1.What is #TogetherWeRemember?
Given the rise of identity-based violence at home and abroad, from Charlottesville to Burma, grassroots action to counter division and extremism is more urgent than ever. That’s where we come in. #TogetherWeRemember is an annual campaign aimed at transforming remembrance of past genocides, atrocities, and other acts of identity-based violence into meaningful action to achieve the promise of “Never Again.” Each April, Genocide Awareness & Prevention Month, we mobilize communities to organize interactive vigils that commemorate the lives lost to such atrocities and celebrate the heroes who have acted to save lives. The vigils unite people of different identities in solidarity, amplify the voices of affected communities, and inspire collective action for memory, justice, and peace. Simply put, by remembering humanity at its worst, we are inspiring humanity to be its best, one community at a time.
Deepening intra-state conflicts - including genocide, mass atrocities, and identity-based violence - have produced the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. The impact has been global. Rising waves of nationalism worldwide have produced political leaders and environments that are increasingly antagonistic toward refugees, immigrants, and minority communities in the US and Europe.
As we recognize the urgent need for action in Syria, Burma, Congo, Yemen, and other conflict zones, we also recognize the need to address the growing prospect of extremism and mass violence in the US. Given rising demand for intersectional advocacy to counter this rising wave, we offer the #TogetherWeRemember campaign to serve as an annual rallying point for collective action.
3.Who is involved in leading #TogetherWeRemember?
#TogetherWeRemember is the flagship campaign and namesake of the founding organization behind the movement, Together We Remember (TWR), a Baltimore-based not-for-profit organization. TWR combines technology, art, and activism to transform remembrance into action to end all forms of identity-based violence across the globe.
To take the campaign global, TWR teamed up with STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities and the Carl Wilkens Fellowship (CWF). STAND brings deep expertise in anti-atrocity advocacy as well as a global network of student communities committed to making “Never Again” a reality.Seeking to bridge the gap between thought and action in the human rights field, CWF develops effective leaders in communities across the United States who will create sustained will to prevent and end genocide.
A full list of our partners and participating communities is available on our homepage.
4.How did #TogetherWeRemember get started? What's the story?
Learn about our story here.
5.How can I get involved?
Whether you are a student leader, a member of a community organization, or simply an individual with a big heart, you are welcomed to the global TWR community! As a grassroots, citizen-led movement, there's plenty to be done. Take your pick!
Sign up to lead a vigil in your community
Apply to join our team and support #TogetherWeRemember in a number of ways, from digital storytelling (blogging, video production, social media) to research (names/stories of victims and rescuers, policy, etc)
Launch a STAND chapter in your community to advocate for atrocity prevention all year long
6.Why read names?
We read names of victims of different genocides, atrocities, and cases of identity-based violence as well as rescuers that had the courage to save lives despite the risk to themselves and their families. Doing so allows us to breathe new life into the memories of these individuals and affirm that they existed, they mattered, and they still matter--not just to their direct ancestors--but to all of humanity. For one month a year, our voices and our communities become the final resting place for those that were robbed of their right to choose a final resting place for themselves. It is a right that many of us take for granted and it is a tradition that all of humanity shares in some form.
Reading names is also the greatest honor we can give the departed because their memories have an incredible power to build peace in our communities, at home and abroad. Since Together We Remember’s founding at Duke University in 2012, each year we have brought together people of all different races, religions, and politics to affirm their common humanity and build mutual respect and empathy regardless of our differences. In times of great tension, we can rely on the #TogetherWeRemember name reading vigil to remind us of our shared suffering, shared courage, and the opportunity to do better for one another in the future.
Reading names is also a very accessible way to begin and sustain a conversation around the topic of ending and preventing violent hatred in all its forms. The slogans “Never Forget” and “Never Again” have lost much of the meaning and power they once had in the wake of the Holocaust because we have failed again and again to follow through on our promises. Through a name reading, we can hold ourselves accountable and ask, “How many names have we allowed to be added to the list this year?” Until the answer is zero, we know we have work to do.
7.Where did you get the names from?
We compile our archive through online research and the generous contributions of memory and documentation centers around the world who share our commitment to preserving memory. We also accept names that are contributed by individuals or surviving family members. If you would like to contribute to our archive or have questions about our methodology, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Why is the event during the month of April?
April is quickly gaining recognition as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month with annual remembrance days for multiple genocides, including Armenia, the Holocaust, and Rwanda. It’s a powerful annual occasion for sustained organization and advocacy while respecting existing commemoration events. The timing is also ideal to mobilize students in school while the weather is fairly agreeable.
