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“Everyone turned a blind eye”- UN Rights Chief at Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum

Whilst in Poland earlier this month, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum where she held candles in front of the death wall and signed the commemoration book for the victims of the Nazi regime.

Her message reads:

All those who deny the Holocaust happened, or who engage in anti-Semitism or other forms of religious, racial or ethnic intolerance, xenophobia, or discrimination of any sort, should visit Auschwitz so that they realize where such behaviour can lead. The warning signs of serious human rights violations were there for all to see in the 1930s, yet everyone turned a blind eye.

As former President of the UN Rwanda Tribunal, where suspects of genocide were tried, I can testify that we have still not learned the full lesson of the Holocaust.

It is a truly humbling and harrowing experience to feel the chill of evil and immense tragedy that permeates the walls and grounds of this terrible place.

On behalf of the whole United Nations system, I sign this book in commemoration of all the children, women and men who were killed by the Nazi regime, in absolute denial of their Human Rights.”

This was the High Commissioner’s first visit to Poland where she engaged with senior Government officials on the protection and promotion of human rights in Poland, including with representatives of the Executive, Parliament, Polish independent human rights institutions, as well as the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and members of civil society.

Pillay highlighted the vital role that the Government can play in following-up to recommendations of human rights treaty bodies, special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review holistically, and the importance of involving civil society in that process. The High Commissioner welcomed Poland’s contribution to promoting and protecting human rights worldwide in its capacity as current President of the UN Human Rights Council. 

 29 October 2013

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