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Council makes pledge not to stand by

9 February 2016

Bridgend County Borough Council has marked Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 with a special commemoration to remember the victims of the Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides.

In partnership with Bridgend College, the annual event was held in the Sony Theatre to make a sincere and public commitment to remember the millions who have been murdered in the Holocaust and the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day theme is ‘Don’t stand by’ – both from a historical perspective and looking at what you can do now to not stand by.

Over the years, there have been countless examples of people who didn’t stand by. People who instead stood up to help those being persecuted.

Stories of those who ‘didn’t stand by’ featured in the event to highlight their acts of bravery – examples included Frank Foley, Sir Nicholas Winton MBE, Janucsz Korczak and Miep Gies.

This year, Jack Davies and Phoebe Lewis from Bridgend Youth Theatre led the ceremony, whilst Bridgend College performing arts students, Olivia Hopper and Ceri-Anne Thomas provided two solo singing performances.

Videos were also shown of community representatives making their pledges not to stand by and allow acts of prejudice, hate and victimisation to take place. In addition, there was a short presentation by the Taking Flight Theatre Company who demonstrated through theatre that standing by can have consequences.

The special guest speaker was Suleman Hawas, Chairman of Aberkenfig Mosque, who talked about the possibility of history repeating itself if everyone stands by and does nothing to stop extremist groups such as ISIS.

The invited guests represented a wide cross-section of the community and included the police, religious and community groups, politicians, schools and college students.

As part of the ceremony, the traditional ‘Seven Statements of Commitment’ were read by prominent members of the community, a candle of remembrance was lit by Mayor of Bridgend County Borough Council, Councillor Richard Young and a twenty second silence was held to remember all those lost in the Holocaust and in the other genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Leader, Councillor Mel Nott, said: “As a sign of respect and remembrance, marking Holocaust Memorial Day is extremely important to the council, and our annual event aims to commemorate victims, honour survivors and commit to tackling prejudice, discrimination and racism in the present day.

“The appalling moments in history can be used to create a society based on a respect for difference, not a hatred for it. Our challenge is to ensure that the experience and words of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides continues to inform our lives today and becomes a meaningful part of our future.

“Lessons must be learnt in order to challenge and overcome hatred and persecution in our communities, creating a safer future based on respect and understanding. We must not stand by and allow racism, discrimination, homophobia, exclusion and hate crime to take place in our communities.”

The Holocaust, which took place between 1941 and 1945, claimed the lives of six million Jews who were killed by Hitler’s army in ghettos, mass-shootings, concentration camps and extermination camps.

For more information about the Holocaust visit www.hmd.org.uk, or to view videos of Bridgend County Borough’s HMD event visit YouTube and search ‘Bridgend CBC’.

Last Updated: 10/03/2016
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