Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon 'moved' by visit to site of 1995 Srebrenica massacre

Nicola Sturgeon and the Very Rev Lorna Hood at a Srebrenica memorial Image copyright PA

Nicola Sturgeon has said she was "deeply moved" after visiting Srebrenica to pay her respects to the victims of the 1995 genocide.

The first minister laid a wreath at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial.

Ms Sturgeon and former moderator of the General Assembly, the Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood, also met survivors and relatives of some the victims.

Eight thousand Muslims, mainly men and boys, were killed after Bosnian Serb forces took over Srebrenica.

The atrocity, during civil war in the Balkans, was the worst on European soil since World War Two.

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Deeply moved to visit the memorial to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide at Potocari. We must work to learn the lessons."

Scotland formed close links with Srebrenica after scientists went there to help identify remains in mass graves. Later, some of them gave evidence at The Hague on the war crimes.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Radovan Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serb forces, was later convicted of genocide and war crimes
Image caption The massacre followed an assault on the town by Bosnian Serb forces

The charity Remembering Srebrenica uses the example of the massacre in an education programme which aims to raise awareness of the dangers posed by hatred, racism and intolerance.

Dr Hood said: "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 had 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."

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was later convicted at The Hague of genocide and war crimes in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, and sentenced to 40 years in jail.

In 2015, Ms Sturgeon met representatives of the Mothers of Srebrenica at a service in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, marking the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.

Image caption The Bosnian town lost most of a generation of young men

During her visit to the town, she will see the work of the Christine Witcutt Day Care Centre for children with Special Needs, which is dedicated to aid worker and teacher Christine Witcutt from Wishaw, who was killed by a sniper in Sarajevo.

Ms 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."

She added: "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."

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