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.

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The United States State Department and the US Embassy in Warsaw invited a representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association to participate in the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program devoted to combatting violent extremism. During the three weeks (18 May – 8 June 2019) spent in Washington, Chattanooga, Montgomery, San Francisco and Boston, Dr. Anna Tatar took part in a series of meetings with representatives of various American institutions, NGOs, journalists and leaders of local communities. 

– ‘America is a country built by immigrants from many places around the world and I was able to observe what such diversity means. We met many people who had come to the USA from the farthest corners of the globe, as well as first, or next generations immigrants born in the States. Respect for the fact that their identity may be complex and subject to personal choices is one of the most important contemporary issues,’ said Ms. Tatar. – ‘At the same time, racial discrimination is still a serious problem, which is manifested most of all in the American justice system. One of the frequent topics of our discussions was the violent behaviour of the police towards Afro-American citizens.’

During her stay in the USA, Anna Tatar visited places with significant ties to the history of slavery and racial persecution, including Montgomery, Alabama, which in the nineteenth century was the centre of slave trade. She visited the Baptist church at Dexter Avenue, known for its famous pastor, Civil Rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. She was honoured to meet Mrs. Jeannie Graetz, who together with her husband, Rev. Robert Graetz, supported the so-called bus boycott (a peaceful protest against racial segregation on the public transport system) and then became a leading figure in the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ representative also visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Centre, which is one of the largest mosques and Muslim culture centres in the USA. At the editorial office of ‘TIME’ magazine she had the opportunity to take part in discussions about the standards of public debate and the levels of hate speech in Poland and the USA. During these meetings, she presented the activities of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and referred to the examples of xenophobic violence documented in the ‘Brown Book’ prepared by the Association.

Following her US trip, on 14 June, Anna Tatar participated in an international conference on hate speech organized in Vienna by The World of NGOs together with the Faculty of Political Science of Vienna University. As a member of the discussion panel, the representative of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ elaborated on the long-term activities undertaken by the Association against the spread of racist propaganda on the Internet. She talked about the problem of inadequate enforcement of the laws against the propagation of hatred. As an example, she described the fascist concerts which have been freely organized in Poland for many years now.

On May 29, 2019, the Warsaw-Praga District Court dismissed criminal proceedings brought against Anna Tatar. She had been accused of libel in connection with critical statements made about an extreme-nationalist event known as the Eagle’s Nest Festival. The court upheld the verdict of the court of first instance and confirmed that there was a ‘complete lack of factual grounds for the accusation’. It was emphasised in the judgement that the representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association had the right to speak in a legitimate defence of the public interest. 

In May 2019, Anna Tatar and Joanna Naranowicz were awarded prizes by the Australian-based Jerzy Boniecki Independent Foundation for the Promotion of Polish Culture (Polcul) for their roles in the activities of ‘NEVER AGAIN’. The award ceremony took place at the Warsaw Uprising Museum on 25 May. Joanna Naranowicz is a vocalist of the rock band Qulturka and the animator of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign – she received a distinction for ‘the continuous and extremely effective propagation of pluralism and tolerance, and her efforts in combating ethnic and religious prejudices’. Anna Tatar received one for ‘propagating tolerance and pluralism in relation to ethnic and religious minorities and for her journalistic and scientific work over many years relating to the sources of xenophobia and racist violence.’

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.

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The team of the ’NEVER AGAIN’ Association has been working tirelessly on global and local challenges of xenophobia, discrimination, hatred and extremism. In the last days, members of the Warsaw-based anti-racist organization have actively taken part in several important initiatives on international, national, and grass-roots levels.

On 1-3 November, Adam Kuczynski represented 'NEVER AGAIN’ at the international seminar 'United for Equality’ organized in Paris by Maisons des Potes, focusing on the rise of the far right across Europe.

On 1-4 November, Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska (a 'NEVER AGAIN’ member and a Rotary Peace Fellow) participated in the 'Lessons and Legacies of the Holocaust’ conference held at Washington University in St. Louis (USA) as a panelist on the topic of ‎’Forgetting the Holocaust in the global era of remembrance’. ‎The biannual international conference is the premier intellectual gathering in Holocaust studies.

On 5-8 November, Collegium Civitas Professor Rafal Pankowski‎, co-founder of 'NEVER AGAIN’, shared the association’s experiences at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Seminar on Human Rights and Preventing Violent Extremism held in Yogyakarta (Indonesia). The ASEM is a forum for dialogue and cooperation established in 1996 to deepen relations between Asia and Europe. Members include 53 countries from both continents.

On 6 November, a public meeting about cooperation and solidarity with Polish anti-racists was held at Leith Community Education Centre in Edinburgh (organized by the Stand Up To Racism Scotland coalition) and the 'NEVER AGAIN’ Association was represented by Witold Liliental.

On 10 November, an inclusive celebration of the centenary of Polish independence takes place in Hamilton (Canada), reaching out to Jewish, Muslim and other communities. The event, organized by members of the Polish-Canadian community and supported by the 'NEVER AGAIN’ Association, is among a number of activities in the run-up to Poland’s Independence Day (11 November). In the last years, the national holiday was dominated by a large far-right march organized in the streets of Warsaw by extremist groups. Another such march is expected to take place on 11 November 2018, with the participation of islamophobic, antisemitic and neo-fascist groups from all over Europe.

Throughout November, 'NEVER AGAIN’ organizes and supports initiatives promoting an inclusive approach to Polish identity, challenging the growth of ethno-nationalism through a social media campaign using a 'Poland for All’ hashtag, a literary competition for young people and grass-roots activities including a series of rock concerts under the headline 'Music Against Racism’, some of them linked with the commemoration of the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom (9 November 1938). For example, on 2 and 3 November, the well-known Polish band Dezerter played concerts with the 'Music Against Racism’ theme in Malbork and Ostróda. On 3 November, a special 'Music Against Racism’ show took place in Warsaw, featuring bands such as Human Rights, Uliczny Opryszek and RHL Ensemble, a new band formed by the legendary bard Janusz Reichel. 'NEVER AGAIN’ activist Izabela Glowacka prepared and coordinated the promotion of anti-racist messages at the event.

On 9 November, Polish and Belorussian rock bands play under the 'Music Against Racism’ banner at a festival co-organized in cooperation with 'NEVER AGAIN’ by the local Museum and Belarussian Cultural Centre in Hajnowka.

On the same day, 'NEVER AGAIN’ supports a conference entitled 'Stop hate speech’ taking place in Zagorow with the participation of Bartlomiej Grzanka, director of the Kulmhof Death Camp Museum in Chelmno, and law enforcement representatives. A series of presentations and workshops takes place in local schools using materials provided by the 'NEVER AGAIN’ Association.

On 12 November, the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival starts in Warsaw, also with the support of the 'NEVER AGAIN’ Association. This year’s edition of the festival has a special significance in the context of an unprecedented wave of antisemitic statements in Polish media and politics which swept the country earlier this year.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association was founded in 1996 by Marcin Kornak (who passed away in 2014). ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has campaigned against racism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.

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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’.

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The “NEVER AGAIN” Association, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Jewish Community of Moldova and the Oral History Institute in Chisinau co-organized a series of lectures and discussions with the distinguished historian and War and Society professor at Princeton University, Jan Tomasz Gross.

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The initiative took place in Chisinau (Kishinev), the symbolic site of several centuries of life in a multicultural society as well as the anti-Jewish pogroms in 1903, 1905 and 1941.‎

The events took place at the “House of Nationalities” – the Interethnic Relations Bureau of Moldova (on 13 September) and at the Moldova State University (on 14 September). They were accompanied by numerous interviews, publications and media broadcasts. There was also an additional lecture by a “NEVER AGAIN” member on critical history and identity studies at the Mark Bloch Library/Higher Anthropological School on 11 September, which was attended by dozens of intellectuals, journalists and officials.

The discussions were framed around the publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’s most recent book “Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust” in Russian by the St.Petersburg-based renowned publishing house Nestor History with the assistance of the “NEVER AGAIN” Association (translated by Leonid Mosionjnik). Excerpts from the book in Romanian were published by (translated by Viorica Ursu and Vitalie Sprinceana).

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The dialogues were held in English, Russian and Romanian/Moldovan languages. ‎The discussion on 13 September was preceded by a special performance of Nicoletta Esinencu’s ‘Clear History’ by Theatre Spalatorie – Moldova’s foremost alternative theatre group, dealing with the often forgotten issue of the Holocaust in Bessarabia.

Jan Tomasz Gross was born in Warsaw in 1947 and emigrated from Poland having participated in student protests of 1968. In 1975 he defended his doctoral thesis at Yale University. Not only has he served as a guest lecturer at the most prestigious American universities, including Harvard and Stanford, but also at universities in Paris, Vienna, Krakow, Tel-Aviv and other cities. His most recent books “Neighbours” (2001), “Fear” (2006) and “Golden Harvest” (2011) have played a breakthrough role in the consciousness of Eastern European societies. He has drawn attention to the role of the local population (the neighbours) in the Holocaust across Europe. He has inspired many Polish and European historians to study the complexity of the Holocaust and initiated a debate concerning the relations between Jews and their Christian neighbours, antisemitism and post-war violence against Jews in Poland and beyond. The Polish edition of “Golden Harvest” (written with Irena Grudzinska-Gross) became the most important book event in Poland in 2011, when it was published by Znak publishing house in Krakow. The authors were awarded Sybil Halpern Milton Book Prize for the best book on the Holocaust written in 2011 by the German Studies Association (USA).

– “The debate continues and has become essential to the critical identity of Eastern European countries in the post-totalitarian era” – said Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska who has coordinated the initiative on behalf of the “NEVER AGAIN” Association.

Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in New York wrote in his essay prepared especially for the “NEVER AGAIN” Association: “There are historians like Jan and Irena Gross who use history to force us to confront our consciences and to take an unblinking look at the destructive power of unexamined inherited traditions and distorted national myths. We are in their debt for their courage; we would greatly enhance our world if we could follow their examples.”

“NEVER AGAIN” is a Warsaw-based Polish and East European NGO established in 1996, dealing with the commemoration of the Holocaust as well as contemporary issues of diversity and tolerance.

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