View from Westminster

Every January, we now support Holocaust Memorial Day. The service of remembrance is held at Midday on the closest Sunday to the 27th January and brings together a group of people who have an interest, one way or another in the atrocities that occurred in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945.

Of course, we are all familiar with the atrocities that befell the Jewish communities and how a state sponsored process of demonization, segregation and persecution eventually led to 6 million people losing their lives. Yet we forget the others that also lost their lives; people who were not Jewish, but were Romas, Shintas, people of colour, the disabled and political opponents.

There are many memorials to the holocaust, not least the haunting museum Yad Vashem in Jerusalem where a tour leaves the senses numbed by the staggering inhumanity a supposedly civilized nation can inflict on a part of society using some of the most advanced industrial processes available at the time. But there are memorials in Berlin, the concentration camp at Auschwitz has been preserved, as have others, and there are many shrines of one form or another to make sure we don’t forget what has happened.

Yet since the second world war, there have been other atrocities: the Khmer Rouge killed hundreds of thousands of prisoners in Cambodia; the Hutsi slaughtered thousands of Tutsis in Rwanda; muslims slaughtered in Bosnia and on and on it goes. Each time we see this type of atrocity happening, we promise we will never let it happen again.

 

Until the next time.

We just need to glance, again, to south east Asia to see the latest act of state sponsored terrorism perpetrated against a section of society. The rohingya people of Myanmar are being forced into Bangladesh by the oppressive government that is only partially moving from a military regime set up half a century ago. This is a problem that has been brewing for a long time and yet so little has been done to stop it happening, to protect them now and to tackle the problems.

It is so depressing to see the lack of energy being put forward to resolve this, and other issues of potential genocide. Given that we are taught history can teach us lessons for the future, how is it possible that we go through the process of learning about atrocities only to let another happen?