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Today, we remember 26 years since the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, when 8,327 predominantly Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered in the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.
Hate crime is still as relevant as ever in our communities today, so we must remember the events of the past to work to improve the future.
A minute’s silence will be held today at 11am to reflect on the events of Srebrenica.
Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said:
“Twenty-six years ago today saw the end of the most heinous hate crimes committed in Europe – the anniversary of a genocide perpetrated in Srebrenica which saw over 8,000 Muslim men and boys executed. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly twice the number of people currently working for South Wales Police, killed just for their allegiance to a particular religion.
“Srebrenica was once a vibrant and integrated community but was left completely ruined after hate was allowed to flourish unchecked. Indeed, hate was promoted through false propaganda leading to people who once lived in harmony with each other, senselessly fighting and killing each other on the basis of identity and beliefs.
“Why is this event still relevant today? As a police force we must learn from these horrific events to understand our role in quashing hate within our communities and promoting harmony. There is a place for everyone in our communities and it is our duty to protect those who are victim to hate crimes and bring to justice those who seek to impose their prejudice on others.
“Today, we remember Srebrenica and reflect on what we have achieved in supporting victims of hate and intolerance but also what is left to do to continue to make our communities a safe place for all.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said:
“As we approached Christmas 1997, as Deputy Home Secretary, I flew to Sarajevo to visit British police officers who were helping to restore human rights and create a democratic police service in Bosnia. I was bowled over by the commitment and humanity of those officers and the harrowing experiences they had gone through in towns and villages where mass killings had taken place through the evil of 'ethnic cleansing'.
“We remember Srebrenica as the most horrific single event of that time, but it wasn’t a one-off event. Anyone who has studied the Holocaust will know how boundless is the capacity of mankind for cruelty and inhumanity – something that continues across the continents today.
“That inhumanity is reflected in the cruelty of hate crime, modern slavery, child abuse and domestic violence and abuse in our own communities which is a priority for us to eradicate. Remembering Srebrenica is about understanding where a civilised nation can end up if the ordinary day-to-day attitudes of intolerance and hatred are not rooted out.
“It’s why we seized the opportunities created by the Black Lives Matter protest to understand and promote the idea that it is best for every single one of us to live in a society that values every individual without respect to colour, creed or other characteristics. It requires the commitment of every one of us to build such a society.
“Let’s celebrate the positive values of our communities in South Wales but acknowledge that the seeds of evil and examples of hatred and intolerance flourish here too.”
More information on personal stories from Srebrenica can be read here.