Until 11th July 1995, the small town of Srebrenica was known as a ‘safe area’ for the thousands of Bosniak Muslims. But things changed on this day. Bosniak Muslim men were forcefully separated from their wives and children by Serb forces and more than 8000 Muslim men and boys were hunted down and killed after which their bodies were dumped to hide any evidence.
Until this day, bodies of victims are being found which is why new burials take place on the 11th of July each year. It is believed that the remains of 50 victims have been found this year and they will all be put to rest in the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Centre on the date of the anniversary.
Recognised by national and international courts as a genocide, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the 15th of January 2009 which mentions:
“The European Parliament calls on the Council and the Commission to commemorate appropriately the anniversary of Srebrenica-Potocari act of genocide by supporting Parliament’s recognition of 11 July as the day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide all over the EU, and to call on all countries of the western Balkans to do the same.”
Mourned by people from around the world, schools and religious establishments get together to have a moment of silence in remembrance of the thousands of victims. Why we remember them has been summed up remarkably by HRH Prince Charles who mentions, “By remembering the pain of the past and learning its lessons, we can together resolve that it must never happen again.”
To this day, thousands of people march in Bosnia whilst remembering the many family members they lost in the genocide. Covering a distance of 60 miles, those marching, attempt to remind themselves of the same route taken by the many victims when they tried fleeing from Srebrenica. Ending up in the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Centre, the thousands of people gather to remember their brothers, fathers and sons who were killed in the bloody genocide.
With the memorial centre home to 8000 tombstones, it is a remarkable yet sad sight which reminds those visiting of the sheer number of those killed.
Visiting the memorial centre allows one to speak directly to many that could have been victims, as well as those that have lived on after losing loved ones. If you plan to visit, be sure to make a stop at some of the local communities as Srebrenica is more about the people than the sites. The experience will allow you to listen to stories firsthand from those that have held onto hope for a brighter future, despite enduring years of hardship.
Main Image – Magdalena, Unsplash