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International Day of commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust

Memorial Ceremony and Concert
General Assembly Hall

27 January 2010

Remarks

Kiyo Akasaka
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information

Deputy-Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

My name is Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations.

It is my honour and privilege to welcome you to the fifth annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

We meet this evening in the shadow of the tragedy in Haiti. I would like, at the outset, to express my deep condolences to the people of Haiti, and to our colleagues, families and friends who have suffered a great loss.

In these extremely challenging times, the United Nations is doing all it can to provide support.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We will begin tonight’s ceremony with a minute of silence in honour of the victims of the Holocaust. May I ask you all to please rise.

                   [MINUTE OF SILENCE]

I would like to offer a very warm and special welcome to the many Holocaust survivors who join us here from near and far.  

          We also welcome the members of the Roma and Sinti community who are with us here tonight.

We gather in this august Hall to remember and honour the victims, the survivors, and all those who fought against the forces of evil during one of the darkest chapters in our common history, the Holocaust.

Millions of innocent Jews and countless members of other minorities were murdered in the most barbarous ways imaginable. We must never forget those men, women and children, and their suffering. In remembering them, we pay tribute to their lives.

This evening, we focus on the theme “The Legacy of Survival.” We do so in recognition of the strength, courage, and resilience that the survivors -- and the brave soldiers who liberated them -- share as a common bond.

We have much to learn from their experiences and the painful and inspiring legacy they leave to future generations.

And as the number of survivors become smaller and smaller, their testimony becomes more and more precious.

It is crucial to share their legacy, to ensure that people everywhere understand the universal lessons of the Holocaust, and to instil respect for diversity and human rights in generations to come.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deeply regrets that he is unable to be with all of you tonight.  He is travelling to London for an international conference on Afghanistan.

The Secretary-General recorded this special message for this occasion, which we will now see.

   [MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL]