Fella’s Story – ‘never again’ is happening again in China

1 Aug, 2023 | Genocide, Human Rights Ambassador Programme, Latest

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Dana Nitai, one of René Cassin’s 2021 Human Rights Ambassadors, has created this short animation linking the experience of her cousin Fella – a 13 year old prisoner in Auschwitz – with the plight of Uyghur children in China’s Xinjiang province today.

Key messages:

  • China is currently imprisoning up to two and half million Uyghur Muslims
  • This is the largest internment of an ethnic minority since the Second World War
  • “Never Again!” is happening again in China

Dana Nitai talks about why she made the video and her experience of René Cassin’s Human Rights Ambassadors Programme:

Why did I decide to make this video?

I wanted to create an animation highlighting the persecution of the Uyghurs for five main reasons.

  • Firstly, I lost a number of family members during the Holocaust and hence I feel a strong personal connection to the subject matter.
  • Secondly, I wanted to educate people on what is happening now in China in terms of the mistreatment of the Uyghur population because I feel that it does not receive enough media attention.
  • Thirdly, I wanted to challenge myself; I have never dealt with a subject matter as complicated and sensitive as this, and I wanted to see whether I would be able to deal with it in an appropriate manner.
  • Fourthly, although as a student of animation I’ve obviously created animation videos before,none have touched politics and hence I saw this video as a means of expanding my portfolio in a meaningful and educational way.
  • Finally, I am hopeful that my video might encourage people to get more involved in campaigning to stop genocide around the world! This is in part because I appreciate the power of the visual medium to educate by conveying complex ideas in more accessible ways, something which became clear to me when I watched multiple TedTalk videos discussing the political situation in Indonesia.

Why do I enjoy the René Cassin ambassadorship?

The René Cassin ambassadorship has provided me with the push needed to make ‘Fella’s Story’, as well as many other creative opportunities to learn about activism and how political movements function. The ambassadorship has moreover enabled me to learn about problems that the mainstream media often don’t cover in detail (for example the genocides in Rwanda and China) and has enabled me to look at the history of some of these modern conflicts, none of which were covered during my History lessons at school. Finally, René Cassin is also connected to my Jewish identity, and I enjoy using our community experience to help others who are going through similar things as our grandparents or great grandparents. I enjoy attending talks connected to the ambassadorship, and think that the people who I have met through it are wonderful.

Why did I join the ambassadorship?

I didn’t grow up in a Jewish household, so it was helpful for me to learn about Jewish values that I could socially connect with in a friendly and educational community. I found it empowering to discover that there was a group of Jewish activists who are using their voices for a cause I believe in. I wanted to get onboard!

The process of making this video

The idea of making a video came about when I was speaking with some friends about this project. I wrote the script, then the animation process began. From the beginning, I wanted to focus on hands as a main image. I wished to link the visuals to the hand of Fatima and the Hamsa Hand, both hands used in Judaism and Islam as a protection charm against evil eye, demanding that both groups be protected from harm and genocide. Since we were first year students I didn’t want to focus on backgrounds or character design. I wanted to focus mainly on the facts. Hands also felt like a very human symbol, being a body part we all have (in the same way that we all have human rights) and one that is used to show intimacy and connection to others. I also decided to go with the colour pallet of yellow and browns to give an old paper feel. The medium of animation is familiar and easily followed.

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