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28th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

28th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

Commemoration, Windsor, 2023

Distinguished organizers of the Memorial Gathering "Srebrenica-Windsor 2023", dear Bosnians and Herzegovinians and friends of Bosnia and Herzegovina, good afternoon and salam alejkum!

My name is Sijana Dzinic, I was born and raised in a town we used to call Bosanski Novi. My city lost its soul on July 23, 1992, when over 15,000 Bosnians were expelled from the city in one day. I am a witness of ethnic cleansing and genocide that was systematically carried out in Bosanski Novi from ‘92-95. I came to Detroit in 1996, graduated from college and started a family. My son is now 17 years old; my daughters are 14 and 12 years old. If it were July 1992 in Srebrenica, all three of them would have been heartlessly murdered.

Today, I stand before you with a heavy heart as the first Bosnian, Bosniak woman from the Bosnian community of Detroit to address the Srebrenica genocide victims in Windsor, Canada. For this, I am generously and compassionately grateful, and therefore I bear a great responsibility to make what I am about to say to you today to be truthful.

I've been thinking for a long time what to say today, and that in the last 28 years it has not already been said, what message to send to the world, to the citizens and politicians of Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring countries, to us in the diaspora, without having already been told. 

Today, on the twenty-eighth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we continue to discuss how to ensure that the Srebrenica genocide never happens again. Representatives of certain ethnicities and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina deny genocide and are again inciting it. Americans say, "wake up call", this is what we need today more than ever, a reawakening of Bosnian, and especially Bosniak consciousness and re-education of all generations, especially children and youth, about the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Srebrenica genocide. 

This year's theme is "together, we are one". The current political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is, as you know, difficult and more than ever requires us to be united in our struggle and lobbying for truth and justice. Professor Ramic once said, and today he reiterated: "The motive for the struggle for truth and justice is not hatred against the other and the different, but the liberation of the victim from fear through a culture of memory, and in the name of a better future." In America and Canada, my generation is a generation of successful refugees. Let's not forget that we came to America and Canada in the 1990s with refugee cards in our hands. We have risen from the ashes and achieved our "American dream", but unfortunately in the process we have become immune to the not-so-distant past, and we forget why we live in America or Canada or anywhere else in the world, but not in our homeland. 

This is my message to all of us today: we say that everything comes from the family, from the home. Dear parents, talk to your children about the reasons for our unwilling departure from the homeland of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let us awaken our consciousness and the culture of memory in us and pass it on to our children. It is our duty because our children are our future ambassadors in the fight for truth and justice. Let us accept this as our multigenerational duty and thus ensure a more beautiful and stable future for our Bosnia and Herzegovina.   I want to tell you a small but significant example of how to lobby for Bosnia. With us today is a young Karanfil Ceric who was born in America, his father is from Prijedor, and his mother is from my home city Bosanski Novi. Karanfil completed four years of college this year, at the University of Michigan (U of M), Ann ARBOR. For those who don't know, U of M is the third best public university in the world. Karanfil was taught in the library where the flags of many countries were displayed, but not our Bosnian flag. Thanks to Karanfil Ceric, today the Bosnian flag is flying at the third best university in the world and the first university in the state of Michigan. Karanfil is neither the first nor the last student to graduate from the U of M, but he is the first to urge the Bosnian flag to be flown on the campus of the third best university in the world. This is how Bosnia and Herzegovina is loved and defended. Thank you to Karanfil's parents who passed on their love for Bosnia and Herzegovina to their son. Our children are our future ambassadors. 

Therefore, I sincerely hope that today's commemoration will remain forever in memory of the young generation who today pay tribute to their peers whose young lives have been irrevocably cut off execution style. Our children are Bosnian children, and they are concerned, therefore parents, transfer your love for Bosnia and Herzegovina to your children, it is not activism it is our life, and it concerns us all. We're lobbying today, and they're going to lobby tomorrow...

As a member of the International Expert Team for Research of Genocide, Canada, I would like to thank all the cities from Canada and the United States of America who supported the resolution and proclaimed July 11 the day of remembrance of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide and the week of July 11 as a week of remembrance of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Windsor from Canada,  and Chicago, Toledo, Sterling Heights, Clinton Twp, Dearborn and Hamtramck from the United States of America. Also, Wayne County of Michigan, the most populated county in the state of Michigan, passed the resolution. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who selflessly worked on receiving the proclamations, especially the two women who helped us bring five proclamations from Michigan today, Magister Anida Sabanovic Powell, a member of the International Expert Team for Genocide Research, and Azra Sabanovic Sunje. Thank you to all present, organizers, and special thanks to the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada and the Director of the Institute Prof. Dr. Emir Ramic. Professor Ramic, you are truly an example of how the homeland should be loved, respected, guarded, and defended. I sincerely hope that your work will inspire many as it inspired me to join you and to contribute once and for all to the victory of truth and justice for all victims of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for all of us who feel Bosnia and Herzegovinians and who love our homeland Bosnia and Herzegovina with our heart and soul. Srebrenica must not be forgotten; Srebrenica must not be repeated.

Prof. Dr. Sijana Dzinic

Member of the International Expert Team for Genocide Research, Canada