Genocide survivors and relatives gave incredibly moving speeches at the Dar Ul-Irsa Mosque last Thursday.
The first speaker was Ruth Barnett, a Holocaust survivor and author. She escaped Germany in the Kindertransport. She described how her Jewish father, who was a judge, was sacked from his profession by the Nazis and how they destroyed her mother’s business. Ms Barnett’s parents made the difficult decision to send her and her brother to England, where she moved between foster families. After the war, when Ms Barnett was reunited with her mother, they could no longer speak the same language.
Ms Barnett said she tells her story to educate people about genocide. She spoke about how racism can be challenged, but the harder task can sometimes be challenging indifference.
She said that this event was her first time being invited to speak in a mosque.
Ms Barnett said despite the atrocities of the Holocaust, we still haven’t learned.
Why do we accept what’s unacceptable?
We’ve failed refugees, we haven’t kept their home safe. Are we going to fail them again?
Ms Barnett spoke about how the Nazis removed Jewish people’s nationality. She couldn’t get a passport after the war and instead had a piece of paper saying “Person of no Nationality.”
It completely shattered my self esteem and confidence.
Nobody has the right to interfere with somebody else’s identity.
The second speaker, Amra Mujkanovic, came from three generations of genocide survivors. Her great-grand father survived Auschwitz. And her parents fled the Balkans to Scotland after her mother’s town hall was turned into a concentration camp.
She said she’s had to grow up without being fully Scottish or fully Bosnian.
“We had to make a culture for ourselves.”
Ms Mujkanovic works for the Remembering Srebrenica charity.
She said hate crime is increasing at an alarming rate.
It’s incredibly important to have events like this in this day and age, because there’s a vast number of people in the world who are trying to separate and distinguish people from one another. But things like this help bring communities together.
I think the beauty of this event is that it’s being held in a mosque. You’ve got so much Islamophobia at the moment but there are so many different people from different backgrounds and faiths that have attended today. This event challenges prejudice.
Ms Mujkanovic, 22, has recently moved from Edinburgh to Birmingham. She said she’s lucky she has not experienced many challenges in her work so far.
I am aware of the fact that we could have someone protesting outside or have people that are from a certain nationality that are denying in the genocide or arguing with us because of their views. But we have to accept everyone’s views. Everyone has the right to an opinion, everyone has the right to a voice.
We want people hold conversations first and foremost and use it as a means to further educate people that we’re all just the same.
This year is the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, where more than 8,000 Muslim men were murdered. During the Bosnian war between 20,000-50,000 women were raped or sexually assaulted. Remembering Srebrenica are currently focusing on gender and genocide.
We hope this theme will go some way to break the silence of the devastating use of rape as a weapon of war in the Bosnian conflict.
The event was hosted by Howard Tucker, War Crimes Investigator. It took place in the Cathays area of Cardiff.