The day of Commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide all over the European Union
By Raisu-l-‘Ulama Dr Mustafa Cerić - Grand Mufti of Bosnia
On the Occasion of 11th of July, 2009
Europe belongs to all
The arrival of Islam in Europe is as natural as the arrival of both Judaism and Christianity. None of the messengers of God are of the European origin.
Hence, no one has the right to claim the priority of his/her faith of the land of Europe. All three Abrahamic traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam belong to Europe and thus Europe has the right, nay, an obligation to treat them as its own.
The arrival of Islam into Europe has come via two main gates: the gate of the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century and the Balkan Peninsula in the 14th century.
Eight centuries of the Islamic presence in Andalusia, Spain, have produced a unique tradition of religious and cultural tolerance as well as academic freedom which has greatly helped Europe on its way to humanism and renaissance.
Unfortunately, the idea of the Andalusian tolerance did not survive the European history.
Srebrenica Genocide of Muslims
By the grace of Allah, Islam did survive in the Balkan Peninsula despite the hardship which the Muslims have witnessed over the last century. The most difficult one being genocide in July 1995 in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, which was at that time a Protected Zone by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.
During several days of carnage more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys, who had sought safety in this area under the protection of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), were summarily executed by Serb forces commanded by General Mladić and by paramilitary units, including Serbian irregular police units which had entered Bosnian territory from Serbia.
Nearly 25,000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported, making this event the biggest war crime to take place in Europe since the end of the Second World War.
Institutionalization of 11th July Srebrenica remembrance day by European Parliament
Therefore, the European Parliament thought it appropriate that the institutionalisation of the 11th of July as a day of remembrance is the best means of paying tribute to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide.
Thus, with the majority vote of its 565 members the European Parliament has adopted the resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica whereby it commemorates and honors all the victims of the atrocities; expresses its condolences to and solidarity with the families of the victims, many of whom are living without final confirmation of the fate of their relatives; recognizes that this continuing pain is aggravated by the failure to bring those responsible for these acts to justice.
Also, the European Parliament calls on the Council and the Commission to commemorate appropriately the anniversary of the Srebrenica-Potočari act of genocide by supporting Parliament’s recognition of 11 July as the day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide all over the EU, and to call on all the countries of the western Balkans to do the same.
The victims of Srebrenica genocide are aware that the past cannot be changed, but they appreciate the recognition of their pain by EU as a good sign that genocide will not be repeated in the future to anyone.
Not only Muslims in Europe, but all people of good faith are also appreciative of the fact that the lives of innocent boys of Bosnia were not in vain. It is exactly what the Holy Qur’an teaches us to say:
O our Sustainer, grant us that which Thou hast promised us through Thy apostles, and disgrace us not on Resurrection Day! Verily, Thou never failest to fulfill Thy promise! And thus does their Sustainer answer their prayer: - I shall not lose sight of the labour of any of you who labours [in My way], be it man or woman: each of you is an issue of the other. Hence, as for those who forsake the domain of evil, and are driven from their homelands, and suffer hurt in My cause, and fight [for it], and are slain - I shall most certainly efface their bad deeds, and shall most certainly bring them into gardens through which running waters flow, as a reward from God: for with God is the most beauteous of rewards (Asad, 3:194-195)
Message to Mosques and Islamic Centres
And this is exactly what we would like to ask all the mosques in Europe today as well as all the people of good faith to join us in our prayer on the 11th of July in the noontime in Potočari where only parts of hundreds of innocent Muslim men and boys will be buried. This prayer is our hope that our future shall be better than our past and that our children shall not have fear of genocide.
O Man, whoever you are and wherever you might be, remember God who created us all in the same way and the same sway so that we all might say our honest prayer:
Do not let success deceive us
Nor failure takes us to despair!
Always remind us that failure is a temptation
That precedes success!
Teach us that tolerance
Is the highest degree of power
And the desire for revenge
The first sign of weakness!
If you deprive us of our property,
Give us hope!
If you grant us with success,
Give us also the will to overcome defeat!
If you take from us the blessing of health,
Provide us with the blessing of faith!
If we sin against people,
Give us the strength of apology!
And if people sin against us,
Give us the strength of forgiveness!
If we forget Thee,
Do not forget us!
May grief become hope!
May revenge become justice!
May mother’s tears become prayers!
That Srebrenica never happens again!
To anyone, anywhere!
European Parliament Resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2005 on Srebrenica,
– having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the other part, signed in Luxembourg on 16 June 2008, and the prospect of EU membership held out to all the countries of the western Balkans at the EU summit in Thessaloniki in 2003,
– having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas in July 1995 the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, which was at that time an isolated enclave proclaimed a Protected Zone by a United Nations Security Council Resolution of 16 April 1993, fell into the hands of the Serbian militias led by General Ratko Mladić and under the direction of the then President of the Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadžić,
B. whereas, during several days of carnage after the fall of Srebrenica, more than 8 000 Muslim men and boys, who had sought safety in this area under the protection of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), were summarily executed by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Mladić and by paramilitary units, including Serbian irregular police units which had entered Bosnian territory from Serbia; whereas nearly 25 000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported, making this event the biggest war crime to take place in Europe since the end of the Second World War,
C. whereas this tragedy, declared an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), took place in a UN-proclaimed safe haven, and therefore stands as a symbol of the impotence of the international community to intervene in the conflict and protect the civilian population,
D. whereas multiple violations of the Geneva Conventions were perpetrated by Bosnian Serb troops against Srebrenica’s civilian population, including deportations of thousands of women, children and elderly people and the rape of a large number of women,
E. whereas, in spite of the enormous efforts made to date to discover and exhume mass and individual graves and identify the bodies of the victims, the searches conducted until now do not permit a complete reconstruction of the events in and around Srebrenica,
F. whereas there cannot be real peace without justice and whereas full and unrestricted cooperation with the ICTY remains a basic requirement for further continuation of the process of integration into the EU for the countries of the western Balkans,
G. whereas General Radislav Krstić of the Bosnian Serb army is the first person found guilty by the ICTY of aiding and abetting the Srebrenica genocide, but whereas the most prominent indicted person, Ratko Mladić, is still at large almost fourteen years after the tragic events, and whereas it is to be welcomed that Radovan Karadžić now has been transferred to the ICTY,
H. whereas the institutionalisation of a day of remembrance is the best means of paying tribute to the victims of the massacres and sending a clear message to future generations,
1. Commemorates and honours all the victims of the atrocities during the wars in the former Yugoslavia; expresses its condolences to and solidarity with the families of the victims, many of whom are living without final confirmation of the fate of their relatives; recognises that this continuing pain is aggravated by the failure to bring those responsible for these acts to justice;
2. Calls on the Council and the Commission to commemorate appropriately the anniversary of the Srebrenica-Potočari act of genocide by supporting Parliament’s recognition of 11 July as the day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide all over the EU, and to call on all the countries of the western Balkans to do the same;
3. Calls for further efforts to bring the remaining fugitives to justice, expresses its full support for the valuable and difficult work of the ICTY and stresses that bringing to justice those responsible for the massacres in and around Srebrenica is an important step towards peace and stability in the region; reiterates in that regard that increased attention needs to be paid to war crimes trials at domestic level;
4. Stresses the importance of reconciliation as part of the European integration process; emphasises the important role of religious communities, the media and the education system in this process, so that civilians of all ethnicities may overcome the tensions of the past and begin a peaceful and sincere coexistence in the interests of enduring peace, stability and economic growth; urges all countries to make further efforts to come to terms with a difficult and troubled past;
5. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its entities, and the governments and parliaments of the countries of the western Balkans.