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Holocaust Memorial Day - a day to remember

January 27, 2020 9:34 AM
By Rachel Dineley

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Holocaust Memorial Day falls on 27 January 2020, the international day to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar has been the most recent focus of the International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ), illustrating that 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau the abuse of human rights continues around the world.

The panel of 17 judges at the ICJ on 23 January voted unanimously to order Myanmar to take "all measures within its power" to prevent genocide.

The Gambia's attorney general and justice minister, Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, told the court in December: "Another genocide is unfolding right before our eyes yet we do nothing to stop it. This is a stain on our collective conscience. It's not only the state of Myanmar that is on trial here, it's our collective humanity that is being put on trial."

The plight of the persecuted around the world needs governments to be vigilant and proactive in challenging the abuse of human rights wherever it is encountered. We have our role to play in the UK, both as a member of the UN security council, and at home.

While other news has dominated the headlines, the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (now Act) has been passed by Parliament. The House of Lords' amendments to the Bill were rejected by the Commons on 22 January, including the amendment to give greater protection to refugee children.

The Act removes the requirement, introduced by Lord Dubs, to agree a deal that if an unaccompanied child claims international protection in the EU, they may come to the UK if they have relatives living in the country. The Act only requires a government minister to make a statement setting out policy on the subject within two months.

Between 2016 and 2018, 426 unaccompanied children came to the UK.

Our obligation to do what we reasonably can is unarguable. It is incumbent on all those who care to ensure that we do. Standing by, leaving the politicians to do what they will, is sadly not enough. As Liberal Democrats we are committed to securing a society in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Persecution is the result of a failure to conform - simply by being 'different'. It is often poverty and ignorance that is exploited by the persecutors. In a diverse society 'difference' must be valued, not punished.

It is humbling to reflect on the actions of those who have done so much to protect the most vulnerable around the world. It was Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from Nazi-occupied Europe, who said: "Don't be content in your life just to do no wrong, be prepared every day to try and do some good."

So, 27 January is not just a day to remember, but a reason to act. We can all hold our MPs to account, to try and do some good.

Rachel Dineley

Diversity Officer

Chiltern Liberal Democrats

Note: The links in the article do not appear to be working at the moment. This may be because of the amount of use which the HMD website is getting today. They will be checked later today.

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey made the following statement on Holocaust Memorial Day:

Holocaust Memorial Day

On Holocaust Memorial Day, we pause to remember one of the darkest chapters in human history. We remember a time of unimaginable evil which resulted in the death of 6 million Jewish people and countless others who perished under a state-sponsored policy of hate and systemic violence.

This year marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz which led to the release of 7000 people and exposed the depth of the horrors committed there and elsewhere.

Although time has moved on, the poison of anti-Semitism has not gone away. Across the globe we are witnessing a worrying increase in anti-Semitic violence. When hate crimes against religious communities rise and when people in the Jewish community speak out about the fear they feel, we must all sit up and act, because any pledge to end division rings hollow if it's not followed by meaningful action.

History has taught us many hard lessons and although we often repeat the admonition "never again", the pain of genocide has been experienced in many parts of the world since the Holocaust. As we remember the victims of the holocaust and let's also remember the victims of subsequent genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur.

This year's theme "Stand Together" is an important reminder that we all have a duty to stand up to hate. We must all challenge any attempts dehumanise, degrade or demean any community, because a failure to do so could have dire consequences.

Finally, let us recognise the strength and resilience of holocaust survivors and let us resolve to preserve their stories and testimonies. And let us never forget.