Members of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association participated in the international conference ‘Genocide and Justice with a special focus on the Rohingya persecution’ held at the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. They also participated in meetings in other Bangladeshi cities.
The conference was opened by the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr A.K. Abdul Momen and attended by academics and activists from the countries of South Asia and beyond.
It took place on 16-18 November 2019. The discussions covered a broad spectrum of topics related to genocide and human rights.
In her speech during the concluding ceremony Natalia Sineaeva remembered the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. She stressed: – ‘It is our task, genocide scholars, museum workers, and human rights activists to apply the experience of the past atrocities to prevent future violence and to address contemporary examples of human rights violations.’ Natalia Sineaeva (who is a Rotary Peace Fellow Alumni and IEP Peace Ambassador) was also a panelist during a conference session on ‘Ensuring Justice through Art Forms and Memorialisation’ where she presented several case studies of genocide museums and memory sites in Europe and Asia.
‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association co-founder and Collegium Civitas Professor Rafal Pankowski provided a presentation entitled: ‘The Holocaust in Poland and Genocide in Asia: Does the Tragic Past Bring Us Closer?’ Among other things, he highlighted the current ‘White Rose’ initiative of Buddhist Burmese youth in solidarity with the persecuted Muslims in Myanmar. It was apparently inspired by the anti-Nazi resistance group under the same name during the Third Reich.
Ven. Thirasattho Bhikkhu Lablu Barua, a Buddhist scholar and peace activist based in Thailand (a PhD candidate at the Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University and an IEP Peace Ambassador) who is a longtime friend of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also actively participated in the conference discussions. He emphasized the importance of intercultural understanding and awareness in addressing conflict and warned against the frequent manipulation of religion by extremist propaganda.
Moreover, members of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ partook in a number of meetings with Bangladeshi intellectuals and community leaders discussing future cooperation. It included a meeting with Shahriar Kabir, the president of the Forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971 and general secretary of the South Asian People’s Union against Fundamentalism & Communalism. The veteran writer, journalist and film maker reminisced how the knowledge about the Holocaust and World War II in Poland inspired him in his quest for justice for the victims of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.
The representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ also joined in an activity organized by Mohra Century Morning Friends – a unique project in the southern city of Chittagong bringing together members of the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian communities of all ages through joint sports and music activities in a region threatened by communal strife and conflict.
Importantly, members of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ visited one of the world’s largest refugee camps located in the region of Cox’s Bazaar near the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are survivors of the ongoing genocidal campaign conducted by the Myanmar military. They have been described by the United Nations as the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority. Bangladesh accepted almost one million Rohingya refugees in the recent years. During the visit, representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ met with refugees as well as medical personnel and workers of humanitarian organizations. They talked about the most pressing needs and challenges of life in the camp as well as ways to express solidarity.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.