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UN chief says: ‘Stand up against hate’ on Holocaust commemoration

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“All of us – leaders and citizens – have a responsibility to listen and learn survivors and victims by condemning these terrible crimes against humanity, working to eradicate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, hatred and intolerance and finding a path to a shared, safe and secure future. inclusive for all,” said UN chief António Guterres.

This is especially important in today’s dangerous and divided world. and a few months after the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks, in which so many innocent Israeli civilians and citizens of other countries were killed,” he said.

Marking the annual International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust, observed on January 27, the ceremony focused on the theme of recognizing the extraordinary courage of victims and survivors.

“Never let your guard down”

The world must be resolved to “oppose the forces of hatred and division,” he continued.

The anti-Semitic hatred that fueled the Holocaust did not begin with the Nazis or end with their defeat, he said, but was preceded by thousands of years of discrimination, expulsion , exile and extermination.

“Today, we are witnessing the spread of hatred at an alarming rate“, said the UN chief. “Online, this phenomenon has moved from the margins to the mainstream.”

To combat hatred, he urged everyone to speak out.

“Let us never remain silent in the face of discrimination and never tolerate intolerance,” he said. “Let’s talk about human rights and the dignity of all. Let us never lose sight of everyone’s humanity and let us never let our guard down.

‘You’re not alone’

In addition to its Holocaust awareness program, the United Nations Hate Speech Strategy and Plan of Action sets out strategic directions at the national and global levels.

“To all those who face prejudice and persecution, let us make it clear: you are not alone,” Mr. Guterres said. “The United Nations is on your side. »

“Today, more than ever, we must remember that the demonization of others and the contempt for diversity are a danger for everyonethat no society is safe from intolerance and worse, and that bigotry against one group is bigotry against all.

The former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in southern Poland.

The former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in southern Poland.

Survivors’ stories are powerful reminders to be vigilant: PGA

Dennis Francis, President of the General Assembly, said in a pre-recorded video message that promoting remembrance and education about the Holocaust is essential to ensuring that the crime of genocide is never considered normal or justifiable under any circumstances and to work to ensure this never happens again.

“Today, those who tragically perished and the survivors are the powerful force behind everything we do at the United Nations to save future generations from the scourge of war, to promote and defend human rights and to work tirelessly for a fairer and more peaceful world. ” he said.

The stories of victims and survivors remind us “our duty to fight against hatred and intolerance» amid a surge in hate speech across the world, alongside a rise in anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

“We cannot and must not be complacent,” he said. “Today and every day, we must reaffirm our commitment to saying more than “never again.” We must live our lives daily according to this mantra. The Holocaust must always be a warning for all of us to remain vigilant in the face of widespread hatred, racism, prejudice and intolerance.

Survivors Sisters Selma Tennenbaum Rossen and Edith Tennenbaum Shapiro from Poland address the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on International Day of Remembrance in Memory of the Victims.

Survivors Sisters Selma Tennenbaum Rossen and Edith Tennenbaum Shapiro from Poland address the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on International Day of Remembrance in Memory of the Victims.

“Never again is now”: Israel

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan said the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas was “an attempted genocide.”

“We, the Jewish people, understand the meaning of genocide more than any other people,” he said. “We have been persecuted for millennia. Hitler wrote the meaning of genocide into our DNA. »

But on October 7, Hamas “ripped this wound,” he said, tapping a yellow star, a badge the Nazi regime forced Jews to wear, affixed to his lapel.

“On International Holocaust Remembrance Day…I stand here, on behalf of the State of Israel, on behalf of all those murdered by the Nazis and Hamas, and I swear that we will not forget. Never again, that’s not the case now.

Suitcases and bags confiscated from prisoners in an Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland.

© Unsplash/Frederick Wallace

Suitcases and bags confiscated from prisoners in an Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland.

Dehumanization enabled the Holocaust

In a statement commemorating the international day, Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the world had a duty to examine the reasons why the Holocaust occurred in order to to ensure that it never happens again.

Indeed, the scale of the crimes committed implicated numerous perpetrators, he stressed.

Nazi concentration camps and death trains were staffed and victims were often identified to police by people they knew, he said.

Countless spectators looked away – or were indifferent – ​​to what they must have suspected was extraordinary and inhumane brutality. » he said. “The dehumanization that enabled the Holocaust – the depth and breadth of this failure of empathy and camaraderie toward other human beings – is incomprehensible and terrifying. »

Worldwide horror at the Holocaust led directly to the adoption of the Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago and was instrumental in the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights and a multitude of international treaties which enshrine equality, dignity and human rights in the face of tyranny and poverty, he said, adding that these conventions, principles and values ​​must always be respected.

“It is our duty to seek answers about how these crimes could have been prevented,” he said. “If we don’t do this, it could happen again.” »

UN Holocaust Memorial Ceremony

This year’s ceremony was hosted by Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, and featured a series of speakers, survivor testimonies and performances.

  • Speakers included the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 78th session of the General Assembly, the Permanent Representative of Israel and the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
  • Holocaust survivor Christian Pfeil, born in the Lubin ghetto in occupied Poland, shared his testimony about the persecution of the Roma and Sinti peoples.
  • Sisters Edith Tennenbaum Shapiro and Selma Tennenbaum Rossen, survivors of the Holocaust in Poland, shared their stories alongside a performance by violinist Doori Na.
  • Others who contributed to the event included Petra and Patrik Gelbart, who sang a piece about the Roma people. Cantor Daniel Singer recited a memorial prayer.
  • The ceremony is available on UN WebTV here.

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