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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Why we must remember the Holocaust – Navi Pillay

Pillay / Holocaust day

27 January 2012

27 January 2012

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

GENEVA – “On 27 January every year, we remind ourselves, as we should, of a dark period in our history from more than 60 years ago – the Holocaust. The terrible, systematic, cruel treatment meted out to millions of Jewish men, women and children, as well as Roma, Slavs, disabled people, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, communists and other political dissidents, cannot be erased from human history, and every year we must make it a point to remember. Among those who were killed were 1.5 million Jewish children and thousands of other children.

The Holocaust serves as a reminder of the perils of discrimination and intolerance, of just how powerful the incitement to racial hatred can be, and of the importance of intervening early to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again. In remembering the Holocaust and condemning the atrocities committed there, we renew every year our condemnation of all manifestations of intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against individuals and entire communities, wherever they occur.

‘Learning from the past’ is also important to ensure that young people today are aware of important historical events, terrible as they may be, so that they can learn early on of the importance of their words and attitudes towards those who are different from them. Hateful words can translate into hateful actions and the consequences can be dire. Children and young people must be taught their history, including the terrible mistakes of the past, so that they can be vigilant against all manifestations of hatred from the outset.”

ENDS

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