The nine-strong group travelled to Bosnia with Remembering Srebrenica, led by The Very Rev. Dr. Lorna Hood, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland and chair of the charity’s Scotland board. It included Solicitor General for Scotland Lesley Thomson; Labour spokesperson on health and equalities Jenny Marra MSP; and former Cabinet Secretary for Education Michael Russell MSP.
Part of the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ educational visits programme, the delegation met with survivors and relatives of the victims, as well as the British Ambassador Edward Ferguson and officials from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
Group members learned about the events in July 1995 – which resulted in the systematic murder of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.
Dr. Hood, received an award from the British Government in July this year for her work to commemorate and learn lessons from the Srebrenica genocide. She said:
“This is a group of people who are influential in Scottish public life and who are deeply affected by the experience we are sharing in Bosnia. Already, our delegates are thinking about how they can use what they have seen and heard within their own spheres of influence to help shape a better society in Scotland. This is the second time I have led a Remembering Srebrenica visit – the power of this experience never diminishes. Bosnia was an integrated society which disintegrated; that genocide happened here is a sober reminder that it can happen anywhere, unless we learn to respect and appreciate our differences.”
As well as learning about the current situation for survivors and families whose loved ones were killed, the group looked at the lessons for Scottish society which can be taken from the genocide.
Lesley Thomson said:
“It’s an honour to be part of this delegation to Srebrenica and inspiring to see the ICMP’s dedication in continuing to bring answers to families. It was humbling and emotional to meet the Mothers of Srebrenica who are persistent in their search for the truth for their loved ones yet who still relive their pain constantly to make sure we do not forget.”
Jenny Marra said:
“The horrors of what I have heard here in Srebrenica but can never fully understand – the terror and inhumanity – will live with me long past this experience. The one thing that elected politicians must take from Srebrenica and humanitarian catastrophes is that human rights must be lived and taught in a real way every day in some attempt to prevent atrocities such as the senseless murder of over 8,000 people here in this beautiful country.”
Michael Russell said:
“Nothing prepares you for the visceral experience of hearing from survivors of the genocide at Srebrenica, but the harrowing experience is a vital one if those who come here go away determined that it should never be forgotten and never repeated. We all need to understand that if it happened here it could happen anywhere.”
Remembering Srebrenica’s Scotland Board was established in March this year. The charitable initiative raises awareness of this genocide in the UK. It works with individuals and organisations to help strengthen British society by learning the lessons of history to help tackle hatred, racism and intolerance wherever it occurs.
Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, chairman and founder of Remembering Srebrenica UK, said:
“A vital aspect of Remembering Srebrenica’s education programme is to provide the opportunity for key influencers to learn from the genocide. It is wonderful to have a group of such eminent individuals visiting from Scotland. This visit offers valuable insights and lessons, which these delegates can then use to help strengthen our society.”