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:

FAR-RIGHT MEDIA ATTACK ON ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

A radical-right media outlet has attacked Poland’s top footballer Robert Lewandowski and promoted xenophobic conspiracy theories around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Warsaw-based anti-racist ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has noted a recent broadcast on the ‘Idz Pod Prad’ (‘Go Against the Tide’) online television program which targeted Lewandowski. The channel regularly refers to the coronavirus as ‘the Chinese plague’ and promotes a conspiracy theory about its origin. Against scientific evidence, it accuses the Chinese of intentionally producing and spreading the virus. It advocates a military conflict with China and announces, in the words of its head Pawel Chojecki, ‘the war against the Chinese communists is starting to take shape’.

In this context, Robert Lewandowski was attacked for having participated in an advert for a popular Chinese smartphone brand. Chojecki has called for a boycott of Poland’s national team captain by fellow players and media: ‘It is shameful for our leading player, at the moment when a life and death war is underway against the criminals who have the blood of over 100 million people on their hands (…) Mr Lewandowski agrees to be a Europe-wide ambassador for the Chinese communists, it is a shame and a disgrace for the Polish sports, no Polish sportsman should shake hands with Mr Lewandowski and no Polish journalist should pay any attention to his utterances’.

Chojecki failed to mention that already in March this year, the Bayern Munich striker with his wife Anna donated one million Euro to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In the same broadcast on 15 May, Chojecki attacked the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Pope Francis who was labelled as ‘a heathen who celebrates Maoist Leninist rituals together with the communist comrades from China’.

‘Go Against the Tide’ is known for formerly employing Marian Kowalski, an ex-presidential candidate. Its founder Pawel Chojecki is a longtime political activist on the radical right and a vice-chairman of the 11 November Movement party. He is also the leader of a religious group called the New Covenant Church.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has recently published its latest REPORT ‘The Virus of Hate: Brown Book of the Epidemic’. The report documents acts of racism, xenophobia and discrimination which have occurred in the context of the coronavirus in Poland in recent weeks and months. The authors of the report recorded cases of assaults on members of minorities who are unjustly blamed for spreading the virus, as well as numerous examples of hate speech and conspiracy theories about the pandemic spread by the far right. They also noted some instances of xenophobia in the world of sports.

Rafal Pankowski, a co-author of the report of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and a sociology professor at the Collegium Civitas university, commented: – ‘The global pandemic is also a global crisis of social trust and values amid confusion and anxiety. It is fertile ground for the dangerous growth of xenophobia and conspiracy theories’.

– ‘Examples of hatred are unfortunately coming from the top. In a pandemic, conspiracy theories promoted by public figures: celebrities, artists, politicians, journalists and clergy are particularly alarming’ – adds Jacek Dziegielewski, also a co-author of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association report.

– ‘Companies such as YouTube and Facebook, contrary to their formal announcements, often tolerate such content on their platforms’ – said Dr. Anna Tatar, co-author of the ‘Brown Book’.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization, it has campaigned against racism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. Since 1996, it has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the Fare network.

‘The Virus of Hate: Brown Book of the Epidemic’ (full report in PDF).

Additional information:

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THE VIRUS OF HATE AND STEVE BANNON’S DECLARATION OF WAR

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has echoed the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ warning against ‘the tsunami of hate and xenophobia’ sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Warsaw-based organization has published its latest REPORT ‘The Virus of Hate: Brown Book of the Epidemic’. The report documents acts of racism, xenophobia and discrimination which have occurred in the context of the coronavirus in Poland in recent weeks and months.

The authors of the report recorded cases of assaults on members of minorities who are unjustly blamed for spreading the virus, as well as numerous examples of hate speech and conspiracy theories about the pandemic spread by the far right.

The descriptions collected on over 30 pages include the following events:

– On 1 March, during mass in the St. Michael Archangel church in Wroclaw Fr. Leonard Wilczynski, belonging to the Salesian order, stated in his homily that the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘God’s punishment for living in the sin of homosexuality’. He also added that the Chinese ‘are dirty, eat bats and dead fetuses’.

– On 25 March in Sosnowiec three men attacked a female of Chinese descent – a scientific worker of the Silesian University. The victim said: ‘They surrounded me, I was so afraid – even now I am trembling. They kept shouting «virus» and «China»’. She also added: ‘I do not feel safe here as a woman of Chinese descent’.

