Remembering the Holocaust is key to fighting modern-day racism, OSCE Roma adviser says ahead of UN ceremony
Remembering the Holocaust is key to fighting modern day manifestations of racism and intolerance, said the OSCE's senior Roma and Sinti adviser, attending a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York today.
Andrzej Mirga, the head of the Roma and Sinti Contact Point at the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), stressed the need to teach people about the Holocaust, including the long-neglected ordeal of the tens of thousands of Roma and Sinti who perished in Nazi concentration camps.
"I hope that the narratives of Roma and Sinti and their stories about suffering and persecution under the Nazi regime will be heard and will become part of the teaching on the history of the Holocaust, and thus make clear what should never happen again," said Mirga, who will speak at a ceremony to mark today's International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The ceremony was organized by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, which has partnered with ODIHR since the programme was established in 2006.
He said racist ideologies remain virulent in modern society: "Those who suffered during the Nazi era, including Roma and Sinti, cannot forget that racist ideologies were the root cause of their persecution at the time, and that is also why they feel particularly threatened today by extremist or neo-Nazi groups."
Holocaust remembrance and education on tolerance must be complemented by laws protecting the dignity and human rights of all people, as well as by the effective application of law enforcement tools to prevent or punish violent manifestations of racist and extremist ideologies, Mirga added.
OSCE participating States have committed themselves to promote remembrance of the Holocaust. At least 41 of the OSCE's 56 participating States commemorate the Holocaust with official events, according to a new survey published by ODIHR today. Thirty-three OSCE states have established official memorial days for Holocaust victims.
Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the director of ODIHR, is taking part today in the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland.
The OSCE has played a prominent role in developing responses to anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. ODIHR assists participating States in implementing their commitments to combat hate crimes and promote tolerance and non-discrimination.
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