The UK’s Srebrenica Memorial Week will saw hundreds of events take place across the country from 8-15th July organised by 1,200 Community Champions from the charity Remembering Srebrenica which is part- funded by the UK government.
11th July marked the 23rd anniversary of the genocide in which over 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica were systematically murdered on account of their Islamic faith while thousands of women were tortured and raped. Genocide and ethnic cleansing survivors Nusreta Sivać, whose testimony helped secure convictions for war criminals like Ratko Mladić and Dr Ilijaz Pilav who was one of five doctors stationed at Srebrenica hospital during the genocide spoke at the UK National Srebrenica commemoration at The Guildhall, London.
Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, Chairman of Remembering Srebrenica said:
“Our theme this year is ‘Acts of Courage’ which serves as a reminder that hope and the common bonds of humanity can triumph in the darkest of times. We are all invited to draw strength and inspiration from those who, during the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Europe’s worst atrocity since the second world war, were bold enough to resist an ideology of division, protect their neighbours and speak out for truth and justice. The baton of courage has now been passed on. It is up to us to learn the lessons from Srebrenica”.
Dr Ilijaz Pilav, who survived the Srebrenica genodice shared his harrowing and inspiring story with a stand-room only audience
“Genocide has it steps and the final step of genocide is a denial. We in Bosnia but also in Europe, which is currently burdened by flourishing nationalism, there is a fascism which is now in that stage of denial. Genocide is being denied and war criminals are being glorified. We must never forget that denial of genocide is only one step away from trying to repeat it.
Dr Ilijaz added:
“Everyday, despite the horrors they have survived, survivors wake up with the courage and determination to look back and remember, the courage to speak out about what happened to us, the courage to try and forgive those who did this to us, and the courage to make sure nobody forgets the legacy of Srebrenica. During the war, it was my mission to save people’s lives as a doctor, now it is my mission to tell our story”
Rt. Hon James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who delivered the key note speech at the UK national commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide said
“I know that we will be hearing from the survivors who are with us today and I want to pay tribute to them – for everything they’ve gone through and for sharing their stories with us. Even now there are still those who deny that the genocide happened and glorify the perpetrators. Which is why it is vital that we continue to support survivors to stand up and be heard. To ensure that we never forget what happened and learn from it. I know that this mission is at the heart of Remembering Srebrenica’s work.
In 2017 over 2000 memorial activities took place in the UK in the days before and after the 11th July. The UK hosts the largest Srebrenica commemoration in the world. As well as commemorations, Remembering Srebrenica works in schools across the country and has reached over 75, 000 children through education packs on the lessons from the Srebrenica genocide and other educational activities.
Remembering Srebrenica has created 1,200 ‘Community Champions’ who stand up to hatred and intolerance in their local areas and work towards building a safer and more cohesive society for all.
Written By: Andrew Tromans