Srebrenica Memorial Day 2018

This year marks the 23nd anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, during which thousands of men and boys were systematically murdered, for one reason alone – because they were Muslim.

This act of genocide took place in the latter part of the 20th century, with the horrors of the Holocaust only fifty years before. Before Srebrenica, many of us in Western Europe believed that such a thing could never happen again. We were wrong. The lessons we thought we had learned from the unspeakable evil of the Holocaust were forgotten, and the language of hate and the rhetoric of fear prospered.

As we remember those killed in the genocide in Srebrenica, we must also commit once again to guard against the things that made it possible. We are living in a dangerous moment, where such horrors could happen once again. The toxic politics of dangerous populism and vicious nationalism stalks Europe once again, from Russia to Hungary, Italy to Poland. The vile scapegoating of people on the grounds of their religion, their heritage or their lifestyle is a daily occurrence . Together, we must counter this, as agents of a hopeful, pluralistic politics and society.

This year’s theme “Acts of Courage” is a reminder of this; that hope and the common bonds of humanity can triumph in the darkest of times. We can all draw strength and inspiration from those who, during the genocide and ethnic cleansing, were bold enough to resist an ideology of division, protect their neighbours, and speak out for truth and justice. The baton of courage has now been passed on and it is up to us learn the lessons from Srebrenica.