My heart is torn between East and West. I live somewhere between the present and the past. I don't know who I am.
11th July, 1995. On this day, 17 years ago Serb troops entered the small town of Srebrenica and carried out one of the worst human rights atrocities ever to take place in Europe. More than 8,000 people, mainly Bosniak Muslim men and boys, were rounded up by Serb forces and murdered en masse. Till this day, bodies of forgotten victims are still being dug up; experts say that the number of missing persons may never be discovered. Funerals are still being held, families are still grieving. Today, more than 30,000 mourners gathered at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Centre for a mass funeral to put to rest and to pay their respects to the remains of 520 newly-identified victims of the Srebrenica genocide. ‘Among them will be those of six 15-year-old boys, and the oldest genocide victim, a 94-year-old woman.’
The International community failed to act in order to save the people of Srebrenica. Why should we care though? It’s all in the past anyway, what can we do about it now?
Well let me ask you the same question today, about another massacre, that is taking place right before our very eyes, where men, women and children - as was the case in Srebrenica - are being massacred on a daily basis by barbaric troops and thugs, where whole towns are destroyed as a result of heavy and continuous shelling leading many to flee their homes and areas of residence, where the worst methods of torture are used against detainees and political prisoners…We are of course referring to the massacre taking place in Syria now.
The world neglected the people of Srebrenica. This dismal failure on the behalf of the International Community resulted in the massacre of more than 8,000 innocent lives. It is not difficult to draw parallels between the cases of Syria and Srebrenica. The international community - as was the case with Srebrenica - is yet again failing to act in order to stop this massacre in Syria. ‘In 2005, Kofi Annan, the then-UN Secretary-General, noted that, while the blame lay first and foremost with the perpetrators, the tragedy of Srebrenica would haunt the UN’ due to their notable lack of effective action on the genocide that took place at the time.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that more than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011; more than double the number of people that were killed in the Srebrenica massacre.
And yet, the world remains silent. I wonder if 17 years from now, we will see articles and news reports on newly-identified victims in Syria who have yet to be put to rest. I wonder if we’ll look back, with regret, if our children will regard us with disgust for our failure to stop such atrocities, for us turning a blind eye…
We may not be able to do anything about the Srebrenica massacre now; the evil has already been done and innocent people have had to pay the price. But I ask you now; with the ongoing situation in Syria and the many innocent civilians being tortured, raped, attacked, maimed, slaughtered and murdered on a daily basis, how do you want events to turn out? What would you like to see reported about Syria in 17-years time? What will you do to help stop the massacre in Syria today?