– On 8 April in Szprotawa local media reported that a security guard of the local supermarket refused a Ukrainian man entrance to the store on the grounds of his nationality. One witness to the event reported: ‘When the young man wanted to enter the store, the security guard asked him if he was Polish or Ukrainian. When he replied that he was Ukrainian, he was told that he could not go inside’. The employee’s xenophobic behaviour stemmed from the false belief that all persons of Ukrainian origin in the town were carriers of COVID-19.

– On 8 April, Radio Wnet in Warsaw presented its listeners with a special programme introducing a conspiracy theory pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, advocated by well-known British extremist, David Icke. According to Icke, the responsibility for the pandemic rests with a secret global group, described as a ‘cult’, with which ‘madmen from Silicon Valley’, the World Health Organization, the British heir to the throne Prince Charles, and entrepreneur Bill Gates are connected.

– In the second half of April in Poznan, in the middle of the night, unknown perpetrators smashed the windows of a flat occupied by a Filipino man, who has been living in Poland for ten years. A report about it was broadcast on 23 April on the television channel, TVN24, and that night, there was a second attack on the flat, with stones once again being thrown. According to the victim, both attacks were associated with the COVID-19 epidemic and hostility towards people of Asian origin. ‘Some Filipinos experience incidents of people shouting «corona!» after them on the streets. One of the Filipinos was spat in the face and called «Chinese». We are very afraid’ – he said.

– On April 25 Grzegorz Braun, a Member of Parliament representing the Confederation party, shared his views on the pandemic in an interview on YouTube: ‘Jew-communists are trying to use the coronavirus to get rid of Trump […]. Bill Gates is heading for a situation in which each person on this globe will need to legitimise  his or her existence with a certificate of kosher standard’. On 6 May, during a speech in the Polish Parliament, Braun made threats of death by hanging to the Minister of Health, Lukasz Szumowski, in reaction to sanitary measures introduced in the preceding weeks in connection with COVID-19. On 8 May in Warsaw Braun together with Piotr Rybak (who had been convicted for publicly burning an effigy of a Jew in Wroclaw in 2015) participated in skirmishes with the police during a protest against sanitary restrictions imposed to combat the epidemic.

– On 9 May, TVP Info, a Polish state-run television channel, broadcast a thirty-minute conversation with Steve Bannon, an idol of the international alt-right movement and former advisor to Donald Trump. Bannon presented an ideological conspiracy theory on the COVID-19 pandemic, using military rhetoric. He stated: ‘This is really a serious matter, and I think that every leader in every country in the world should listen when the commander in chief of the US Armed Forces [the President] says that we have been attacked just like at Pearl Harbour and this time the Chinese are responsible. […] The real dark days are ahead, […] now they are turning to a kinetic type of war. […] This was like an order of assassination. The death of each person, each nurse, each doctor can be blamed on the Chinese Communist Party’.  He also added a confrontation with China was inevitable and said: ‘This is our goal, our destiny’.

According to the research carried out in April 2020 by the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, as many as 45 percent of Poles believe in conspiracy theories alleging that ‘some foreign forces or countries intentionally spread the coronavirus’ and only 42 percent recognize its natural origin confirmed by scientific knowledge.

Rafal Pankowski, a co-author of the report of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and a sociology professor at the Collegium Civitas university, commented: – ‘The global pandemic is also a global crisis of social trust and values amid confusion and anxiety. It is fertile ground for the dangerous growth of xenophobia and conspiracy theories. For the first time in Polish history we are dealing with such a wave of hatred against people of Asian origin, but the antisemitic stereotypes are also present, together with hostility and contempt for various other groups – for example Roma, Africans, Ukrainians, Americans, Russians, as well as Muslims, refugees, LGBT people, environmentalists, vegans, and others’.

– ‘Unfortunately, the media are also involved in promoting conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, often inviting people with extreme views as experts. These «experts» are also gaining popularity on the web, where antisemitic and xenophobic content is distributed on a massive scale. Companies such as YouTube and Facebook, contrary to their formal announcements, often tolerate such content on their platforms’ – said Dr. Anna Tatar, co-author of the ‘Brown Book’.

– ‘Examples of hatred are unfortunately coming from the top. In a pandemic, conspiracy theories promoted by public figures: celebrities, artists, politicians, journalists and clergy are particularly alarming’ – adds Jacek Dziegielewski, also a co-author of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association report.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia, both in Poland and internationally. Among others, it is a member of the International Network against Cyber Hate (INACH), which brings together organizations from twenty countries fighting hatred and discrimination on the Internet. Together with partners from Estonia, Slovakia, Romania and Spain, it conducts research on hate speech as part of the Opcode: Open Code for Hate-Free Communication project.

‘The Virus of Hate: Brown Book of the Epidemic’ (full report in PDF): https://bit.ly/2Z4EO20

Additional information:

www.nigdywiecej.org

www.facebook.com/Respect.Diversity 

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AN APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY DURING THE EPIDEMIC

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is appealing for solidarity with all those who have suffered violence and discrimination because of their origins or ethnicity in connection with the coronavirus epidemic in the past days and weeks.

 

Members of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association have documented cases such as the aggressive behaviour towards students from China from Polish students of the Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport or the brutal beating of a Chinese-born cook who has lived in Wroclaw (Poland) for 25 years. In Warsaw, a group of young men and women shouted ‘coronavirus’ in the faces of three young Vietnamese women studying at the Polish university Collegium Civitas. Three teenagers in the Polish town of Lukow attacked a Vietnamese woman living there. They shouted ‘you are from China’, ‘you have coronavirus’, ‘get the f.ck out of here you Chinese slut!’, threw garbage at her, spat in her direction and when she tried to walk away, they followed her. Similarly, people belonging to other minorities have been experiencing xenophobia. For example, many hostels have used the new health regulations as a reason for insisting that all non-Polish nationals, mainly Ukrainians, vacate their rooms immediately. Xenophobic comments and conspiracy theories are becoming increasingly common on the internet.

NEVER AGAIN’ has noted similar acts of hostility towards people of Asian origin occurring in other countries all over the world, including France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and the USA. The victims have suffered physical and verbal abuse. Examples include: in Berlin (Germany) two women brutally beat up a Chinese woman who then needed hospital treatment for head wounds. In Bologna (Italy) four people attacked a 15 year old boy of Chinese origin. They kicked his whole body shouting ‘What are you doing in Italy? Get out! You are spreading disease.’ In Brussels (Belgium) near the Southern railway station, an attacker punched a man of Asian origin in the face. In London (UK) a Singaporean man was punched in the face while the perpetrator shouted at him: ‘I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.’ In the USA, one of the passengers on the New York subway attacked a man of Asian origin demanding that he leave the train, hurling insults and spraying him with an unknown substance. On a San Francisco bus an elderly lady verbally abused a 14 year old girl, accusing the Chinese of spreading the virus.

-‘The virus of racism and hatred can be as dangerous as the coronavirus’ – states the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. -‘In difficult times, we need global solidarity and cooperation to meet the common global challenges more than ever.’

On 21 March 1960, in Sharpeville (South Africa) the police shot 61 peaceful demonstrators who were protesting against the racist system of apartheid. The United Nations General Assembly declared a Week of Solidarity with the People Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination beginning on 21 March.

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

Additional information:

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

‘NEVER AGAIN’ WELCOMES ICJ RULING ON MYANMAR GENOCIDE AHEAD OF INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has welcomed the International Court of Justice ruling on the case concerning genocide against the Rohingya minority committed in Myanmar (Burma).

The ICJ, based in The Hague (Netherlands), ruled on 23 January that Myanmar must protect the Rohingya population. The court ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to prevent genocide against the Rohingya.

Co-founder of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Rafal Pankowski was present in The Hague on the day of the ruling. He said: – ‘We welcome the ICJ decision and hope justice for the Rohingya will be delivered. Myanmar’s greatness is to be found in her diversity and the Rohingya must be treated with respect, their rights as citizens must be fully restored, their suffering must be recognized and compensated. Symbolically, the ICJ ruling was announced just days before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on 27th January, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Genocide and genocide denial must not be ignored by the international community.’

The Rohingya have been described by the United Nations as the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority.

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Members of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association had visited Myanmar in solidarity with the local human rights activists in August 2018. In November 2019, representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Rafal Pankowski and Natalia Sineaeva visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar (Bangladesh). During the visit, representatives of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ met with refugees as well as medical personnel and civil society representatives.

Also on 23 January, in the run up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association’s representative Anna Tatar delivered a keynote speech at a conference on ‘The Rise of Hate Crimes and the Role of Youth in Countering Them’, co-organized with Warsaw’s Collegium Civitas university and the Youth for Peace student group under the heading ‘Varsovians against Violence’. Students coming from numerous countries and continents demonstrated their solidarity with the victims of hate crimes and hate speech in Poland and elsewhere.

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.

