Platform Housing Group, the University of Worcester and the Worcestershire Interfaith Forum recently took part in an event to remember those who were murdered in the Bosnian Genocide.
They were joined by the Deputy Mayor of Worcester, Councillor Louise Stephen and students from two local secondary schools to remember the atrocity and pledge to learn the lessons from the massacre to ensure it does not happen again.
This year’s theme was Combating Denial: Challenging Hatred.
Councillor Louise Stephen said : “in 1995, more than 8000 Muslims were murdered in an appalling genocide. We need to reflect on the fact that genocides do not happen suddenly, they do not happen overnight and they do not occur out of nothing. Every single genocide is preceded by a slow and pernicious process of deterioration that undermines and ultimately destroys the links bonding us as human beings. To avoid repeating humanity’s worst mistakes we need first to remember them and that is why events such as these are so important.”
Tom Piotrowski, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Platform Housing Group said : “I was privileged to visit Bosnia and meet the survivors of Srebrenica genocide several years ago. As a result of that visit, we pledged to hold a commemorative events each year in Worcester. I’m glad we had a fantastic speaker this year in Selma Bektic who reminded us so powerfully about the tragedy of her family who lost more than 100 members during the genocide. Our speaker stressed the need to combat the denial of the atrocities that took place in Bosnia 27 years ago and how it must be challenged to avoid history repeating itself.
“The event was a poignant reminder of how important it is to build communities in which the dignity of difference is respected and celebrated. I’m glad we were able to support this event as the largest social housing provider in the city. Building strong and resilient communities is at the heart of what we do.”
Remembering Srebrenica was founded in 2013 and has taken more than 1450 British citizens to Srebrenica to learn about the genocide through the Lessons from Srebrenica programme which is funded by central government.
Above: left to right, Mrs K Bektic, first generation survivor, Tom Piotrowski, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Platform Housing Group and Selma Bektic, second generation survivor and the event’s keynote speaker.
Selma Bektic, keynote speaker, said : “Our difficulties have continued even if the war ended 27 years ago. Whilst our pain and suffering are not represented in our own country, it is here in Britain that activists and organisations like Remembering Srebrenica and Bosnia UK Network, help to raise awareness of the genocide and provide a platform for the survivors. Most of all, it remembers the innocent people that were killed, including my family, and stand in solidarity with the victims. This act of remembrance means more than you will ever know.”
Worcester school teachers brought students to participate in the event. Gemma Apps from Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College said : “The Remembering Srebrenica event was a powerful reminder to our students about the importance of standing up against and protecting those who experience injustice and atrocities.”
Reverend Catherine Lack, Chair of Worcestershire Interfaith Forum, said : “This was my first time involved in the Remembering Srebrenica event in Worcester. Both Selma and our students spoke so well. It was good to have our students leading us in some of the crucial parts of the ceremony.”
Platform Housing Group’s Diversity Champions programme focuses on LGBT, religion and belief, disabilities and lifelong conditions like autism, ethnic minorities and other diversity strands. Currently employees volunteer within an area of interest and customers are also encouraged to take part.
For further information, please contact Tom Piotrowski, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Platform Housing Group at Tom.Piotrowski@Platformhg.com.