Remembering Srebrenica: 25 years on
Countries around the world unite to look back on the events that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, resulting in one of the most horrific incidents of mass murder since the Holocaust of World War II.
“Remembering Srebrenica” is a week-long occasion with organised activity occurring in the lead up to 11th July, “Srebrenica Memorial Day”, that marks the beginning of the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre. It would last a total of 11 days and more than 8,000 men and boys were murdered on the basis of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. 2020 marks 25 years since the Massacre took place.
The UN Commission of Experts defined ethnic cleansing in 1993 as “rendering an area ethnically homogenous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.” In other words, the forced movement or eradication of multiple groups of people so that there remains one dominant, ideal group of people within a certain area. Historically, Bosnia-Herzegovina was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and collectively was a multi-ethnic, multi-faith country lead by President Josep Broz Tito. The motto that ruled over Yugoslavia at this time was "Brotherhood and Unity". Before the Bosnian war there were three main ethnic groups living in Bosnia: Bosnian Serbs (Christian Orthodox), Bosniaks (Muslims), Bosnian Croats (Roman Catholic).
After Tito’s death and the decline of Communism, political parties sought to gain power other one another and had differing opinions of the future of Yugoslavia. This eventually resulted in the breakup of Yugoslavia, followed by Slovenia and Croatia declaring their independence in June 1991. Whilst most Bosnians wished to be part of an independent, multi-ethnic country, there were some Bosnian Serbs who wanted to remain part of a Serb dominated Yugoslavia. Bosnian Serb politicians declared their own independent state “Republika Srpska”, with the goal of joining with Serbia to create “GreaterSerbia” – one land for all Serb people. It is at this moment that, the day after being officially recognised as the independent state of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, the Bosnian war began.
Bosnian Serb forces began to force their non-Serbs neighbours out of their homes, with over 2 million people thought to be displaced throughout the duration of the Bosnian War (1992 – 1995). This was achieved through numerous means including persecution, concentration camps, torture, mass murder and sexual violence. The UN declared the province of Srebrenica as a UN “Safe Zone” in response, and over 40,000 mostly Bosnian Muslim refugees fled to Srebrenica to seek refuge. On 11th July 1995, General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces entered the safe zone of Srebrenica, resulting in what is now known as the Srebrenica Massacre.
In Recognition of Remembering Srebrenica, Sunderland City Council will be hosting a private flag raising ceremony to fly the Remembering Srebrenica flag on Friday 10th July, with Smajo Beso from the Remembering Srebrenica charity organisation to deliver the Srebrenica prayer. Footage from this ceremony and further information on the Bosnian Massacre will be shared across our @SunderlandUK Facebook and twitter.
The Remembering Srebrenica charity organisation are also hosting a range of virtual activity throughout this week. You can watch live or revisit previous events through livestream videos available via their twitter and facebook.
- Sunday 5th July, 5pm – In Conversation With: Jasmin Jusufovic, genocide survivor and writer
- Monday 6th July, 2pm – Virtual Exhibition Unveiling: Remnants of Genocide
- Wednesday 8th July, 12pm – Virtual Srebrenica Museum Unveiling: in collaboration with Al Jazeera
- Wednesday 8th July, 6pm – Lessons for the Future: How We Combat Genocide Denial
- Thursday 9th July, 5pm – In Conversation With: Nezdad Avdic, genocide survivor
- Saturday 11th July, 7pm – United Kingdom’s National Commemoration
The Official Remembering Srebrenica Website (linked below) is a great place to learn more about the history of Serbia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian War and Srebrenica Massacre, and the stories and experiences of survivors. Below is a link to the official video in recognition of 25 years since the event. If you are interested in your organisation becoming involved in the annual observance of Remembering Srebrenica, you can sign the Srebrenica Pledge that is also provided below.
Published 08/07/2020 by Rachel Lawson