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Remembering Srebrenica – lessons learnt and why it needs kept in our memory


Srebrenica 21 years on

Srebrenica 21 years on

This week the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre is being remembered. More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed in the most horrific circumstances.

Commemoration events are being held all over these islands – many of them can be accessed here:

One of the themes of the events will be to ensure that atrocities like Srebrenica never happen again. Yet, throughout the years whatever the scale, it seems they keep on happening, over and over again, in Europe, the middle-east, Africa, the Americas.

Some people ask why we need to keep remembering atrocities like Srebrenica? There are many reasons why it is so critical to keep it in our minds and on the agenda.

We should remember because it reminds us of the potentially nasty, extreme side of nationalism when it demeans and dehumanises the “other”, creates heartless straw dogs and legitimises racism. And when people ride that tiger, it is so difficult to get off without many people being hurt.

We should remember because the United Nations and member states have lessons to be learnt from their failings in Srebrenica. Peace keeping is tough; there are few easy options. But when peace keepers ignore their responsibilities because they are too difficult, it encourages those who will push them further.

We should remember because there were efforts made to deny and cover up the atrocity; the wrong doing multiplied further by denial and attempts to conceal the bodies of victims.

We should remember because people are human and their attention slips too quickly to other things, forgetting the lessons and increasing the chance that another preventable atrocity could happen again.

We should remember, most importantly, for the victims and their families whose lives will never, ever be the same again. Innocent victims, many of them children who had so much to look forward to, so much to learn and so much to contribute to making all communities more cohesive and caring.

That is why events like those organised through Remembering Srebrenica are so important.

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Robin Newton MLA will host an event on 14th July 2016. It follows on from one hosted by former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Arder Carson, in 2015.

Maybe in Northern Ireland we are more sensitive to the need to remember and commemorate well, more alive to building a cohesive future where trust needs earned and where lessons from the past are important in shaping a better future.

Events in your area are listed here:

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