A GREAT Harwood councillor said he pondered on the sacrifice soldiers from Hyndburn made while on a recent trip to Bosnia, which he visited as part of a government delegation.
Councillor Noordad Aziz visited the former war-torn country to raise awareness of the genocide of 8,000 Muslim men who lost their lives in Srebrenica.
Coun Aziz also met the Grand Mufti, or leader of the Muslim community, in Bosnia, Husein Kavazovic, Bosnian president Bakir Izetbegovic, and visited the spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914.
He said: “This killing began a series of events that led to the eruption of the First World War that changed the course of the world.
“I spent a moment of contemplation and I just pondered the impact that event had.”
Coun Aziz said that, while he was kneeling beside a plaque commemorating the exact spot the Archduke, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, died, he thought about the Accrington Pals.
He said: “The war is remembered in Hyndburn with the loss of the Accrington Pals and how it impacted my borough, with 720 men from the area going over the front line in France and, within minutes, 584 of those were killed in a massacre.”
The massacre in Srebrenica, in July 1995, was carried out by the Army of Republika Srpska and was considered by the secretary general of the United Nations as the ‘worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.
While Coun Aziz was at the airport waiting to return home, he said he was given an important message from the delegation’s head, Stephen Williams MP.
He said: “He reminded us that we had a duty to tackle hatred and intolerance in our communities, and share the message of Srebrenica in our communities.
“Then Reshad, our Bosnian guide who had accompanied us for three days gave the final message: ‘Don’t ever think it can’t happen to you.
“For 19 years I thought and believed that, and then one day it changed. I saw neighbours turn on each other.”