The Srebrenica Massacre: Bosnian Genocide

The Srebrenica Massacre: Bosnian Genocide

July 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre, the worst mass killing on European soil since WW2.

The Bosnian war of 1992-1995 saw the Bosnian Serbs, led by Radovan Karadži, seek to eradicate the Bosnian Muslims in a brutal campaign of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’. After the internment and torture of thousands of Muslims in concentration camps and extensive artillery shelling of civilians in Sarajevo, the atrocities reached their zenith in 1995 with The Massacre of Srebrenica. In what was demarcated as a UN safe haven, Bosnian Serb forces demanded that the Bosnian Muslims in the besieged Town of Srebrenica give up their arms in exchange for safety, which they did. Over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys between the ages of 12-77 were then rounded up and executed in just five days in an act of genocide with 23,000 women and children being forcibly deported and suffering widespread torture and rape. The 400 Dutch UN peace-keeping soldiers in charge of protecting the area, stood by as the savage nightmare unfolded.

Dutch UN peacekeepers sit on top of an armoured personnel carrier as Muslim refugees from Srebrenica gather in the nearby village of Potocari in July 1995. Photograph: AP

From the start of the conflict, Bosnian Muslims called out to leading Muslim figures, including Yusuf, to do what they could to draw attention to their plight. Shocked and horrified by what he heard, Yusuf immediately became actively involved in delivering relief to the victims of the war.

With the support of his charitable affiliations Yusuf visited the conflict zone and witnessed first-hand the destruction and heinous crimes being inflicted on the lives of the innocent population. In response to the horrors he saw Yusuf began to focus his energies on drawing the World’s attention to the unfolding tragedy. 

Following the Bosnian War, Yusuf and his wife, Fawziah, set up a family personal charity called Small Kindness to help relieve the suffering and provide aid to many of the victims of the conflict. They gave particular focus to ensuring that the women and girls left behind after The Srebrenica Massacre received care and, importantly, a good education so that they might raise themselves out of the tragic circumstances that had been imposed upon them.

Yusuf visiting the Potocari memorial cemetery, near Srebrenica

Small Kindness has gone on to help countless of the most vulnerable victims of many conflicts and natural disasters ever since earning the WANGO Humanitarian Award in 2004 from the World Association of NGOs.

The tragic events of 1990-1995 in Bosnia also became a forceful portent which awakened Yusuf’s musical slumber and inspired him to begin writing songs again. It was the spirit of Bosnian traditional songs he heard during the horrors of the Balkan war which made him realise how important motivational music was to lift hearts during times of suffering and oppression.

“I remember in the early days of the conflict in Bosnia, one Egyptian doctor working on the ground phoned me from Sarajevo and pleaded with me to use my voice for children who were being slaughtered and maimed. That inspired me to write, ‘The Little Ones’.” – Yusuf

A Bosnian Muslim survivor, at the Potocari memorial cemetery, near Srebrenica, (ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Read Yusuf’s article on Prejudice and the Srebrenica Massacre:
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