Council commemorates Remembering Srebrenica Day 2023
Shropshire Council held an interfaith ceremony on the morning of Tuesday 18 July 2023, to commemorate the events of 28 years ago in Bosnia, where over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered because of their faith.
The ceremony was held at the memorial cherry tree planted outside Shirehall in Shrewsbury. The tree formally commemorates the role of the armed forces in humanitarian efforts around genocides such as befell the Muslim community in Srebrenica.
Children from Mereside Primary School, representatives of the two inter faith forums in Shropshire, and Shropshire Councillors, Mrs Rosemary Dartnall and Mr Tony Parsons, all took part in the ceremony which included everyone tying flower and leaf motifs to the tree, in a visible sign of this year’s theme, “Together We Are One”.
The symbol of the national Remembering Srebrenica organisation is the Srebrenica Flower: this is a symbol of remembrance of the Srebrenica Genocide. Its 11 petals represent the day the genocide began, while their white colour represents the innocence of its victims. The flower’s green centre represents hope for justice and recognition of the genocide.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people, said:
“I am delighted that the children of Mereside School continue to join with us and with inter faith forums in honouring those who were killed at Srebrenica and in thanking the armed forces for their humanitarian role at Srebrenica and in other genocides. This tree holds a special place in my heart, as I was privileged to take part in its dedication ceremony two years ago, and to share the role that my own grandfather played in liberating Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. We must never forget those who died, and I am confident that their memory will live on in these children and in this tree.”
During the ceremony, there were three Srebrenica prayers: a Christian one, read by local councillors Rosemary Dartnall and Tony Parsons; a Jewish one, read by Mark Michaels and Sohayb Peerbhai, representing the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum; and a Muslim one to close, read by Reverend Ken Chippindale, representing the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum.
By way of further background, Mereside was the first school to plant a cherry tree with the council, to commemorate the Holocaust and other genocides. This was back in 2015, and the council plants at least one further cherry tree with a different primary school each year. It is gradually growing a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across the county. The Srebrenica tree is therefore a very special tree within its orchard.
All the children from year three at Mereside School came to the ceremony, and six of them read out the following words. The children were: Esmé, Harley, Harry, Jake, Lilly and Una.
“This cherry tree is important because we can take our families to see it and tell them why we have planted it. This means that we keep the memory of those who were killed alive.
“This cherry tree is special because we have come here together today which shows that together we are one.
“This cherry tree is special because it is a place in our community where people can come and remember Srebrenica.
“This cherry tree is special to us because it gives us a place to reflect and remember the people who died.
“This cherry tree is really important because it helps us to remember Srebrenica and all the people who were killed.
“This cherry tree is special because people of all faiths can come and remember those who have died.”
Remembering Srebrenica is a charitable organisation whose aim is to raise awareness of the genocide in Bosnia and bring people together to tackle hatred and help build safer, stronger communities in the UK.
For more information, people can see resources on the following websites: