Special Edinburgh event to commemorate 25th anniversary of Bosnian conflict

They will mark the 75th anniversary since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia

Friday, 10th January 2020, 11:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 7:23 am
survivor: Lejla Damon works with charities War Child and Remembering Srebrenica

Edinburgh residents are invited to attend an event taking place to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian conflict as the fledgling nation still recovers from the horrors it experienced.

City Councillor Donald Wilson will introduce speaker Lejla Damon to an audience at the Central Library on January 26 as part of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust planned events that will be taking place across the UK.

They will mark the 75th anniversary since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia.

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Lejla was born as a consequence of her mother being continuously raped in a concentration camp until she fell pregnant in a brutal ethnic cleansing drive. She was later adopted by two British journalists, Dan and Sian Damon, after they had followed her birth mother’s story. The journalists managed to smuggle her into Hungary before bringing her back to the UK.

Lejla said: “Like too many children around the world, I was born of war; a product of weaponised rape in Bosnia during the war of the 1990s. My evacuation and adoption by a British couple who were reporting on the war gave me security and a future. As I learned more about my origins, I became convinced that I should speak up for those whose futures were less favoured. I traced and met my birth mother and half-sister. And I have been working with the charities War Child and Remembering Srebrenica to raise awareness of the support denied to most children born of rape in war, not just in the former Yugoslavia. Sexual violence as a weapon is an outrage on the children born of war as well on the women who are brutalised.

“I am honoured to be speaking at an event remembering the Holocaust – investigators for the Nuremberg trials uncovered a vast amount of evidence of sexual violence by the Nazis but it was not included in the charges against them. Now at last the world is recognising that rape is a war crime too. I recently graduated with an MBA and I want to devote my storytelling and my business skills to campaigning on behalf of children born of war who have not had the chance to be heard.”

Lejla currently works with War Child and regularly speaks at their global conference on ending sexual violence in conflict. She also works with Remembering Srebrenica to organise the annual memorial event to commemorate the Srebrenica massacre, in 1995.

Cllr Wilson, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to reflect on the terrible events which led to the murder of six million Jews and the subsequent genocides around the world including Bosnia. Having visited Auschwitz years ago I was struck by the question of how a society could have gone so badly wrong that they could allow this to happen.

“I am sure Lejla’s story will be extremely poignant and thought-provoking, especially as this year is the 25th anniversary since the atrocities in the country of her birth. I would encourage everyone to learn the lessons of the past and share responsibility to create a safer and better future where these things cannot happen again.”

People who wish to attend the event can register for it at EventBrite HERE – free of charge.