A series of events is planned in Wirral again this year as part of nationwide recognition of what the United Nations called the biggest post-war atrocity to happen in Europe.
The theme of this year’s ‘Remembering Srebrenica’ commemorations is “Together We Are One” and the wide-ranging events planned in Wirral between 1 July and 16 July – from a schools’ football tournament to a peace walk in Birkenhead Park – have that message as their focus.
The genocide at Srebrenica in July 1995 saw more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys murdered and buried in mass graves over the space of just a few days and was the culmination of a three-year planned and systematic plan by Serbs to ethnically cleanse Bosnia and Herzegovina of Bosniak Muslims.
The theme for 2023 aims to highlight the fact that the conditions for genocide are built on a climate and culture which allows hatred and extremism to breed, resulting in the dividing and fracturing of communities.
Wirral Council leader, Cllr Paul Stuart, explained the importance of marking the atrocity each year, saying, “As political and community leaders, it is vital that we are seen to continue to take a stand against hatred and violence in all its forms and protect those who are facing prejudice towards any aspect of their identity.
“One of the ways we can do this is by remembering the victims of the appalling massacre in Srebrenica and raising awareness of the potential consequences of deliberately sowing division and hatred in society.”
This year’s commemorations in Wirral are being co-ordinated by the Wirral Deen Centre, Remembering Srebrenica North West and the Wirral Branch of the National Education Union, with the support of Wirral Council, Merseyside Police and other local organisations.
Neil Sledge from the Wirral Deen Centre and Remembering Srebrenica NW said, “It’s important to not only remember and reflect on past atrocities, such as the Bosnian genocide, but to also look around us and stand up for respect, unity and diversity.
“The Deen Centre embodies these values and has been remembering Srebrenica since 2017. Together we remember, learn and pledge to be active in celebrating both our commonality and our differences.
“The recent Great Get-Together outside Birkenhead Central Library is a great example of the Council, community organisations and faith sector working together to support the local community and encourage local families to spend time together.”
A number of local schools will be taking part in activities to remember Srebrenica this year in a range of educational and creative ways. There are also going to be talks and walks for the wider Wirral community.
On Tuesday 11 July – Srebrenica Memorial Day – many civic buildings will be lit up green to remember those who lost their lives in the massacre. Two days earlier, at 2pm on Sunday 9th July, the Srebrenica Memorial Service will take place at Liverpool Parish Church. More details are below.
The list of events planned between 1-16 July in Wirral is:-
• We Are One Wirral schools’ art/creative responses exhibition: Birkenhead library – 3 – 17 July – ‘Together We Are One’. The library and exhibition will be open 10am-1pm and 2-5pm Mon-Sat.
• The Wirral Deen Centre is delivering some classroom workshops and assemblies in local schools.
• Schools’ poetry workshops: Christchurch C of E Primary School, Birkenhead and Birkenhead High School Academy worked with professional poet Nik Perry, funded by NEU International. The poems written by the young people who took part will be published on www.srebrenica.org.uk A few will also be read out at the memorial services in Liverpool and Manchester.
• Wirral Schools’ Girls football tournament: Thursday 6 July at Tranmere Rovers Football Club. Organised by Andy Heywood of the Football Learning Partnership under the ‘Together We Are One’ banner.
• Srebrenica Memorial Service: Liverpool Parish Church, Sunday 9 July, 2pm: Speakers will include Ibrahim Syed from Wirral Deen Centre, Paul Olubayo, Liverpool City Council Equalities Officer; and Steve Baker, school leader, former war crimes investigator and Remembering Srebrenica NW board member. All welcome.
• Civic buildings lit-up: Tuesday 11 July. A number of council buildings will be lit-up green to remember those killed in the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
• Community talk: Birkenhead Library, Saturday 15 July at 2.30pm. Neil Sledge from Wirral Deen Centre, Vice-Chair of Remembering Srebrenica North West talks about the steps leading to the Bosnian genocide and the lessons we can all learn from Srebrenica.
• Peace Walk: Sunday 16 July, Birkenhead Park, 11am. Book your place by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and join in this leisurely walk, meet new people and hear what we can learn from Srebrenica. Meet at the Grand Entrance. All welcome.