On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops captured the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In just five days they systematically murdered more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims as part of a deliberate ethnic cleansing programme which also saw up to 50,000 women raped and 2.2 million people displaced in the country. This was the worst atrocity on European soil since the second World War. The courts ruled what happened in Srebrenica as Genocide.
This year’s UK Srebrenica Memorial Day organised by the charity Remembering Srebrenica, was held online due to COVID-19.
The distinguished speakers who participated included HRH Prince Charles, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hollywood Actress Angelina Jolie, the President of Bosnia-Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović, Sir Kier Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina Husein ef. Kavazovic, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, The Archbishop of Westminster, David Cameron, President Bill Clinton, Lord William Hague, Secretary Madeline Albright.
The Prince of Wales, whose scheduled official visit to Srebrenica in March was postponed due to COVID-19, said: “The terrible events of July 1995, confirmed as genocide by international courts, are a dreadful stain on our collective conscience. By remembering the pain of the past, and learning its lessons, we can together resolve that it must never happen again. This is why the work of organisations like the UK’s “Remembering Srebrenica” is so vitally important; and why 25 years after these terrible crimes were committed, we should stand in determined solidarity with those who have lost so much”.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “There are those who would prefer to forget or deny the enormity of what took place. We must not allow that to happen. We owe it to the victims and to future generations to remember Srebrenica and ensure it never happens again”.
The President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović shared his grief over what transpired 25 years ago and said: “This commemoration provides us with the opportunity to together pay tribute to those who were brutally killed as well as those who have survived and endured the horrors that no should go through.
“This moment strongly reminds us that we must reaffirm our determination and ensure that the hatred and prejudice that led to the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia does not spread in our own communities,” he added.
The Chairman of Remembering Srebrenica UK, Dr Waqar Azmi OBE said: “we are proud that our country commemorates Srebrenica Memorial Day with support at the highest levels from HRH Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson bringing our nation together in acts of remembrance.”
The UK’s National Srebrenica Memorial Day was culmination of a week which saw 1,500 memorial activities taking place up and down the country in hundreds of schools, local authorities, places of worship, community centres and police stations.
The chairman of Remembering Srebrenica, Dr Waqar Azmi OBE said: “These acts of remembrance brings our nation together to remind us we must help build stronger, more inclusive communities free from prejudice and intolerance and inspire the next generation to help ensure that hatred does not prevail”.