Army chief on mission for genocide victims
AN army officer has vowed to keep alive the memory of 8,000 innocent Bosnians who were killed in the Srebrenica massacre 20 years ago.
In July 1995, 8,372 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb troops in the town of Srebrenica, Bosnia.
Lieutenant Colonel Dominique Cairns, from Macclesfield, was invited to go to Bosnia as part of the 20th anniversary commemorations of the tragedy.
During the four day visit, organised by the charity Remembering Srebrenica, Dominique visited the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Complex where around 6,200 genocide victims are buried and visited the International Commission for Missing Persons which has helped unite families with loved ones’ remains.
She also met with survivors and some ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’, who represent 6,000 women who lost family members during the genocide.
Following her visit, which she describes as one of the ‘most profound’ experiences of her life, Dominique will share her experiences with her colleagues.
It is hoped these presentations will also raise awareness of hatred, racism and intolerance.
She will also reflect on the Siege of Sarajevo, when thousands of civilians were killed and wounded during the fight over the Bosnian capital.
Mum of two Dominique, who is based at 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade in Donnington, said: “Visiting Srebrenica was one of the most profound experiences ever.
“I’ve been to Iraq, where I could make a difference doing a job, but we can’t change the past.
“I’m a strong character but you absolutely feel the anguish of these women.
“The countryside there is beautiful and seeing all the names on gravestones is so poignant, you just can’t believe these things happen in modern times.
“Whole families were wiped out so no-one could even say who was missing. It makes your own problems seem minimal.”
Dominique is among 750 participants from across the Ministry of Defence to go to Bosnia and organise projects in the UK to strengthen community cohesion.
She added: “It’s about telling a story.
“By educating people we hope this kind of thing will never happen again.”
For more information about the commemorations and history of the civil war go to srebrenica. org.uk for more information.
●● The Remembering Srebrenica delegates during their visit to Bosnia, pictured outside the entrance to a tunnel that was an escape to the outside world during the Siege of Sarajevo
●● Army Reserve medic Helen Porter
●● Lieutenant Colonel Dominique Cairns