Remembering Srebrenica’s 2024 Theme: I Am Because You Are

Every year, Remembering Srebrenica selects a theme that reflects an aspect of the genocide that needs to be commemorated, but also speaks to communities here in the UK.

The theme for 2024 is ‘I Am Because You Are’.

The inspiration comes from the philosophy of ‘Ubuntu’, a South African term which is often translated as “I am because you are”. The anti—apartheid and human rights activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu summarised it in the following way: “Ubuntu speaks about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness … We are all connected. What unites us is our common humanity… We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas what you do, what I do, affects the whole world. Taking that a step further, when you do good, it spreads that goodness; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Our theme for this year will underline the importance of standing up against those who try to divide us and standing up for each other against hatred, discrimination, harassment or prejudice. It will also help empower everyone in our communities to understand the importance of interconnectedness to help build a safer, stronger, and more cohesive society for all. 

Photo Credit: Richard Vize

The genocide at Srebrenica is a stark symbol of man’s inhumanity against man. Prior to the breakup of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina encapsulated the interconnectedness of humanity. It was renowned for being a melting pot of cultures in which Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and those of other faiths and no faith lived side by side and in peace. Sarajevo, the capital, was known for being the “Jerusalem of Europe” as the only European city to have a Mosque, Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and Synagogue in the same neighbourhood.

However, the rise of ultra nationalism ripped apart the fabric of communities as Bosnian Serbs sought to create a greater Serbia and following a campaign of dehumanisation and ethnic cleansing, around a hundred thousand Bosnian Muslims were murdered with over 8,300 men and boys murdered in the town of Srebrenica alone, over two million people displaced, and around fifty thousand women systematically raped in what the UN termed as the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

The driving force behind the campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing was built upon the belief that one group was superior to the other and created divisions based on this ideology. 

This year’s theme will therefore serve as a reminder that the common bonds we have as human beings are far more important than that which divides us. We must strive beyond simply living individual lives or separated community lives and instead live lives that are interconnected by playing our part in rejecting hatred, division, and building more cohesive communities.

Finally, we also hope that the theme will reinforce how fragile humanity can be and the need for humans to be constantly vigilant and nourish and cherish the relationships with one another as individuals who are inextricably intertwined.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Guildhall event