UN Secretary-General Visits Auschwitz, Pleads for Tolerance for 'Migrants, Muslims, Roma'
As the second round of negotiations with Iran launches over its nuclear program, the UN secretary-general visited Auschwitz and declared that anti-Semitism still exists -- along with "rising discrimination" against "migrants, Muslims, Roma and other minorities."
Ban Ki-moon visited the Nazi death camp in Poland on his way to Warsaw to attend a UN climate change conference.
"I am truly overwhelmed and humbled. No words can adequately express my feelings. How can a state and individuals be so cruel and use systematic brutality against humanity?" Ban said, noting he'd twice visited Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
"Yet nothing can truly prepare one for this epicenter of evil, where systematic murder unique in human history reached its atrocious climax," Ban continued. "I stare at the piles of glasses, hair, shoes, prayer shawls and dolls, and try to imagine the individual Jews and others to whom they belonged. I stand in disbelief before the gas chambers and crematorium -- and shudder at at the cruelty of those who designed this death factory."
The secretary-general noted that "decades later, it remains almost impossible to come to terms with the nature and scale of this genocidal crime."
"Millions of others - including Poles, Sinti, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, the disabled and mentally ill, dissidents and homosexuals -- were exterminated in similarly barbarous circumstances," said Ban. "In the years since, the flames of hatred and persecution have risen again to consume other societies - from the killing fields of Cambodia to the forests of Srebrenica and to the hills of Rwanda. Even today, the fire smoulders. Anti-Semitism retains its hold in too many places. In Europe and elsewhere, migrants, Muslims, Roma and other minorities face rising discrimination -- and find too few defenders."
"The world must never forget, deny or downplay the Holocaust. We must remain ever on our guard. And we must do more, far more, to promote equality and fundamental freedoms," he concluded. "Every day, around the world, the United Nations strives to fulfill its cardinal mission of preventing any other such descent into darkness."
After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to the UN General Assembly and media blitz in September, many were claiming that he'd reversed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's position of Holocaust denial. In fact, Rouhani did no such thing, saying he's "not a historian" and it should be up for discussion and debate.