Northamptonshire officer and genocide survivor spreads message of tolerance on anniversary of Srebrenica
This week is Srebrenica Memorial Week. July 11 marks the 26th anniversary of the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims under the protection of the United Nations were forced from their homes at gunpoint by Serbs intent on cleansing the town and claiming it as their own.
On 6 April 1993, UN security council passed Resolution 819, declaring that Srebrenica and a 30 square mile area around the town was United Nations Safe Area. The promises of safety and security fell through as 8,372 Bosnian men and boys were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves.
One of those who survived the war is our very own PC Sanela Saracevic Hujic. PC Saracevic Hujic and her family fled the war in 1993 and started a new life in the UK. Many of her friends, neighbours and family were killed in the war. Keen to keep their memory alive to serve as a warning to future generations, she said: “Fleeing from conflict in Bosnia, my family and I arrived as refuges in the early nineties. I have an extraordinary story of what we all had to go through.
“I was very young when we had to evacuate from our hometown. We had no choice, we had to flee without any personal belongings. We walked for hours until we found a safe temporary refuge.
“Some of my school friends and neighbours were killed and some were tortured in the concentration camps. But somehow, my family and I survived, and we ended up in many refugee centres before being able to come to the UK.
“It was terrifying to be a young girl, watching people suffer, cry from hunger and being frightened of the unknown.
“Despite everything I have been through, I had to start my life from the beginning. The most important lesson I can share to a young generation and people in general is to be honest, be kind, don't judge, have respect for others and share the love. If we can all do this the world would be a better place.
“It is extremely important to commemorate and remember what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Especially knowing when my friends, their family and neighbours were brutally killed simply because they were Muslim.
“Keeping the memory alive is important to honour the victims and survivors and also encourage all of us to continue to strive to build a society that is inclusive and free from hatred.
“As a police officer and as a survivor, I take an immense interest in modern slavery and hate crime, subjects that are very close to my heart.
“The strength of survivors in sharing their stories and fighting for justice inspires us to take action. The Srebrenica Memorial Day therefore, is important not just as an act of remembrance but as a lesson for generations to come.
“I want children of today to not only know what happened in that Bosnian enclave, but to also pledge ‘never again’.
“I will continue to share what happened and I hope others will too.”
Sophia Perveen, Chair of the Association of Muslim Police (AMP), said: “There are lessons to be learnt from previous war crimes and taking time to reflect.
“It’s so important, now more than ever, to remind ourselves of where ignorance and hatred can lead, and do what’s in our power to understand, share messages, and play our part in tackling hate crime.
“We are committed to challenging hatred, prejudice and intolerance in our communities. If you have experienced a hate crime or incident, please report it to us on 101.