In a powerful display of unity between people of different backgrounds, faiths, political beliefs and ages came together to unveil a memorial stone in Bradford’s peace garden by the Lord Mayor of Bradford Cllr. Rev. Geoff Read to mark the start of Srebrenica Memorial Week.
The Chairman of Yorkshire and North East Board, Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw was presented with a cheque for £700 for the Charities Widow Project which supports mothers who lost their husbands, brothers and sons in the genocide by the Remembering Srebrencia charity Champion Naweed Hussain who visited Bosnia in December 2015 talking to the survivors and families of the victims including sites and buildings where the atrocities took place.
Mr Hussain said, “It was a very moving visit to Bosnia and speaking direct to the families which lost loved ones during the war and genocide which took place. On this very single day (11 July 2017) over 8,000 men and boys were butchered on the basis of their religion and visiting the memorial cemetery was very surreal.”
In 1993 Srebrenica had been declared a UN safe Area, under the watch of the United nations Protection Froce (UNPROFOR). Two years later in 1995 on 11 July, General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica and systematically murdered 8372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the town, despite its designation as an area ‘free from any armed attack or any other hostile act’.
The charity Remembering Srebrenica, who have organised events all over the country, say that parallels between the anti-Islamic rhetoric in the Balkans in the 1990s and in the UK today are striking. Hate crime in the UK, particularly religious hate crime, has risen dramatically, with Tell MAMA reporting a 326 per cent increase in Islamophobic incidents and reports of a 57 per cent increase in hate crime in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum.
July 11 marks the 21st anniversary of the genocide of 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, – murdered on account of their Islamic faith. This event ran in parallel with events organised throughout the country by Remembering
Srebrenica’s network of Community Champions, which has brought thousands of people of different communities, ages and faiths together to unite against hatred.
Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, Chairman of Remembering Srebrenica said:
“Twenty one years after the genocide, we are determined not only to remember the victims of Srebrenica, but to honour their memories by taking positive action to build better communities. Srebrenica teaches us that prejudice and hatred left unchecked can have catastrophic consequences, not only for the generation that suffers the violence, but for the following generations whose futures are also irreversibly altered.
“Remembering Srebrenica’s dedicated Community Champions are leading a grassroots movement to challenge the stereotyping and dehumanising language that has become prevalent in our country, and to bring communities together through acts of commemoration around Memorial Week”.
Remembering Srebrenica also organises the national commemorations for Srebrenica, with official Srebrenica Commemorations to be held this year at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London Belfast, Glasgow and also in Cardiff. Hundreds gathered at these commemorations to hear the testimony of genocide survivors. Nedžad Avdić, one of only eleven men to survive Bosnian Serb firing squads, Hajrudin Mesić aged 21, who lost all of his four brothers will make a pledge that this time, ‘Never Again’, really will mean ‘Never Again’.