Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Srebrenica Memorial

As many of you may know this week marks the 19th anniversary since the appalling Srebrenica massacre. Around the UK numerous different people and organisations are taking part in a historic programme of memorials to look back on this horrific event with the view that this must happen ‘Never Again’.

The Srebrenica offensive itself commenced on the 6th July 1995 with Bosnian Serb forces attempting to remove the Muslim Bosnians from their territory in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The unthinkable terrors of the offensive meant thousands of civilians were forced to flee their homes in an attempt to escape these horrors. Following days of running and false hopes along the way, many of the Bosnians were captured and held by the Bosnian Serb forces before many men and boys were executed. Some estimates put the death toll at over 7000 while many agree the figure could be at least 8000.

Srebrenica was the biggest war crime and human catastrophe to take place on European soil since the end of the Second World War as I’m sure many of you will know. As well as being a war crime, it serves as a blot on, and a reminder to our collective conscience that the phrase ‘Never Again’ is meaningless unless we act upon it. Srebrenica is therefore a double tragedy, resulting from the deadly combination of ethnic conflict and a slow response by the international community.

The European Parliament in result of these events resolved that the 11th of July ought to be a day of remembrance across Europe. With the passing of the last living person who fought in the First World War, that conflict has passed into history. The Srebrenica massacre on the other hand happened within the living memory of even the younger generation, and like the Great War, we must be vigilant and keep its memory alive in order that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

During this week of memorial therefore, spare a thought for this anniversary and keep in mind the notion of ‘Never Again’ that we all share. Locally in Blackburn there will be a Memorial taking place at Blackburn Cathedral on the 10th July from 1:00pm onwards with numerous political, religious and community leaders attending to remember the events in Srebrenica 19 years ago and to pay tribute to the victims of the genocide.

Conflicts such as this should never be forgotten and should always be used as a lesson to future generations to never repeat past mistakes.