MAYOR of Worcester Coun Jabba Riaz made a poignant visit to site of the Srebrenica genocide on a delegation with other community and civic leaders from the city to learn lessons about the consequences of ignoring racial hatred.
The trip was part of the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ programme organised by Remembering Srebrenica, a charity which seeks to educate people about genocide in order to create stronger, more cohesive communities in the UK.
Other delegates included representatives from Fortis Living, which employs more than 700 people and provides 15,000 homes across Worcestershire, Kathryn Spicksley,a PhD student from the University of Worcester, Alice Byrne from Worcester Community Trust and Claire Bailey who is a member of South Worcester Hate Crime Forum.
Visitors learnt about how hatred and divisions on religious and ethnic lines tore apart Bosnia-Herzegovina after the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. This lesson underscores the importance of Coun Riaz’s main campaign as Mayor, which has a focus on promoting ‘love not hate’ in the City of Worcester.
“What happened at Srebrenica carries a warning for us all. Even a seemingly multicultural society can tear itself apart if hatred and divisions are allowed to take root,” he said.
“It all starts with words and by categorising communities and groups into ‘us and them’. We must reach out to neighbours and seek to understand them.
“I look forward to working with Remembering Srebrenica as I continue to work towards bringing communities in Worcester as part of my theme for the mayoralty ‘Love not Hate’.”
The genocide in Srebrenica 23 years ago saw General Ratko Mladic and his Bosnian Serb forces march into the town of Srebrenica and murder more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys and rape thousands of women and girls.
Delegates met with the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ who lost sons, husbands and other male relatives in the genocide.
The bodies of those murdered were initially thrown in mass graves, however, when the Bosnian Serb Army realised their crimes would be found out they dug up the mass graves using diggers and moved the body parts in trucks at night over several months to different parts of the country.
The testimonies of the mothers and other genocide survivors has resulted in the prosecution of General Ratko Mladic last November at The Hague which found him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison.
Remembering Srebrenica will be holding events and ceremonies from July 8 to 15 to mark 23 years since the devastating events of 1995.
A memorial service will be held at the Guildhall on July 11 at 7pm.
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