Genocide survivors speak out through Minnesota partners


Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and the non-profit organization World Without Genocide have partnered on a new documentary about genocide survivors, which focuses on several Minnesota survivors.

“Children of Genocide:  Five Who Survived” will premiere at Temple Israel (2324 Emerson Avenue South) in Minneapolis at 7 p.m. on June 30. It is free and open to the public. The film captures the stories of five people who witnessed genocide during childhood from the Holocaust, Darfur, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. Four of the five survivors are from Minnesota and will be present at the premiere to answer questions from the audience.

Dr. Ellen Kennedy, the Executive Director of World Without Genocide, says that in addition to working with TPT, the organization has partnered with a variety of theaters such as the Guthrie Theater and Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. The goal is to mix art and education to raise awareness of immigrant communities in Minnesota that many have undergone extreme hardship and were forced, without a choice, to leave their homeland for the United States. The Guthrie, which did a play on the Cambodian genocide followed by a symposium, will be doing a follow-up play and symposium on Afghanistan in the fall.

Kennedy argues against oversimplifying the past and that those in power may control how history is documented for social, political and economic control. “To investigate only a part of a story creates no justice. More levels have to be examined in all of these positions. After World War II there were the Nuremburg trials with many of the major Nazis. There was no similar effort to find justice for the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

By being open and transparent about how conflicts spin out of control, Kennedy says that bringing together those who have experienced atrocities with the public generates a broader scope of peace and understanding. “They [the five survivors] speak out today in their own communities and other communities to encourage people to live peacefully in their own neighborhoods; to be watchful when prejudice and discrimination occur both locally and nationally, and to take a stand with elected officials.”

World Without Genocide seeks to advocate for those who have been victims of genocide and to fight against the racism and prejudice that lead to such conflicts around the world.