Holocaust Memorial Day

Amer Hesabu, speaker from sudan

Amer Hesabu, speaker from sudan

By Vincenzo Ferrara

Coventry hosted a Memorial Day tribute to survivors of the Holocaust as well as other subsequent genocides such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Today in the city centre, which had a band to draw attention from passers by, was a service organised by Martin Reeves (Chief Executive of Coventry City Council) in memory of the horrific tragedies and to all those who were lucky enough to survive.

The event saw real people that had managed to survive what many millions could not escape.

 

This ticket represents the tickets given to Jewish holocaust victims as they were taken from there homes. Inside this ticket we have a short over-view of people appearing, producing and speaking at the event

This ticket represents the tickets given to Jewish holocaust victims as they were taken from there homes. Inside this ticket we have a short over-view of people appearing, producing and speaking at the event

We heard the story of Lia Lesser, a Jewish lady, who as a young girl managed to escape Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. This was nine months before World War Two had begun.  Although Lia managed to escape to Britain unharmed, her family were not so fortunate, dying in concentration camps during the war.

 

Speaker who was once a teacher in Rwanda

Speaker who was once a teacher in Rwanda

The next speech came from a man called Appolinaire Kageruka, as he walked up to the front of the stage, the look in his eyes told that he had seen great pain. In 1994 his country broke out into a civil war. The ethnic group the Tutsis had always been a majority in Rwanda but after an assassination attempt on the Hutus leader in 1990, the Hutus regime went on a killing spree of all Tutsis. Over one hundred days there had estimated to have been over one million men, women and children killed.

 

Appolinaire was a teacher in Rwanda at the time. He followed the Tutsis group and knew he would be killed if he did not act quickly. He asked the family of a very intelligent Tutsis child which he had paid for the education of, if he could stay with them.  The family allowed him to stay, however he could not leave the house. Two hours after he left his house, it was attacked in hope of killing him.

 

Packed crowd at holocaust memorial day

Packed crowd at holocaust memorial day

Finally, Amer Hesabu spoke. He was born and raised in Sudan, however due to the 2003 civil war where 200,000 people were killed and an extra 2.5 million people displaced, Amer took refuge in a Darfur displacement camp.

 

The camps were not completely safe due to high tension caused by poor conditions, overcrowding, sickness and political differences. The differences led to a lack of trust and insecurity. This time of year the camps become very cold, those who live there struggle as they arrive to the camps with nothing, so face the cold without warm clothing, blankets or heating. Clean water is another issue facing the ever-busier camps, with people having to fight over pumps or leaving the safety the camp offers in order to get water to help their family survive.

 

The city centre was packed with crowds today watching the event, which even saw Mayor Gary Crookes becoming emotional over the stories from theses great survivors.

sub-edited by Richard Geary

For more information: Holocaust Memorial Day 27/1 or Coventry City Council

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