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Britain remembers genocide victims

Thousands prepare to mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Thousands of people will flock to the first of over 200 events taking place across Britain this weekend to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The international Memorial Day was launched in 2000 to remember the millions of victims of the atrocity on January 27 - the day the Soviet Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland in 1945.

Six million Jewish people were murdered by the nazis during the second world war, along with disabled people, homosexuals and lesbians, communists, socialists, pacifists, an estimated 500,000 gypsies and travellers and hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners of war.

The Memorial Day commemorates not only atrocities committed by the nazis, but also genocides which have taken place since.

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said: "It's so important that tens of thousands of people across the country join together to remember the Holocaust, nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur."

National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower works closely with the Holocaust Educational Trust, whose joint Auschwitz Project enables two students from every school in Britain to visit the death camp, part of which is preserved as a memorial.

Ms Blower said: "By learning the lessons of the past we can create a future where fear and loathing of 'the other' is replaced by peace and social justice."

One of the 20 events in Yorkshire is an annual commemoration in Leeds Town Hall which will include a theatre performance by young people, music, speeches, candle lighting and a traditional Hebrew memorial prayer.

Activists at the Unite Community Support Centre in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, will display posters and hand out booklets to mark Memorial Day on Wednesday and Thursday.

In Bradford, representatives of Bradford's Jewish community, Central and Eastern European communities, gypsies, disabled people, faith groups, trade unions, gay, lesbian and bisexual groups will attend a commemoration.

There will also be many events and commemorations in every region and major town and city across Britain. For details visit http://hmd.org.uk/event/find

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