‘Fragility of Freedom’ is the theme of this years’ International Holocaust Memorial Day. To mark this in Newcastle is ‘A Living Tradition’ Exhibition and Event in Newcastle City Library, 17.30 on Tuesday 23rd January 2024.
This image of the Vienna Judenplatz Memorial by Rachel Whiteread might seem a tenuous link to the 2024 marking of Holocaust Memorial Day in Newcastle. The one is a closed memorial its concrete walls ‘built’ of books, their spines facing inwards and thus their subject matter inaccessible; the other a working open and inviting library in the heart of our City of Sanctuary. Libraries matter, it is entirely fitting that Newcastle City Library this year hosts ‘A living Tradition’ event for Holocaust Memorial Day for it is a place freely open to all. Libraries are guardians of truth, preservers of information, and the line of defence against misinformation.
A living tradition
There will be an exhibition on 23 January at the City Library in Newcastle,which is the work of North East based Iranian artist Parisa Panahi and is part of an event organised by ‘A Living Tradition’. It connects events in Iran and Bosnia with our own local North East inheritance of human rights and community cohesion, to perpetuate the open and welcoming nature of our society. Its purpose is the very antithesis of those elements which combine to deny freedom and human rights. Peter Sagar, one of the organisers explains:
“A Living Tradition aims to link our great North East heritage of human rights work to human rights struggles here and across the world today. We can take great inspiration from our past, which can help us to defend our own rights and those of others both near and far”.
Fragility of Freedom, the exhibition and event
International Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January, marks the date when soldiers of the 6th Army of the first Ukrainian Front opened the gates of Auschwitz Concentration Camp in 1945. Each year remembrance of this day in history is a reminder of how easily our freedoms can be eroded and subtly removed before we fully understand what has happened. The loss of freedoms is a story in the history of many nations in many centuries, and a warning to us to guard them with care.
On 23 January in Newcastle City Library, the Exhibition ‘Women, Life, Freedom, in Iran’ by Parisa Panahi will use recent examples of repression, persecution and genocide to focus on contemporary Iran and show the ease with which freedom can be and has been withdrawn. Panahi will also speak at the event, where music from Iran,and poetry from Bosnia augment the visual part of the Exhibition. She will explore the uprising and repression of Iranians in 2022 and our former North West MEP Julie Ward will speak aboutthe genocide in Bosnia in July 1995. Complementing this close look at the Fragility of Freedom in other nations will be an examination of the ways in which the people of Newcastle have welcomed people from Iran and Bosnia, and have also struggled for their own Rights, a tale reflected in their music, songs, and in their history and heritage.
The event will take place at the Bewick Room, in the City Library in Newcastle, between 5.30 and 7 pm on Tuesday 23 January.
Newcastle, City of Sanctuary
As a City of Sanctuary, for many years Newcastle has welcomed people in need of refuge and protection. A young refugee once told me that he loved Newcastle; he had been sent by the Westminster government to other English cities where he struggled to find peace and companionship; then found himself in Newcastle. Here, he said he was among welcome groups, and that if he met someone, it was possible to make a friend because he could walk from one end of the city to the other to meet them again. A human connection that had not been possible in the large conurbations of the south.
Further information on Holocaust Memorial Day 2034 here.