A Bournville College manager has returned from a delegation to Bosnia-Herzegovina with a mission – to use the lessons from the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II to tackle the rise of hatred and intolerance in this county.
Alma Aganovic, Director of Student Services at Bournville College, joined other professionals in fields such as journalism, academia, arts and the public sector from across the country. The group visited Sarajevo to learn about the longest siege in modern warfare, Tuzla, to meet with an organisation working with the victims of mass rape, and Srebrenica, where 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered in an act of genocide.
Originally from Bosnia herself, Alma reflected on the importance of these lessons for the UK: ‘We were in Bosnia when we heard about the tragic events in Manchester. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Bosnia twenty-two years ago and Britain now. Bosnia was a peaceful country before the war and it is through the prejudice and hatred of a few that innocent lives of thousands were destroyed. And just as it could have been me in Bosnia, it could have been my daughter in Manchester. Both Srebrenica and Manchester are communities of strength, resilience and unity. We must learn lessons from the past to tackle hatred and intolerance wherever we see it.’
Everyone who joined the delegation has pledged to increase awareness of the Srebrenica genocide. Alma is hoping to work on a tutorial programme for students in further education to spread the message amongst young people.
‘Unfortunately, our young people don’t learn about Srebrenica at school and so the single greatest atrocity in Europe since the Second World War could easily be forgotten. With the rise of divisive politics across the world, it has never been more important to share the lessons learnt from Srebrenica and promote tolerance.’ Alma added.
Alma has recently taken up the position as the Chair of Remembering Srebrenica West Midlands Board. The role of the Board is to work with Community Champions and leaders in the region to help create a better and safer society, by combating the threat of hatred and intolerance and providing a powerful way to create vibrant and cohesive communities. If you would like to be involved in Remembering Srebrenica’s work in the region, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org