Speech — Holocaust Memorial Day: Opening Remarks, 29 January 2020

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome.

Holocaust Memorial Day is dedicated to the remembrance of the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi persecution, and in the genocides of more recent years in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. It is a time to re-commit ourselves to preventing these crimes and atrocities from ever happening again.

We are gathered in a place devoted to the community of the mind. This has no passports nor nationalities, and its advance in knowledge, wisdom and understanding can only be enriched by a diverse and inclusive community. At the University of Surrey, this is indeed what we are. Our students come from more than 140 countries, helping to create a multi-cultural campus where all religious groups are welcome. Respect for, and celebration of, each other as individuals is one of our core values.

The protection and promotion of freedom of expression is also an important part of our role as a university. Sharing ideas is crucial to learning – it allows students to think critically and differently, by engaging with many cultures and perspectives.

As you know, the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is Stand Together.

This theme reminds us how regimes intent on genocide throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups. Tonight, we re-affirm that we should challenge any such intentions and tactics, by standing together and speaking out against hatred and oppression.

We are resolved in our ‘zero tolerance’ of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and any hatred, exclusion or discrimination towards any section of our society, on any grounds.

Equality, inclusion and justice always stand upon a knife-edge – every moment of our lives offers us the opportunity to affirm the principles by which we will live, and upon which civilisation is founded.  In these increasingly divisive times, Surrey is very proud to stand for what unites us: our shared humanity, and the invaluable contribution each and every one of us makes to our global community.

I thank you for your commitment and support for our core values, and for your dedicated work to make the world a better place.

Thank you.

Spoken Word poetry with students from Kings College, Guildford