By Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian
DERBY, UK — Russel Pollard is a photojournalist with close ties to the British-Armenian community since the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. He is member of HMD and has been instrumental together with the other Derby City Council members in recognising and remembering the Armenian Genocide. Herewith excerpts of an interview with him on January, 28 in Derby City Hall.
Mr. Pollard thank you for being here for this interview on this day full of emotions. Can you tell us when and why you got involved with the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
When I first went to the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan about 10 years ago I noticed that there was no plaque for the UK government and I subsequently found out that we don’t formally recognise it. In my subsequent visits to Armenian and Artsakh my connection with people there evolved through my writing and photography and that gave me an opportunity to communicate through to the non-Armenian community about Artsakh, and the Armenian Genocide. It was clear to me that whilst it was important to recognise the Genocide as part of a healing process, it had serious, present day consequences, with the conflict with Azerbaijan and it is because of that that I wanted to speak about the Armenian Genocide and to become involved in opportunities to further the cause of recognition…and to avoid any further escalation of the Genocide.
Derby City is now the torch bearer in England in recognizing the Armenian genocide; can you tell us how this came about? I point out that there are only a handful of Armenians in Derby?
I joined the Holocaust Memorial Day in 2015. This is an independent group of volunteers who decided 20 years ago to properly remember the Holocaust and other Genocides. Through that work the group gained a lot of respect and credibility within Derby. In parallel, and quite separately, I developed my own network of political contacts within Derby through my journalism work. There was a change of political leadership in the Council in May 2018 and it felt that the time was right to approach them on the recognition issue of 2 Genocides – the Armenian, and the Holodomor in Ukraine. Largely due to personal contacts and the history of individuals’ work in the City this was met with no resistance. A motion was drafted by myself, and a colleague which was put forward at the next available Full Council meeting. I spoke to a number of political contacts to ensure that there was support and it was pleasing to find that they were all very supportive. This meant that, on the night, it was passed unanimously.