SWEET TEA, BITTER LIFE

On the occasion of the Refugee Week 2020, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has launched a new video documentary on the plight of the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar under the title ‘Sweet tea, bitter life’ (SEE VIDEO).

The Rohingya refugees 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.

The languages of the documentary are Rohingya, Polish and English (with English and Polish subtitles) and it is available freely on the Association’s YouTube channel. It was shot several weeks ago, shortly before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, where approximately 1 million predominantly Muslim refugees from Myanmar are located.

According to the lead maker of the short documentary, Pawel Bolek, its aim was to show the human side of life in the refugee camp, which is largely unknown to the outside world. He says: – ‘The film shows that in our world everybody can suddenly, unexpectedly become a refugee’.

Previously, members of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ visited the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar in November 2019. During the visit representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Natalia Sineaeva and Rafal Pankowski met with refugees as well as medical personnel and civil society representatives.

Commemoration of genocide, empowering the victims of violence and the promotion of peace and non-discrimination will be among the subjects of a large-scale international event co-organized by ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association member Natalia Sineaeva, the Global Cyber Peace Conference ‘Envisioning the World After the Great Pause’, held on 27 June.

The conference will last for 24 hours, starting from New Zealand through Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe, ending in the Americas/Caribbean. It will be an interactive online experience featuring speakers and attendees from around the globe. The conference is organized in cooperation with Rotary Peace Centres across the world, Mediators Beyond Borders International, and many other organisations. Almost forty sessions and workshops will be conducted across three conference zones: Asia/Oceania, Africa/Europe/Middle East, and the Americas/Caribbean. The conference themes include topics such as tackling identity-based violence, environment and peace, education and peace, and cultural resources for peace.

Natalia Sineaeva is the Europe regional coordinator for Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association and she is a member of the conference leadership team for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

During the event a special panel under the heading Cultural Resources for Peace: Peace Project Incubator will be devoted to the question: how do museums and memory sites deal with ongoing atrocities and war? The speakers include the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association’s Natalia Sineaeva as well as Shahriar Kabir, a renowned writer, filmmaker and human rights activist, President of the Forum for Secular Bangladesh & Trial of the War Criminals of 1971; Kornelis Spaans, a member of the International Committee of Memorial Museums in Remembrance of the Victims of Public Crimes of the International Council of Museums (ICOM); Tali Nates, the founder and director of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre and chair of the South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation; Naomi Kikoler, the director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Mofidul Hogue, director of the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Haider Elias, the President of Yazda – Global Yazidi Organization.

NEVER AGAIN’ Association members and friends are also going to speak in several other sessions of the conference, one of the largest of its kind in recent history.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.

Additional information:

Global Cyber Peace Conference registration: http://rpfaa.org/global-cyber-peace-conference/

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Sweet tea, bitter life’ documentary:

‘NEVER AGAIN’ ACTIVE IN BANGLADESH

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.

More information:

www.neveragainassociation.org

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‘NEVER AGAIN’ AS AN INSPIRATION FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN ASIA

The activity of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association was the subject of a special workshop held at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

The two-day workshop took place on 14-15 September 2019 under the title ‘The People vs Extremism & Populist Radical Right in Europe: Impact and Experiences of European Civil Society Networks’. It focused on the experiences of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ in the field of international cooperation against racism, hate speech and hate crime. The session was conducted by Rafal Pankowski, co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and sociology professor at Warsaw’s Collegium Civitas who has been a visiting lecturer at Chulalongkorn University in 2018 and 2019. The workshop was attended by several dozen participants from Thailand and other countries including Bangladesh, China, and France.

Chulalongkorn University was established in 1917 and its name commemorates king Chulalongkorn (Rama V), the monarch of Siam (Thailand) who abolished slavery. It is ranked among the best universities in Southeast Asia.

The workshop is one among numerous activities recently undertaken by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association together with its friends and partners in Asia. On 25-30 August, Rafal Pankowski participated in the Flying University of Transnational Humanities under the title ‘The Holocaust meets the post-colonial in the global memory space’ held at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. During a heated debate at that international forum, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ representative defended the importance of genocide memory as a cognitive and discursive tool and point of reference in the current-day struggles for moral, social and political progress. On 2 September, Pankowski delivered a lecture entitled ‘Nationalist populism in Central Europe: the case of Poland’ at the University of Tokyo, Japan. The model of Polish-German reconciliation was mentioned by several participants as a possible inspiration for the Korean-Japanese relationship.

On 28-30 August, Natalia Sineaeva represented ‘NEVER AGAIN’ at the international conference on ‘Genocide, Memory and Peace’ organized by UNESCO at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (the former Khmer Rouge prison and extermination centre) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On 17-20 September, she shared the experiences of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association during the Informal Training Seminar on ‘Human Rights and Prevention of Violent Extremism’ hosted by the Asia-Europe Foundation in New Delhi, India.

Meanwhile in Poland, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has been a partner of a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw entitled ‘Never Again. Art Against War and Fascism in the 20th and 21st Centuries’. The exhibition provoked another attack against ‘NEVER AGAIN’ on the Polish (state-controlled) television which called it ‘stupid propaganda’. Polish state TV has attacked ‘NEVER AGAIN’ already several times this year. The Polish Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman) Adam Bodnar protested against the defamation. In a formal letter to the National Council on Radio and Television, the Ombudsman wrote the attacks had ‘no substance’ and they ‘could be considered an attempt to discredit (…) actions against racism and antisemitism in Poland. The statements (…) are problematic in the light of the mission of the public media and they trivialize the danger of such harmful phenomena as hate speech and antisemitism.’

