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Stormont tree planting marks 25th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons took part in a tree planting ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica in Bosnia.

Junior Minister Declan Kearney, genocide survivor Mevlida Lazibi, Finance Minister Conor Murphy and Junior Minister Gordon Lyons at the tree planting event in the Stormont Estate to mark the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

They were joined at the event in the Stormont Estate by Finance Minister Conor Murphy and representatives of Remembering Srebrenica – a charitable organisation which raises awareness about the genocide and works to create a society free from hatred and intolerance.

The tree planting ceremony was held ahead of Srebrenica Memorial Day (July 11), which remembers the victims of the genocide when more than 8,000 Bosnians, mostly Muslim men and boys, were massacred in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War.

Mevlida Lazibi, who lost 36 family members in the genocide, including her father, grandfather and brothers, travelled from London to take part in the memorial event.

Speaking at the ceremony, Junior Minister Kearney said: “Today, we honour the resilience of Mevlida and all the people of Bosnia. Their work in contributing to rebuilding a country still living with the consequences of hatred is an example to us all.

“From our own experience, we know peacebuilding is not easy. Embedding sustainable and strong peace is long and often complex work, but we are up for the challenge.

“The Executive’s Good Relations Strategy sets out our vision for a united community, where everyone can live, learn and socialise together, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.

“We are determined to build on the opportunity offered to us by the New Decade, New Approach deal in order to tackle endemic problems in our society such as sectarianism, prejudice and inequality, and to build a united community.”

Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons with Finance Minister Conor Murphy, genocide survivor Mevlida Lazibi, representatives of Remembering Srebrenica, Dr Mark Browne (TEO) and Bill Pauley (DOF) at the tree planting event in the Stormont Estate.

Junior Minister Lyons added: “Today gives us all an opportunity to reflect upon the genocide that took place in 1995 and remember all the victims and those who were left behind.

“It is important that we acknowledge their courage in the face of unspeakable suffering and their determination that this must never be repeated.

“In the Executive Office, we have responsibility for implementing Together: Building a United Community - the Executive’s Good Relations Strategy.

“In keeping with our vision for a united community, we can all learn from what happened in Srebrenica; we can see how prejudice can lead to terrible consequences and we can learn what action we can all take to prevent it.”

Both Junior Ministers wished Mevlida well on her continuing journey to ensure the Srebrenica massacre is not forgotten and towards helping create a more peaceful and reconciled society.

Minister Murphy commented: “This memorial within the grounds of Stormont Estate is a lasting tribute to those who lost their lives in the Srebrenica genocide and to the Mothers of Srebrenica who have tirelessly campaigned for justice and reconciliation.”

Mevlida Lazibi, who presented Ministers with a Flower of Srebrenica to thank them for hosting the event, said: “I hope that the tree serves as a living reminder that genocide like Srebrenica can still happen in Europe.  I hope also that as a living memorial to the thousands of innocent victims who lost their lives in Srebrenica, it grows a bond between Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina as two regions coming out of conflict supporting each other in their pursuit of peace and reconciliation.”

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