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 Mladić 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 (ICJ) 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.”
It has been 20 years since this Srebrenica genocide and we must continue to raise the awareness to honour the memory of those whose lives were devastated by the horrors and to ensure we never again witness scenes like those 20 years ago.
Srebrenica Memorial Day takes place on 11 July every year with events held across the UK to mark the day.
The Association of Muslim Schools encourages everyone to take part in a local event this year to spread the messages of peace we hope will arise from of the tragedy 20 years ago so that those who suffered did not do so in vain.
Resource packs are also available for schools to help raise awareness of the Srebrenica genocide and to promote lessons to be learned for future generations.
To learn more, a powerful BBC documentary about the genocide is alsoavailable to view online.