Remembering Srebrenica’s Community Champions: We Will Not Stand By

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’.
– Edmund Burke


The 27th January marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. On this day, Holocaust Memorial Day, we commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and remember genocides that have occurred notwithstanding the world’s promise of ‘Never Again’ – Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur.


The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 is “Don’t Stand By”. As the quote above reminds us, when we do not take action against intolerance in our communities, we create the conditions in which the ultimate evil can occur. This year’s theme calls upon us to act, to stand up and raise our voices against hatred in all its forms.


Remembering Srebrenica Community Champions are answering this call by bringing people from diverse backgrounds together in acts of commemoration across the country. Through our ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ visits programme, our Community Champions have seen first hand the potential consequences of hatred left unchecked.


All Community Champions make a pledge to stand up to hatred on their return to the UK, including holding Holocaust Memorial Day events. From Scotland to London, the lessons from Srebrenica are being shared and people are coming together to remember the horrific events of the past, to share stories and to work together to build a better future for the next generation.


Robert McNeil MBE, a member of Remembering Srebrenica’s Scottish Board, is holding an exhibition of his artwork from Srebrenica in the Scottish Parliament’s Private Members Gallery. Robert said:


“It is more important than ever to come together to remember the awful events of the past and see how we can learn from them today.  I wanted to hold this exhibition in order to remember the victims of the Holocaust and all subsequent genocides and raise awareness of the genocide in Srebrenica.  We need to remember the past to see what hatred and intolerance could lead to and why we must unite against hatred and do not stand by.”

In Leeds, our Remembering Srebrenica Community Champion, Zeynab Ahmed was involved in the civic event held at Leeds Town Hall, which included a theatre performance by young people, the singing of a traditional Hebrew memorial prayer and the lighting of candles. Zeynab said:


“It is very important to me to commemorate this day as not only do we remember the victims of genocide, but it is a reminder that we must not become complacent here in the UK.  Genocide is still taking place in Darfur, and the genocide in Srebrenica was only 20 years ago”.

In London, Canon Steven Saxby will be speaking to a group of 400 children about genocide and what he learnt on his visit to Srebrenica and the importance of learning from the past in order to build a better future.


We call on all of our supporters, friends and Community Champions to take up the call to act, and to speak out against racism and religious intolerance wherever they find it. Although we are fortunate to live in such vibrant and diverse communities in the UK, we can never afford to become complacent. These words, by Pastor Martin Niemoller, remind us why:


First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me.