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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora