This is my diary piece in this week’s Redditch Advertiser (January 30th):
At a time when it may feel like our country is divided, what united everyone here in Redditch on Saturday was our determination to remember the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust.
Holocaust Memorial Day is always a poignant and moving day, and the service at the Town Hall was no different. It was a heart-warming service which involved and brought together our town’s diverse and welcoming community. Thank you to all who took part and to the organisers.
There were impassioned contributions from young people across the town highlighting the importance of holocaust education. I personally felt uplifted and strengthened by the testimonies confirming our common humanity.
Rightly Saturday’s service reflected on the horrors of the Second World War, but so too did we reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over.
Holocaust Memorial Day also provided us all with the opportunity to mark the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda, which began in April 1994 and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Genocide in Cambodia, which ended in 1979.
Saturday’s service reminded us all why the horrors of the past must never be allowed to happen again. However, even today there are millions of people suffering and forced into destitution at the hands of brutal regimes. From Venezuela to North Korea, vile dictators have forced their people into poverty and forced them to flee their homes.
While we are lucky to live in the country where our human rights are protected and the rule of law is upheld, we must never forget that, even today, millions of people around the world do not enjoy the same way of life as us.