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Remembering Srebrenica: the Scots commemorating Bosnia's massacred 8000

A delegation of prominent Scottish figures will this year lead a UK charity initiative called "Lessons from Srebrenica" aimed at raising public awareness of the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

Top, A relative of the massacre victims at the Srebrenica Memorial siteAbove, Angus Robertson will lead the delegationMain photograph:  Getty Images
Top, A relative of the massacre victims at the Srebrenica Memorial siteAbove, Angus Robertson will lead the delegationMain photograph: Getty Images

It was in July 1995, during the Bosnian War, that Serbian forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic and his paramilitary units systematically massacred more than 8000 Bosnian men and boys. Their bodies, many dismembered and mutilated, were piled in mass graves. Almost 20 years later, their remains are still being uncovered.

The Scottish delegation, which leaves for Bosnia tomorrow, will be headed by the leader of the SNP Westminster group, Angus ­Robertson MP.

He said: "We must never, ever forget the act of genocide that happened at Srebrenica and it is a duty of everyone, irrespective of race or religion, to teach the generations that follow us to challenge the evils of hatred, racism and extremism, which is why the Remembering Srebrenica's 'Lessons from Srebrenica' visits are so important."

Other members of the delegation include Ann McKechin, MP for Glasgow North and former shadow Scottish secretary; Rt Rev Lorna Hood, honorary chaplain and minister to the Queen; the Sunday Herald's award-winning foreign editor, David Pratt; Seonag MacKinnon, head of communications for the Church of Scotland; and Sergeant David Hamilton, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation North Area.

During their time in Bosnia, the delegates will visit the International Commission for Missing Persons and meet the Mothers of Srebrenica organisation, which represents the widows of other victims, at the town's Memorial Centre.

After the European Parliament declared July 11 as Srebrenica Memorial Day, the charity Remembering Srebrenica organised the first UK-wide memorial day at Lancaster House, London. A similar event is planned for the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood later this year.

Speaking about the forthcoming visit by the Scottish delegation, the chairman of the UK charity, Dr Waqar Azmi said: "Remembering Srebrenica's 'Lessons from Srebrenica' visits programme provides an opportunity for many lost and unheard voices to tell their stories.

"It is only by putting names to numbers and memories to words that victims of this heinous crime can be humanised."

Sunday Herald foreign editor David Pratt, who as a reporter covered the war in the former Yugoslavia, said that his return to Bosnia will be an emotional experience.

He said: "For the people of the former Yugoslavia and those journalists who reported on the conflict its horrors are indelibly etched into our psyche.

"Without doubt the visit will bring those memories back, but then it is vital that we never forget what happened there."

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