A South & City College Birmingham 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 country.
Alma Aganovic, Director of marketing and customer experience at South & City College Birmingham, 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 develop 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.