The shame of Srebrenica and history repeated
Unbeknownst to me, until now of course, back in July I had a letter published in The Guardian on the anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica. I choose to republish this now not only because one’s words should never go to waste, but because as the civil war in Syria continues the central point of the letter remains as timely as it did when it was first published:
This week marks the 17th anniversary of the beginning of the Srebrenica massacre, during which 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were slaughtered, and thousands of women were subjected to systemised rape and torture (Srebrenica: Britain’s guilt, 13 July). The war by Serbs and Croats on Bosnia’s Muslims, which saw the return of concentration camps and racially motivated genocide to European soil, resulted in the deaths of more than 30,000 Bosniak civilians deaths and the displacement of many more.
In watching with indifference as ethnic cleansing occurred in Bosnia, the west failed its first major test since the Holocaust, as the call to never again allow such atrocities to occur on our watch and with our knowledge fell victim to selective hearing. Now, as we witness a war in Syria where Bashar al-Assad is unable to distinguish civilian from militiaman, the consequence being the murder of more than 17,000 of his people and the flight of thousands to Turkey and Lebanon, I cannot help but conclude we are failing to learn from our past mistakes once more.