LONDON: World leaders participated Sunday in a virtual event held in the remembrance of the victims of the Srebrenica Massacre in which over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by the Bosnian Serb army in the biggest genocide on European soil since the World War II.
The United Kingdom's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, Bosnia-Herzegovina President Šefik Džaferović, Grand Mufti Husein Kavazovic, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Westminster Archbishop Cardinal Vincent Nichols, former UK PM David Cameron, former US president Bill Clinton, Lord William Hague MP, and former US secretary of state Madeline Albright participated in the event.
Speaking at the event held in the remembrance of the biggest act of genocide after World War II, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "There are those who would prefer to forget or deny the enormity of what took place. We must not allow that to happen. We owe it to the victims and to future generations to remember Srebrenica and ensure it never happens again”.
"Over 8,000, mainly Muslim men and boys were killed in a genocide at Srebrenica and more than 20,000 women and children were forcibly deported.
"I want to join you in the mourning of the victims of those terrible events and to stand with their families in their fight for justice," Johnson added.
Džaferović, who shared his grief over what transpired 25 years ago, said: "This commemoration provides us with the opportunity to together pay tribute to those who were brutally killed as well as those who have survived and endured the horrors that no should go through.
"This moment strongly reminds us that we must reaffirm our determination and ensure that the hatred and prejudice that led to the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia does not spread in our own communities," he added.
Prince Charles, who had previously scheduled a trip to Srebrenica in March that got postponed in March due to COVID-19, said: "The terrible events of July 1995, confirmed as genocide by international courts, are a dreadful stain on our collective conscience.
"By remembering the pain of the past, and learning its lessons, we can together resolve that it must never happen again.
"This is why the work of organisations like the UK’s 'Remembering Srebrenica' is so vitally important; and why, 25 years after these terrible crimes were committed, we should stand in determined solidarity with those who have lost so much.”
The UK is the largest commemorator of the Srebrenica genocide in the world holding around 1,000 local memorial activities annually and educating approximately 100,000 young pupils on the lessons to be learnt from Srebrenica.
Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie — who is also known for her work as a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) — said: "I'm thinking today of the mothers of Srebenica and all of the other survivors whose husbands, brothers, and sons were murdered in the genocide 25 years ago.
"It is a loss beyond words. To the people of Bosnia, I send you my sympathy, my respect, and I grieve with you," the starlet added.
Former US president Bill Clinton also addressed the remembrance event held to honour the victims of the Bosnian genocide. "The tragic events in Srebrenica awoke the world to the horrors of the conflict and triggered the efforts that ended the war," he said.
"Today, we must remember — as we did when I had the honor to be in Srebrenica in ‘15 — so we never make those mistakes again.
"It has been profoundly moving for me at every time, at every opportunity to continue to add my voice across the world in the grief of the families of those who were killed," he added.
Speaking of the genocide, Starmer said: "As we mark Srebrenica memorial day, it seems incomprehensible that just, 25 years ago, such inhumane genocide took place on our continent.
"Described by the United Nations as the worst crime on European soil since the World War II, the killings at Srebrenica took the lives of over 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys who must never be forgotten."
Cameron also addressed the event, saying: "With many anniversaries, the thing we tend to remark on how long ago something actually happened but when we commemorate Srebrenica, it's how recent it was that continues to shock.
"Just 25 years ago, the end of the 20th century, an unimaginable crime took place, thousands of men and boys were separated from their families, they were murdered and the world watched on."
The UK’s national ceremony on Saturday — July 11 — was the culmination of a week that saw over 1,000 memorial activities across the country to honour over 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were killed in the space of just a few days in Srebrenica in July 1995.
A variety of events and activities have been organised by local councils, community centres, police stations, places of worship, and schools to name but a few to remember those who were brutally murdered in the genocide which the UN called "the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War".
Remembering Srebrenica UK Chairperson Dr Waqar Azmi OBE said: "We are proud that our country commemorates Srebrenica Memorial Day with support at the highest levels from HRH Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson bringing our nation together in acts of remembrance.
"These acts of remembrance bring ordinary Britons together to remember the past and encourage to help build stronger, more inclusive communities free from prejudice and intolerance and inspire the next generation to help ensure that hatred does not prevail.”