The 2nd International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust took place on January 29, 2007 at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, under the theme: ‘Remembrance and Beyond’. That morning, an ‘Urgent Appeal’ to bring the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to trial before the newly created International Criminal Court – and for Iran to respond before the UN Security Council – was sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, and President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Luis Alfonso De Alba. This initiative by two non-governmental organizations: Association for World Education (AWE) and the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) was emailed to all 192 member states at the UN in New York and Geneva.
On January 26 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning, without reservation, any denial of the holocaust. It is noteworthy that none of 56 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was among the majority sponsor states of that historic resolution (A/61/L.53*). This might account for its adoption ‘by consensus’ (i.e. ‘without a vote’ that would have indicated which states had voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and which had ‘abstained’ or been ‘absent’), so that this shameful attitude would not be blatantly evident to outsiders. But, at the Holocaust Commemoration Day in the Palais des Nations, the absence of OIC state representatives in the large audience was a manifest symbol for all present. Fortunately, on that highly emotional occasion, the keynote speaker (former Canadian Justice Minister and Holocaust scholar Professor Irwin Cotler), in a much-applauded address, referred to President Ahmadinejad’s “violation of the prohibition against ‘the direct and public incitement to genocide’ in the context of the Genocide Convention (…) indeed, an assault on the very UN Charter which prohibits such incitement and threat.”
At a time when the publication of a report of the Advisory Committee on the prevention of genocide is expected to be released soon, and the mandate of the Special Advisor to the General-Secretary on the Prevention of Genocide (SAPG) renewed, it would be appropriate if UN member states would act now. To fail to do so would be hypocrisy and a betrayal of the 1948 Genocide Convention and the 1945 UN Charter.
The joint Appeal by AWE and WUPJ, signed by its UN representatives in Geneva, is reproduced verbatim.
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Call for Firm Action Today to Condemn President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Urgent Appeal to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon / High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour / President of the Human Rights Council Ambassador Luis Alfonso De Alba
We welcome the GA Resolution by consensus – co-sponsored by 103 States – which condemned, without reservation, any denial of the Holocaust, and the Secretary-General’s “strong desire to see this fundamental principle respected both in rhetoric and in practice.” Speaking before the vote, Iran’s representative “fully dissociated himself from today’s entire hypocritical exercise,” alleging: “Its main sponsors had sought to present the text under ‘mischievous’ intent to pursue narrow political interests and misuse the Assembly.”
On the 2nd International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, we call on Member States of the United Nations to act decisively now by invoking the UN Charter and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – in order to bring President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to trial before the International Criminal Court, and Iran before the UN Security Council. The reiterated call by Iran’s president for Israel’s elimination is “inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” (UN Charter, Chapter I, Article 2:4). And Article III (c) of the Genocide Convention is clear: “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide” (…) “shall be punishable.” Its Article IV states that: “Persons committing Genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.” At a Teheran Conference on 26 October 2005, Iranian President Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” He also announced that: “very soon the stain of this disgrace will be purged from the centre of the Islamic world.” And he ominously warned all peacemakers: “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.” In his 5 December 2005 speech to the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Mecca, he proclaimed that the major problem in the Islamic world was “the presence of the Zionist occupation in the heart of the Islamic region,” even predicting that its “judicious removal will pave the way to the appearance of Islam’s power in the successful management of global matters.” Last week he repeated his threatening scenario for the rapid demise of the State of Israel.
In a TV speech on 14 December 2005, he had referred to the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews as a fabrication: “They have created a myth in the name of the Holocaust and consider it above God, religion and the prophets.” On 5 January 2006, Iran’s state-controlled TV screened a discussion on “the myth of the gas chambers” and “the truth of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Before the 2006, 1st International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad announced a special ‘Holocaust “Myth” Conference’ in Teheran, which took place last month in defiance of world public opinion. In his 8 January 2007 letter to Human Rights Council President Luis Alfonso De Alba, Iran’s Ambassador Alireza Moayeri stressed that: “The international conference on the Holocaust, held in Teheran, has been an academic event, to examine and investigate the facts about a historical claim without any prejudice or judgment (...) This is a legitimate question that: while there are serious opposing ideas over the issue, in particular on the number of perished, among scholars around the world, why an artificial red line has to taboo [sic] the entire issue of the Holocaust, preventing to bridge this gap, in total contradiction of article 19 of the UDHR and article 19 of the ICCPR.”
We strongly urge the Secretary-General, the Human Rights High Commissioner and Council President, and all UN Member States, to take heed of the Iranian president’s ‘thinking’ – in particular that ideological parallel between the clear reference in his 26 October 2005 speech to a ‘Jihad ideology’: “the struggle [Jihad] between the Islamic world and the front of the infidels”, and to Hitler’s words in Mein Kampf (My Struggle), describing the “true Aryans” pitted against non-Aryans! Are the horrors of the 20th century’s Nazi “final solution” to be repeated in the 21st – while the international community merely notes “with concern” this gathering storm?
The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s "direct and public incitement to commit genocide" (by the elimination of a Member State, i.e. ‘politicide’) requires FIRM ACTION TODAY. As was stressed over the years: any ‘Contracting Party’ may invoke article VIII of the post-Holocaust Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (approved on 9 December 1948, the day before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and “call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such actions…for the prevention and suppression of…any of the acts enumerated in article III.” Iran’s defiance of the 1945 UN Charter is another reason for all persons and UN bodies to ACT NOW.
René Wadlow (Main Representative of AWE) / David G. Littman (Representative of AWE & WUPJ)
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