Remembering Srebrenica is deeply concerned about the serious situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In response to the introduction of a genocide denial law by the previous High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, the Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik is threatening to quit state institutions – including raising once again a Bosnian Serb army, the very institution responsible for genocide at Srebrenica.
The formation of parallel entity institutions has been described by the current High Representative as ‘tantamount to secession’ and warned that the country is in imminent danger of breaking apart, with a “very real” prospect of a return to conflict. The actions of Dodik should not come as a surprise and is the culmination of years of undermining the work of state institutions and ethno nationalist rhetoric in which he has long-sought to break up the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These destabilising actions are all underpinned by the concept of uniting the “Serb world” – an idea alarmingly similar to former President Slobodan Milošević’s “Greater Serbia”.
The Srebrenica genocide which took place just 26 years ago was the planned and industrialised conclusion of a forced deportation, torture, mass murder and systematic sexual violence which took place across Bosnia by Bosnian Serb forces as part of their goal to create a “Greater Serbia”. It seems incomprehensible to think that we are now facing the chilling prospect of a return to those dark days of the 1990s. So many survivors have already had to endure so much pain and suffering and are now having to once again relive the trauma and anxiety of fearing for their future.
As many of you will be aware, Remembering Srebrenica has been working hard with parliamentarians from across the political spectrum in both the House of Commons and House of Lords, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bosnia, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Srebrenica, as well key individuals and organisations to raise awareness on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are therefore grateful to Anthony Mangnall MP for tabling Urgent Questions in Parliament last week and to the speaker for granting this. We are also grateful to all the MPs who participated in this debate and to the Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP for setting out the Government’s clear and robust stance. This issue was then raised in the House of Lords the next day and we are grateful to the Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon for answering questions from members.
We have uploaded both of these debates on to YouTube in order to make it accessible for everyone. The link to watch the debate in the House of Commons is here. The link to watch the debate in the House of Lords is here.
We are also grateful to Alicia Kearns MP who is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bosnia for which we are the secretariat, for arranging an urgent roundtable meeting of MPs with briefing provided by the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, His Excellency Vanja Filipovic. Finally, of course, we are grateful for the tremendous leadership provided by Baroness Arminka Helic who has continuously been a leading voice during this critical time.
Write to your MP
We will continue to work with MPs, Peers, relevant APPGs and key stakeholders. However, we would like to request all our 1,450 Community Champions and supporters to write to their local MPs to raise awareness of this issue and urge them to engage with this important issue and use their position to urge the government to intervene in this critical situation. A template for you to use can be accessed here.
You can find out who your local MP is and how to contact them by inserting your postcode on this website here.
Photo Credit: Richard Vize