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Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

GENEVA (27 January 2010) - “It is now more than 60 years since the systematic murder of one third of the Jewish people as well as thousands of other victims, including Roma, Slavs, disabled people, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, communists and political dissidents. But the grotesque nature and scale of the Holocaust is in no way diminished by the passing of time.”

“Holocaust Remembrance Day serves as a stark reminder of what can happen when prejudice, hatred, racism are allowed to fester, or are deliberately used as a political tool. It should also remind us that complacency and indifference in the face of such trends can easily become a form of complicity.”

“A continued focus on the Holocaust helps us to remain alert to the dangers presented by contemporary outbreaks of anti-Semitism and various forms of vilification and discrimination targeting other specific racial, ethnic or social groups. Remembering the Holocaust, and how it came about, can – and should – help us to intervene much earlier in the escalating pattern of prejudice that can lead eventually to genocide. It is also an essential response to those who claim that the Holocaust never happened.”

“The 2005 UN resolution which proclaimed 27 January as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust also condemned all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur.”

“Holocaust Remembrance Day provides an occasion when all States can examine their own record of tackling these phenomena, and their progress – or lack of progress – in providing human rights for all, as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The best memorial for the millions of Holocaust victims would be a world where the dignity and rights of every person are protected – both in law and practice.”

“As we honour both the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust, let us pay a special tribute to all those, in many parts of the world, who not only strive to ensure that future generations are educated about the horrors of the Shoah, but also work tirelessly to combat discrimination of all sorts.”

“As we look back at this dark page of history, and subsequent atrocities and crimes of genocide, let us also urge policy-makers to show greater commitment to advancing dialogue and respect among people of all cultures, religions and races.”