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UN assembly condemns Holocaust denial; Iran disassociates

Saturday, January 27th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Remembrance and Beyond Remembrance and Beyond

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday condemned without reservation any denial of the Holocaust, with only Iran publicly disassociating itself from the consensus resolution which was immediately hailed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Assembly, noting that the resolution was adopted on the eve of the UN-designated annual International Day of Commemoration for Holocaust victims, who also included Roma, Sinti, homosexuals and other groups, called on all its 192 Member States "unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end." Welcoming the measure, which was introduced by the United States on behalf of 103 co-sponsors, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement voicing his "strong desire to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice." "By this action today, the General Assembly reaffirms its condemnation of the Holocaust as a crime against humanity," said the body's president, Sheikha Haya Al Khalifa of Bahrain. "This is a strong reminder to all that the international community is united in opposing all crimes against humanity," she said. "For the dignity of all humanity, we must strengthen our resolve to prevent such atrocities, whenever and wherever they might occur." Introducing the resolution, acting US Permanent Representative Alejandro D. Wolff said it made clear that all people and all States have a vital stake in a world free of genocide. "We remember it [the Holocaust], indeed we must remember it, to ensure that such events are never repeated," he stressed. "Those who would deny the Holocaust â€" and, sadly, there are some who do â€" reveal not only their ignorance but their moral failure as well." Iranian representative Hossein Gharibi, while reiterating his country's "unambiguous" condemnation of genocide against any race, dismissed the resolution as a manipulation to deflect attention from Israel's "atrocious" crimes and said it should have included other cases of genocide such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the US dropped atomic bombs, Palestine, Rwanda and the Balkans. "In view of the above we truly disassociate ourselves from this entire hypocritical political exercise," he declared. Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said the lessons of the Holocaust are universal, compelling all nations to recommit to preventing the horrors of genocide. "While the nations of the world gather here to affirm the historicity of the Holocaust with the intent of never again allowing genocide, a Member of this Assembly is acquiring the capabilities to carry out its own," he added. "The President of Iran is in fact saying: 'There really was no Holocaust, but just in case, we shall finish the job.'" Speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), German Ambassador Thomas Matussek said distortions of historical facts "are a shameful failure of the responsibility we all share to ensure a world free from such atrocities." Speaking in the name of his country, he noted that the "unprecedented crime of the Holocaust was committed by Germans and in the name of Germany, and from that stems our very special responsibility." The UN marks Holocaust Commemoration Day annually on 27 January but because it falls on a Saturday this year, it will be observed on Monday 29 January. In a message prepared for the occasion, Mr. Ban calls the Holocaust "a unique and undeniable tragedy." The remembrance "is an essential response to those misguided individuals who claim that the Holocaust never happened, or has been exaggerated," he adds. Tomorrow, a month-long exhibition will open in the General Assembly Visitors' Lobby, displaying both the plight of the Roma and Sinti minorities in Central and Eastern Europe and paintings and sculptures by four Holocaust survivors â€" Joseph Bau (deceased), Henny Trompetter Zwecher de Brito, David Friedman (deceased) and Hanka Kornfeld-Marder. Last month, on the day he was sworn in as the next UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was asked about Iran's conference on the scale and nature of the slaughter of 6 million Jews. "Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable," he replied. "Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people." In 2005, both then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council condemned reported remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Categories: Politics, International.

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