Awareness raised for crimes against humanity at Symposium

The morning sun beamed down through the glass skylight into the packed Learning Center. In fact, students and teachers could barely move.

 Instead of food, knowledge was on the menu at the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity Symposium. Organized by Mr. Isshak, the class’ instructor, over 40 students showcased presentations about various acts of genocide and crimes against humanity in our world’s past. Topics included the ongoing Darfur genocide in Western Sudan, the Syrian refugee crisis, and police brutality in the U.S.

 Senior Ruthie Douglass based her presentation around militia control in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because the world chooses to ignore the violent battle between two powerful militia groups, Douglass wanted awareness to rise. “A lot of people buy products that are made from Congan metals,” she said. These people wouldn’t support the companies that harvest these metals if they knew what was going on.”

 Another senior, Dara Zeitz, researched the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust. These groups include queer people, Poles, Slavs, Gypsies, the mentally impaired, and black Europeans. Zeitz felt that the nearly five million non-Jewish casualties are largely forgotten by modern society. “You can’t forget people from a genocide just because they weren’t the majority that were persecuted,” she said.

 Elyse Proctor, a senior, was surprised by the low mentioning of Fidel Castro’s regime. “It’s a crime against humanity that really goes unnoticed,” she said. Over 154,000 people died under Castro’s communist rule. If disliked by him, Castro sent people to “re-education camps” where they would be taught and tortured by guards. One of the most terrible aspects of these camps was ultrasonic torture, when a high-pitched noise would be played for hours and even days on end.

At the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Symposium, everybody had the chance to learn something new. Every few feet was another topic. One just had to step towards knowledge.