London: A reception in respect of the 26th Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide was held at Lancaster House. The Minister of State at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Wendy Morton MP hosted the reception at Lancaster House on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government to mark Srebrenica Memorial Day. Compering was conducted by Dr Myriam Francois. The event was attended by high profile dignitaries including Ambassadors and High Commissioners, politicians from across the political spectrum, senior faith and community leaders as well as British Bosnian survivors of the genocide and survivors of ethnic cleansing. Dr Waqar Azmi OBE Chair of Remembering Srebrenica UK, gave a welcome speech. Keynote speakers included Afzal Khan MP Shadow deputy leader of the house of commons, Ian Blackford MP Leader of the SNP Westminster group and survivors of the Srebrenica Genocide. They expressed their views and stated that the Srebrenica Genocide is the worst atrocity to have taken place on European soil, since the second world war in which over 8000 Muslims were systematically murdered, in the town of Srebrenica alone in Bosnia simply because of their Muslim identity. Close to 100,000 Muslims were killed across the whole country, over 2.2 million people displaced and, between 20,000-50,000 women raped as part of the systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide enacted by the Serb forces. The UK is the largest commemorator in the world of local Srebrenica memorial activities, which are organised by the British charity “Remembering Srebrenica UK” through its eight English regional boards and three country boards in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are around 1,450 Community Champions to honour the victims and survivors of the Genocide and to teach people about the dangers of hatred and the importance of building more cohesive communities for all. Each year, “Remembering Srebrenica UK” selects a theme that not only reflects an aspect of the genocide that must be commemorated, but also speaks to communities in the UK. The theme for this year was ‘Rebuilding Lives’ to honour the two million people who were displaced as a result of the genocide and ethnic cleansing. The President of “Remembering Srebrenica UK”, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth gave a special vote of thanks and Srebrenica prayers were read by survivor as a tribute to mark the lives that were lost so tragically to genocide. Report by S M IRFAN TAHIR Photojournalist / Member National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Great Britain.
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