Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “deeply moved” after visiting Srebrenica to pay her respects to the thousands of men and boys killed in the 1995 genocide.
The First Minister laid a wreath at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial cemetery in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina and met the Mothers of Srebrenica Association.
She posted online:“Deeply moved to visit the memorial to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide at Potocari. We must work to learn the lessons.”
The First Minister and former moderator of the General Assembly, Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood, also met survivors and relatives of some the victims. More than 8,000 men and boys were killed on 11 July 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces amid the break-up of the former Yugoslavia – Europe’s worst atrocity since the Second World War.
Ms Sturgeon promised to visit Srebrenica after attending an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Edinburgh in July last year.
She said: “More than 8,000 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.”
She added: “Scotland has long-standing links with Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing support and assistance to those in need during the conflict of the 1990s. I am keen 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.”
She also visited the Potocari Memorial Centre, and the Christine Witcutt Day Care Centre, which provides care to children with special needs and was named after a volunteer with Edinburgh Direct Aid, who was killed in Sarajevo.
Ms Sturgeon met the chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic, and 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.
In the aftermath of the conflict, Scottish scientists 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 said: “Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) is delighted 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.”