I am very glad to have this opportunity of sending this message for the Srebrenica Memorial Day here in the UK. This year marks the 25th anniversary of that terrible genocide, the worst atrocity in European soil since World War Two. The genocide was the high point, the culmination of years of campaign of hatred and ethnic cleansing towards Bosnian Muslims. In Srebrenica alone, over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered, simply because of who they were. Thousands more were murdered in towns and villages across Bosnia and Herzegovina, with up to 50,000 women raped and two million people displaced.
Now each year a theme is chosen for this commemoration day and this theme this year is Every Action Matters. That’s a good theme because it reminds us that every single one of us can reflect on our own behaviour and demonstrate, no matter how simply, a real commitment to removing prejudice and hatred in our society. We really have to dispel the notion that each of us, one person, cannot make a difference because we can. The action of an individual matters and can achieve a great deal.
Today, on this Srebrenica Memorial Day, we honour and remember those who were murdered and commit ourselves not to forget them and to continue to learn the lessons from this particular incident in history and it’s a tragedy that is echoed in so many other ways around the world. We have to stand against the dehumanisation of people, the dehumanisation and the anti-Muslim hatred that were the source of these horrific actions.
So I’d like to commend the work of Remembering Srebrenica. The movement has educated over 100,000 young people, it’s created 1,450 Community Champions, over 1,000 memorial events and activities across different cities and towns in the United Kingdom. I think the importance of learning about history and learning from history are so important. The best weapon we have is that of education and therefore the programmes of education that organisations like Remembering Srebrenica UK, the work they do is just so important. So please, let everyone of us be committed to do what we can to counter prejudice, to counter this hatred that somehow flares up within the human soul and today especially, we honour and respect our Muslim brothers and sisters. Thank you.