Bosnian human rights activist to receive honorary degree

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 08:59:00 BST

An international human rights activist who campaigns on behalf of women who were raped and sexually abused in the Bosnian War is to be awarded an honorary degree by GCU.

Bakira Hasečić, who came on an official visit to Glasgow this year, will be honoured for her outstanding contribution to international human rights and justice for women in Bosnia.

She founded the Association of Women Victims of War in 2003 to help gather evidence and information about war criminals and rapists hiding in Bosnia with a view to securing their prosecution. It has provided emotional, legal and financial support to thousands of victims of rape and sexual abuse.

Professor Pamela Gillies CBE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of GCU, visited Bosnia last week as part of a delegation organised by Remembering Srebrenica Scotland, which raises awareness of the genocide of 8,000 mainly Muslim men and boys in July 1995, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two.

Professor Gillies said: "It has been an enormous privilege for me to meet Bakira Hasečić and to invite her to accept an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University.

"Her strength and humanity is truly humbling. The Association Bakira founded and still leads today has succeeded in giving the many traduced women of the war a voice, companionship, care, and support, as well as bringing the guilty to justice in the Courts. This is an ongoing struggle and challenge.

"The award for this courageous inspirational woman is in recognition of her fight to bring to justice the many war criminals who subjected Bosnian Muslim women to the most appalling sexual violence, rape, and degradation during the war."

In April 1992, in the early days of the war, Bakira answered a knock on her door of her home in Visegrad. The local police chief, along with 15 other men entered, placed the family under house arrest, and repeatedly raped her and her eldest daughter.

The war claimed 17 members of Bakira’s family including her sister who was held captive and repeatedly raped before being killed. The town of Visegrad became a centre for rape camps in several locations, documented by a UN Commission of Enquiry report.

The Association of Women Victims of War is non-governmental, non-political, multi-ethnic and multinational and works with organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

In July 2017, Bakira spoke at a memorial service in Glasgow to mark the 22nd anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica.

She will receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws at the University’s summer graduation ceremony at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on July 3, 2018.