Remembering Srebrenica UKwarns the recent attacks against Bosniaks in Montenegro have jeopardised the region’s stability, and calls for people to “stand together.”
Since Sunday’s elections in Montenegro which have seen opposition blocs including pro-Serbian parties gain a majority, reports of physical and verbal attacks and threats against Bosniaks living in Pljevlja in northern Montenegro have raised alarm bells for officials in Bosnia and the international community.
Samir Kadribasic, head imam in Pljevlja, told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) on Wednesday that the local office of the Islamic Community had its windows broken, and that a message was thrown through a smashed window threatening that “Pljevlja will be Srebrenica.”
Remembering Srebrenica UK,an organisation that educates on the consequences of hate and genocide, released a statement on their website condemning the “hateful attacks in Montenegro,”saying they were “alarmed to hear about the recent influx of violence and antagonism against the Bosniak-Muslim community in Pljevlja, Montenegro following the recent elections.”
“We join the Srebrenica Memorial Centre and the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina in fully condemning the behaviour of individuals and political leaders who wish to further instigate ethnic and religious hatred, nationalism, and incite hate crimes against the minority communities of Montenegro,” Remembering Srebrenica stated.
“Attacks against mosques and calls for what happened in Srebrenica to repeat in Pljevlja are not just shocking, but are a direct threat against a vulnerable and minority population,” the UK based organisation added.
Remembering Srebrenica warned of the ramifications these attacks could have on the area, and said they foresee an increase in hostile behaviour.
“The acts in Pljevlja threaten not just the stability of the region but the safety of all citizens of Montenegro belonging to the Muslim community.
“The message ‘Pljevlja will be Srebrenica’ is a horrifying and dangerous message that will surely instigate further hateful acts and threaten the Muslim community in Montenegro,” they said.
Amfilohije Radović, the Metropolitan Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, said in a statement reported in BIRN, that “an attack on the Muslims of Pljevlja is an attack on every Christian in Pljevlja and on every citizen of Montenegro.”
Bishop Amfilohije also urged Montenegrin authorities to find the assailants involved, declaring that ethnic tensions should not be occuring in the nation.
Dr Waqar Azmi, Remembering Srebrenica’s Chairman, in a statement on their website reminded people that the genocide in Srebrenica began with hate speech, and emphasised that acts of hatred must not be ignored.
“What happened in Srebrenica in 1995 did not occur in a vaccum, it started with hateful words and it resulted in a genocide,” Dr Azmi said.
“Remembering Srebrenicaurges the government and authorities of Montenegro to take a firm and urgent action against those who are promoting hatred and calling for genocide of the Bosniak-Muslim community in Pljevlja,” the UK organisation stated.
Dr Azmi added that “these acts must not be tolerated in any shape or form.”
He said that education, unity and learning from the past are essential in avoiding a recurrence of Srebrenica.
“What happened in 1995 can only be prevented if we stand together and loudly stifle the rising spread of hatred through education about the past and working together to build more cohesive communities that are united, not segregated by hatred and fear.
“In order to ensure that the past is not repeated, all communities in the Balkans, as well as throughout the world, must learn from the past,” Dr Azmi said.