Srebrenica – we remember

July 12, 2016 | Nick Taylor

Srebrenica – we remember

Today, Wednesday 13th July 2016, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace will join together with the people of Manchester and the charity Remembering Srebrenica, at an act of civic remembrance, 21 years since an act of genocide claimed the lives of thousands of people.

Remembering Srebrenica is a British charitable initiative. It recognises that we have achieved a lot in terms of building a cohesive society here in the UK, but discrimination, promotion of hatred, extremism, and exclusion persist, and we must play our part, no matter how large or small, to create a better and safer society for all.

These are values that we share at the Foundation.

During the Balkans conflict of 1992-1995, the Bosnian town of Srebrenica was declared a UN Safe Area in 1993, under the watch of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR).

In July 1995, General Ratko Mladić and his Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the town, despite its designation as an area “free from any armed attack or any other hostile act”.

In the days following Srebrenica’s fall, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves. Thousands of women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported and a large number of women were raped. It was the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled that the mass execution of Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica constituted genocide.

Judge Fouad Riad, who reviewed the indictment, described the “unimaginable savagery” that the victims endured at the hands of Mladic’s forces. He said these were: “truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”

In 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote:

“Through error, misjudgement and an inability to recognise the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to help save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder.”

Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police and Manchester Cathedral have come together to support Remembering Srebrenica and will hold a civic remembrance service (14-:00 to 15:30) at the Cathedral.  The Foundation will be attending and would ask all its supporters to reflect on this day about all those who suffered, were bereaved or are still affected by this horrific act.

Nick Taylor, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: “It is almost impossible to comprehend what happened in a part of Europe close to these islands and that we as a human race did little to stop it.

“The hatred that led to such extreme brutality and horrific murder is hard to fathom, but today is a day to stop and reflect and join together with a will and strength to ensure that such events are never allowed to happen again.

“We can only do this by standing together, resolving conflict and building peace.  The thoughts of everyone at the Foundation are with Srebnicia – we remember.”