Queensboro exhibit shows century of global genocide

Bayside Times, NY
April 1 2004

Queensboro exhibit shows century of global genocide

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda 04/01/2004

Bayside High School student Jenny Mathew reads about the Warsaw
ghetto at Queensborough Community College’s genocide exhibit.
In 1904 about 65,000 Herero cattle herders in Southwest Africa were
wiped out after rebelling against their German colonial rulers. Women
and children were driven into the desert and died of thirst and
starvation, decimating the Herero population.

In 1994 Beatha Uwazaninka had to flee her home in Rwanda when several
of her family members were murdered during a genocide in which
800,000 people were slaughtered in the space of 100 days.

These stories of mass murder 90 years apart from each other are on
display at `1900-2000: A Genocidal Century,’ the newest exhibit at
Queensborough Community College’s Holocaust Resource Center and

`As a college student, I didn’t know about all the genocides that
were happening,’ said Sarah Roberts, assistant director for
operations at the center.

`More and more schools are getting more involved with teaching about
genocide and what’s happening today in the world,’ Roberts said.
`It’s really scary out there.’

The exhibit opened Feb. 23 and runs until the end of this year. It
features wall text by the Holocaust center’s director, William
Shulman, defining genocide and describing its use against Armenians
in 1915 at the hands of the Turks, Stalin’s starvation of Ukrainians,
the Holocaust as well as mass killings in Cambodia in the 1970s and
more recent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s.

A chart on the wall depicts lesser-known genocides such as the
Guatemalan army’s killing of 200,000 Mayans from the 1950s to the
1980s and the murder of a million Ibos and other ethnic groups in
Nigeria since 1966.

School groups in Queens have been coming to the exhibit and watching
films on refugees and the Rwandan genocide, said Roberts, whose
Holocaust center is sending mailings about it to schools all over New
York City as well as to churches and synagogues.

Roberts said so far no one who had suffered under one of the
genocides in the exhibit had come up to her during a visit to the
center, but said `I’m hoping I do get that reaction.’

Arthur Flug, a former teacher and chief of staff to Councilman David
Weprin (D-Hollis) and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), became the
center’s educational outreach director two weeks ago.

`The Holocaust has implications that go beyond the Jewish community,’
said Flug, such as ethnic discrimination and brutality – themes all
too common to the human experience around the world.

The college will mark the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide
with a Genocide Awareness Day on Wednesday, April 28. Scheduled to
speak are Jerry Fowler, director of the Committee on Conscience from
the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and
abolitionist Maria Sliwa, who will address modern-day slavery in

The Genocide Awareness Day and the exhibit are open to the public.
For more information, call 718-281-5770.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at [email protected] or
call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.