Jane Hutt MS, the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip
Today we mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2021: the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the annual day of remembrance for those killed in the Holocaust, and in genocides which have followed.
The theme this year is ‘Be the light in the darkness.’ The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is encouraging every household across the UK to light a candle in their window at 8:00pm tonight. This act is both to remember the victims and survivors of genocide, and to shine a light against hatred and prejudice that causes division in our communities today.
The lighting of a candle is a symbolic gesture of positivity and kindness which we can all take. It remains a difficult time for people across Wales and reading the news or social media may give the impression that we are a more divided society than ever. However, we have seen great community spirit and resilience, where people have united and supported one another despite the awful circumstances.
During the pandemic we have continued to undertake our National Survey, asking members of the public to give us their views on many issues affecting their daily lives, including community cohesion. The proportion of people who stated that they agree that people in their area treat each other with respect has never been higher.
Nevertheless, we have also seen greater levels of hate crime than ever before. These two findings may seem contradictory but they are not. A very small proportion of the community commit hate crimes and will continue to do so unless wider society stands up against them, shoulder-to-shoulder with victims. In a few weeks’ time, the Welsh Government will launch our anti-hate crime campaign, ‘Hate Hurts Wales’. The campaign encourages us all to tackle hate and recognise that our society is also damaged when anyone is targeted because of their identity. The greater levels of cohesion we see in the National Survey data should give us confidence and hope that we can all stand against hate and be a light in the darkness.
For Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, the Welsh Government has been supporting the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to raise awareness of their invaluable work and encourage people to get involved on this vitally important day. This National Moment of Lighting the Darkness will take place following tonight’s UK Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 ceremony at 7:00pm, which will be streamed online. We hope that people from across Wales are able to watch the ceremony tonight and then light a candle as part of this UK wide moment of remembrance. There will also be a recorded ceremony for Wales available online from 11:00am today on Cardiff Council’s YouTube channel.
We remain alert to the divisive rhetoric that continues to seek to fragment our communities through fear and misinformation, and are tackling this through work such as our Hate Crime Minorities Communities Grant, Regional Community Cohesion Programme, and the upcoming anti-hate crime media campaign ‘Hate Hurts Wales’. We must never lose sight of the origins of atrocities such as the Holocaust, and the horrifying results of letting hatred go unchallenged and allowing prejudice to embed itself in everyday life.