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.

More information:

www.neveragainassociation.org
www.facebook.com/Respect.Diversity
www.twitter.com/StowNIGDYWIECEJ

THE MISSING PICTURE: RETHINKING GENOCIDE STUDIES AND PREVENTION

Members of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association were honoured by the invitation to speak at the global congress of the International Association of Genocide Scholars held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The IAGS conference entitled ‘The Missing Picture: Rethinking Genocide Studies and Prevention’ gathered around 500 intellectuals, researchers, and civil society representatives from all over the world. It was held at the American University of Phnom Penh on 14-19 July 2019. A special meeting with the Oscar-nominated renowned Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh was a highlight of the conference programme.

During the conference, Natalia Sineaeva presented a paper on ‘Museums as Spaces for Dealing with Difficult Knowledge: Examples from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia’, Rafal Pankowski spoke on ‘Polish Entries at Tuol Sleng in 1979 and the Issues of Polish-Cambodian Genocide Analogies’. Nickey Diamond, a friend of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ from Myanmar, presented the subject of ‘Securitization of Islam in Myanmar: Security Discourse Analysis on the Mass Atrocities against Rohingya Muslims’.

After the conference, Natalia Sineaeva, Rafal Pankowski and Ali Al-Asani conducted two full-day workshops in Phnom Penh under the heading ‘An Introduction to the History of the Holocaust’. The well-attended workshops (in English and Khmer languages) were co-organized by ‘NEVER AGAIN’ and the Heinrich Boell Foundation Cambodia and took place at the office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation on 23 and 27 July. Around fifty participants included Cambodian human rights activists, academics and students. The themes of genocide, resistance and dealing with the past were discussed alongside the parallels and differences between the tragic chapters of European and Asian histories.

– ‘We want to share our knowledge, but our aim is also to learn from our Cambodian friends, from their unique perspective and experiences’ – said Natalia Sineaeva, a ‘NEVER AGAIN’ member and International Rotary Peace Fellow 2018.

The activities in Cambodia illustrate the long-standing commitment of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association to support genocide commemoration and prevention, peace and intercultural dialogue both in Europe and in the region of Southeast Asia. Future Polish-Cambodian meetings, publications and other activities are planned, also in cooperation with the Cambodian diaspora.

Other international events with the participation of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association members and supporters are scheduled to take place over the next weeks and months in Thailand, South Korea and Japan.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent educational and research organization established in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia in Poland and internationally.

More information:

www.nigdywiecej.org

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NEVER AGAIN: Activities in South-East Asia

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has actively participated in South-East Asian initiatives for intercultural dialogue, peace, and genocide commemoration.

On 22-25 July 2018, members of ‘NEVER AGAIN participated in the conference on ‘Dealing With The Past: Aspects of Trauma and Healing’ held in Phnom Penh by the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Cambodia Office) in cooperation with Metahouse Cultural Centre and First Step Cambodia. The conference was a follow-up to the seminars on dealing with the past and genocide commemoration organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Cambodia) and the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association in Phnom Penh and Warsaw in 2017.

Representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ once more paid tribute to the victims at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and met with Chum Mey, one of the seven survivors of the Tuol Sleng torture and extermination centre, the leader of the Association of Victims of the Khmer Rouge Regime. During the conference, members of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ presented their perspectives on Holocaust commemoration and the current efforts in the global fight against hate speech and hate crimes.

The Phnom Penh conference was coordinated by Ali Al-Nasani, the director of the Heinrich Boell Foundation Cambodia Office and Dara Bramson, an interdisciplinary researcher and a longtime friend of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.

On 30 July, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association initiates a movie evening and a panel discussion about Angelina Jolie’s recent film on the Cambodian genocide, ‘First They Killed My Father’. The event is held at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok (Thailand) in cooperation with the Rotary Peace Fellowship Program, with the participation of expert speakers from Cambodia, Thailand, Poland, the US, and Germany.

On 19 July, representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ took part in the launch of the report ‘They Gave Them Long Swords. Preparations for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar’, published by the South-East Asian human rights NGO Fortify Rights. The event took place at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok. The report was presented by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late US attorney general Robert F. Kennedy and president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, who had concluded visits to Myanmar and Bangladesh with a high-level delegation in the preceding days. Ms Kennedy was joined by the former US Congressman Tom Andrews and the Myanmar human rights advocate Nickey Diamond. – ‘License to slaughter one group is license to slaughter others’ – said Kerry Kennedy. – ‘From Germany to Cambodia, from Bosnia to Rwanda, again and again we have learned the same lesson, until there’s accountability, the risk of repeated attacks of increasing severity is not just likely, it’s guaranteed.’

– ‘The motto of NEVER AGAIN must not stop with the commemoration of past atrocities, but it has to be a living commitment. We have a long-term dedication to cooperation with our partners across South-East Asia and are determined to assist in all efforts for peace’ – said a representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska, who is also a Rotary Peace Fellowat Chulalongkorn University.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association was founded in 1996 by Marcin Kornak, a Polish poet and activist.6. It has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. It has conducted anti-racist educational campaigns in the field of music and sports and it has been personally supported by numerous figures including Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Lech Walesa, the Dalai Lama and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish jo‎urnalist and crime writer, was among the first friends and supporters of ‘NEVER AGAIN’.

Additional information:

www.nigdywiecej.org
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