More information:

www.neveragainassociation.org

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www.twitter.com/StowNIGDYWIECEJ

‘BROWN BOOK’ – A MEMENTO

To mark the International Human Rights Day, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has published a new edition of the ‘BROWN BOOK’, which constitutes documentation of hate crimes, racist and xenophobic incidents. This report collects acts of violence and examples of extremist hate speech in Poland in 2019.

– ‘Memory of the tragic past obligates us to take responsibility for words, especially in the age of the internet and its unlimited range’ – said Dr. Anna Tatar from the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, the main author of the ‘Brown Book’. She added, ‘In this monitoring project we note numerous cases of language used in order to incite hatred against entire groups. This propaganda is conducive to physical aggression’.

In the ‘Brown Book’, during the last few months the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association noted numerous acts of violence against people belonging to sexual minorities in particular. Contempt for these people manifests itself in public announcements of politicians and journalists, as well as members of the clergy. In recent elections to the Sejm (the Polish Parliament), seats were won by extreme-right activists under the banner of the Confederation (Konfederacja) group, which demands punishments such as ‘flogging’ for homosexuality (Grzegorz Braun), announces ‘kicking out of LGBT from Polish public space’ (Robert Winnicki), or ‘slaughtering of those elite groups which promote deviancy’ (Janusz Korwin-Mikke).

The ‘Brown Book’ documents selected incidents from 2019, such as: beatings, damage to cemeteries and monuments dedicated to minorities, extreme nationalist demonstrations, racist and homophobic insults, cases of hate speech in the media, and acts of discrimination, as well as ideologically motivated signs of hostility towards minority groups. The list also includes examples of incidents in which football fans took part, amongst other acts, the unfurling of racist and xenophobic flags in stadiums, or shouting offensive slogans during football games.

Some of the many incidents documented in the ‘Brown Book’ include:

On a Warsaw municipal public transport bus, two men attacked a sixteen-year-old high school student for homophobic reasons. (Zabki near Warsaw, 3rd January).

A group of assailants shouted xenophobic abuse and assaulted a citizen of Ukraine who was an employee of a transport company. During a taxi ride, they demanded that the driver change the music to ‘disco polo’. When he refused, they stated that he ‘does not respect the country, to which he came’, abused him verbally, and shouted ‘You f…ing Ukrainian, go back to where you came from,’ (Warsaw, the night of 8th March).

One resident of a housing complex attacked his neighbour for homophobic reasons. He shouted, ‘You faggot!’, and punched him in the face with his fist (Warsaw, 14th March).

Unknown perpetrators damaged a plaque commemorating Jews murdered by the Nazi Germans during World War Two. Two swastikas were painted on the stone plaque (Otwock, 6th April).

Residents of the town of Pruchnik took part in a rite known as the ‘hanging of Judas’ which has antisemitic undertones. They dragged an effigy through the streets, flogged it with sticks, and finally set fire to the huge straw doll, which resembled a stereotypical Orthodox Jew (Pruchnik, April 19).

On the wall of a Jewish cemetery, someone painted a set of gallows with the word ‘Jude’ (Jew in German) hung from them (Oswiecim, 21st April).

Two men attacked a black student from the United States who was participating in a Holocaust research tour (Warsaw, 30th May).

In an elementary school, an eleven-year-old pupil with Asperger’s Syndrome, was harassed. The school principal as well as one teacher reportedly humiliated her, derided her, called her names, and threatened her (Szynkielow, 11th June).

An unidentified man used racist name-calling and brutally attacked a citizen of India (Aleksandrow Lodzki, 21st June).

A man attacked a woman wearing a hijab and her three-month-old baby. He shouted: ‘Get the f…ck out, you dirty people,’ and made the gesture of the fascist ‘Heil Hitler’ salute, shouting ‘White power!’ (Rzeszow, 2nd August).

Four assailants mugged and verbally abused an employee of a kebab bar who was a citizen of Bangladesh (Lodz, night of 21st September).

A parking attendant attacked a citizen of Egypt for racist reasons. He shouted at him, ‘F…k off from our country’ (Lodz, 15th October).

The initiator and creator of the ‘Brown Book’ for many years was the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), the founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. Its title was inspired by the history of anti-Nazi resistance. This documentation has continued for over twenty years, and has earned international recognition as the most reliable and independent source of information related to xenophobic violence in Poland.

In 2019, the ‘Brown Book’ has won the support of the Citizens Fund, governed by the Fund for Poland under the honorary patronage of Adam Bodnar, the Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman). In 2018 he received the Norwegian Thorolf Rafto Prize, awarded for championing human rights and independent judiciary in Poland. In accordance with the wishes of Adam Bodnar, this prize was donated to the Citizens Fund to promote human rights activism in Poland.

