A CEREMONY to mark Holocaust Memorial Day is being planned to bring the community together to remember and pay respects to victims of genocide, oppression and torture.

On Tuesday, Blackburn with Darwen Council and the Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum will jointly host the annual ceremony in the council chamber at Blackburn town hall.

This year’s ceremony marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

2020 is also the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian genocide.

Standing together at the ceremony will be people of all ages from across local communities.

Schools groups will join with community leaders and interfaith representatives, gathered together in the spirit of love and peace.

Pupils from seven local secondary schools will speak about standing up to hate, and Blackburn with Darwen Youth MP Uday Akram will speak about the importance of unity.

A video from the Holocaust Memorial Trust will also be shown, and Rabbi Arnold Saunders will give the keynote address.

Other speakers include Blackburn Cathedral’s Canon Missioner Rowena Pailing.

The end of the ceremony will be marked with the lighting of candles as a sign of peace and unity, and a one minute silence will be observed.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said: "In Blackburn with Darwen we mark Holocaust Memorial Day each year with a ceremony to remember the victims of the holocaust and subsequent genocides, and to pay our respects together as a community.

"The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘stand together’. Standing together is indeed a notion that we wholeheartedly support here in Blackburn with Darwen. There is true strength in numbers and when people unite to reject hatred as one, it is very powerful."

In Hyndburn, Mayor Councillor June Harrison, will represent the borough at an event hosted in Preston

A service will take place at 11am at The Church of St George The Martyr, Preston. Organisations that promote a free, tolerant and democratic society and all religious persuasions have been invited to join together in a message of hope.

Derek Estill, secretary of the Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum, is helping to organise the ceremony.

He said: "Our local interfaith community comes together annually for Holocaust Memorial Day in what is always a very moving ceremony.

"This year’s event is even more important as it marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This is a significant milestone and is made particularly poignant as the number of survivors who are able to share their stories decreases.

"We are grateful to have Rabbi Arnold Saunders coming along to give an address, and I’m pleased that we will also be joined by Jacky Buchsbaum from the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester."

The Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony will be held between 1.30pm and 2.30pm.

Anyone who would like to attend should contact the Council’s Governance and Democratic Manager Phil Llewellyn on (01254) 585369 or phil.llewellyn@blackburn.gov.uk.