LONDON — The activities of the Holocaust Memorial Day in Derby this year extended over 5 days from 28 January to 1 February and included a variety of commemorative and remembrance events and multi faith religious services. The commemoration service at the Chapel of St. Mary on the Bridge was memorable. It was an opportunity for remembrance and hope with readings from the Bible, the Qu’ran, and the Jewish Kaddish, accompanied by a roll call of genocides and music from the Cathedral Choir that also involved local school students. During this solemn reflection the poem by Paruyr Sevak, “We are Few, but we are called Armenians” was read in Armenian and in English.
Following the Service of Reflection, the Act of Commemoration took place at the memorial trees on Cathedral Green where stones were placed around the trees in commemoration of the victims of Holocaust and all Genocides.
The program of activities was opened by the Mayor’s reception in the City Council rooms. In attendance were diplomatic representatives from Jewish, Bosnian, Ukrainian and Armenian communities. The Armenian community was represented by the Consul of the Armenian Embassy in London Hayarpi Drmeyan, and the representatives of the Armenian Community Council in the UK headed by the Vice-Chairman Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian and members, Viken Halajian and Vahan Krikorian. The Armenian Consul thanked the Mayor for his efforts in recognising and remembering the Armenian Genocide in the commemoration events. In their turn the ACC delegation thanked the Mayor, the Councillors and the HMD committee for their steadfastness in remembering and recognising the Armenian Genocide. The mayor was presented with several books on the Armenian Genocide and the remembrance pin.
The day of commemoration and celebration continued with performances and presentations by communities that have found sanctuary and safety in Derby. The afternoon program significantly included a reflection on the Derby response to the Armenian Genocide.
Derby became in 2019 the first major city in England to recognize and remember the Armenian Genocide, following a unanimous vote to do so, thanks to the efforts of photojournalist Russell Pollard and HMD member; a staunch supporter of historical facts. It should be also remembered that Edinburgh in 2005-2006 became the first city in the United Kingdom to have done so despite political pressure and representations from various quarters including the Turkish Embassy.