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On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Active respect for human rights prevents crimes against humanity

In January 1995, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, German President Roman Herzog proclaimed 27 January the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism, and on 3 November 2005 the UN General Assembly in New York declared it International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since 2008, Slovenia has commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Marking this immensely tragic period in the history of humanity, Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina highlights the importance of caring for human rights, preserving memories and actively preventing the emergence of any action that gives rise to genocide or other crimes against humanity. 

“Such crimes happen long before we are able to comprehend them. Holocaust did not happen overnight. First there was discontent and prejudice, then stereotyping and verbal dehumanisation, followed by physical destruction. Knowing the mechanisms of such crimes, it is our duty to be alert to them and prevent them from the very beginning, when they start to occur," Svetina warns. 

“In relation to human rights and dignity of every person, it is important to be active and vigilant at all times. Even more so when we are affected by all kinds of social crises, when  there is more insecurity, increasing dissatisfaction and intolerance, when the ethics of public discourse falls below acceptable levels, negative stereotypes towards the unknown are reinforced and the victims of our anger multiply. Otherness becomes a slur, the circumstances of the crisis an excuse for intolerance or even hostility. From contempt to extermination can be only a step, if it is not noticed and not stopped," warns Ombudsman Svetina. Looking away from violations of someone else's rights can quickly turn into infringing our own.

"Let the dark periods of human history be a daily reminder that it is possible to act and live without harm to our fellow human beings, responsibly and with respect for the dignity of every person," says Ombudsman Svetina, as we commemorate the Holocaust.