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Event to highlight stories of midstate refugees who fled Bosnian genocide

  • Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania
Relatives of victims pray as they visit the memorial cemetery in Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. The remains of 33 victims of Srebrenica massacre will be buried on July 11, 2019, 24 years after Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica and executed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, which international courts have labeled as an act of genocide.

Darko Bandic / AP Photo

Relatives of victims pray as they visit the memorial cemetery in Potocari near Srebrenica, Bosnia, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. The remains of 33 victims of Srebrenica massacre will be buried on July 11, 2019, 24 years after Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica and executed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, which international courts have labeled as an act of genocide.

(Harrisburg) — An event scheduled for later this month aims to elevate the voices of refugees in the midstate, so their neighbors to have a better understanding of what they went through to settle in the U.S.

Organizers of the Genocide, Justice, Hope conference at Dickinson College said they hope to bring students, religious groups, civic leaders, and the general public together to learn about the journey of 1,500 Bosnian Muslims, or Bosniaks, to eventually settle in Cumberland County.

The community started to grow as people fled a genocide in the 1990s. More than 7,000 Bosniaks were killed in Srebrenica, in the worst episode of mass murder in Europe since the Holocaust.

Now, ahead of the massacre’s 25th anniversary, interfaith organizers are hoping to shine a light on the stories of survivors.

Reverend Jeff Gibelius with Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle said he hopes attendees will understand the cost refugees paid to come to America.

“I think anybody who participates an event like this is going to understand more compassionately what it is like to be a refugee,” Gibelius said.

He also hopes attendees will leave knowing the danger of genocide is not over.

“Genocide continues today in various parts of the world,” Gibelius said. “And most often, people–good-intentioned people–stand by not knowing what to do. This event will help people understand the cost of doing nothing.”

The free event on Saturday, October 26th will start with a screening of a documentary on the war crimes trial that followed the genocide, with an introduction by Dermot Groome, who was the lead prosecutor in the trial and is now a professor at Penn State Dickinson School of Law.

Attendees will then hear from survivors and share a communal meal.

Those interested can learn more and register here.

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