23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide – Memorial week

This week is the Srebrenica Memorial Week marking the 23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide in which the European Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered “unimaginable savagery” at the hands of General Ratko Mladic’s forces. More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred in the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War. We call on all to offer prayers for the victims, and to pray for peace and compassion in the world.

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. On 15 January 2009, the European Union passed a Resolution stating: “The European Parliament calls on the Council and the Commission to commemorate appropriately the anniversary of the Srebrenica-Potocari act of genocide by supporting Parliament’s recognition of 11 July as the day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide all over the EU, and to call on all the countries of the western Balkans to do the same.”

This year’s theme of “Acts of Courage” is a reminder that hope and the common bonds of humanity can triumph in the darkest of times. We are all invited to draw strength and inspiration from those who, during the genocide and ethnic cleansing, were bold enough to resist an ideology of division, protect their neighbours, and speak out for truth and justice. The baton of courage has now been passed on and it is up to us learn the lessons from Srebrenica.

The Vice-Principal of Jamia Al-Karam and Vice-President of the UK Branch of the World Organisation for Al-Azhar Graduates, Bakhtyar Pirzada al-Azhari, has said: “The Srebrenica massacre and others that occurred during that dark hour cannot be forgotten. Those European people were killed and raped for being Muslims. The lessons must be learnt and these tragedies reminded of, for the world today is witnessing brutality and violence in many parts of the world. Islamophobia and hate crimes are increasing around us. Racial hatred and religious intolerance must be addressed early, for hatred can kill. Today we pray for the martyrs and the victims, and pray for all humans suffering at the hands of fellow humans.”

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Minister for Faith, who launched this year’s commemorative theme of ‘Acts of Courage”, offered thought provoking words, saying: “Courage is a common thread in Bosnian survivor stories – the courage to speak out against murder and sexual violence, the courage to testify, the courage to continue to speak up against those who seek to spread fear, intolerance and hate.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said: “Srebrenica Memorial Day offers a poignant moment to reflect and remember those dark days in July 1995 when more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were murdered because of their faith. This was a shameful crime against humanity that happened right here in Europe only five decades after the end of World War II.”

Speaking about the importance of remembering the genocide, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said “In order to stop the horror ever being repeated, it is vital that we hear those victims’ untold stories and understand what intolerance, hatred and war can give way to.”

It is now more important than ever for us to come together as people in the UK, no matter what our background, to celebrate diversity and to stand together in solidarity against hatred and discrimination. We hope you will join us in mourning the loss of those who died at Srebrenica, and reflecting on how we as individuals, groups and communities can come together to build a better future without hatred.

The Srebrenica Memorial Week is this week from 8th – 15th July 2018. We call on Imams and mosques to remember and honour the victims of the Srebrenica (Bosnia) genocide by holding a special prayer during the Friday sermon on 13th July.

Visit the Remembering Srebrenica official website: http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/