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First Minister visits Srebrenica to mark 1995 genocide

Sturgeon said the massacre, which killed 8000 men and boys, was one of Europe's 'darkest chapters'.

Srebrenica: Victims of genocide remembered.
Srebrenica: Victims of genocide remembered. ©Maurits90 used under Creative Commons licence. Cropped.

Nicola Sturgeon will visit Srebrenica on Sunday to pay her respects to the thousands of men and boys killed in the 1995 genocide. 

The First Minister and former moderator of the General Assembly, Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood, will also meet survivors and relatives of some the victims. 

More than 8000 men and boys were killed on July 11 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces amid the break-up of the former Yugoslavia - Europe's worst atrocity since the Second World War. 

Sturgeon promised to visit Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina after attending an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Edinburgh in July last year. 

She said: "It will be 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. 

"More than 8000 men and boys had their lives taken from them, and it is vital that what happened in Srebrenica, in one of Europe's darkest chapters, is never forgotten. 

"Scotland has strong links with the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina - and during my visit I will be keen not just to pay tribute on behalf of the people of Scotland to those who were murdered in the genocide, but also to learn how we can use the memory of what happened at Srebrenica to help tackle intolerance and hatred wherever it occurs in the world." 

The First Minister will lay a wreath at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial cemetery and meet the Mothers of Srebrenica Association.

She will also visit the Potocari Memorial Centre, and the Christine Witcutt Day Care Centre, which provides care to children with special needs, and meet the chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic, the foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Igor Crnadak, as well as religious leaders, to hear about their efforts to overcome the legacy of war. 

During the Balkan conflict, Edinburgh Direct Aid sent many convoys delivering supplies and medicines to the area. Christine Witcutt, who was killed in Sarajevo, was a volunteer with the charity. 

In the aftermath of the conflict, Scottish scientists have worked in Srebrenica helping to identify the remains in mass graves and later gave evidence at The Hague during the prosecution of war crimes. 

Scots have also played a key role in the International Commission on Missing Persons formerly based in Bosnia. 

Dr Hood, who chairs the charity Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland), said: "Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) is delighted that the First Minister has been determined to keep that promise and to support the aims of the charity to fight and challenge hatred wherever it occurs but especially in our own communities. 

"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 have previously been neighbours and friends."

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