This year marks twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide, the worst war crime to take place on European soil since the Second World War. While the international community looked on, over 8000 mostly Bosniak Muslim men and boys were systematically executed, simply because of their faith. It is estimated that over 10,000 women, the majority of whom were Muslim, were raped by Serbian forces during the Bosnian war and over 2.2 million people displaced.
Only fifty years earlier, the world was reeling from the horrors of the Holocaust. Despite the promises to never again allow such an atrocity to occur and the vows to learn from history, it took a mere few decades for Europe to experience yet another genocide fuelled by hatred.
The anniversary of this brutal crime is a solemn reminder of the importance of standing up to prejudice and hatred. Like the Holocaust, the Srebrenica genocide did not occur overnight, but was preceded by years of dehumanisation, discrimination, and misinformation. Hate-filled rhetoric by political leaders coupled with polarising media propaganda worked to plant suspicion and distrust within communities. This unchecked hatred fuelled a systematic extermination campaign of which Srebrenica was the climax.
Today, the marginalisation of minority groups and vilification of refugees and migrants in our media and political rhetoric is a ticking time bomb; it is our shared responsibility to stand up to those who use hatred to stoke divisions within our communities. The theme of this year’s Remembering Srebrenica campaign is Every Action Matters – a reminder of the power of our actions no matter how small and the danger of choosing to stay silent.
On this day MAB remembers the victims of the genocide in Bosnia and stands in solidarity with the survivors who continue to fight for justice more than twenty years later. We reaffirm our commitment to fighting hatred and building a society based on mutual respect, tolerance and understanding.