‘The horrors of genocide became a stark reality’ – Redbridge woman uses Bosnia visit to educate others
- Credit: Archant
The horrors of genocide are difficult for many to fathom, with the wanton destruction of human life hard to stomach.
But one Redbridge woman is determined to educate others about the impact of such crimes after visiting the site of a massacre which left more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead.
Monomita Raksit, 23, of Ridgeway Gardens, was one of 24 people from the UK who travelled to Srebrenica, Bosnia, last month to learn first-hand about the events of 1995, which saw Bosnian Serb forces wreak violence on the community.
The former pupil at Woodford County High School applied for the programme with charity Remembering Srebrenica after being put forward by the Social Mobility Foundation, an organisation she was a member of during sixth form.
Monomita said: “The experience was extremely sobering, humbling and inspirational. The horrors of genocide became a stark reality and I’ve been left with a sense of duty towards my own community at home, as well as the international community, to ensure that everything is done to prevent similar crimes against humanity.
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“The scariest step towards accepting this was accepting that human evil still flourishes and thrives off even the smallest seeds of hatred and extremism. It is not a thing of the past; we did not learn from the Holocaust and it lurks on our doorstep for as long as we remain silent.”
Monomita’s visit saw her and the other UK representatives visit the Srebrenica- Potocari Memorial and Cemetery, where more than 6,000 identified bodies and the remains of 1,000 others lay.
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At the cemetery they met mothers of some of the massacred men, with one woman having lost 27 members of her family.
The group was also given an insight into the work of the International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP), which collaborates with governments to identify people who went missing during armed conflict or after human rights violations were committed.
One of the organisation’s recent discoveries was the body of a two-day-old baby.
Monomita, who found learning about the ICMP the most memorable part of her trip, said: “The baby was too young to have a name and a bullet was discovered in one of her bones. This is confirmation of the genocidal nature of this atrocity – it was not just Muslim men and boys who were targeted.”
She added: “Seeing the results of the genocide in such a stark light was really hard-hitting and poignant. It presented the victims in their raw essence – DNA, bones and remnants of clothing and possessions.”
The young people also dined with the British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigel Casey, who spoke about the group’s responsibilities as British citizens and the importance of making sure the genocide is never forgotten.
The whole experience has had a lasting effect on Monomita, who is passionate about promoting the benefits of peaceful multicultural societies as well as raising awareness of the genocide.
“The courage and resilience that I witnessed in the Bosnian victims will always stay with me. It is upon this lesson that I am inspired to reject any temptation towards hatred, discrimination and prejudice and create an environment where human evil is not welcome or allowed to flourish.”