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Exhibition examines heroes amid genocide

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A photograph on display at The Rescuers exhibition. PIC SUPPLIED

“THE phrase ‘never again’ is often said in regards to never having another holocaust,” said Leora Kahn, founder and executive director of Proof: Media for Social Justice.

“But it has happened again and again. Education and an understanding of how to make the right choice has the possibility of preventing genocide. But I hope that it won’t have to be put to the test.”

Tonight at Meta House, Kahn is opening The Rescuers: Picturing Moral Courage, an exhibition and workshop series that is touring internationally, and is supported by the Proof NGO.

The exhibition contains photographs that document the Holocaust, and genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. But while the subject matter is grim, the focus of the series is on those who stood up to the brutal oppression; ordinary people who risked everything to do the right thing.

“The idea is the if we raise up the role models – those people who decided to save someone – you show the value of pro-social behavior and diminish the possibly of ‘evil’ behaviour,” Kahn told 7Days.

Before teaming up with other photojournalists to form Proof, Kahn worked as a photo editor and photographer for publications including Time, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker. It’s safe to say that she knows the impact a photograph can have.

Kahn said that she finds some photographs in the exhibition particularly moving.

“I have several favourites, because I love the stories as well as the photos. Truss is one of my favourites – she was a Dutch lady who saved Jewish children during World War II by dressing up as a German officer. She looks like my grandmother but was a very tough lady who killed many Nazis as well as saving people.

“The photograph and story of Hang Rommy is wonderful. She was a very young girl who helped a soldier escape when the Khmer Rough took power. And finally, in Rwanda, my favourite photo is of Enoch and his wife. The photo really conveys their dignity.”

The exhibition is accompanied by several workshops for people aged between 15 and 25.

Kahn said the workshops will involve “training the youth about the importance of being an upstander, or how to make the right choice when a whole group is pressuring you to do something you might not believe in. It’s about moral courage.”

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