‘Remembering Srebrenica’ service was heartfelt
Published on 11th July 2017
Gloucestershire’s first official commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide was held on Thursday 6 July at the Municipal Offices, Cheltenham.
The event was jointly hosted by Cheltenham Borough Council and charitable initiative ‘Remembering Srebrenica’.
The theme for the 2017 commemoration, which is officially marked today, Tuesday 11 July, is ‘Breaking the silence: gender and genocide.’
Anousheh Haghdadi, south west regional chair of Remembering Srebrenica, says: “The Srebrenica genocide reminds us all that we must remain ever vigilant against prejudice, intolerance and all forms of hatred. No society can afford to ignore the warning signs of increased nationalism and divisive rhetoric. Our theme this year of "Gender and Genocide" reminds us that the persistent inequality and objectification of women in our own society has very real consequences and we should be speaking out this just as much as we do about other forms of hatred."
Male victims in Srebrenica were selected to be killed because of their gender as well as their Bosnian Muslim identity. Also, an estimated 20k to 50k women, mostly Bosnian Muslim, were subjected to sexual violence in Bosnia during the war, and many had forced pregnancies as part of the ethnic cleansing.
Cheltenham’s commemoration opened with an exhibition of the Women of Bosnia and was followed by an act of remembrance. The event also included short talks on lessons learned from Srebrenica, and a testimony which was followed by candle lighting by members of different faith and community groups and a minute of silence.
Councillor Flo Clucas, cabinet member for healthy lifestyles from Cheltenham Borough Council, said, “'Bosnia is a beautiful country, with many people who want to see a real move towards democracy. They know how important it is both to remember what happened, to learn from it and to create a new future. We all need to be vigilant against hate in our society and jointly hosting this important countywide event helps to remind people of the devastating path discrimination, stereotyping and victimisation can take.”
The Mayor, Councillor Klara Sudbury, continued: “Cheltenham Borough Council employees will observe a minute’s silence to remember Srebrenica today at 11am”.
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The European Parliament passed a resolution in 2009 that all European countries commemorate Srebrenica Memorial Day each July.
On 11 July 1995, Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and his forces seized the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, which had been declared a UN safe zone in 1993. Over the following week, 8372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys as young as 12 would be murdered simply because they were Muslim. Women and girls were subjected to inhumane treatment, and in many cases, sexual violence.