An inter-faith and cross-sectoral delegation from Northern Ireland will be visiting Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the Remembering Srebrenica programme to learn about the genocide and the consequences of hate.
The delegation will be led by the Chair of Remembering Srebrenica Northern Ireland, Peter Osborne, who said:
“As a region still coming out of a conflict sparked and sustained by lack of understanding of others, people from Northern Ireland should realise the long-term impact of communal violence.
As we consider what is happening all over the world, let us draw on the lessons of Srebrenica. That hate motivation crosses all boundaries, backgrounds and faiths. That the consequences can be life-changing for individuals and families, but also devastating for whole communities and countries.
The only real solution to countering hate is to build relationships and develop understanding of the other. Because the world over, relationship dismantles bigotry, relationship dismantles intolerance, relationship dismantles racism and relationship dismantles sectarianism.”
Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson, who is also travelling on the delegation, said:
"Although every situation is different, In Bosnia-Herzegovina as in Northern Ireland the past throws a long shadow over the present. The genocide in Srebrenica claimed 8,372 lives in just a few days. I am attending with others to remember those who lost their lives and to learn about the challenges that victims and survivors still experience many years later. We know from our own experience that victims' needs are often over looked. It is important to learn from the experience of others and provide support."
The group will learn about the genocide in Srebrenica which happened 22 years ago when General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica and systematically murdered 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. The delegation will hear from educational specialists, the British Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Mothers of Srebrenica and other survivors of the genocide.
The ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ visit is part of Remembering Srebrenica’s wider education programme which has created over 1,000 Community Champions against hatred and seen over 32,000 young people learning the lessons from this genocide and using it to strengthen communities in the UK.
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Notes to Editors:
Delegates travelling to Srebrenica
Dr Bronagh Finnegan-Catibusic, Remembering Srebrenica Ireland
Richard Cull – Ulster Television
Edwin Graham – NI Interfaith Network
Rev Colin Hall-Thompson – Mission for Seafarers
Peter Osborne – Remembering Srebrenica NI
Ed Peterson – Clonard Reconciliation Project
William Scholes – Irish News
Judith Thompson – Victims Commissioner Northern Ireland
Denise Wright – South Belfast Round Table
The genocide in Srebrenica
On 11 July 1995 General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica and systematically murdered 8372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.
In 1993, Srebrenica had been declared a UN Safe Area, under the watch of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). In July 1995, Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the town, despite its designation as an area 'free from any armed attack or any other hostile act’.
Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina began in 1992, as Bosnian Serb forces carried out a brutal campaign of violence against the civilian population designed to create a “Greater Serbia”. This covered an area ranging from northern Bosnia and including eastern and western Bosnia adjoining the Serb Krajina area in Croatia.
34 Rape Camps established as part of the campaign of ethnic cleansing had already been identified by the CIA in April 1993 https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/1993-04-02.pdf. There were also concentration camps in which predominately men were held and tortured, before being murdered in many cases.
The Charity Remembering Srebrenica & Memorial Week
Remembering Srebrenica is the UK organiser of the EU-designated Srebrenica Memorial Day on 11 July. The charity is part-funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and is supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Prime Minister.
It is committed to sending 600 individuals on its Lessons from Srebrenica over a three-year period. Each delegate pledges to carry out an activity on their return to the UK. These are designed to raise awareness of the risks of hatred, racism and intolerance, using Srebrenica as an example of an integrated society that disintegrated.
Over 1, 000 leaders and key figures have gone on the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ programme to Bosnia who have all then gone on to become Community Champions organising memorial events, giving talks and educating people about genocide, as well as promoting community cohesion. The charity has also developed education packs on the lessons of the Srebrenica genocide for use in secondary schools in the UK and other education materials which have reached over 32, 000 children so far.
Memorial Week for the 22nd anniversary of the genocide runs from 9-16 July 2017. It will both honour the victims of this tragedy as well as foster stronger community relations in Britain. The theme of this year’s memorial events is “Breaking the Silence: Gender and Genocide” focusing on the experiences of women in Bosnia; their courage under fire, their strength in surviving and leading efforts to bring about justice and reconciliation after the genocide.
For further information on the work of the charity please visit: Website: www.srebrenica.org.uk/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/rememberingsrebrenica Twitter: @SrebrenicaUK
You can also contact Joe Peacock, Communications and Engagement Manager on 0121 454 3343 or email: email@example.com