Iran Defiant as UN Condemns Holocaust Denial
- Friday, January 26, 2007
The one member state that did make its opposition clear was Iran, whose hosting of a conference last month to examine the Holocaust - the Nazis' systematic attempt to wipe out Europe's Jews - was the underlying reason for the resolution.
Iran said it was disassociating itself "from this entire hypocritical political exercise."
"Genocide and immense sufferings associated with that horrific crime should not be manipulated for political purposes," envoy Hossein Gharibi told the meeting.
"Regrettably, the Israeli regime has routinely attempted to exploit the sufferings of the Jewish people in the past as a cover for the crimes it has perpetuated over the past six decades against Palestinians in the occupied territories including massacres, targeted assassination, ethnic cleansing, and state terrorism," he said.
Gharibi added that the resolution did not refer to "other cases of genocide perpetuated in various parts of the world in the past and present especially the crimes perpetuated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Palestine, Rwanda, and the Balkans."
Jewish groups earlier urged all 191 U.N. member states to co-sponsor the resolution, but in the end only 103 did. Reuters reported that more than 20 nations' envoys were absent from the chamber at the time the decision was finalized.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement welcomed the resolution, which he said "reflects the prevailing view of the international community."
Ban said "the denial of historical facts such as the Holocaust is unacceptable" and called for that principle to be "respected both in rhetoric and in practice."
The resolution does not name Iran, which last month hosted an official conference at which - according to Tehran - "some 70 researchers from Iran and 30 other countries presented their ideas and thoughts [on the Holocaust] in an academic atmosphere."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who convened the conference, has called the Holocaust a "myth," and in a letter to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council earlier this month, Iranian ambassador Alireza Moayeri referred to "the highly controversial official version of the Holocaust."
Speaking during Friday's session, Washington's acting ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, said "conferences like those sponsored by Iran are designed solely to polarize and incite hatred. If successful they can then use that hatred as a catalyst to justify genocide."
"Some will cloak their hatred and hidden agenda by invoking the right to free speech and academic freedom," Wolff said. "There is a categorical difference between free speech and speech which willfully and maliciously ignores recognized historical facts in order to advance an ulterior agenda."
On Monday, the U.N. will mark the international day of commemoration in memory of Holocaust victims, and the U.S. timed the resolution to coincide with Jan. 27, the anniversary of the allies' liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1945.
Five human rights groups Friday called on Ban and other top U.N. officials to use Monday's commemoration to confront Iran directly over its stance on the Holocaust.
"The ongoing racist campaign by Iran must be combated and publicly repudiated at each and every incident," U.N. Watch, Freedom House, the Democracy Coalition Project, the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre and the International Federation of Housing and Planning said in a joint letter.
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