[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”]Nishaat Ismail holds a Master’s Degree in Middle East in Global Politics: Islam, Conflict and Development at Birkbeck University of London. Nishaat has also a BA in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Nishaat specialises in the politics of the Middle East and North Africa.[/symple_box]
London, U.K.-As the sun began to set, the call of the dusk prayer was sounded and there we were, standing on a hill overlooking the sea of white tomb stones in the Potocari memorial ground after having completed the grueling, physically and mentally challenging three day trek from Nezuk to Potocari.
Two years ago, I had the honor to be a part of the peace march and memorial service in Potocari, when five hundred and twenty Bosnians were buried. The 11th of July memorial service comes after an annual three day peace march known as Mars Mira. The participants follow in reverse the route of Srebrenica’s Death March. After the siege of Srebrenica, Bosnian men marched seventy horrific miles to escape death and reach the free territory of Tuzla. This annual trek is a way to commemorate the courageous men who survived this dangerous ordeal and for all those involved to experience a small proportion of the discomfort the Bosnians endured.
To see the grief on the faces of family members burying their dead after having to wait almost twenty years is a distressing and poignant experience. After almost twenty years they have been able to finally mourn their tragic loss.
The 11th of July 2014 marked nineteen years since the horrific genocide in Srebrenica. This massacre has been described as the worst crime to take place on European soil since World War Two.
Today, a hundred and seventy-five bodies were finally laid to rest in the memorial site in Potocari, Srebrenica, nineteen years after the war. This is an annual memorial service where, newly discovered bodies of those killed during the genocide are buried. Ever since the end of the war in 1995, mass graves have been discovered year after year containing the remains of those brutally murdered during the siege.
I attended a memorial event at the City of London Police Headquarters with the organization Remembering Srebrenica. Moving speeches were made by, Asif Sadiq the Head of the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Unit and Nagina Kayani, the Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Manager at City of London Police. They acknowledged the heinous crimes that took place in Srebrenica and reminded all in attendance to never forget the atrocities that took place and never let such crimes to take place anywhere else.
The world watched and waited as Srebrenica fell into the hands of war criminal General Ratko Mladic, despite Srebrenica being declared a safe haven by the United Nations. The UN’s failure to prevent the fall of Srebrenica resulted in the death of over eight thousand Bosnian men and young boys.
Today, we have politicians condemning the 1995 genocide vowing to never let such crimes happen again on our watch. Unfortunately these words are like empty vessels. The international community has once again failed to intervene in conflicts we are witness to now. The Rohingya in Burma are facing persecution at the hands of Burmese Buddhists, Muslims in the Central African Republic have been forced to flee their homes to escape violence and death and we all know too well the ugly truth of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
The significance of remembering the victims of Srebrenica is that we don’t become desensitized to what is happening around us in the world now, so that there is global outrage whenever there is news of a group of people or a nation under threat and persecution. It is up to global citizens to put pressure on world leaders and international institutions to take action against injustice.
The purpose of this post is to pay respect to the Bosnians who lost their lives to this gruesome massacre but to also acknowledge that there are genocides unfolding and happening in the world right now and the death of over eight thousand Bosnians should prompt us all to take an active stance against violence, inequality and the abuse of human rights.