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.”
What is Remembering Srebrenica?
Remembrance of difficult moments in our collective history is a key part of our heritage here in the UK. By remembering the past we hope to learn lessons for the future and promote a safer, stronger and more tolerant society for all. Part-funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Remembering Srebrenica is a UK charity that seeks to raise public awareness of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, during which more than 8,000 mainly Bosniaks were killed. Our project aim is to teach current and future generations about the consequences of hatred and intolerance in all communities. We promote: The EU-designated Srebrenica Memorial Day on 11th July; ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina to learn about the impact of hatred and its lasting impact on the survivors, victims’ families, and society more broadly; Public awareness with the aim of promoting good community relations and rejecting hatred and its causes.
Why hold Srebrenica Memorial Day?
In 2009, the European Union designated 11 July as Srebrenica Memorial Day. The UK is the first country to lead on this initiative through Remembering Srebrenica. Since our founding in 2013 we have helped to organise events on and around this date. Srebrenica Memorial Day honours the victims and survivors of the genocide. It offers a unique opportunity to remember the lives lost in Srebrenica, to highlight the continued consequences of genocide, and to reaffirm our own commitment to strong community relations here in the UK. It is through these powerful messages that we are all able to strengthen our resolve and send out a message to all those attempting to create divisions within our societies.
There continue to be crimes committed within the UK which are motivated by hatred and intolerance. By engaging with our initiative Police forces across the UK can reaffirm their desire to tackle hate crimes and demonstrate their continued commitment to developing strategies to effectively tackle hatred and discrimination in all its forms.
The City of London Police will be holding a Remembering Srebrenica Memorial Day event at the CH Rolph Hall on the 11th of July from 12pm to 2pm with light refreshments. We will be showing a 20 minute DVD produced by a survivor which will give you a insight into what took place, followed by a short presentation by myself on the relevance of Srebrenica.
For further information on the work of the charity please visit http://srebrenica.org.uk/