A survivor of the Siege of Sarajevo has been made an Honorary Associate Professor by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Rešad Trbonja, who now works as a genocide educator and a co-ordinator for charity Remembering Srebrenica, has been appointed to DMU’s Community and Criminal Justice Division.
He was just 19 when the conflict in Bosnia began and he survived what he described as ‘47 months of hell’ during the siege of his home city of Sarajevo. When it came to an end in 1995, 11,500 people from the city had been killed, including 1,601 children.
Rešad has been appointed to help educate students about genocide and to bring his experience and expertise to DMU’s research activities.
He said: “I am truly honoured to receive this and I am hugely grateful to De Montfort University and Remembering Srebrenica. I accept this award on behalf of all of the people who are no longer here to tell their stories.
“In Bosnia, we have been fighting for over 20 years for justice and every day our fight continues, but many people in Bosnia still refuse to acknowledge what happened to us.
“It therefore means so much to me that people in the UK are willing to listen to stories from Bosnia and take on board the lessons we can learn from this.”
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Kim Sadique, Acting Head of DMU’s Community and Criminal Justice Division, first met Rešad during her work with Remembering Srebrenica. Kim is a Remembering Srebrenica Community Champion and her award-winning work focuses on raising awareness of genocide and tackling hate crime.
She believes that Rešad’s personal experience will be of huge benefit to DMU. “I am delighted that Rešad will be joining the Community and Criminal Justice Division here at De Montfort University,” she said.
“His powerful message about tackling hate and first-hand experience of conflict will be an invaluable asset to the university.
“British universities have a proud record of honouring Bosnian survivors of genocide and ethnic cleansing and in doing so they strengthen their voices.”
Having lived through three years of war, Resad is passionate about educating the next generation to avoid a repeat of such atrocities in the future.
“I am driven by hate crime prevention because people don’t realise how far it can go,” he explained.
“I think it’s something that we as survivors from war owe to society, to let them know that peace cannot be taken for granted. In multicultural societies nobody is immune to hate, I’ve been there before, during and after the war, so I have a total picture of what’s going on.”
Rešad, who has a Master’s in Criminology from the University of Sarajevo, has been educating young people in the UK about the consequences of hate for over three years and is looking forward to working with students at DMU.
He said: “I never believed that this would be one of my roles in life, but life is a funny thing full of different paths and through these crossroads I have come to be where I am now. It is the next logical step to talk to the future leaders of the country.”
DMU has been chosen by the United Nations as a designated global hub for Sustainable Development Goal 16, which focuses on ‘peace, justice and strong institutions’. This appointment adds to DMU’s expertise and commitment in this area.
Posted on Friday 30th November 2018