The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, released the following statement ahead of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust:
“Learning about and acknowledging our history is a painful process but also the precondition for putting our societies on a different path – one toward dignity, freedom and equality for each of us.
There are times when this lesson seems to be forgotten and when we allow ignorance and denial to seep into our daily lives; when events occurring around us prompt a return to division and hatred and scapegoating; and when inflicting more suffering is once again presented as justified.
In the past months we have seen a sharp rise in attacks, online and offline, against Jewish people, their homes, their businesses, their cemeteries, and their religious symbols. The conflict in the Middle East has brought new episodes of serious threats to the lives and safety of Jewish people in our societies. They are once again the targets of voices condoning and minimising not only the current events but also the horrors of the past.
A few weeks ago at the Bergen-Belsen Memorial I sat down with friends, partners, survivors and a wider audience to reflect on these issues and to commemorate those who lost their lives in the camp. But we also talked about those who survived and those who are living today, and discussed ways to move forward, strengthen our solidarity and re-open dialogue where it has been closed off.
There are clear messages resounding from survivors’ testimonies, from the memorial sites, and from those who stood up, despite all the risks, against the systematic persecution and killing of the victims.
We should be more conscious of the links between the past and the present.
We should never look the other way, never fail to acknowledge that the current attacks against Jews are built on deep-seated, persistent antisemitism that has been long embedded in our societies.
We must condemn and reject any denial or distortion of the Holocaust. Its relevance for us and for the education of future generations must be understood and remembered.
We should also build partnerships and meaningful dialogue, heed warning signs of hatred, intolerance and violence before it is too late and tackle inequalities and discrimination, which are so prevalent in today’s Europe.
This is the only way to uphold our common values and our commitments to greater unity among us and equal respect for the human rights of all.”