Education key to preventing new genocides, says Ban at UN special event honouring Holocaust victims

holocaustAs the global community gathered to commemorate the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi extermination camp 71 years ago, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the most effective way to stand up for human rights, fight xenophobia and prevent new genocides is by educating new generations about the horrors of the Holocaust.

“Today, with a rising tide of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry and other forms of discrimination, we must do even more to defend these rights for people everywhere,” Mr. Ban told hundreds of people at UN Headquarters in New York, attending a memorial ceremony.

Noting that “violent extremism, sectarian tensions and hate-filled ideologies are on the march,” the UN chief underlined that civilians are in the crosshairs, and that international humanitarian law is being “flouted on a global scale.”

“The international community is failing to hold perpetrators to account,” he warned. “Today, we see actions of Da’esh [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL] that may amount to grave crimes against minority groups such as the Yazidis. And the conflict in Syria has generated the worst humanitarian crisis of our time,” he said.

Meanwhile, recalling that the Holocaust was a “colossal crime,” Mr. Ban said those who deny it only perpetuate falsehoods and make a mockery of the pain.

“I was profoundly disappointed to learn of another so-called “Holocaust cartoon contest” being planned this year in Iran,” he lamented. “At this time of sectarian tensions, mutual respect must be foremost in our minds. Spreading hatred and toying with historical facts only leads down the dead-end of discord and danger,” he stressed.