Friday, 22 April 2016

Holocaust Education and the Iraqi Community

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place each year on the 27th January and is marked on that day to commemorate the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, by the Soviet Union’s Red Army. According to the website of the Holocaust Memorial Trust, HMD is held to remember the victims of the NAZI Holocaust and victims of “subsequent genocides”. 

Listed on the HMD website, are countries, who since the Holocaust, have experienced periods of unrest, which has resulted in genocide. These countries include Rwanda, Bosnia, Dafur and Cambodia. There is also information, which allows people to contact the organisation, along with providing opportunities for people to get involved. 

The Holocaust education movement also has a longstanding history of including the situation in Iraq, where it’s inclusion first took place in the middle of the 1990’s at a Holocaust exhibition in Manchester. Inspired by the story of Anne Frank, the exhibition laid the foundations which drew a direct link with the atrocities in Europe, to those experienced in Iraq during the 1980’s and the 1990’s. 

Examples from the 1980’s, included periods of internal repression by Saddam Hussain. Other examples included the Halabja massacre and the use of chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war. Reflecting the 1990’s, included the situation endured by Iraqi children under the UN imposed Sanctions, which provided the focal point and reference for debate with visitors. 

This exhibition was complimented by a series of widely publicised meetings, where each of the themes were discussed, with guest speakers from a range of backgrounds, including members of the Iraqi community and NAZI Holocaust survivors. This allowed the general public to listen, question and then debate the contents of the exhibition. 

From that exhibition, saw the emergence of another, where through resources provided by a variety of Holocaust Educational bodies, was able to develop the themes explored in the first exhibition and also include wider subjects, to incorporate attitudes towards refugees and more contemporary examples of direct or indirect prejudice. 

This allowed people to examine the media, which drew parallels between content from the 1930’s up-to the present day. It also provided visitors with content on post-Genocide survival, where through public discussion with survivors, allowed people to access the first hand experiences of displacement, asylum, language and psychological recovery. 

By drawing the direct link, where the idea of Never Again applied to all, the Holocaust Education movement was able to develop in-to the millennium, where Iraq was incorporated in to exhibitions like Anne Frank +You, along with Holocaust educators taking part in UK based Iraqi community events. 

This link has also been witnessed through the Holocaust Education movements involvement in the current situation with Iraq and the Islamic State. In 2015, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, were the first to convene experts, who after extensive research in cooperation with Iraq, declared the crimes of ISIS as being “Genocide”. 

The basis of the USHMM findings, have provided perspective for the United States, Europeans and the UK Parliament, to overwhelmingly support the evidence of witnesses, survivors and aid workers. Where in a similar effort to the Nuremberg Trials, the crimes of IS, against Yazidis, Shiite Muslims, Iraqi Christians, Mandeans and Shabak, can now be taken up by the International Criminal Courts and perpetrators brought to justice.

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