Inspired by their ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ educational visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina earlier this year, Hameera Darr and Canon Steven Saxby organised the event at St Barnabas Church, Walthamstow.
Screens around the church hall displayed images from the visit, whilst videos played between talks provided context around the events of July 1995.
Steven, who is the vicar at St Barnabas, said:
There are extremists in every society and the voice against them needs to remain strong and united. It was wonderful that we went to Bosnia in a delegation of mixed backgrounds and shared the experience together.”
Steven and Hameera, pictured above – second from left – with Zrinka Bralo and Misba Sheikh, travelled to Bosnia with Remembering Srebrenica in February and decided to organise the recent event to raise awareness about the atrocities which occurred in the Balkans in the 1990s.
Hameera talked about the damaging effects of hatred in a society which until not so long ago had been not so different to that of the UK. She shared personal experiences from the trip and described how hearing the personal stories of survivors provided a unique insight.
She said: “It was a privilege to hear from Zrinka Bralo, a survivor from the siege of Sarajevo between 1991-1995. Zrinka told us that the thing that’s most difficult for her to live with is that her life didn’t matter; all lives should matter.”
The event ended with Misba Sheikh, another delegate from the same visit to Bosnia, who shared a couple of her poems which she wrote on her return to the UK.
In July 1995, Bosnian-Serb nationalist forces captured the Bosnian town, despite its designation from the UN as a safe area. The genocide saw 8,372 Bosnian Muslims systematically murdered – many of these victims were boys of school-age.
Remembering Srebrenica is committed to sending 750 individuals on its Lessons from Srebrenica programme over a two-year period. Each delegate pledges to carry out an activity on their return to the UK. These are designed to raise awareness of the risks of hatred, racism and intolerance, using Srebrenica as an example of an integrated society that disintegrated.