The first all-women delegation from the Remembering Srebrenica Scotland charity is to build new links between Scotland and organisations representing female victims of the Bosnian war.
A 12-member delegation led by Scottish Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale and the Very Reverend Dr Lorna Hood, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, will depart for Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Tuzla and Zanica today.
They will seek to build close ties with organisations and women in Bosnia, ensuring that women and girls in Scotland can learn about the genocide that took place. Representatives from organisations including Young Scot, Colleges Scotland, Glasgow Caledonian University, Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, Christian Aid and the Glasgow Women’s Library are part of the delegation.
In 1995, Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladić massacred 8,372 men and boys in the greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War. Remembering Srebrenica keeps their memory alive by organising commemoration events. This year, the charity is focusing on breaking the silence on women’s experiences of the genocide. Between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped during the war from 1992 to 1995, and thousands lost husbands and fathers. This will be the 11th delegation from Remembering Srebrenica Scotland to the site.
In Bosnia, the delegation is scheduled to meet: Dr Fatima Dautbašić-Klempić, a survivor of the death march and the only female doctor in Srebrenica during the war; the organisation Medica Zenica which supports survivors of sexualised wartime violence; the organisation Mothers of Srebrenica; and Bakira Hasečić, President of the Association of Women Victims of War.
Ms Dugdale met Bakira on a previous visit to Bosnia, and has arranged for her work to be highlighted as part of the Glasgow Women’s Library’s ‘Women on the Shelf’ initiative which celebrates inspirational women. Bakira, who campaigns for women who were raped and sexually abused in the Bosnian War, will receive an honorary degree from Glasgow Caledonian University later this year.
Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale said:
“My visit to Srebrenica in 2017 was a harrowing experience. I travelled to an old refugee centre where the UN Dutch forces took in 5,000 women and children before turning everybody else away. The men they turned away were all slaughtered.
“On this trip, I want to learn more about the often-forgotten female victims of the war – the women who lost husbands and fathers, and the unimaginable torture they endured.
“We will witness not just the bullet holes and mortar shells that have left their mark, but the scars on the souls of the women who were left behind to pick up the pieces. To this day, they still strive for peace and justice.
“I know we will come home with a greater knowledge of the genocide, and hope to forge new links between Scotland and the organisations which represent female victims of the Bosnian war.”
The Very Rev Dr Hood, chair of Remembering Srebrenica Scotland, said:
“Over 1,000 people from the UK have visited Srebrenica as part of our work programme, each coming home with a new understanding of the genocide to pass on to people and ensure we never forget the victims.
“On this trip, the delegation will learn first-hand about what happened in Srebrenica, and the importance of tackling hatred and intolerance to help build a better, safer and more cohesive society for everyone.
“This is our first all-women delegation, with a particular focus on gender violence. It will be deeply distressing at times, but we are committed to raising awareness of the genocide.”
Remembering Srebrenica is a British charitable initiative, part funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Remembering Srebrenica Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government. It is committed to using the lessons of Srebrenica to tackle hatred and intolerance to help build a better, safer and more cohesive society for everyone.
The Very Reverend Lorna Hood OBE. Lorna is the Chair of Remembering Srebrenica Scotland and a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland. Although technically retired, she continues to serve Scotland in a number of roles and is currently the Chair of Youthlink Scotland.
Kezia Dugdale. Kez is a Labour MSP for Edinburgh & the Lothians. She took part in a delegation to Bosnia in June 2017 and has been heavily involved in Remembering Srebrenica Scotland’s work since then.
Julie Adair. Julie is a digital media expert and was part of the BBC’s original online team. She is now Director of Digital Collaboration at Glasgow Caledonian University and is a visiting Professor at Abertay University.
Samina Ansari. Samina is the chief executive officer of the award winning organisation Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre which provides services and support to over 4,000 Muslim and minority ethnic women. It empowers them to live better, safer lives free from discrimination and abuse.
Fiona Buchanan. Fiona is the Campaigns and Advocacy Co-ordinator for Christian Aid Scotland. She’s written before about the role of faith communities in championing gender justice and also volunteers for the Girl guides.
Audrey Cumberford. Audrey is the Principal and Chief Executive of the College of the West of Scotland. She’s also on the board of Scotland’s new Enterprise and Skills body and a member of the Royal Society of Scotland’s education committee.
Sue John. Sue is the Enterprise Development Manager of the Glasgow Women’s Library, whose mission is to celebrate the lives and achievements of women, championing their historical, cultural and political contributions and act as a catalyst to eradicate the gender gap.
Louise MacDonald OBE. Louise is the Chief Executive of Young Scot, an organisation which seeks to support 16 -25 year olds to make informed decisions. She was recently appointed Chair of the National Advisory Council for Women and Girls.
Lesley Martin. Lesley is an award winning professional photographer who has diverse work includes covering the frontline in Afghanistan to the Pope’s visit to Edinburgh.
Avril McNeil. Avril is the Rector of Glenrothes High School, one of the first Secondary schools in Scotland to become a UN Rights Respecting school.
Carol Purcell. Carol has been working for BBC Radio Scotland for 20 years, including current affairs programmes like Newsdrive and Good Morning Scotland, arts and entertainment output such as the Janice Forsyth Show and radio documentaries for Radio Scotland, Radio 2 and Radio 4. She currently works for the religion and ethics team in Edinburgh, producing the weekly Sunday Morning With programme and Thought for the Day.
Vonnie Sandlan. Vonnie is a passionate advocate for education as a public and social good. She was a recent President of the National Union of Students in Scotland and currently works as a Senior Policy Officer at Colleges Scotland.