THE BROMSGROVE man who founded the national Remembering Srebrenica charity, has been awarded an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Bedfordshire.
Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, who is also the chairman of the Birmingham charity, received the accolade in recognition of his services to the community and his hard work to improve cultural dialogue.
Since Dr Azmi founded Remembering Srebrenica in 2013, the organisation has been the sole organiser of the UK’s national commemoration of the 1995 genocide. Thanks to the charity’s educational outreach work, 60,000 young people have gained a better knowledge about the consequences of hatred.
Remembering Srebrenica has also brought together over 50,000 people in 1,000 acts of commemoration for the victims of the genocide, the worst atrocity to be committed on European soil since the Second World War.
Working with the Mothers of Srebrenica and Survivor’s Associations, over 1,000 champions against hatred have been created who are running numerous projects in local communities to tackle hatred and intolerance.
The UK is the only country in the EU that commemorates Srebrenica following the EU resolution calling on all states to mark July 11 as Srebrenica Memorial Day. Without Dr Azmi’s drive to establish Remembering Srebrenica as a national organisation, the UK would not have such a widespread understanding of this horrific event.
Dr Azmi’s work has gained support and recognition from several high profile figures including Princess Anne, the Prime Minister, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and humanitarian Angelina Jolie.
Dr Azmi told The Standard: “It is a great honour to receive this award, not just for me but the 1,000 volunteers we have working for Remembering Srebrenica across the country.
“The achievements are a result of their work and it is also in recognition of those people who make it happen.
“The World is a troubled place with recent spikes in hate crime but it is positive to see the way people from this nation of ours come together for the memorial day to stand up to all forms of hatred and extremism.
“We must remember those who commit acts of hatred are in the minority and do not represent or reflect the views of most people in the UK and the World.”
The University of Bedfordshire has been a key supporter of Remembering Srebrenica’s work, from hosting survivor events, running education panels and taking students on the organisation’s flagship ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ visit programme.
And by hounouring Dr Azmi, the university said it was sending a clear message that hatred, prejudice and intolerance have no place in British society.