Argentineans Remember "Dirty War" 30 Years Ago
Across the city of Buenos Aires, thousands of Argentineans gathered to remember the "dirty war," a period of political violence between 1976 and 1983 that resulted in the deaths of approximately 30,000 people before the restoration of democracy. Over 16,000 people and 3,200 students from 37 different public and private schools in Buenos Aires flocked to "Images of Memory," an exhibit presented by Site of Conscience Memoria Abierta at the San Martin Theatre in Buenos Aires from March 16 to April 9. Photographs, documents, letters, and testimonies created a journey through the events of life under the dictatorship, including the use of state violence and the search for truth after democracy was restored. Trained youth volunteers provided guided tours of the exhibit, bridging the gap between the generations who experienced the dictatorship and those who are learning from its memory.
The "Walk of Human Rights," a landscape memorial in Buenos Aires, was inaugurated in an emotional ceremony on April 8. Developed by the Fundación Memoria Histórica y Social Argentina and Memoria Abierta, the project will consist of 20 small hills with 20 trees upon each as a tribute to the different groups of people that disappeared during the last military dictatorship in Argentina; a square for communal reflection; and connecting paths throughout the landscape.
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Kurdistan Memorial Destroyed During Protest
After nearly two decades of peaceful gathering to commemorate one of the blackest days in Kurdish history, a crowd of local protesters destroyed the Halabja Monument in northern Iraq: one person was killed in the protest. The monument, inaugurated in 2004 by the Patriotic Union party of Kurdistan, memorialized the 1988 poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein's government that killed more than 5,000 people. In recent months, protests have increased against the ruling Patriotic Union, as many Kurds accuse the party of stealing donations that were meant for the victims of the attack and for local development. In this context, the Halabja Monument, which some claimed cost too much to build, became a symbol of government greed and of the government catering to foreign interests at the expense of local concerns. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan officials were shocked by the sudden and deliberate destruction.
Poland Proposes to Rename Auschwitz-Birkenau
The Polish government has asked the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to change the official name of the "Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp" to "Former Nazi German Concentration Camps Auschwitz-Birkenau." According to Polish officials, the change is needed because foreign media have too frequently referred to the camp, noted as the largest of the Third Reich, as a "Polish concentration camp." They are concerned that the site will lose its association with Nazi Germany, especially to younger generations from abroad for whom the association is not universal. The twin camps, where more than a million people - almost all Jews - were exterminated between 1940 and 1945, were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. A decision is expected later this year.
Museum of Tolerance Construction Over Muslim Graveyard Halted in Israel
This February, the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem was ordered to stop development of its latest project by the Israeli High Court of Justice after the discovery of a 3,000 year old Muslim graveyard containing over 200 remains on the site. The Museum argues that the site was granted to them by the City of Jerusalem and was considered "open public space," and has offered to relocate the remains to another cemetery, to erect a monument, and to restore a nearby cemetery that is still in use but highly neglected. Lawyers for two Muslim organizations say the historic cemetery holds the remains not only of the ancestors of Muslim residents, but of associates of the prophet Muhammad. Former Chief Justice Meir Shamgar was appointed as the mediator to help facilitate a resolution regarding the remains found on the constr