First Minister joins former Moderator in visit to scene of genocide
Published on 21 August, 2016
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will join former Moderator of the General Assembly, Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood on Sunday 21 August to visit the site of the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two.
They will meet survivors of the bereaved in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina where over 8,000 men and boys were killed. Nicola Sturgeon will lay a wreath at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial cemetery.
Ms Sturgeon promised to visit Srebrenica after attending an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Edinburgh in July last year. Dr Hood chairs the charity Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland), which organised the memorial at St Giles Cathedral where the First Minister met survivors and representatives of the Mothers of Srebrenica.
Dr Hood said:
"In making this visit the First Minister is keeping her promise to the Mothers of Srebrenica and to the survivors of the atrocity who met with her after she spoke at the memorial event in St Giles Cathedral. Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) is delighted that the First Minister has been determined to keep that promise and to support the aims of the charity to fight and challenge hatred wherever it occurs but especially in our own communities.
"The terrorist events of the last few months and years around the world should make us even more aware that hatred and discrimination if left unchallenged and unchecked can lead to terrible evil even amongst those who have previously been neighbours and friends.
"Many of the bereaved are still waiting for justice and for the remains of their loved ones to be found."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“It is a privilege to visit Srebrenica and learn first-hand how survivors and bereaved family members of the genocide have fought to preserve the memory of their loved ones.
“Scotland has longstanding links with Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing support and assistance to those in need during the conflict of the 1990s.
“The Scottish Government will preserve the memory of the Srebrenica genocide – the worst atrocity on European soil since the Holocaust – through education, commemoration and close relations with Remembering Srebrenica Scotland."
“We too have a role and responsibility to ensure future generations are able to remember and learn from the failure to protect Srebrenica.”
Scotland has close links with Srebrenica as many scientists went out to help identify the remains in mass graves and later gave evidence at The Hague during the prosecution of war crimes.
Scots have also played a key role in the International Commission on Missing Persons formerly headquartered in Bosnia, which has facilitated the identification of the dead and prosecution of aggressors.
The work of these Scots has helped achieve closure and justice for loved ones - although many crimes remain unresolved.
Volunteers for Edinburgh Direct Aid bravely drove medicine and other supplies to those trapped during the siege of Sarajevo. Ms Sturgeon will visit the Christine Witcutt Day Care Centre for children with Special Needs - dedicated to its namesake - aid worker and teacher Christine Witcutt from Wishaw, who was killed by a sniper in Sarajevo.
The genocide of mainly Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica was described by the United Nations as “the worst crime in Europe since the Second World War”.
Dr Hood's involvement with the charity 'Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland)' dates back to 2013 when, as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, she was invited to visit the site of the genocide and meet the mothers of some of the victims. Since then she has worked closely with people of all faiths to promote the lessons of Srebrenica and to help prevent such tragic events from occurring in future. Last year Dr Hood was honoured for her work establishing and leading the Scottish board since 2015.