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Srebrenica genocide

Srebrenica genocide

What happened in Srebrenica  in July 1995 was an act of genocide that shamed Europe and shamed the world. We must never, ever forget what happened at Srebrenica. The world failed Bosnia in its hour of need. The 20. anniversary is a moment to remember the many thousands who lost their lives, to remember their families and the missing, and the fact that for so many - including the Mothers o f Srebrenica - the agony still continues every day, undimmed by the passage of time. And we must reaffirm our determination to act to prevent genocide in the future. The name of Srebrenica now stands for one of the darkest chapters of European history, a reminder that the continent, which has given rise to many of the finest attributes of human civilisation, has also spawned some of the most horrific examples of man's inhumanity to man. Some dared to believe, after Auschwitz and Birkenau, that such horrors were consigned to history and could never happen again in our modern world. But they did. So we must learn and act on the les- sons of Srebrenica, on the need to act in the face of evil. And we must remember to the human cost of the tragedy, which lives on today - more than 8,000 men and young boys who were hunted down and massacred in the woods and forests near Srebrenica, many of whose bodies have still not been found.


The international community must strive, constantly, for peace and the defence of human rights. And, as individuals, we must each feel empowered to stand up and speak out against intolerance and racial abuse, wherever and whenever it occurs. The survivors and those who lost loved ones will never forget the damage that was done - and neither must we. It is our duty to teach the generations that follow us the devastation caused through discrimination, prejudice and racial hatred so that they learn to challenge it. It is vitally important that we remember the genocide acknowledge that the international community failed Bosnia and commit to confronting the evil that perpetrates genocide in the future.  At a time when we thought Europe had long learnt the lessons from the genocide and massacres of our past, events at Srebrenica confronted us with our deep human failure to respect and protect the sanctity of life of those who are different from us. The killing of over 8,000 people and the failure of the international community to intervene remains a shameful tragedy. That it was committed on the basis of ethnic and religious identity requires us all to be vigilant in the language we use and confront the discrimination and hate promoted in the name of religion. As we remember, our thoughts are with the many women who continue to carry the wounds of their loss, mothers and wives, sisters and daughters. We honour their pain not only by ensuring those who afflict such atrocities will face justice, but by giving hope of a better future. A future based not simply on tolerance and respect, but a genuine desire to live with our deepest differences of faith in a spirit of reconciliation.


Srebrenica will forever be associated with one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.  This gruesome and inhuman crime shocked the entire world. Since then we have seen considerable progress towards justice for the victims of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have seen some of those responsible brought to justice. But let us also think of those they left behind: the mothers of Srebrenica, the children left fatherless, and the families robbed of their men forever. No trial can compensate the families of the victims. There will always be a mother of Srebrenica who lives in hope that her son is alive and will one day come back, or a child who dreams of the father who will never return. We can only imagine their pain. We must never forget. And nor should we ever allow it to be denied, for to do so would open a door to similar crimes elsewhere. We continue to honour the memory of the innocent victims of the Srebrenica genocide, and we stand by the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as they look towards a brighter and better future. Keeping alive the memory of the crimes committed in July 1995 is just part of what is owed to the victims and the communities that mourn them. Remembering painful truths about the past is the key to our shared quest for a better and more tolerant world.


Srebrenica Memorial Day in Canada is an opportunity to salute the work of all those who have worked to shine a light on all that happened in Srebrenica  and to pledge to do all we can as human rights leaders, or simply as citizens of the world, to reach out across the barriers between us and to work for justice and reconciliation. I think it is vital that we continue to hold in our minds and our hearts the terrible events that occurred in and around Srebrenica in July 1995.  After the Holocaust we said 'Never again'.  If we do not learn from our history we shall be condemned to repeat it.