Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields reflects on anniversary of Srebrenica massacre

On the 27th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, reflects on the systematic massacre of 8,372 men and boys in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Balkans war and encourages all of us to work for peace.

potocari srebrenica
Srebrenica–Potočari Memorial and Cemetery.

A cousin of mine, at that time working in a bank, took time off to go out to the Balkans at the height of the conflict there – he still cannot talk about the things he saw and they are a scar on his soul. "How could a civilised society stoop so low?" was how he described what he saw. He came back to Scotland a changed person, left his career in banking and dedicated his life to helping those incapable of helping themselves – he has no regrets. The Balkans changed the course of his life.

Twenty-seven years on, we remember and we lament and we pray that such things should never again happen in Europe – in any part of our world. Yet, what will be uncovered eventually in Ukraine? When will we ever learn, as Joan Baez sung so many years ago?

We pray today for all those who carry scars that are deeper than physical from the Balkan conflict.

We pray for those who struggle still with unforgiveness and anger and the horror of memories and images that will not go away – we pray that the Lord might give them peace.

We turn to the Lord in a world where so much conflict still prevails, lives are lost and damaged, and consciences are racked by guilt and societies divided. In doing so, we remember the words of Jesus in the Lord's Prayer:

'Your Kingdom come
Your will be done on earth
As it is in heaven.'

Therein lies our only hope and aspiration as we become, and pray for, all those in places of conflict who are peacemakers.

Remembering Srebrenica Scotland

Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood
Former Moderator, Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood, was recognised for her commitment to educating people about the genocide, and was awarded the Kulin Ban's Charter Award by the Archives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo © John Young.

Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) was founded in March 2016 by the Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood. Dr Hood accompanied several groups of high-profile Scots to visit Bosnia, meet the Mothers of Srebrenica and learn about the genocide. Find out more about Remembering Srebrenica Scotland. Lord Wallace, Moderator in 2021-22, is a patron of the UK-wide organisation Remembering Srebrenica.