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

The selection of racist and xenophobic incidents for 2019, documented in the ‘Brown Book’ can be found in: https://www.nigdywiecej.org//docstation/com_docstation/172/brown_book_2019.pdf

More information:

www.neveragainassociation.org

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‘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

www.facebook.com/Respect.Diversity

www.twitter.com/StowNIGDYWIECEJ

A CLEANUP OF ANTISEMITIC PROPAGANDA ONLINE

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has managed to remove more than 3,500 items with fascist and antisemitic content through its cooperation with the major online sales platform Allegro. These included numerous copies of contemporary editions of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ without critical commentary as well as books by David Irving, a rabidly antisemitic pseudo-historian who has denied the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz and the extermination of six million Jews during World War II.

 Irving calls Auschwitz a ‘Disneyland’. For peddling such ideas in public, in 2006 he was sentenced to prison by a court in Austria. In 2007, thanks to an intervention by ‘NEVER AGAIN’ and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, he was removed from the International Book Fair in Warsaw. In September 2019, Irving with a group of followers planned another ‘sightseeing trip’ through the former death camps. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that his theories are unacceptable under the Polish law and he would not be allowed to enter Poland.

– ‘Upon our recommendations, Allegro removes such items, even though new ones continue to pop up and need to be removed, too; this requires much effort and commitment,’ said a member of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ team Jacek Dziegielewski. Dr Anna Tatar, also a ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association representative, adds: ‘The final decision on removal is always taken by Allegro, but in almost all the cases our interventions were successful. We have formed a partnership which allows us to counter racist and fascist propaganda very effectively. And we are talking about the biggest internet sales platform in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, with more than 21 million registered users, at a time of a general growth of antisemitic and racist hate speech in our society.’

The offers reported by ‘NEVER AGAIN’ included newly-made Third Reich flags and SS uniforms, records with Nazi music, lighters with an image of Hitler, or pendants with Mussolini.

Moreover, in cooperation with ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Allegro removed books by SS officer Leon Degrelle who praised Hitler after the war and denied the Holocaust, by Hennecke Kardel who claimed that the Jews themselves were responsible for the Holocaust, and publications glorifying the Iron Guard, a Romanian fascist group who murdered many Jews.

The legal basis for deleting the auctions are Articles 256 and 257 of the Polish Penal Code together with the provisions in Appendix No. 1 to the Allegro Code of Conduct. In 2018, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association became a partner to Allegro’s programme of ‘The Rights Protection Cooperation’ and since then helps eliminate offensive content from the platform.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization established in Warsaw in 1996. Among others, it is a member of the International Network against Cyber Hate (INACH), which brings together organizations from twenty countries fighting hatred and discrimination on the Internet.

Additional information:

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

‘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

MYANMAR GENOCIDE IN FOCUS IN SEOUL

An international sports boycott of Myanmar was debated during a discussion led by a representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association in Seoul.

On 23-25 August 2019, ‎human rights activists from across the world gathered at the conference on ‘Protection of Rohingya Survivors and Accountability for Genocide’ held at the Sogang University, one of the leading universities of South Korea, established by the Jesuits. The opening keynote speech was delivered by Professor Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar.

Co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association Rafal Pankowski chaired the conference session ‎on ‘Travel, Culture and Governmental Relations’ which discussed the international campaigns to end genocide against the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim minority in Myanmar.

– ‘The newly announced initiative of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) to organize a future football World Cup in Southeast Asia is an interesting opportunity for the promotion of the region, but the ongoing atrocities in Myanmar make it currently next to impossible for the proposed bid to have any credibility from the human rights perspective’ – noted Rafal Pankowski. – ‘Football can be a positive tool for peace and intercultural understanding, but FIFA must not legitimize human rights abuses. The same applies to the idea of Myanmar as a co-host of the U-20 World Cup in 2021.’

The meeting was co-organized by Korean civil society groups together with the Free Rohingya Coalition, FORSEA (Forces of Renewal of South East Asia), EuroBurma Office and Human Rights Action Centre. It was attended by over one hundred participants, including a large group of Catholic nuns and ended with a joint Buddhist-Christian-Muslim demonstration outside of the Myanmar embassy in Seoul.

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. Among others, it implemented the UEFA Euro 2012 ‘Respect Diversity’ programme: major educational and awareness-raising activities that took place before and during the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine. It also cooperates with partners in Southeast Asia in the field of genocide commemoration and prevention, peace and intercultural dialogue.

More information:

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