|On Thursday (8 July) those who lost their lives during the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, were remembered during a commemorative service outside Portsmouth’s Civic Offices. During the service, the Bosnia-Herzegovina and Remembering Srebrenica flags were raised in Guildhall Square.|
During the Srebrenica genocide in July 1995, over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed and thousands of women, children and the elderly were forcibly deported. It has been described by the United Nations as the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War. Each year, Srebrenica Memorial Day commemorates the victims, honour the survivors and aims to help to build a better, safer and more tolerant society.
The ceremony was attended by a small number of representatives from the local community; the Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson; Lord Mayor, Councillor Frank Jonas; Resident Alim / Imam, Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat – Al Mahdi Centre, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, who gave a short address; and the Reverend Tracey Ansell, Chaplain to the City Council.
During his address, Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, Resident Alim / Imam, Wessex Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat – Al Mahdi Centre, said:
” We must learn from the past in order to ensure that the terrible event that happened in Srebrenica doesn’t happen again. We need to realise that these terrible events start from very small events. They start from hatred and intolerance. They start from small acts of disrespect. And then they can build up into much more serious events. This can put wedge between communities. From Srebrenica, we must all understand the consequences of leaving hatred and intolerance unchallenged. How easy it is to lose peace. It is essential that we must ensure that we never forget about the genocide and reaffirm our commitment to standing up against hatred and prejudice.”
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, comments: “By raising the Bosnia-Herzegovinian and Remembering Srebrenica flags in Portsmouth, we remembered those who died and survived the events of July 1995. The atrocities in Srebrenica are a stark reminder of why we must all work together to build tolerant and welcoming communities, where people of different backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities can live peacefully as neighbours.”