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Remembering Srebrenica

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Remember Srebrenica, Sebrenica Memorial Week 2019, Rape Crisis England and Wales, origami, roses, lilies, genocide, sexual violence, Greater SerbiaWe must highlight the importance of standing up to hatred and division.

The name Srebrenica has become synonymous with the dark days in July 1995 when, in the first ever United Nations declared safe area, thousands of men and boys were systematically murdered and buried in mass graves.

The victims, predominantly Muslim, were selected for death on the basis of their identity. This was the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

This Srebrenica genocide was the planned, systematic, and industrialised conclusion of a four-year campaign of forced deportation, torture, mass murder and systematic sexual violence by Bosnian Serb forces in service of their goal to create a “Greater Serbia”.

The conflict that tore apart communities in Bosnia was marked by dangerous rhetoric that tried to create division and promote distrust between communities.

Far from being confined to the past, this language of division is familiar today to people all around the world.

The global rise of those promoting hate has been accompanied by divisive political rhetoric that has characterised asylum seekers, Muslims, Jews and many other communities as ‘the other’ once again.

The UK’s Srebrenica Memorial Week in 2019 runs from 7 July to 14 July and will see hundreds of acts of commemoration taking place around the country, each organised by ordinary people who want to stand up against hatred.

The theme for this year, ‘Bridging the Divide: Confronting Hate’, has been chosen for Memorial Week 2019 because it is currently very important that people know how to confront hatred in their communities and how to build bridges that help create a stronger, better and more cohesive society.

The theme seeks to inspire people to challenge those who wish to divide communities, celebrate those who build bridges between communities and change attitudes and behaviours in others so they go out and build bridges of their own.

To find an event near you, click here. Or follow the week on Twitter.

To find resources for schools, click here.

Rape Crisis England and Wales and its member Rape Crisis Centres have been working with Remembering Srebrenica for a number of years to acknowledge and remember the thousands of women who were raped in the genocide in Bosnia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia, to understand the continuing difficulties for survivors, to show solidarity with women and women’s organisations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and to work with them to prevent something like this ever happening again in Europe.

Rape Crisis women throughout England and Wales will make origami roses and lilies – both flowers that have significance in Bosnian culture – and write messages of support and solidarity on them to the women in Bosnia.

Trafford Rape Crisis for example, is organising such an event for 12 July. Click here for details.

Remembering Srebrenica will then send the flowers on to women’s organisations in Bosnia working with survivors, including The Association of Women Victims of War and Strength of Women, who gave powerful contributions by Bakira Hasečić and Dr Branka Antić-Štauber at annual Rape Crisis England & Wales Conference 2017.

A minute’s silence will be observed at 11am on 11 July, Srebrenica Memorial Day, and you are invited to join in.

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