Thirty-year anniversary of concentration camp survivors and Bosnian statehood day
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PC Harry Paratušić joined local dignitaries and fellow Bosnian and Herzegovinians from across the country at a special event in Borehamwood to mark the Statehood Day of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and 30 years since the arrival of the first concentration camp survivors in the UK.
The event at Hertswood Academy on Saturday 3 December also saw the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Great Britain, Vanja Filipović, attend alongside the Mayor of Hertsmere, Councillor John Graham with his wife Mayoress Barbara Graham.
PC Paratušić, who is based at Watford, is also a member of the Herts Black and Asian Police Association (HBAPA). Speaking about the event, he said: “It is important to remember your roots and your family history no matter what your circumstances are. It is essential key dates in history are remembered and never forgotten as we strive to improve and better ourselves for the future generations.
“There is a large cultural community within Hertfordshire, and I am proud to call myself the son of a concentration camp survivor. Through my external work with the Hertfordshire Bosnian Community Association, I aim to bring my community closer to my policing family to show support and solidarity.
“Being a regional lead for HBAPA has allowed me to meet a vast array of officers from different cultural backgrounds, religions, and highlights the importance and benefits of working to ensure all communities have a positive and trusted relationship with the police.”
November 25th symbolises the equality of all citizens of BiH and was marked in large numbers.
Zaim Pašić, president of the BH UK Network said: "It was not easy to preserve our statehood, but thanks to BH citizens around the world as well as here in Great Britain, whom I want to thank in this way, we managed to preserve the love for our homeland, and the youth who are here with us today are a guarantee that it will remain so in the future."
Thirty years have passed since the arrival of the first camp inmates from BiH to Great Britain in 1992. Despite witnessing terrible events, the first group, from Prijedor and Kozarac, managed to rebuild their lives.
During the anniversary event, Kemal Pervanić, Nijaz Mujkanović and Fikret Alić, better known as the Wire Man, told of the abuses they experienced during their stay in the camps. During the event, students from the Hertfordshire supplementary school also gave an emotional performance.
Adin Balić and Edin Jakupović told what their grandfathers, Ismet Balić and Džemal Paratušić experienced in the camps.
Vanja Filipović, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Great Britain said: "I am convinced that regardless of the fact that you are now residents of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, you still love and care for your native homeland and that no one will ever squeeze it out of your heart and soul.
“You have confirmed, shown, and proven this countless times with your individual and joint actions, socialising natively in this hospitable country that gave you the opportunity for a peaceful and safe life and the right to cherish your ethnic and cultural heritage, customs, folklore, maintaining the freshness of your native language you and your children, and grandchildren, the establishment of strong cultural, religious and economic relations with the homeland of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”