We watched a moving video describing the death of over 8000 young boys and men, and the pain of the mothers and wives left behind.
The speakers were from all faiths and backgrounds, and included Rev.Roger Govender, the Dean of Manchester Cathedral (Christian), Imam Abid Khan (Muslim), David Arnold MBE (Jewish), and Rob Potts (Assistant Chief Constable #WeStandTogether), Tony Lloyd MP, Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, Elinor Chohan, who helped to organise the event, and Hafsah Bashir, who shared a moving poem about the massacre.
Of course we heard from the Bosnians who had suffered the atrocities and still live with their loss and pain. They included my dear friends, whom I met when they first arrived in England fleeing from the atrocities in Bosnia. Dudiya Zilic, a dear sister and former student of mine (who also appears in my novel The Holy Woman) spoke movingly about her experience of the massacre and of being a Muslim in Bosnia. Her niece, Nabeela (whose lovely mother, Nazira, was heavily pregnant with her when she fled Bosnia to arrive in Manchester as a refugee), spoke about her experience of living with this genocide past. Now studying criminology, she wants learn to understand the minds of people who commit such inhumane acts.
QUOTES FROM SPEECHES:
Imam Abid Khan:
”If left unchecked, hatred and intolerance can have catastrophic results. We need to work together to challenge hatred and extremism. As humans more unites us than divides us – we all want freedom, justice and peace.”
The Very Revd Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester:
“To make peace – speak to your enemy.”
David Arnold MBE:
He talked about the Jewish experience of holocaust, and the massacre of his family by the Nazis.
“We have power of choice – which we all possess. We can make a difference. Pray for a bright future.”
A Bosnian student:
”I am keeping my candle burning. War still has an impact – Bosnian war affected our identity.”
“My mother was left behind. She said to me; ‘Save yourself and your children. I’m old ready, to die’. We had to hide ourselves as Muslims – life became worse day by day. How did humanity become so inhumane?
”Women were raped – left battered and bruised, they begged the soldiers to kill them. They said that they wanted them to live so that would produce future Serbian children. These women were defenceless, young girls, sisters. Many live with feelings of shame to this day.
”Men were killed because of their Muslim name. The international community must not allow this to happen again, to be let down again. No matter what faith, we all need protection.
“Our common humanity can defeat hate.”
Rob Potts, Assistant Chief Constable #WeStandTogether:
“We need to come together as one. Attempting to create disharmony is futile. The #WeStandTogether project is launched to promote community unity. We live in a safe, tolerant part of the world, but there are always those who seek to divide us. We have shared responsibility to safeguard it. Community cohesion is about standing firm against hatred and intolerance.”
Nabeela – Nazira’s daughter:
“I am living a life between two worlds – in England, and remembering the genocide of Bosnia. I am studying criminology at university to understand the minds of those who commit such atrocities, and how such a crime was committed against other humans. We need to stay positive, but never forget.”
Tony Lloyd MP, Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester Combined Authority:
“We need to develop a culture to challenge hatred. Make it a better world – transcend hatred.’
“We are working locally to tackle hatred and to make sure Srebrenica is never forgotten.
#Remembering Srebrenica is a charity; discrimination and promotion of hatred still exists.
“Bosnia – a horrific reminder of war – was one of the darkest hours in life. The world had pledged never again after World War II. On this Memorial day, we honour the victims, to learn about the consequences of hatred, and come to pledge that this happens never again.”
Judge Fouad Riad of the International Court of Justice said the days of the atrocity were ‘truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history’.
In 1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote: ‘Through error, misjudgement and an inability to recognise the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to help save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder.’
Click on the links below to follow and see more news and information about remembering Srebrenica and the WeStandTogether movement.