Imagine you were telling a friend about a jungle that he was going to pass through. Your friend had lived all his life in a city. He had never been into a jungle before, but he knew that you had, so he asked you to tell him about it.
What would you tell him?
You would describe to him all the wonderful sights, sounds and smells that he would encounter. The colours of the beautiful birds. The sounds of the monkey chatter. The scents of the tropical flowers.
You would tell him about all the life-enhancing experiences that you had in the jungle.
But wouldn’t you also tell him about the dangers that he might come across? The poisonous black king cobra that could kill him with one bite so that he would be dead before his head hit the ground? The leopard that might pounce on his back while he was unaware? The venomous toad or lethal spiders?
Imagine now that you were telling your child about the world that he was going to pass through. You would tell him about all the wonderful people he would meet in the world. All the beautiful places he would see. All the delicious foods he would taste. All the exhilarating experiences that he would have.
But if you didn’t warn him about the evils in the world, you would not be protecting your child.
You would not be fair on your child. What if your child lived in the world unaware of any evil, but then encountered it? He would not be able to protect himself from it and it might harm him.
In the best case scenario, he might survive to ask you why you didn’t warn him about these dangers. In the worst case, he might not live to tell the tale.
It has now been two months since I started my blog and shared my experiences about life, prison and other things. The overwhelming feedback that I have received from you, my readers, is that the posts have been inspiring, heart-warming and healing.
That the posts have helped others to see the world through a different lens to one that they were used to. That the posts have brought sunshine into their lives. To Allah be praise for all good.
But where there is sunshine, there must be rain. Where there is day, there must be night. You cannot have summer without winter.
If I was to only share positive experiences to make people feel good about themselves, without also sharing negative experiences, I would be creating a fake, artificial bubble that would burst at the slightest tremble of a pinprick.
And so starting today, from time to time, I am also going to share some of my negative experiences…
21 years ago this week, 21 hours’ drive from London, a horrible event took place. It was the massacre in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, of 8000 innocent Bosnian Muslim men, women and children.
A judge at the international criminal court in The Hague later described the event using these words:
“After Srebrenica fell to besieging Serbian forces in July 1995, a truly terrible massacre of the Muslim population appears to have taken place.
The evidence tendered by the Prosecutor describes scenes of unimaginable savagery: thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers’ eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson.
These are truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.” [Judge Riad, ICTY, 16 Nov 1995]
The Srebrenica genocide has also been described as “the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War.”
By way of background what happened in Srebrenica is that Dutch United Nations “peacekeepers” promised protection to thousands of innocent Bosnian Muslim civilians against the approaching Serb Orthodox Christian army.
Once the Serb soldiers entered the town, the UN commanders shared cigars, gifts and drinks with the Serb commanders and then the UN commanders accepted assurances made by the Serbs that if UN forces withdrew, Serb troops would not harm any of the Muslim people of Srebrenica.
No sooner had UN forces withdrawn from Srebrenica that Serb troops proceeded to summarily execute 8000 Bosnian Muslim men, women and children who remained in the town.
These massacres began on the sweltering hot afternoon of Thursday 13 July 1995 and continued until at least Saturday 22 July 1995. 21 years ago this week.
Zumra Šehomerovic, an eyewitness and survivor to the events testified:
“There was a woman with a small baby a few months old. A Chetnik [Serb soldier] told the mother that the child must stop crying. When the child did not stop crying, he snatched the child away and cut its throat. Then he laughed. There was a Dutch soldier there who was watching. He did not react at all.”
Another eyewitness Ramiza Gurdić testified:
“I saw how a pregnant woman was slaughtered. There were Serbs who stabbed her in the stomach, cut her open and took two small children out of her stomach and then beat them to death on the ground. I saw this with my own eyes.”
I travelled to Bosnia within a few days of hearing about the massacre at Srebrenica. While in Bosnia I met some of the survivors who had just fled Srebrenica. I have written in detail about my experiences in Bosnia in the book that I am writing about my life so I am not going to repeat them here.
There are many, many lessons that we can learn from the Srebrenica massacre. In time I will share more lessons that we can learn from the war in Bosnia but today I will list just three:
1- Never entrust the safety of your life and the lives of your family into the hands of strangers, even if they are in uniform. Especially if they are in uniform.
2- Never believe any assurances or promises made to you by your enemy, especially if those promises are accompanied by sweet words. Satan once lured Adam and Eve to their destruction after seducing them with sweet words to eat from the Forbidden Tree.
3- Never wait until it is too late to save yourself and your family from a life-threatening situation. Smell the air, assess the situation erring on the side of caution and act fast. It is better to be safe than sorry.
I have posted below a link to a BBC video documentary about Srebrenica. It is called “Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave.”
In today’s digital world where even a 3-minute clip is considered too long, a video which is 1hr 45mins long may seem like a lifetime.
But I strongly recommend you to take out the time, anytime this week, to watch this video. Watch it with your families, children aged 12 and over, and anyone else. Watch it to learn and to show your children about the evils that exist in the world today.
This video might not be as amusing as a clip of a cat playing a piano, but the information in there could one day save your life and the lives of your children.
Watch. This. Video.
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