By Gila Baumoehl, Member of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps
When the bus passed Srebrenica, a Bosnian-Serb soldier called to the women on board: “Recognize your sons and husbands. This will be the last time you see them.” This is what Ramiza Gurdić recalls from her horrific experience during the Bosnian War and the Srebrenica Genocide. She lost her husband and both of her sons.
Twenty-five years have passed since the genocide in Srebrenica. In July 1995, over the course of 10 days, more than 8,000 men and boys were shot dead because they were Bosnian Muslims. Many victims are unidentified until this very day. Their corpses were buried in mass graves. Yet the pain and the sorrow cannot be buried. We must not forget these horrible events.
As Jews, we look back upon a more than 4,000-year old history that has been plagued by discrimination, persecution and extermination against our people, culminating with deliberate extermination of six million Jews during the Holocaust. We carry this history and the memory of the victims, of our relatives, with us. It is part of our DNA. Hence, we know what it means when human beings are systematically being murdered because of their religion or ethnicity – like in Srebrenica.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) was established in 1936 under the impression of Hitler’s Nazi politics. The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps is the flagship program of the WJC, uniting Jewish professionals worldwide. As the “diplomatic arm of the Jewish people” we regard it as our mission to raise awareness of past atrocities. We want to keep alive the memory of the victims and help prevent future genocides. The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps advocates for the protection of human rights, freedom of religion and minority rights.
Societies may close their eyes to what happened in Srebrenica. Yet those who lost their fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands and sons will never forget. Ramiza Gurdić bears witness of that: “The memories of what happened – the screams, the shots and most unbearable of all, the terrified pleading eyes of my son Mustafa – will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.”
The Srebrenica Genocide is one of the most horrific atrocities in Europe since the Holocaust. It is both a reminder and a call to action. It is imperative for all of society to stand together in solidarity and unity to combat all forms of racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.
On the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide we remember the victims. They are not forgotten.
Gila Baumoehl is a member of the flagship program of the World Jewish Congress, the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, a worldwide network of Jewish young professionals acting in the fields of diplomacy and public policy.