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Srebrenica commemoration event

17 July 2016

On Sunday 17 July, together with Faith Network 4 Manchester, we organised a Srebrenica memorial event at the Manchester Multifaith Centre. It was attended by over 40 people of different faiths and none.

It was 21 years ago this week that 8,372 Muslim men and boys from the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica were systematically murdered by the Bosnian Serb army forces for no other reason than they were Muslims.

Cllr Heather Fletcher, Co Chair of the Forum introduced the speakers. Cllr Fletcher had also visited Bosnia in January with the all women delegation and she stated how the trip had affected her emotionally and had been shocked by the evil which had taken place there. She quoted Anne Frank "I still believe in spite of everything that people are really good at heart."

The speakers were:

  1. Ms Julie Ward MEP
  2. Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar
  3. Mr Afzal Khan CBE MEP
  4. Ms Qaisra Shahraz
  5. Ms Dudia Zilic

The event was filmed and produced by Charities in Motion. For filming enquiries, contact them at labourproductions@gmail.com

Ms Julie Ward MEP

Julie Ward MEP is on the European Parliamentary delegation to Bosnia Herzegovina and took part in the interparliamentary negotiations in November 2015. Julie has very strong ties with womens' and youth organisations in Srebrenica having volunteered on a project there for 12 days in August 2015.

Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar

Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar represents Rusholme Ward on Manchester City Council, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Muslim Jewish Forum. He mentioned that he had been in Bosnia in March 2016 when the verdict on Radovan Karadic (Bosnian Serb leader at the time of the atrocities) was announced and recounted how this had affected the atmosphere in the beautiful and ethnically diverse city of Sarajevo.

Mr Afzal Khan CBE MEP

Afzal Khan CBE MEP is European Parliament's Socialists and Democrats Group's spokesperson on Bosnia. Afzal attended the 20th anniversary Srebrenica Memorial Service in Bosnia in July 2015.

Ms Qaisra Shahraz

Qaisra Shahraz is a member of the Executive Committee of the Muslim Jewish Forum, and is also Vice Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester. She visited the country in January 2016 with the first all women delegation in January organised by the charity Remembering Srebrenica.

Ms Dudia Zilic

Dudia Zilic is a Bosnian who with her sisters is a refugee from that terrible time. She spoke of her experience as a survivor of the Bosnian war and how kindly she had been treated as a Bosnian refugee to Manchester. In fact she spent her first Eid here at the home of Qaisra Shahraz.

This Manchester Evening News article tells you about her personal history.

Participant reactions and group photo

There was a minute's silence for the victims of Srebrenica and also of the recent atrocity in Nice.

First time attendee, Jack Lister, stated:

"The event tonight has really opened my eyes to the events of the Bosnian war. Hearing people like Afzal and Julie talking about their work to bring Bosnia into the EU was inspirational and hearing from a survivor was an experience that I'll never forget. The events to remember Srebrenica have reached over 10,000 this year so far and I am honoured not only to have been one of those people but to have had the opportunity to capture such inspiring speeches on video."

Forum Executive member June Rosen said:

"This was an inspirational evening to hear from people of all faiths who have done so much to remember the horrors of Srebrenica and also to help those who found sanctuary in Manchester. To hear Dudia speak of her experience was to renew one's belief in the power of the human spirit and all that is good and hopeful for the future."

Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar stated:

"The event was an extremely emotional evening which not only remembered and paid tribute to the victim of a terrible crime but strengthened our resolve and collective commitment and responsibility to ensure that such horrific crimes never take place again. I would encourage those who have not visited Bosnia to try and arrange to go on a trip organised by the Remembering Srebrenica initiative so that we can learn lessons of the country's grim past to tackle hatred and prejudice in our communities and to help in building a safer and more cohesive society."

The evening raised almost £200.00 for the Remembering Srebrenica charity.

Below is a group photo of the attenders and speakers. Of the people mentioned above:

  1. Heather Fletcher is in the centre of the front row, waring a dark skirt with a white top with black stars.
  2. Behind Heather's right shoulder is Afzal Khan CBE MEP.
  3. Dudia Zilic is two places to Heather's left, wearing a headscarf and purple coat and carrying a handbag.
  4. Rabnawaz Akbar is in the second row, wearing a white shirt and standing behind the woman in black with red stripes who is to Dudia Zilic's right.
  5. Julie Ward MEP is two places to Heather's right, earing a necklace and earrings.
  6. Qaisra Shahraz is to Julie Ward's right.
  7. June Rosen is immediately in front of Qaisra Shahraz, wearing purple and standing at the table just behind the projector.


 

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Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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