put his hand on her cheek:
- Do you feel this mom? That is me, I am your son as well. Tibor died, he is gone and he is not coming back. I know that it hurts, it hurts me as well, I need a mother also - said Robert and that was crucial for her to go into another battle.
She had breast surgery and she recovered. She is troubled the most by the way the state treats those who survived.
- I am proud of my son, I am proud that he was a just man. He did the right thing at that moment. He didn't obey the command, but he acted like a normal person. And the monument they raised for Tibor... I agreed on that mostly for those who survived. They have no benefits in this country. They sacrificed their health for this country, and they are getting pensions of five, six, seven thousand dinars (around 50 euros), and they don't have the rights to be treated directly on the Military Medical Academy. Those kids on Kosare were the people of this country, and those who remained with them are the people of this country. If the state doesn't respect its own people, how can you expect it to be respected in the world - asked Kata in the end.
(Telegraf.co.uk / Miljana Leskovac)