Leading genocide education charities have come together in a call for politicians of all parties to reject the language of division during the election campaign.
Recent political campaigns in this country, and across the world, have been sadly characterized by dehumanizing “us vs them” rhetoric and the charities warn that the consequences of continuing such a trend could be very dangerous.
As genocide charities, Remembering Srebrenica, The Aegis Trust, The National Holocaust Centre and The Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association are all too aware of what can happen if the language of fear, division and hatred is allowed to flourish, so all four charities are calling on politicians to reject such language and campaign using the language of unity, respect and fairness.
Remembering Srebrenica Chairman, Dr Waqar Azmi OBE, said:
“It is vital that our country shows strength and leadership. Only 22 years ago, genocide happened in Srebrenica in Europe when nationalists waged a campaign denigrating Muslims as ‘The Other’, which spread fear, leading to discrimination, dehumanisation and persecution. Our politicians can ensure that we do not go down that road ever again and bring communities together by learning the lessons from the past to create a better future.”
Lilian Black, Chair of The Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association, added:
“Words are the foundation of our civilisation. In our experience, words from politicians and people standing by, led ultimately to the Holocaust. I hope our politicians’ words will reflect the values of an inclusive country and not scapegoat ‘others’ to create division.”
Dr James Smith, Chief Executive Officer of The Aegis Trust also called on politicians to tackle irresponsible language in the press:
“In the early 1990s, hate-filled rhetoric in Rwanda’s media divided society and created a climate for extreme violence. For the health of our democracy, politicians of all parties must not only support a free press but also call out the editors of British papers responsible for similar rhetoric being directed at migrants and others today.”