Uniting in memory of Srebrenica
Victims and survivors of the worst atrocity committed on European soil since the Second
World War will be commemorated across County Durham next week.
The annual Srebrenica Memorial Week from Monday 4 to Monday 11 July, marks the anniversary of the Bosnian Genocide, which saw thousands of people killed and displaced, and sexual violence used against women on a widespread and systematic scale.
Durham County Council and Durham University will mark the anniversary by raising
Remembering Srebrenica flags on a number of key buildings. The flag will be flown at
County Hall across the week; at Durham Castle, which is home to University College, on
Sunday 3 July; and at other university locations.
A display featuring information about what happened in Srebrenica and the wider Bosnian
war, including survivor stories, will be on display at the council’s Clayport library, in
Durham City, throughout the week. A commemorative event is also being held for
university students in the Castle Courtyard.
This year’s anniversary, which is particularly poignant following the Russian invasion of
Ukraine, centres around two themes of ‘Combatting Denial: Challenging Hatred’.
Cllr Alan Shield, Cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: “This year marks 27
years since the genocide at Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which over 8,000
Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically murdered. However, a denial of this
atrocity remains prevalent.
“A failure to face up to the past has led to more pain and suffering for survivors of the
genocide, who have already experienced the worst of humanity. That is why it is
imperative that we never forget the horrors of 1995 and we continue to work together to
reaffirm our commitment to tackling prejudice and discrimination.”
The Revd Gavin Wort, Durham University’s Lead Chaplain, who will officiate at the
commemorative event at Durham Castle, said: “Having flown the Remembering
Srebrenica flag in 2020 and 2021, we are pleased to be able to hold an in-person
commemoration this year. We will remember and honour those killed in the Bosnian
Genocide as well those who lost loved ones or suffered in other ways.
“The university is well-placed to address this year’s theme, ‘Combatting Denial:
Challenging Hatred’, through its academic research, particularly in the School of
Government and International Affairs.”
The denial of the genocide and the crimes committed between 1992 and 1995 are
widespread amongst many high-level individuals and institutions. This includes the Mayor
of Srebrenica, the current political leadership of Republika Srpska and Serbia and Russia,
which vetoed a UN resolution in 2015 to condemn the killings as a genocide.
Denial not only brings more pain and suffering for the survivors but continues divisions and
serves as a significant impediment to peace and reconciliation.
Victims of serious crime can often be subject to further trauma when having to confront
perpetrators in a court of law who deny that they have committed their crimes or place the
blame upon the victim. This exacerbates the suffering of the victims and can deter many
from coming forward to report incidents.
Last year, the council recorded a presentation from a former Bosnian child refugee who
arrived in the region over 25 years ago. Smajo Beso talked about his experiences of the
conflict, the impact on his family and his resettlement in the north east. This can be viewed
on the council’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/3F6XbNATUaY .
For further information about Remembering Srebrenica, visit www.srebrenica.org.uk or go
to www.bget-uk.org/ for information about the Bosnian war.