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2010-03-19 digital edition
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March 19, 2010  RSS feed
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Genocide, Human Rights Awareness Month

Remembering the Holocaust

A photograph of a burned village after an attack in December 2004, which is part of the Darfur/Darfur exhibit. by Brian Steidle A photograph of a burned village after an attack in December 2004, which is part of the Darfur/Darfur exhibit. by Brian Steidle To Jews the word “genocide” frequently evokes images of the Holocaust — the sunken eyes and striped uniforms, gas chambers and trainloads of doomed European Jews heading to Auschwitz or other death camps. But more recent history has given rise to numerous other images of genocide flashed across television screens.

The Florida Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Petersburg is expanding its annual observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day and will proclaim the entire month of April “Genocide and Human Rights Awareness Month.” “We will commemorate the Shoah, but we also want to recognize other genocides and human rights violations,” said Carolyn Bass, museum director.

“We are all about human rights and teach diversity, respect and tolerance to visiting children,” said Bass. “We want to get that message out as well.”

The Genocide and Human Rights Awareness Month emphasizes the museum’s mission to use the lessons of the Holocaust to combat bigotry and prejudice to help prevent other genocides and human rights violations.

Exhibits and guest speakers throughout the month will focus on educating visitors about the current genocide underway in Darfur, past genocides, human rights violations and atrocities committed worldwide, including those in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Several exhibits will feature Darfur in particular.

A centerpiece of the awareness month will be the presentation of Darfur/Darfur, an international traveling multimedia exhibition documenting the effects of genocide in the African region. Photographs set the scene with images of burned out villages and piles of corpses and get personal with portraits of the victims, particularly the women and children. The photographs also touch on the culture of Darfur.

One of the haunting photos from the Darfur/Darfur exhibit. by MARCUS BLEASDALE/VII One of the haunting photos from the Darfur/Darfur exhibit. by MARCUS BLEASDALE/VII As a special highlight, from April 2- 9, Darfur/Darfur will have an outdoor element as the changing images are digitally projected onto an exterior wall of the museum from dusk until 9:30 p.m. The sensory experience is enhanced by Sudanese music.

The photos will be on display during the entire month inside the museum and may be viewed as part of the regular admission to the museum.

Compiled from photos taken by some of the world’s most well-known photojournalists, the exhibit focuses on the bloodshed that began in 2003, when a group of local African Sudanese took up arms against the authoritarian Islamic government of President Omar al-Bashir and his Afro-Arab military known as the Jangaweed. They accused al-Bashir of an ongoing ethnic cleansing of black Africans in favor of the Afro-Arab (Black Arab) population. Various estimates place the death toll from 200,000 to 400,000.

Nicholas Kristof Nicholas Kristof According to Vanity Fair, Darfur/ Darfur “is not intended to inspire quiet self-reflection.” Rather, the images are intended to evoke the overwhelming suffering of the victims and move people to action.

The brainchild of a Chicago mother, Darfur/Darfur was first launched in New York on Dec. 18, 2006 and originally planned to visit 24 cities in 24 months. Far surpassing that goal, the exhibit has been viewed around the world from Chicago and Montreal to Istanbul and Johannesburg and continues to be in demand.

Along with the exhibit, a slate of experts on world genocide, some with their own personal stories to tell, will speak at different venues throughout the month.

Immaculee Ilibagiza Immaculee Ilibagiza Jerry Fowler, president of Save- Darfur and founding director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, will discuss the genocide in Darfur at the opening reception on Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m.

The reception will be in an outdoor tent on the museum grounds. While the reception is free of charge, reservations must be made by contacting the museum at (727) 820-0100, ext 236 or emailing lgreenberg@flholocaustmuseum. org.

Six other lectures are scheduled:

Clifford Chanin, curator of the Legacy of Absence collection at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, will speak on “Holocaust Memory in a Time of Forgetting” at the Holocaust Museum on Sunday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m., as part of the official Holocaust Remembrance Day program. One of Chanin’s many roles has been that of Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he created a program for the Muslim world focusing on issues of pluralism and civil society. (For more information on the Holocaust Remembrance Day program, see page 12)

Nicholas Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, will present “Reporting the Truths of the Wor ld” on Tuesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. Kristof, considered a human rights advocate as well as a “reporter’s reporter,” has traveled the world to reflect on issues such as health, poverty and gender. His latest book, co-authored with his wife Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, is on the New York Times bestseller list. The Palladium Theater is located at 253 Fifth Ave. N. in St. Petersburg.

Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, will tell her story on Wednesday, April 14 at 7 p.m. Ilibagiza, hidden for 91 days inside a bathroom wi th seven other women, emerged to find her entire family had been slaughtered. She is the author of Left to Tell and has been featured on 60 Minutes and in the New York Times, USA Today, Newsday and other national media. Ilibagiza will speak at the St. Petersburg branch of the University of South Florida at the Campus Activity Center.

Slavenka Drakulic, a Croatian writer who has focused on crimes against women during the Bosnian war, oversaw the proceedings and the inmates at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague. She will speak about her writing and research in a presentation entitled “Who are the Bad Guys?” on

Tuesday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum.

Michael Bobelian, a lawyer and journalist, is the grandson of genocide survivors in Armenia. His book, Children of Armenia, deals in part with how the Armenians struggled to seek redress in the face of what appeared an indifferent world. Bobelian will speak on

Saturday, April 24, 6-8 p.m. at a special commemoration for the Armenian genocide at the St. Hagop Armenian Church, 7010 90th Ave. N., Pinellas Park. The evening will also include a candlelight requiem service. There is no charge, but reservations are required.

Dr. Edward Kissi, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at the University of South Florida, will give the final presentation on

Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum. Kissi will discuss “Genocide and the United Nations’ Response.”

Kissi, a native of Ghana, has garnered expertise in the causes of famine and the international politics of food relief in Ethiopia and the horn of Africa. He is the author of Revolution and Genocide in Ethiopia and Cambodia.


All lectures and programs are free, except as indicated. The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg. For hours and more information, call (727) 820-0100, or visit www.

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