Today we meet a generation on the worst atrocity committed in mainland Europe since the Second World War. We come together to pay our respects to the victims and to honour the bravery of those who survived the horror that took place in Eastern Bosnia 25 years ago. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not very far away from us, in fact London lies closer to the town of Srebrenica than it does to Lisbon.
That a savage campaign of systematic rape, of torture, of brutal ethnic cleansing, of genocide could take place on our European doorstep within living memory remains truly shocking and proof that hatred can take hold anywhere, at any time. For many, daily life in the former Yugoslavia republic remains hard, attempting to reconcile the terrible events of the past whilst pain remains ever present. Victims continue to be exhumed and identified whilst for many families the heart-breaking search for their loved ones continues.
The main perpetrators of the massacre Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are behind bars but only last month a Bosnia court found three more men guilty of war crimes. A former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army has also been charged with assisting the 1995 genocide. Despite this, denial continues to flourish wherever the atrocities took place. That is why it is so important to engage and to educate young people about these tragic events. Remembering Srebrenica is working hard to ensure that we never forget the genocide, that we learn the lessons from it and stand up to hatred wherever and whenever we see it.
25 years ago a generation of Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered simply because of who they were. A generation of Bosnia Muslim men and boys were denied the chance to live out their lives and fulfil their dreams. Every July 11th affords us the opportunity to remember them, to pause and reflect on the devastating consequences where hatred goes unchecked.
This time last year people gathered in their thousands from communities across the United Kingdom at hundreds of community action events, in Churches, in Mosques, in Synagogues, in schools and in community centres to remember those who lost their lives and whose lives were changed by those events. And while many of those places of worship and learning are now open once more after the COVID Pandemic this year will of course be very different. So while we might not be meeting in person, we can remember together and ensure that the voices of those who grieve for over 8,000 murdered men and boys are never silenced.