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Council marks Holocaust Memorial Day with a poignant public event

Bridgend County Borough Council marked Holocaust Memorial Day recently with a poignant public event, held at the Sony Theatre, Bridgend College.

Members of the public joined local AMs, staff from South Wales Police, members of the local community, pupils from local secondary schools and Bridgend College students to remember the victims and honour the survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Over 120 people attended the event, which was held in partnership with Bridgend College, to hear special guest, Jean-Paul Samputu, survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, speak movingly about his personal experiences of losing his parents and three siblings during the genocide.

The internationally renowned singer, songwriter and peace activist, travels the world as a cultural ambassador for Rwanda, communicating African singing, dancing, drumming and a message of peace, hope, forgiveness, reconciliation and love.

The theme for the 2019 event, which is provided by the Holocaust Memorial Trust was ‘torn from home’ and aimed to encourage attendees to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call home is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide.

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day is extremely important to the council, as we commemorate victims, honour survivors and commit to tackling prejudice, discrimination and racism that exists in the present day. We were extremely fortunate to have secured a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Jean Paul Samputu, who delivered his message about peace, forgiveness and hope in an extremely moving talk.

Pledges have been made today to remember all victims of persecution, hate crimes and anti-Semitism. We have vowed to learn lessons from the past and to stand up against all forms of prejudice and hate to create a better world for current and future generations. Today the council pledges to help more families fleeing war-torn countries, such as Syria, to resettle in Bridgend County Borough. Our aim is to settle five families over the next two years, who will join the six families that have already been welcomed to the area.

Our annual memorial event enables us as a community to reflect on past events and come together to promote diversity and equality within Bridgend County Borough.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Leader, Councillor Huw David

As part of the ceremony, the traditional ‘Seven Statements of Commitment’ were read by community representatives and a candle of remembrance was lit by Mayor of Bridgend County Borough, Councillor John McCarthy. A twenty second silence was also held to remember the lives that were tragically lost.

In addition, Louise Fuller from Cardiff Reform Synagogue provided a Jewish prayer and pupils from local schools read poems. To close the event, Bridgend College Performing Arts students performed ‘I dreamed a dream’ from the musical Les Miserable and ‘This is me’ from the recent hit movie, ‘The Greatest Showman.’

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