9. What are genocide, mass atrocities, and identity-based violence?
We rely on existing legal definitions and international categorizations to determine the scope of genocide and mass atrocity crimes we recognize. Specifically, our definition of "genocide" comes from the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide - an international treaty body. To define "mass atrocity crimes", we rely on the specifications outlined in the 2005 World Summit Outcomes Document. This document, unanimously agreed upon by all UN member states, determines that genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing qualify as mass atrocity crimes. The individual definitions of these crimes can be found below:
Genocide:[A]ny of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,racial or religious group, as such:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Definitions for the other mass atrocity crimes are listed in their original texts in the UN Framework for Analysis of Atrocity Crimes here.
Our definition of identity-based violence is sourced from UK not-for-profit, Protection Approaches:
Every day around the world thousands of individuals are violently targeted because of their identity. Identity-based violence is perpetrated against people because of their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Identity-based violence can be committed against one person or an entire group.
On principle, we believe that there is no strength in comparing or placing the pain experienced at the hands of any of these atrocity crimes on a hierarchy. We acknowledge the inhumanity and damage caused by all of these crimes. As a community, we commemorate their tragedy in equal measure and mourn the loss of anyone lost to these violent crimes.
10. Which genocides, mass atrocities, and cases of identity-based violence do you recognize?
The following is the list of cases for which we we have found or received victims' names:
- The Armenian Genocide
- The Holocaust
- Genocidal Massacres of Native Americans
- The Cambodian Genocide
- The Bangladesh Genocide
- The Argentine Dirty War
- The Rwandan Genocide
- The Bosnian Genocide
- The Kosovo War
- The East Timor Genocide
- The Darfur Genocide
- The Syrian War
- The South Sudan Civil War
We are actively searching for names of victims in these cases as well:
- The African Slave Trade
- Lynchings in the American South
- The Herero and Nama Genocide
- The Holodomor (Ukrainian Forced Famine)
- El Corte / Parsely Massacres
- The Nanjing Massacre
- US Internment of Japanese
- Mao and the Great Leap Forward
- The Stolen Generation (Cultural Genocide of Aboriginese in Australia)
- The Indonesian Genocide
- The Equatorial Guinea Genocide
- The Guatemalan Genocide
- The Sri Lankan Civil War
- Al Anfal Campaign
- The Helmut Massacre
- Ethiopian Civil War
- Somali Massacres
- Genocidal Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- The Yazidi Genocide
- The Nuba Mountains, Sudan
11. Can I submit names of victims to your archive?
Certainly. Email us at email@example.com. Please share as much descriptive detail as possible (e.g. date of birth, date of death, age at death, cause of death, profession, the genocide / atrocity). Also, please share the original source of these names.
12. How do you choose which cases to recognize? Why not "_______" genocide / mass atrocity / case of identity-based violence?
While we are clearly passionate about commemorating and preventing the world's worst crimes, classifying them is not within our per view. Because no single agreed-upon list of the world's genocides, mass atrocities, and acts of identity-based violence exists, we and a team of volunteers have crowdsourced and compiled a list of broadly recognized and recorded mass atrocity and identity-based crimes over the years. While we attempt to make this list as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, there are no doubt incidences and case studies we have missed. We acknowledge, regret, and are constantly trying to remedy this.
If you are interested in #TogetherWeRemember adding a particular historical or ongoing example we have missed, feel free to contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love for you to help educate us, work with us to compile resources on the conflict, and/or contribute names to our ever-growing database of victims.
13. If we organize a #TogetherWeRemember vigil in our community, do we have to incorporate a name-reading ceremony in the event? Do we have to follow a particular program?
By design, every #TogetherWeRemember vigil looks and sounds a bit different. We believe your community is your canvas, so as long as our values align (e.g. inclusivity), what you paint on it is up to you! That said, these core components have made our most successful ones events to remember:
Space to gather: Reserve a central, public space to host the event.
Interactive programming: Read names of victims using our app, invite survivors to share their stories or experts to share insights, create a musical or artistic performance, read poetry, display an educational exhibit, screen a film, facilitate a dialogue, or host an interfaith prayer - or bring together any combo of these that is meaningful to your team.
A call to action: From signing a petition to engaging elected officials, we’ll help you choose an action that resonates with your community and helps propel our movement forward.
Social media: Using our hashtag, participants share their experiences live on social media, which we then preserve in our virtual memorial, the first of its kind to demonstrate our progress toward a world of “Never Again.”
At USC, students organized a 24-hour name-reading vigil that included a Rwandan survivor’s testimony, a performance of Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” an interfaith prayer by clergy, and a virtual reality film screening. At the Jewish Museum of Maryland, staff kicked off a 2-hour name-reading with remarks by Senator Ben Cardin and a local symphony orchestra performance of songs by composers who had perished in the Holocaust. In San Francisco, a dance crew live-streamed a performance in a children's playground at midnight. What you plan is up to you!
14. Do you offer any funding to support a community vigil?
We do have some funding available to support communities on a case-by-case basis. Contact us to learn more about applying for a seed grant for your event.