SREBRENICA, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA – The Conference on Collective Memory, a joint initiative organized by the “Movement of Mothers of the Enclaves Srebrenica and Žepa,” the Srebrenica Memorial Center and the World Jewish Congress, today commemorated the Srebrenica genocide and reinforced its memory in the consciousness of the international community.
Participants in the program, including representatives of leading non-governmental organizations and civil society groups, addressed the brutalities of the Srebrenica genocide, advocating for continued investigations, education and memorialization of this dark chapter in history.
The event, held at the Srebrenica Memorial Center in Potočari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, marks the start of this week’s official events in connection with the anniversary of the genocide perpetrated against Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces in July 1995.
During the formal commemoration, set to take place Tuesday, July 11, thousands of attendees will witness the burial of 30 caskets, which contain newly identified remains, at the center’s cemetery where nearly 7,000 of the more than 8,000 victims of the genocide have already been laid to rest.
Menachem Rosensaft, associate executive vice president and general counsel of the World Jewish Congress, spoke about the dangers of not addressing hatred. “The Srebrenica genocide is a stark reminder that brutal consequences of unchecked hatred and bigotry did not end with the Holocaust,” he said. “It is our moral obligation to do everything in our power to ensure that the atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslims, like those against Jews at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, remain an integral part of the world’s collective consciousness."
Kathryne Bomberger, director-general of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the organization leading efforts to uncover additional mass graves, underscored the importance of continued investigation, saying, “The facts about the Srebrenica genocide are irrefutable. ICMP assisted in the investigation of the Srebrenica genocide and provided scientific evidence of the identity of almost 7,000 of the more than 8,000 persons whose mortal remains were concealed in numerous mass graves in eastern Bosnia. As the investigation continues, more persons will be found.”
Lending context to the discussion in his opening remarks, Emir Suljagic, director of the Srebrenica Memorial Center, delivered a moving speech that resonated with the attendees.
“Eighty years ago, some among my countrymen joined the ranks in service of German Nazi ideology, bringing harm upon you, your people, and your forebears – your fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers,” Suljagic said, referring to the WJC representatives present. “For this, I apologize to you and hope that you may find forgiveness in your hearts. I do so here, in a place that represents the gravitational center of all our suffering in the 20th century.”
He added, “This conference continues to put the spotlight on the importance of collective memory, shared history, and the need for education about the atrocities of genocide. The echoes of the past serve as a reminder to the world, strengthening the resolve to prevent such atrocities from repeating in the future.”
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