Tuesday, 4 August 2015

World Has Not Learnt Lesson from Holocaust

World has not learnt lesson from Holocaust
The Srebrenica Massacre: First – ever
Genocide in Europe After the World War II

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Religious extremism; ethnic cleansing by the ‘Serbian Butchers.’ World community wonder and ask themselves has the world learnt lesson from holocaust that took place in 1940’s? If the world has learnt anything from that holocaust, is it possible within the same century the revisit of genocide in Europe? First-ever genocide was committed again in Europe in 1995 just after 50 years exactly after the Second World War. It was committed in front of the Dutch soldiers under the banner of the United Nations Protection Forces. It was happened on 11 July 1995. The Srebrenica massacre refers to the July 1995 killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnia war. This massacre is the biggest on European soil since the Nazis.

Srebrenica Genocide Day-A black spot
on Human Conscience
I wrote on 24 July 2010, under the title “Srebrenica Genocide Day – A Black Spot on Human Conscience”: “The world simply looked away on 11 July, 1995, when the Bosnian Serb forces and Serb paramilitary unit known as “the Scorpions” executed between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys in the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, even though the UN had declared it a “safe area”. This was the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II which will remain as a black spot in the human conscience for eternity. Those war criminals that commanded and executed the Genocide in Bosnia are still at large. The excuses are simply not credible.

Why the cry “never again” raised by so many in the years after 1945 has increasingly become hollow with the passing decades? Why Holocaust? Why Genocide? Where does evil begin? Why the most wanted remains at large? Why the evil doers are not brought to justice? All these questions were raised by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Dr. Mustafa Ceric on the 15th anniversary of the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia-Srebrenica. “What happened in Srebrenica requires justice as well as memorialisation,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. “Ratko Mladic’s liberty is an affront to both.”

Of course, I would like to mention that I wrote a book on Bosnia Herzegovina. In 1993, Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) published a book entitled “Genocide of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina” by Dr. Mozammel Haque, documenting the events unfolded during 1992-1993. (BOSNIACA: A Bibliography of the University of Michigan Holdings, Supplement II, Ann Arbor, 2001).

Srebrenica Genocide 1995
During the Balkans conflict of 1992-1995, the Bosnian town of Srebrenica was declared a UN Safe Area in 1993, under the watch of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). In July 1995, General Ratko Mladic and his Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the town, despite its designation as an area “free from any armed attack or any other hostile act.”

In the days following Srebrenica’s fall, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys  were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves. Thousands of women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported and a large number of women were raped. It was the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

The International Court of Justice (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled that the mass execution of Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica constituted genocide.

Judge Fouad Riad, who reviewed the indictment, described the “unimaginable savagery” that the victims endured at the hands of Mladic’s forces. He said these were: “truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”

Remembering Srebrenica Genocide
2015 is the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The UK Memorial Week runs from Sunday 5th – 12th July 2015. The Theme this year is ‘Living the Lessons’ – allowing survivors to tell their stories. Reflecting on these massacres, journalist and analyst Nijaz  Hlinjak gave a speech at East London Mosque on 5 July 2015.

On this Remembering Srebrenica, I interviewed Lord Sheikh, Conservative Peer and Lord Ahmed, Independent Peer of the House of Lords of the British Parliament. In this section, besides the interviews, I will bring to the notice of the readers, the BBC Programme on Srebrenica which was telecast on 6th of July 2015. I will Insha Allah, mention the other activities, such as press releases of the Bosnian Community, press release from Lord Ahmed, Press release of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and press release of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).

i) First the interviews:
I have conducted two interviews on this remembering Srebrenica programme, Lord Sheikh and Lord Ahmed.

a) Lord Sheikh’s comment on
the Srebrenica Massacre
I had the opportunity to meet with Lord Sheikh, the Barons of Cornhill at his office on Monday, the 27th of July 2015 and enquired about his comments on the Srebrenica massacre.

Lord Sheikh told me, “The Srebrenica Massacre is a black mark against the entire humanity.8,000 Muslims were killed; they were under the protection of the United Nations who were attended at that time by the Dutch soldiers. Firstly, Dutch soldiers who were there protecting these people observe to go into that place and massacre and also you blame the Serbs. Serbs should have known these people are innocent and are being under the protection of the United Nations that they should not have gone into the area to massacre people.

“I think this should be a lesson for the entire adult world that to kill somebody for no reason except they belong to different religion is totally totally wrong. I think, but we also need to learn a lesson something like this should never be allowed to happen. And this should be commemorating in the sense that we should say that something like that was entirely and totally wrong,” Lord Sheikh observed.

Lord Sheikh also told me that he met the Ambassador of Bosnia at an event which was organised by the Al-Khoe Foundation about a week ago. He also said we totally condemned The Ambassador was really ought to be happened.

