New research from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) has found that half the UK population cannot name a genocide that has taken place since the Holocaust despite millions being murdered as a result of persecution in Cambodia, Rwanda Bosnia and Darfur.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda, which saw the murder of an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus over 100 days, yet more than half of people in Britain are unaware of its existence.
Holocaust Memorial Day is held on 27 January each year to ensure these lives are never forgotten.
Particularly concerning is the lack of awareness among Britain’s young adults – just one in five (19%) individuals aged 16 to 24 are able to name a post-Holocaust genocide, while a third were unable to provide the correct definition of a genocide.
‘We are deeply concerned by the lack of understanding among the population as a whole, and in particular the younger generations. This research shows our work is more important than ever,’ said Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of HMDT.
‘Genocide is not something that takes place by itself – it happens when a set of circumstances occur or are created, when racism and discrimination go unchecked and are allowed to divide communities.’
It may come as no surprise that with discrimination still pervading societies across the globe today, the vast majority of people (86%) believe that further genocide in the future is ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’.
Learning about the extreme path that discrimination can take is key for our younger generations to work towards a future free from such atrocities, and there is an enthusiasm for this education among 16 to 24 year olds, with nine in 10 (89%) respondents saying they should be taught about genocide.
‘The results of this research underlines the importance of ensuring genocide, as well as the Holocaust, is understood by people of all ages, in all walks of life,’ Ms Marks-Woldman continued.
Holocaust Memorial Day 2014 will continue the work of HMDT in genocide awareness and remembrance, and this year will be marked by a record number of events taking place across the UK from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight, Aberystwyth to Lowestoft. There is a huge array of different organisers too, including schools, faith groups, prisons and sports clubs, which helps a wide breadth of society to get involved.
With 2014 being the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda, it important to remember the victims of the atrocity for this year’s HMD. This is something that Sophie Musabe Masereka, a nurse living in London who survived the genocide, is encouraging.
‘It is nearly 20 years since many members of my family were killed in the Genocide in Rwanda. I want to ensure they are remembered, and that all those who suffered in the Holocaust and genocides are commemorated,’ she said.