Today the 27th of January we mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, a date observed as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day in which all Europeans should come together to honour the victims and reflect on the atrocities committed on European soil less than a century ago.
This year’s theme is “Be the light in the darkness”, we are encouraged to reflect on the darkness and the depths humanity can sink to, but also to reflect on how individuals and communities resisted that darkness. This year’s theme asks us to consider different kinds of darkness, such as identity-based persecution, misinformation, denial of justice and to consider different kinds of light such as resistance, acts of solidarity, rescue and exposing mistruths and false information.
This anniversary comes at a time in which populism and far right nationalism is still prominent all over Europe, something which worries us. We are witnessing once again how the rhetoric that strengthened fascist parties in the past are once again being brought to the political mainstream, in campaigns and on the floor of parliaments and legislatures.
The youth of Europe’s stateless nations and minorities know what fascism meant for our ancestors, who suffered along with other groups, mainly Jews, Roma or LGBT people, discrimination, racism, violence or even detention and extermination. We know that far-right facism and populists will always try to blame the guilt of all darkness on minorities, on politically weak minorities, those who are easy to blame and for creating an environment for racism to develop. It is now up to us to expose this rhetoric, expose misinformation and to stand with minorities all over Europe and the world be they local minorities, migrants, refugees, Jews, Muslims, LGBT+ people and BAME people.
It is time to renew our commitment to fight fascism and to unite against populists who blame minorities for all the problems our societies have. We should never let Europe be at risk of turning backwards to the hate, discrimination and violence that scarred Europe’s history forever.
Today, we shall honour the victims, affirm our commitment to be a light in the darkness, and say with a strong, united voice: “Never again”