Activists apologize for use of Holocaust victims’ remains

This Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 photo shows an oversized urn placed by the artist group 'Center for Political Beauty" in front of German parliament building, the Reichstag, in Berlin, Germany. (AP)
Updated 05 December 2019

Activists apologize for use of Holocaust victims’ remains

  • Six million European Jews were murdered by the Nazis
  • The Center for Political Beauty installed an urn outside the Reichtstag building on Monday, saying it contained victims’ remains

BERLIN: An activist group has apologized to Jewish organizations outraged over their use of purported Holocaust victims’ remains in an installation outside Germany’s parliament building meant to draw attention to the perils of far-right extremism.

The Center for Political Beauty, a Germany-based activist group known for provocative stunts, installed an urn outside the Reichtstag building on Monday, saying it contained victims’ remains that it had unearthed from 23 locations near Nazi death and concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Ukraine. Soil the group said contained the remains could be seen in the transparent orange urn, about the size of an oil drum, set atop a metal pillar.

Following the uproar from Jewish organizations decrying the stunt as an instrumentalization of the Holocaust and an affront to the dead, the group apologized and by Thursday morning the urn had been wrapped in opaque black plastic so its contents could not be seen.

“We want to apologize especially to Jewish institutions, associations and individuals who see our work as disturbing or touching the peace of the dead according to Jewish religious law,” the group said on its website in a post late Wednesday.

Six million European Jews were murdered by the Nazis, many of them transported from around Europe to be killed in death camps like Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka that the Germans established in occupied Poland.

The activist group, whose members consider themselves political artists, had said the urn should serve as a warning in times of growing far-right extremism of how conservative forces in Germany helped pave the way for Adolf Hitler’s fascists to come to power in 1933.


Bollywood superstar Padukone summoned by police in drugs probe

Updated 23 September 2020

Bollywood superstar Padukone summoned by police in drugs probe

  • The 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the multi-billion-dollar industry
  • But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty of stealing his money

MUMBAI: Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone has been summoned for questioning as part of an escalating drugs probe into the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Indian police said late Wednesday.
The investigation has already seen actress Rhea Chakraborty arrested for allegedly buying drugs for her former boyfriend Rajput, who was found dead in June in his Mumbai apartment — with police saying he took his own life.
A star with many hit movies to his name, the 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the multi-billion-dollar industry.
But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty, 28, of stealing his money and harassing him. She has strongly denied the allegations.
Rajput’s death has sparked a media storm in India, where calls have mounted for a wider probe into Bollywood’s so-called “drugs mafia,” with television channels speculating that Chakraborty supposedly drove Rajput to suicide by purchasing cannabis for him.
India’s top anti-crime agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, has been probing his death since last month. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was looking into his consumption of cannabis.
Earlier this week, TV channel TimesNow broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about procuring hash, alleging that the two people chatting were Padukone and her manager.
K.P.S. Malhotra, deputy director of the NCB, told AFP the agency had summoned Padukone as well as actresses Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh for questioning.
The police have already detained others in connection with the case including Chakraborty’s brother and a member of Rajput’s house staff.
The investigation has grabbed headlines for months, and some celebrities including actresses Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor have accused TV channels of carrying out a “witch hunt” against Chakraborty.
Born in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit his engineering studies to pursue a career in acting.
He got his big break in 2013 with “Kai Po Che,” a film about cricket, love, and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.
He was also lauded for his portrayal of Indian cricket hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a hit 2016 biopic.
In an interview with AFP that year, Rajput spoke of the emotional rollercoaster he experienced while filming the movie, which portrayed the heartbreak suffered by Dhoni when his girlfriend died.
“After we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.