News / USA

Bones Form Visual Petition Against Genocide

Bones Form Visual Petition Against Genocidei
X
June 14, 2013 12:26 PM
It started with just one bone, and within a few hours, over one million of them were laid out in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. The display was a collaborative effort, involving 30 countries and the United States, to call attention to the crime of genocide. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
Bones Form Visual Petition Against Genocide
It started with just one bone, and within a few hours, over one million of them were laid out in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

The display was a collaborative effort, involving 30 countries and the United States, to call attention to the crime of genocide.

Symbolic display

Thousands of volunteers from across the country arranged the hand-made bones to form a symbolic mass grave and visual petition against genocide, which is the deliberate elimination of a particular race, culture or ethnic group.

The event was the brainchild of artist Naomi Natale, founder of the non-profit organization, One Million Bones. Its mission is to use the intersection of art and activism to focus attention on genocide.

More than one million handmade bones were laid out in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington to focus attention on genocide. (VOA/J. Taboh)More than one million handmade bones were laid out in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington to focus attention on genocide. (VOA/J. Taboh)
“It’s really inspiring and humbling to see everybody come together,” said Natale. “We’re all dressed in white and we’re laying down bones with the intention of raising awareness about these atrocities that go on in Sudan and South Sudan and the Congo, Burma and Somalia. It’s powerful and I hope that people feel that as they carry these bones and they go to lay them down and that they feel connected.” 

Feeling connected

Event participant Orela Anani felt that connection.

“I’m familiar with genocide because I studied the genocide in Rwanda, Cambodia, the lives lost in the Sudan Civil war and several other countries in the world,” she said. “And just being here today is a symbolic remembrance of why I’m grateful to be alive and why I should pay homage to those who lost their lives because their spirits are with us, as they say, ‘we are one and the same.’”

Eric Ndaheba, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a survivor of the Gatumba [Burundi] massacre of 2004, when armed combatants attacked the refugee camp where he and his family were seeking shelter. He lost family members in the massacre and says he is happy to see such a symbolic tribute to the lives lost to genocide.

“I believe that everyone who came here will take the message to their community so that people can be helped in the Congo and other countries,” he said.

Thousands of volunteers from across the country arranged over one million handmade bones to symbolize a mass grave on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. (VOA/J. Taboh)Thousands of volunteers from across the country arranged over one million handmade bones to symbolize a mass grave on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. (VOA/J. Taboh)
The bone-laying ceremony was part of a three-day event in the nation’s capital that included international speakers and musical performances, workshops and a candle-lit vigil. There was also a Take a Bone to Congress event.

Bone-making

The bones were crafted out of paper, plaster and clay by 125,000 people, including students, artists and activists worldwide over a three-year period.

Many communities in the United States hosted their own bone-making events, including churches, synagogues and community centers.

Georgetown Day School in Washington was one of 1,000 schools that participated in the project.

Over 200 students came together a few weeks before the event to make human-like spines, skulls and hip bones out of clay.

The bones used in the display were crafted out of paper, plaster and clay by students, artists and activists from all around the world over a three-year period. (VOA/J. Taboh)The bones used in the display were crafted out of paper, plaster and clay by students, artists and activists from all around the world over a three-year period. (VOA/J. Taboh)
Natale hopes the hands-on project will help children learn about past genocides as well.

“For instance, the Cambodian genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the Bosnian genocide," she said, "so many [of them] that we find students, even adults, don’t know of.” 

Logan McDermott, 12, sees the project as “a great way to honor people who are victims of genocide because people in America, we don’t always realize what’s going on in other countries.”

Genocide survivor John Dau is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who was featured in the award-winning documentary God Grew Tired of Us.

“This event is a clear reminder of what we, the human being that has power, is supposed to do,” he said. “We must actually take action right now.”

Pointing in the direction of the U.S. Capitol, Natale said it’s the people there that need to see these bones the most. “I hope that they’ll be able to come and hear about it and see what our children have made,” she said. “Our children made this symbolic mass grave.”

She hopes that the million bones laid in front of the U.S. Capitol will end up in a permanent display as a memorial to those lost to genocide.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 13, 2013 4:30 AM
What a huge scale and touching performance ! We should let none of bones being laid from victims not only of genocide but of wars.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More