Dik I na Bistar, or “look and don’t forget,” is the name of ternYpe’s Roma genocide commemoration. This title is more complicated than it seems, as it remains hard to persuade some people to stop averting their eyes from this history.
The Roma genocide during WWII took many lives, at which time the ethnic group suffered alongside Jews in concentration camps such as Auschwitz. August 2 is now commemoration day for this forgotten Roma genocide: it gestures to 1944, when Himmler gave orders to liquidate the “Gypsy family camp” at Auschwitz on the 2nd of August. For the conference organizers, recognition of this history is itself mobilization and defiance.
In the next few days, our two-person Canadian delegation —Dafina Savic and Rebekah Ward — will be trying to absorb the many rich events of this 400-person conference, and working to report back to our Canadian friends on our added knowledge through this blog. Here is a basic outline of events:
Day 1 [July 31]: Introduction to Roma Genocide history
Day 2 [August 1]: Public conference and activism workshops
Day 3 [August 2]: Commemoration and trip to Auschwitz
Day 4 [August 3]: Conclusion and reflection
Agnieszka Kozlowska-Rajewicz, a Polish government representative, noted the importance of this conference’s work in approaching a moment, “the moment when young and older Europeans alike will not only say about the Roma Genocide: ‘We remember!’ but they will also be able to reassure with a great conviction: ‘Never Again!’.” As Canadians, we must take pride in learning the history that has affected the ancestry of our own Roma population, so that we might also participate in this moment. Let us choose to remember.