Holocaust Remembrance Day in Ghana: Renewing the commitment to human rights
This year’s International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (27 January) was observed under the theme “Educating for a Better Future”. In Accra, the United Nations co-organised a Public Forum with the Embassy of the State of Israel and the Embassy of Germany, and an outreach event and exhibition for some 200 students.
“Let us build a future of dignity and equality for all – and thus honour the victims of the Holocaust who we will never allow to be forgotten,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In Ghana, tribute was paid at a joint Forum on 25 January. Panelists Christine Evans-Klock, UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, H.E. Ami Mehl, Ambassador of the State of Israel, H.E. Christoph Retzlaff, Ambassador of Germany, Dr. Caesar Atuire, Lecturer, University of Ghana, and Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister-Designate for Environment, Science and Technology, looked to the future and discussed the need to join forces to prevent genocide from occurring again.
Christine Evans-Klock made an appeal for human rights and peace. “Today we remember the victims. We remember the crimes committed against the Jews during the Holocaust. We renew our commitment to prevent such atrocities. And we reject the spread of hate that leads to acts of violence,” she said, and raised the question: “Who do we treat as the “Other” today? Who is at risk of not having their rights recognized and protected, of being excluded, of being ostracized in our society? Who fears violence?”
Ambassador Mehl stressed that prevention is key: “We cannot change the past, but we can learn to change the future.”
In his speech, Ambassador Retzlaff warned against old and new prejudices, and said that solidarity and the respect of human dignity were key values for a peaceful togetherness.
Dr. Caesar Atuire explored the role of education, religion, and political leaders in preventing human rights abuses, and called for the need to overcome prejudice.
The theme “Educating for a Better Future” emphasises the fact that Holocaust education has a universal dimension and can serve as an appropriate platform for building respect for human rights, increasing tolerance and defending our common humanity.
At an outreach event organised by UNIC Accra at Alpha Beta Christian College on 27 January, 200 students from three schools in Accra gathered to learn about the Holocaust and the lessons to be learnt.
Bernhard Abels, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Germany in Ghana, reminded that the Holocaust was a universal crime, and unfortunately not the last genocide that happened, and warned: “It is dangerous to hate anyone for what they are as human beings.”
Cynthia Prah, National Information Officer at UNIC, called upon the students that each and everyone has a responsibility to take action when intolerance and human rights violations happen, be it at school or in our communities.
In a poster contest, the students used different forms of artistic expression to share why they think the Holocaust needs to be remembered today. “We need to learn to be better people and tolerate each and every one of us,” said one student presenting her work.