21 Years – Remember Srebrenica and Unite Against Hatred
Twenty-one years ago, 8372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed in the worst crime committed on European soil since the Second World War.
The journey to justice
The Srebrenica genocide was part of a three year war characterised by the use of concentration camps, sexual violence and ethnic cleansing. The need for acknowledgement, accountability and justice have not faded with time – they remain as urgent as ever. This last year has been both momentous and painfully slow in these aims.
In March 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadžić, guilty of the genocide in Srebrenica, along with 9 further counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. A major step towards justice.
Yet discrimination and a shameful lack of political will still block access to truth, justice and reparation: while over 8000 people are still missing after the war, the Missing Persons Institute has seen repeated funding cuts. Twelve years after it was promised in law, the state still hasn’t established a fund to support the families of missing persons – a simple, practical remedy that’s of crucial importance in guaranteeing their socio-economic rights. Survivors of sexual violence still encounter inexcusable obstacles in accessing reparation and are faced with stigmatisation, re-victimisation and, in the Republika Srpska, even questioning of their status as civilian victims of war.
21: Coming of age – time to act
As I think of all those killed in Srebrenica, my mind turns to the youngest victim of the genocide, a two day-old baby, who would have turned 21 this month.
“Twenty-one represents a coming of age – a passage into adulthood. Thousands of Bosnian young people never had the chance to celebrate their coming of age and were systematically murdered because of who they were.”
Remembering Srebrenica, who have chosen this theme to mark this milestone anniversary.
Remember the consequences of, and unite against, hatred
Genocide doesn’t just suddenly happen. It’s a carefully planned, systematic process involving elements that feel scarily familiar – propaganda, hate speech and discrimination.
We must keep the memory of Srebrenica alive. We need to teach others the consequences of hatred and intolerance and we must also stand up against hatred today.
Pledge to remember and to stand up to hatred
11 July is the EU official day of remembrance for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. You can show your support by signing up to Remembering Srebrenica’s Thunderclap:
Join us in remembrance and send survivors and authorities a message of peace
Sit on the steps in quiet reflection and contribute to the creation of a large Srebrenica flower, by designing ‘petals’ with messages of peace, in the outside café. This flower will be sent to the Mothers of Srebrenica Association, with photos sent to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Remembrance doesn’t always have to be silent and sombre and I hope that this creative approach will reach people in different ways: reflection on peace for those who contribute to the flower and a show of solidarity and unity against hatred to the survivors and Bosnian authorities. Contact me if you would like to replicate this action.
By Deepa Shah, Balkans Country Coordinator, Amnesty International
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.