Event Report: Genocide Memorial Day 2024, London

Event Report: Genocide Memorial Day 2024, London

On Sunday, January 21st, 2024, the Islamic Human Rights Commission hosted its annual Genocide Memorial Day at the P21 Gallery in London. Genocide Memorial Day (GMD) is a day given to remember man’s inhumanity to man in the perpetration of genocides and genocidal acts. IHRC has been holding GMD commemorations since 2010 and has attracted a variety of speakers, diverse audiences, and activists of all political, religious and ethnic backgrounds in highlighting the genocidal acts that are given insufficient exposure by the mainstream media.

This year’s GMD focuses on the theme Gaza: A Case Study of Genocide, and confirmed speakers included Prof Richard Falk, Prof Ilan Pappe, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Rabbi Ahron Cohen, Sara Russell, and Mizan The Poet.


First Session

The event began with a recitation of the Holy Quran verses from Surat An-Nisa by Syed Wajahat Ali and an English translation read by Fatima Merchant.

“Indeed, Allah commands you to return trusts to their rightful owners, and when you judge between people, judge with fairness. What a noble commandment from Allah to you! Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. Should you disagree on anything, then refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you truly believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is the best and fairest resolution. Have you, Oh Prophet, not seen those who claim they believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you? They seek the judgment of false judges, which they were commanded to reject. And Satan only desires to lead them farther away. When it is said to them, “Come to Allah’s revelations and to the Messenger,” you see the hypocrites turn away from you stubbornly. How horrible will it be if a disaster strikes them because of what their hands have done, then they come to you swearing by Allah, “We intended nothing but goodwill and reconciliation.” Only Allah knows what is in their hearts. So, turn away from them, caution them, and give them advice that will shake their very souls. We only sent messengers to be obeyed by Allah’s Will. If only those hypocrites came to you, Oh Prophet, after wronging themselves, seeking Allah’s forgiveness and the Messenger praying for their forgiveness, they would have certainly found Allah ever Accepting of Repentance, Most Merciful. But no! By your Lord, they will never be true believers until they accept you Oh Prophet as the judge in their disputes and find no resistance within themselves against your decision and submit wholeheartedly. And what is it with you? You do not fight in the cause of Allah and for oppressed men, women, and children who cry out, “Our Lord! Deliver us from this land of oppressors! Appoint for us a saviour; appoint for us a helper—all by Your grace.”

After the Quran recitation, IHRC’s Raza Kazim opened up the event by welcoming the guests and speakers and then introduced Genocide Memorial Day by explaining the project’s history and concept. He explained that the idea of GMD was to hold people accountable regardless of the people who were doing the oppression and regardless of the faith or ethnicity of those oppressed. Raza was clear about the notion of the hierarchy of victimhood regarding memorialising genocides, and therefore, the GMD aims to address this imbalance, but also, the aim of GMD seeks to challenge the very conditions that enable genocides to take place. After his introductory speech, he invited the speakers of the first panel, Sara Russell and Mizan, onto the stage.

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Sara Russell is a freelance documentary street, landscape and portrait photographer. Inspired by storytelling, over the last 1ten0 years, she has travelled to regions of the Islamic World such as Iran, Iraq, Morocco and Palestine. Through the lens, Sara intends to capture the existence of beauty, focusing on the light of faith in places where the darkness of hostility and fears manifest from receiving extreme violations and infringement on land and the living. Her intention is to enliven the spirit of faith through a contemplative approach. She intends to provoke reflection in combat to limit beliefs with an attempt to enliven a spiritual liberation movement in pursuit of true freedom. A photographic exhibition was curated to showcase a series, ‘Another Day,’ Palestine 2014 – upon her return from an official delegation she had the privilege to document. Sara also curated a photographic exhibition, ‘Notion of Freedom,’ showcasing a collection of photos by Palestinian award-winning photojournalist and cameraman Haitham Khatib, who is an olive farmer based in a village near Ramallah West Bank. She is currently working on an upcoming fundraising exhibition for Palestine, which is planned for February 2024.