• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

INSIDE TRACK: Lessons for Scotland from horrors of Srebrenica

Earlier this year I listened as a woman called Kada Hotic told me a story.

It concerned one of her brothers who in 1995 was one of 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys rounded up and killed at Srebrenica during the war in the former Yugoslavia.

Today the Srebrenica massacre stands as the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

She told me how back in 2003 the phone rang one day. The caller was from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and told her that the remains of her brother had been found and identified, before it was delicately explained that they had unfortunately not been able to find the dead man's head among his remains.

Twenty years on, similar grisly findings are still being made around Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia. This Friday, Bute House in Edinburgh is the venue for Scotland's first Srebrenica Memorial Event on Srebrenica Memorial Day itself, July 11. It is organised by Remembering Srebrenica, a UK charity whose aim through education visits and public awareness campaigning is to help people learn about the consequences of hatred and discrimination.

In 2009 the EU designated July 11 to be the day Europe remembers the 1995 genocide, and the UK is currently the only country within the EU to do this. In February I travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of a Scottish delegation on a Lessons from Srebrenica visit to witness first-hand the effects of the genocide and the wider impact that hatred can have on society.

Much of what I encountered was not new to me, having covered the war in Balkans in the 1990s. That said, I still came away deeply affected by the accounts of survivors and the terrible lingering legacy of those events.

During my visit I took a pledge to work with the Remembering Srebrenica's aims of encouraging everyone in society to help reject racism and bigotry with the aim of building a stronger, safer society.

On Friday, when we gather at Bute House, such thoughts will be foremost in the minds of those Scottish, UK and Bosnian representatives attending.

Most significantly we will again hear from the Mothers of Srebrenica. These women, like Kada Hotic, who survived but lost family members, are powerful voices in reminding us of those dark days in 1995.

In Edinburgh will be Nirha Efendic, whose father's remains were found seven years after the genocide, and parts of her brother (who was 19 when killed) were discovered just two years ago. Also present will be Dr Fatima Dautbasic-Klempic, who worked day and night caring for the sick and wounded in a Srebernica field hospital.

These are inspiring people with a message for us all. Around the world today in places like South Sudan, Ukraine, Central African Republic and even here at home in Scotland, racism, ethnic and religious discrimination, bigotry and sectarianism thrive where we fail to educate with lessons from the past.

On Friday we will remember Srebrenica, but most importantly continue our work to ensure its likes never happen again.

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

246005