Helen Bamber, British Jewish Human Rights Activist, Dies at 89

Volunteered As An Aid Worker at Bergen-Belsen

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, human rights organizer Helen Bamber, actress Emma Thompson and NYU President John Sexton at the opening of the  ‘Journey’ exhibition  at Washington Square Park in 2009
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg, human rights organizer Helen Bamber, actress Emma Thompson and NYU President John Sexton at the opening of the ‘Journey’ exhibition at Washington Square Park in 2009

By JTA

Published August 22, 2014.

Jewish Human rights activist Helen Bamber, who founded organizations to help victims of torture and violence, has died at 89.

Born in 1925, Bamber protested against the British fascist movement of Oswald Mosley as a teenager in London, according to an obituary published Friday in the London Jewish Chronicle.

Following World War II, Bamber joined aid workers at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, and subsequently worked with 700 child survivors of Auschwitz.

Bamber worked for Amnesty International, and in 1985 founded the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, which aided thousands of people. She later founded the Helen Bamber Foundation, which aided victims of forced prostitution, child slavery and ethnic violence in the developing world.

Bamber received an Order of the British Empire, a British honorary title, in recognition of her work.

“Always working with the most vulnerable and marginalized, in the most difficult of circumstances, with Helen it was possible to stand at the edge of the world and know how to first find, and then hold, an ember of life after atrocity,” said T.J. Birdi, executive director of the Helen Bamber Foundation, according to the Jewish Chronicle. “Refusing to be a bystander, her lifelong ability to represent those whose voices have been taken away was a rare and inspiring quality that earned her respect at the highest levels.”



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