Despite numerous calls for “Never Again” thrown around on social media or between politicians, genocide and mass atrocity are no stranger to our generation. How many “agains” have happened since vowing “never”? As such, whilst “never again” is admirable and undoubtedly desirable, how do we go about putting the idea of a world without mass atrocities into practice to ensure history stops repeating itself?
On Saturday the 12th of May 2018 from 8-10pm, STAND France will be hosting its first #TogetherWeRemember event at the American Church in Paris, not only the first of its kind in France but in any Francophone country.
Founded in 2012, Together We Remember (TWR) is an annual event that takes place in April (genocide awareness month) which “combines technology, art and activism to transform remembrance of past atrocities into a powerful tool for building in the present.” We live in a world more connected than ever. As such, whilst on the one hand we may drown in the constant stream of information shared by the Kardashians, we are also capable of using social media to inspire and educate on a mass scale.
TWR does just that. The event is an inclusive commemoration that transforms not only physical but also digital space into living memorials.
We know humans are capable of mass destruction. History is stained with millions upon millions of people who have lost their lives to violent acts. Victims are umbrellaed: the Jews, the Armenians, Homosexuals, the Tutsis, the list goes on… Let’s take the Holocaust as an example. It is fact that upto 6 million Jews died in this systematic extermination. That’s three times the population of Paris. Six million lives, from only one genocide, resumed into one statistic. Yet genocide victims are not figures, they were real humans with real aspirations, goals and dreams.
Last year, TWR read the names of over 180,000 victims of genocide, mass atrocity and identity based violence throughout history. The names of victims from thirteen different atrocities are read in a randomly, thus to neither favortise nor discriminate. Through naming these victims, even if for only a second, we remember that “they existed, that they were a person…that they mattered.” In effect, we inspire our political leaders to give the right and to provide safe spaces for “memory, justice and healing”.
The event unites different people across different communities, each with different backstories, identities and values under one common goal: to commemorate the lives lost to such atrocities and to celebrate the heroes who acted to save lives.
By joining us on the 12th of May you too will help transform remembrance into action. Please don’t forget to let us know if you’re attending here !
This post was written by Lily Pryer, the Communications Coordinator at STAND France. Lily is a History and French student at the University of York currently on a year abroad prgramme at the Sorbonne in Paris.