The Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Judith Thompson, said lessons can be learned in Northern Ireland from Srebrenica, and that there is a need to “start thinking differently” in order to move forward.
Judith Thompson made her comments in an interview with BBC Ireland correspondent Chris Page, who spoke to the Commissioner during a visit to Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Ms Thompson is taking part in the three day 'Lessons From Srebrenica' visit, one of a series of events organised by Remembering Srebrenica, a British charitable initiative, part funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The delegation is led by the Chair of Remembering Srebrenica Northern Ireland, Peter Osborne, who is also Chair of the Community Relations Council.
The radio broadcast began with the group’s guide, former Bosnian soldier Resad Trbonja, speaking about how reconciliation is a challenge in Bosnia, but being open to others and acknowledging crimes were both important to moving forward.
Ms Thompson agreed with his comments:
“The point about the need to acknowledge harm in a very open and honest way to enable a conversation to move forward is very resonant and I also agree that we need to start thinking differently, we need a new way of looking forward…people are so caught up in using the past as a way to interpret the present, but it locks them into particular ways of thinking…however different our situations and however different the scale of harm, we do something very similar. Resad said we need a new way of thinking, a new way of working together, a new kind of politics here - that has a resonance for us, whatever that will look like.”
During the visit, the group are learning about the genocide in Srebrenica which happened 22 years ago when General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica and systematically murdered 8,372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. The delegation will hear from educational specialists, the British Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Mothers of Srebrenica and other survivors of the genocide.
To find out more about the work of Remembering Srebrenica click here to visit their website.
The BBC radio clip can be accessed via this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p052zfvd