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Remembrance Day: Four years after Hanau

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Remembrance Day: Four years after Hanau

Relatives and friends of the victims commemorate the Muslim burial ground in Hanau.

Photo: dpa/ Boris Roessler

Hanau, February 19, 2024 – four years after the racist attack in which a right-wing extremist murdered nine young people with a migrant background, a strong signal against racism and right-wing agitation was sent in the city on Monday. Under the motto “Say their names – remembering means changing,” hundreds of people gathered in Hanau throughout the day and remembered the victims. The memorial events respond to the call for justice and made it clear: Hanau was not an isolated case, but must be a turning point for society in order to take action against hatred and discrimination of all forms.

On Monday evening, vigils followed at the crime scenes at Heumarkt and in Kesselstadt. Children from the district called for diversity, charity and cohesion with pithy sentences. Among other things, speakers called for increased training by the police and authorities in dealing with those affected and victims. Despite the four years that have passed since the attack, there has been insufficient information and the wishes of relatives for justice have remained unfulfilled.

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The social worker Antje Heigl from the youth center in Kesselstadt summed up the mood: “We will shape the future in memory of you.” Her words underlined the need for social change that should also have a political impact.

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An official, quiet commemoration also took place in the Hanau main cemetery in the morning, during which political speeches were explicitly avoided at the request of the relatives. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) also took part and laid wreaths. She assured the relatives that she was by their side. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also commented on X, who dedicated a post to the nine murdered victims.

Armin Kurtovic, whose brother Hamza was killed in Hanau, also spoke at the cemetery. “It would have been appropriate if the politicians had stayed away completely,” he said, referring to the authorities’ inaction. »According to the final report, there were no consequences. The city is responsible for the emergency exit that cost my son his life. Now I want to see consequences!”

Also at the official commemoration, author Etris Hashemis promoted his newly published book “The Day I Should Die” and said he would not allow civil cohesion to be destroyed and exclusion to occur. Hashemis is the son of Afghan refugees and lost his younger brother Said Nesar in the attack. Racism and misanthropy must be combated at all levels and it must be ensured that state authorities support the victims and their survivors, demanded Hashemis.

Mayor Claus Kaminsky (SPD) also expressed concern about the political developments of the past four years: “The fight against racism, right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism has developed for the worse.” He criticized the nationwide growing popularity of the AfD and the AfD Spreading inhumane debates.

Kaminsky assured that no one would be expelled from Hanau and that right-wing extremists had no place in government service. An appeal that seems particularly relevant in light of the scandal surrounding right-wing extremist officers in a special operations command: 13 of the 20 officers deployed on the night of the crime took part in right-wing extremist chat groups.

At one of the vigils in the evening, Cetin Gültekin, the brother of the killed Gökhan Gültekin, recalled the names of the victims as symbols against racism. He called on those responsible in the authorities to learn from mistakes and ensure justice for the victims and their families.

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The event ended in an emotional moment when all nine names of the victims were called again: Ferhat Unvar, Hamza Kurtovic, Said Nesar Hashemi, Vili Viorel Paun, Kaloyan Velkov, Fatih Saracoglu, Sedat Gürbüz, Gökhan Gültekin. After a minute’s silence and the release of balloons, the memorial hour ended with the song “Born, raised and murdered in Germany” by the musician SKN, which is dedicated to all those affected by racist violence.

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