Lord Sheikh also said, “There are still bodies being looked for; because what the Serbs did was to kill the people and scatter the bodies. Heinous War crimes. We  really need to perpetrators of such a horrible act. It is not only the Generals who gave the orders but the Serbs as well who perpetrated this awful unnecessary killing of unarmed and who had been lost their lives.”

b) Lord Ahmed’s Comments
on Srebrenica Massacre
Lord Ahmed while commenting on the Srebrenica Genocide told me over phone, “It is with the sad memory of Srebrenica Genocide and the killings of the innocent civilian people which were seen in the cities even the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo. Sarajevo was bombed and shelled when the international community was stood by as a hopeless powerless spectator including the United Nations.”

He said, “The particular sadness of the Srebrenica Massacre was: 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica was slaughtered. The slaughter of those Muslims was committed under the supervision of the Dutch soldiers under the command of the United Nations. And we must not forget to bring all those responsible to justice.”

Lord Ahmed mentioned, “We must remember those responsible for the holocaust 75 years ago are still brought to justice today.” And he demanded, “These people who are responsible for the Srebrenica Genocide must be brought to justice and the United Nations needs to take action.”

ii) The Deadly Warning: Srebrenica revisited
A BBC Programme
Journalist Myriam Francois-Cerrah travelled to Bosnia to mark the 20th anniversary of the worst atrocity in Europe since World War-II. BBC presented this programme titled The Deadly Warning: Srebrenica Revisited, on 6th of July 2015 with thanks to Sense Documentation Centre, Srebrenica. The travel was organised and funded by Dr. Waqar Azmi from the Remembering Srebrenica.

iii) Press Releases
a) Press Release from the Bosnian Community
In a press release today sent out by the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the president of the legislative body Mr. Hasan Čengić has stated: “We have just received a copy of the press release of his lordship, Baron Ahmed Nazir, regarding the Srebrenica Genocide commemoration. To say that we were touched by your sincere devotion to our cause does not sufficiently express our feelings. You have once more reminded the public that our suffering is not forgotten and that we have friends around the world.”

He added saying, “This year we have issued a Declaration condemning the various acts of genocide during the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina and we hope that his lordship will support it and help us cancel out the results of the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

b) Press Release from
Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham
Followings are the press release issued by Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham on the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre.
It has been 20 years since the tragedy of the Srebrenica Massacre, where over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb troops and thousands of women and girls were raped and assaulted. It is known as "the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War".

“As the Bosnian War was coming to an end, 20,000 refugees fled to Srebrenica hoping to escape the Serb forces. They thought they were safe in an area protected by the UN Dutch forces however; the area had been overthrown by paramilitary troops led by Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb commander.

“Lord Ahmed said “the trial of Ratko Mladic which took place in 2011 at the international criminal tribunal was a good start towards justice. Although the trial did not compensate for the families of the victims, it created a path for a better future, and the man responsible for the atrocity was rightly brought to trial. But more people need to be brought to justice for this despicable and heinous crime”.

“Lord Ahmed said “the United Nations must share some blame as the General-Secretary of the UN at the time, Kofi Annan said: "The tragedy of the Srebrenica will forever haunt the history of the United Nations". As they were present during the period, it was their responsibility to help prevent the Massacre.

On Monday July 6th 2015, the Westminster Abbey Service, paid tribute to those who lost their lives 20 years ago in the 1995 Massacre. Around 2,000 people attended the event to pay their respect. There are many Memorial events held in the UK from London Borough of Walthamstow to Bradford.

“Lord Ahmed said “I am deeply concerned with the loss of lives and my sympathies are with those who lost their loved ones. Every year we gather to mark this day and make it our job to see that this kind of atrocity is prevented in the future. Just because this tragedy occurred 20 years ago in Europe does not ensure it will not happen again”.

“The World must never forget what took place in Bosnia and that is why we should remember this day every year,” He said.

c) Press Release from Muslim Council of Britain (MCB)
Remembering Srebrenica Genocide – 20 years on
Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the Umbrella Organisation of the British Muslim communities issued a press release “Remembering Srebrenica Genocide – 20 years on” on 10th July 2015. Followings are the press release:

“On 11th July 2015, we remember. Twenty years ago on this day, more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were brutally massacred in Srebrenica, despite being in an UN-protected safe area.

“When under attack, Muslim Bosnians had fled to the Dutch peacekeeping base in Potocari for protection. The Bosnian Serb forces arrived, led by Serbian war criminal, Radko Mladik, who deliberately separated men and women, and boys as young as 13, and callously murdered all the male Bosnians, dumping their bodies in mass graves. The attack was chilling even more so, as not only were they killed, but their bodies were scattered in an attempt for the victims to never be identified. This was a plan to annihilate a whole racial and religious group.

“Every year on 11 July, the remains of those who have been identified over the past year are buried at the Memorial Centre in Potocari. More than 1,000 victims are yet to be found.

“As the anniversary falls a day after Friday prayers, the Muslim Council of Britain urges Imams across the country to remind their congregations to reflect on the magnitude of the massacre that took place and pray for all the victims, their families and loved ones.

“Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the MCB said, “Hate is a toxic brand. When we allow hate to prevail, in any capacity, it leads only to destruction. We must work together to eradicate animosity wherever it may occur, we must build bridges, get to know one another, and learn to respect differences.

“This genocide has been dubbed as ‘the worst atrocity since World War II’. We will forever remember the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who have lost their fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, and those of whom are yet still to find their loved ones”.

d) Press Release from Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)
Dr. Omar El-Hamdoon President
Of the Muslim Association of Britain
Followings are the statement issued by Dr. Omar El-Hamdoon, President of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB):

“This month and year is also the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre: the worst massacre and atrocity in European soil since Second World War. That time, the victims were Muslims and the perpetrators were Christian. 8372 Bosnian men and boys were systemically butchered at the hands of the Serbs. This massacre which the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague labelled as a Genocide and a crime against humanity.

“We know that Christianity is innocent of who murdered the men and boys in cold blood; as much as Islam is innocent of the barbaric attack of 7/7 or indeed the recent Tunisian massacre. In fact, I attended, along with thousands of others a memorial in Westminster abbey – yesterday – to pay respect to those who suffered and continue to suffer because of this horrid genocide.

“However, the killers who orchestrated 7/7 and the Serbian butchers of Srebrenica have one thing in common. They wanted to divide us. They wanted to bulldoze the civil architecture of our societies by spreading hate, anger and suspicion. And till today, there are those who still want to divide us. Some are terrorists, others extremists; and some are politicians and journalists! You don’t have to be a terrorist to propagate a hate message. Hate messages come in all shapes and sizes.

“Dr Waqar Azim OBE says: “They [Army of Republika Srpska] achieved this [ethnic cleansing] through a carefully planned process of de-humanising Bosnian Muslims, so both murderers and collaborators found it easier to hunt and kill their quarry.” De-humanising any section of society can only lead to fear and hatred, which can then lead to massacres and terror.

“The Muslim Association of Britain works hard to promote positive messages in society, which allows us to be more and more tolerant to one another. Because we believe that positivity and tolerance is the only way to counter terrorism,” he said.

Follow: @Omer_Elhamdoon

iv) Remembering The Srebrenica Massacre
Events in 2015
There were hundreds of memorial events held across the United Kingdom during Srebrenica Memorial Week. During the Srebrenica Memorial Week, there was memorial days, school assemblies, lectures and conferences, a UK-wide Srebrenica Memorial Football tournament involving 8,372 young people, inter-faith dialogue, community and social projects happening across the UK.

Remembering Srebrenica was part-funded by the Department for Communities & Local Government and supported by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. In 2015, Remembering Srebrenica is calling on UK communities to:
- REMEMBER the victims and survivors of the Srebrenica genocide;
- LEARN the lessons from Srebrenica, particularly that we must always be vigilant against hatred and intolerance in our communities; and
- PLEDGE to take action now to build better and safer communities for all.
Please support REMEMBERING SREBRENICA this special year. 

v) Srebrenica Week at the East London Mosque

Bosnia’s Grand Mufti opened Srebrenica Week at the East London Mosque, marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, on Tuesday, 7th of July 2015. The Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Husein Kavazovic, delivered the keynote speech on Sunday at a reception and Iftar (breaking of fast) event at the London Muslim Centre, held in collaboration with Remembering Srebrenica.

Members of the Bosnian community in Britain along with leaders of different faith and community organisations gathered to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide in which more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred in less than one week at Srebrenica, then a UN protected area (safe haven).

The evening was full of reflections, talks and videos plus a special exhibition by Bosnian photographer Jasmin Agovic, and Qu’ranic recitation by guest Imam Abdul-Aziz Drkic from Bosnia.

Imam Dr Sejad Mekic, an expert on Islamic Law, Ethics and the Balkan cultural history as well as a lecturer in Islamic Studies in London and Cambridge, said: “Without remembering we cannot hope to learn. Srebrenica, like the Holocaust, the Rwanda, Kosova, Kashmir and Burma, is a moral responsibility without compromise.”

Journalist, political and social analyst Niaz Hlivnjak quoting German Jewish academic Walter Benjamin lamented that “not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious”. His friend, economist and poet Jasmin Jusufovic, lost his father, uncle and tens of other members of his family in the Srebrenica genocide. Having survived the genocide he has been searching for the remains of his father for 18 years, and only two years ago he finally got his moment of closure by burying the remains of his father.

Despite his experiences, Jusufovic said: “Still I don’t hate. I do not know how to hate. I was a learning child when I felt on my own being what it meant to be hated, I’ve seen a shouting human faces disfigured with hate.”

The evening closed with the Grand Mufti thanked the organisers and called for optimism and dialogue: “We appreciate the efforts of many like the East London Mosque and The Cordoba Foundation for supporting Bosnia over the years. This period of the year is especially difficult for us because of the vivid memories of the atrocity of 1995. However, we must learn to live with one another; we must be optimistic, have hope in a better future for tomorrow.”

A team of young Muslims who all previously visited Bosnia presented a cheque to the Grand Mufti to help families affected by the conflict in Srebrenica.

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