“In remembering Srebrenica, let us work for reconciliation, understanding and peace"

Humanity must learn the lessons of the Srebrenica genocide to guard against slipping into the same "dark places", the Moderator of the General Assembly has warned.

Speaking out to mark the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Bosnia, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair said people must not be "idle bystanders" and work together to foster reconciliation, understanding and secure peace in the world.

He has written a special commemorative prayer for congregations to use in their online worship this weekend.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair against the backdrop of Srebrenica–Potočari Memorial and Cemetery where genocide victims are commemorated.

The genocide, which took place in and around the small mountain town of Srebrenica on July 11-12, 1995, was the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

A total of 8,372 Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Bosnian Serb army led by General Ratko Mladić.

Dr Fair said: "Twenty-five years ago the world watched in horror at what unfolded across the Balkans generally and, particularly, at Srebrenica.

"Those who thought that such unthinkable extermination only happened elsewhere, or belonged in the history books, were shocked to see such scenes taking place in ‘civilised' Europe.

"It was never more important than it is now that we remember what happened, in a historical sense and because it is so very easy to allow ourselves to slip in to the same dark places."

Peace in the world

Dr Fair said there are divisive voices active in communities today, doing their best to emphasise difference and exploit divisions for their own ends.

"These voices must not prevail which will require all people of goodwill to do more than be idle bystanders," he added.

"In remembering Srebrenica, with deep shame and sadness, let us apply ourselves to working for reconciliation, understanding and peace in our world today.

"I invite congregations across Scotland to be at the heart of this and pray accordingly."

Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood
Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood has received the Kulin Ban’s Charter Award. John Young.

Last month, former Moderator of the General Assembly, Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood, was recognised for her commitment to educating people about the genocide.

She is the chairwoman of the Remembering Srebrenica Scotland charity and was awarded the Kulin Ban's Charter Award by the Archives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dr Hood and her team keep the memory of the genocide alive by organising commemorative events, taking groups to Srebrenica and providing education resources for Scottish schools.

The minister, who was Moderator in 2013-14 and served Renfrew North Parish Church for 37 years until she retired in 2016, said the charity's aim is to help promote a "safe, tolerant and cohesive society".

Dr Fair said: "I encourage the whole Church to make use of the resources made available by Remembering Srebrenica Scotland that we might be informed and motivated."

The 25th anniversary commemorative prayer.

God of yesterday, today and tomorrow,

Hear us as we pray and remember the people of Srebrenica,

We pray for those, whose memories are scarred with pain,

For those whose hearts are broken,

For lives that were torn apart.

Hold us, and all those we remember in your embrace,

Never letting us forget the sins of humanity.

Bring us close to all;

Mothers and children,

Fathers and sons,

Sisters and brothers of those left behind,

And heal their pain and sorrow.

Teach us never to forget the lessons of the past,

And in going forward, create a world of equity;

Not to be divided by hatred and discrimination,

But united in courage, love and empathy.

Help us Lord to learn to live for a world,

Where differences are valued and respected,

Where fear and distrust will never consume us.

We ask that those suffering would know your peace
and their lives might be restored through your grace.