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Being a light in the darkness

Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 statement

The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is “Be the light in the darkness”. Today, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – a day of light after terrible darkness – we remember all those whose lives were snuffed out by hatred and brutality.

Our namesake, Monsieur René Cassin, knew that darkness all too well. He saw it consume 26 members of his family, murdered by the Nazis. Cassin survived the darkness and went on to nurture a small flame that grew to become what Nelson Mandela would later call “a shining beacon”. That beacon was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Declaration was a light, in its own words, “of freedom, justice and peace” lit against the darkness of “barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind”. It was itself both an act of remembrance and a practical expression of determination to learn the lessons of history. That ‘never again’ would such barbarity be allowed to prevail.

In that spirit, as we remember those lost to the darkness of the past, we should also remember those lost in the darkness of the present. The plight of the Uyghur people, suffering terrible oppression by the Chinese government, is all too familiar. If being a light in the darkness means anything, it means doing everything we can to help bring them a new dawn after a long and dreadful night.