LONDON (Armenpress)–In Manchester Sunday politicians and genocide survivors called for tolerance at Britain’s annual Holocaust Memorial Service–looking back on a year marked by race riots and aggression towards asylum-seekers–reported Reuters.
Ceremonies were also held in other European countries–notably Italy and the Netherlands–while Germans held a memorial on Monday.
More than 1,000 people crowded into a concert hall in Manchester for a moving service of music–poetry readings and discussion on what Britain can learn from the horrors of the Holocaust and other genocides.
Holocaust survivors and representatives from Asian–Armenian–Roma gypsy–disabled and lesbian and gay communities joined political and religious leaders to speak about the "evils of prejudice–discrimination and racism."
"This service is not just about one group of people," Mohammed Rafiq–a Muslim from Manchester–said before the ceremony. "We have come here to learn about one another so we do not make the same mistakes again," he told Reuters.
In Germany–the day that marks the liberation of Auschwitz death camp where the Nazis killed more than one million people was observed with small memorial ceremonies in Berlin and Wiesbaden.
In Italy–5,000 people gathered at the site of the country’s only concentration camp in Risiera near the northern town of Trieste where–in September 1938–fascist dictator Benito Mussolini announced the introduction of race laws.
In England–the Manchester service was the climax of a day of events around the country set up to reflect Britain’s commitment to oppose racism–victimization and genocide–a Home Office (Interior Ministry) statement said.
Home Secretary David Blunkett–in Manchester with other political and religious leaders and members of the royal family–gave a speech in which he said bigotry and prejudice still existed in Britain today.
Britain’s role in the Holocaust was under scrutiny in past weeks–after David Cesarani–a government adviser for Holocaust Day and leading historian–said the country did not do enough to help European Jews escape the Holocaust.
Last year–differing views of the past caused an angry row between representatives of Armenian and Turkish communities at the inaugural Holocaust Memorial Service–held in London.
Armenia’s say more than two million of their people were killed between 1915 and 1922 by Ottoman Turks–while Turkey denies an act of genocide occurred.
A planned protest by Turks in Manchester over the inclusion of an Armenian folk song and reading in Sunday’s service failed to materialize.
Meanwhile–official meetings of the Armenian delegation–led by the Parliament Speaker Armen Khachatrian–in the United Kingdom began on Monday.
The chairman of the House of Lords and an adviser to the Queen Lord Lergy Irvin met with the delegation in the Westminster Palace. Khachatrian spoke about the domestic political–economic and cultural situation and the prospects for development. The possibility of Armenia’s accession to the European Union was mentioned as well.
Khachatrian invited Lord Irvin to visit Armenia to get better acquainted with Armenia and the Armenian people more closely. Issues concerning the development of economy–science and education–tourism and sport were discussed.
The meeting in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was held with the members of the EBRD Board of Directors–who presented the activities of the bank from 1992 to 2002–mentioning the investmen’s made in Armenia.
Khachatrian presented the parliament’s role in the development of industry and economy–and noted that a package of economic legislation was established–which creates necessary tax-loan-investment pre-conditions. A private conversation between the Armenian parliament speaker and the head of the bank Jean Lemiere concluded the visit to the bank.
Issues concerning the activation of inter-parliamentary relations were discussed during the meeting with the Head of the British Council Robin Baker. He said that the British Council wants to open its office in Yerevan–which will promote the development of the cultural and scientific relations.
All the British deputies underlined the importance of developing political–economic and cultural relations between the two countries.