South Tyneside will mark 21st anniversary of genocide in the Balkans

A tree will be planted in South Tyneside to mark the 21st anniversary of 8,372 people losing their lives in the Srebrenica genocide.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2016, 8:32 am

On July 11 a number of memorial events, organised by charity Remembering Srebrencia, will be taking place across the country to honour those who were killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, along with other guests, will be planting a special tree in Jubilee Wood at Church Bank, Jarrow, at 2pm.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, with Mayoress Coun Moira Smith

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Coun Smith said: “Remember Srebrenica is an opportunity for us to all reflect and join people across the world who will be marking the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“It is incredibly important that people, recognise the consequences of allowing hatred and division to go unchallenged.

“We are dedicating a tree to serve as a lasting reminder of this terrible tragedy. We hope it will remind everyone of the importance of protecting diversity to ensure that this kind of atrocity never happens again.”

Last month saw South Tyneside Council unanimously support a motion recognising Srebrenica Memorial Day.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, with Mayoress Coun Moira Smith

Remembering Srebrenica say that parallels between the anti-Islamic rhetoric in the Balkans in the 1990s and in the UK today are striking.

Tell MAMA, a project which records and measures anti-Muslim crimes, has reported a 326% increase in Islamophobic incidents and a 57% increase in hate crime in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum.

It’s hoped the borough’s event will help challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that feed hatred.

Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, chairman of Remembering Srebrenica, said: “Twenty one years after the genocide, we are determined not only to remember the victims of Srebrenica, but to honour their memories by taking positive action to build better communities.

“Srebrenica teaches us that prejudice and hatred left unchecked can have catastrophic consequences, not only for the generation that suffers the violence, but for the following generations whose futures are also irreversibly altered.

“Remembering Srebrenica’s dedicated community champions are leading a grassroots movement to challenge the stereotyping and dehumanising language that has become prevalent in our country, and to bring communities together.”