Speaking at the event, the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell emphasised the importance of standing “united in our love of peace and to always be vigilant against racism and bigotry.”
The event included poetry readings, the screening of a film about Srebrenica and ended with prayers and a two minutes’ silence. Those present to provide their own perspectives included local politicians, young people and members of the UK’s Bosnian community who spoke about promoting peace, acceptance & tolerance.
Coming from a community which in the past has had to deal with the effects of racism, it was very important to the organisers that they use the event to learn the lessons from the past and remember the innocent victims of hatred. It was particularly important that the event showed young people in the borough how discrimination can ruin a community, and that everyone must work together to build a cohesive society. Delegates from Barking had already travelled to Bosnia & Herzegovina on our ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ educational visits programme – pictured.
By working with the local faith forum, the community in Barking came together and they used the opportunity to hear stories from different groups to see what united and connected people from different backgrounds, rather than dwelling on difference. The event focused on unity and a common humanity, as organisers felt that if we focus on difference it becomes easy to allow hatred to grow.
Following the event, many attendees felt that it was important to make small differences in their own lives and to do this everyday, not just on one single day in the year. This culminated in people thinking about their own everyday lives and how hatred and prejudice can permeate this. It led to discussions about respecting colleagues, valuing people from different socio-economic groups and touched on topics of domestic violence. All felt it was important to keep talking about Srebrenica and to ensure the stories are not lost and the lessons are learned.
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