Hundreds of thousands of people marking this Sunday’s Holocaust Memorial Day will be urged to consider not only the Shoah but also the terror in Rwanda 25 years ago and Cambodia 40 years ago.
At an estimated 11,000 events nationwide, young and old will reflect on the Nazis’ genocide against millions of Jews, the Hutu slaughter of a million Tutsi, and the 1.8 million Cambodians killed by Pol Pot’s murderous Khmer Rouge, often with pickaxes to save bullets.
In 1994, Hutus took just 100 days to kill one million Tutsis, after a plane carrying Rwanda’s president was shot down. Hutus took to the radio waves to tell their kin it was their “duty” to wipe out Tutsis.
In Cambodia, Pol Pot sought to “reconstruct” the country along communist lines. Minorities, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai were all targeted, as were Muslim, Buddhists and Christians.
In central London, senior politicians, dignitaries and religious leaders will join survivors of each genocide, on 27 January – the day Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was liberated – for the national commemorative event organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT).
Addressing this year’s theme – ‘torn from home’ – speeches and readings will be interspersed with film, music and poetry in community centres, schools, libraries, museums, arts venues, prisons and places of worship.
“At a time when our world often feels fragile and vulnerable, we need to share the experiences of people who have been torn from their homes and persecuted because of their identity,” said HMDT chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman. “On Holocaust Memorial Day, we can all take steps to ensure that we learn
lessons for a better future.”
Organisers said this year’s theme explores the idea of ‘home’ – a place of safety and security – and how the enforced loss of home is an integral part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide.
- See www.hmd.org.uk for events
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