United EU never more important - NYA Moderator

Hannah Mary Goodlad at Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre and Cemetery.

A youth leader has said a visit to a place that marks the worst case of genocide in Europe since the Second World War illustrated to her why a united EU was never more important.

Hannah Mary Goodlad, Moderator of the National Youth Assembly (NYA) of the Church of Scotland, said she felt "overwhelmed and sickened" during a visit to the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre and Cemetery in Bosnia where more than 5,000 people are buried.

She added that the trip, organised by Remembering Srebrenica UK, impressed upon her the need to tackle hatred and intolerance because peace is a "privilege we must fight for".

The atrocity took place during the Balkans conflict of 1992-1995.

Srebrenica was declared a UN Safe Area in 1993 but General Ratko Mladić and his Serbian paramilitary units overran and captured the town in July 1995.

Peace is a privilege

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves.

Thousands of women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported and a large number of women were raped.

It was the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

Miss Goodlad, pictured, said: "It's incredibly important that we tackle hatred and intolerance wherever we encounter it.

"It's more vital now than ever before-the world is becoming an increasingly unstable, violent place and peace is a privilege we must fight for.

"The genocide at Srebrenica did not happen in some far off land in some distant tim. It happened on European soil nearly 21 years ago.

"Never before has a united EU been more important.

"Stability and peace are precious and we must do all we can to hold fast to them."

HM3 Hannah Mary Goodlad

Beyond tolerance

Miss Goodlad, who is from Shetland but lives in Aberdeen, said Srebrenica was ethnic cleansing in the name of religion.

"We all have a duty to challenge hatred when we come across it and especially those of us who are religious," she added.

"Many hateful acts are carried out in the name of religion and we must have the courage and the determination to stand up and say 'no, not in my faiths name' because if not us then who will?

"We also must look beyond just tolerating our neighbours of different faiths.

"Instead we must love and respect one another."

Miss Goodlad said tolerance was merely "peace keeping" which is temporary and never lasts.

"We have to strive to be peace makers," she added.

"A far harder process that demands principals and determination."

Former Moderator

The delegation leader is David Plews of the Church of Scotland's Ministries Council.

The NYA raised more than £1,000 for Remembering Srebrenica UK to part fund delegates to go out and learn about what happened there.

Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland the Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood is the chairwoman of the Remembering Srebrenica board in Scotland.

hmweb1 Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre and Cemetery.