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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid