President Sarkisian: Armenians “More than Anyone” Empathize with Jewish People’s Pain

YEREVAN (– On the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust UN Armenia Office, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jewish Community participated in a solemn ceremony to pay tribute to the memory of the victims. The UN Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Manassarian placed a wreath at the Holocaust Memorial in Aragast Park followed by prayers and a candlelight vigil.

The event continued in the National Library of Armenia with an exhibition of posters featuring documentary fragments of the history of the Holocaust and the WWII, award winning posters on the topic, as well as publications from the UN Reference Library and the National Library stocks. In the events hall of the National Library where media and a youth audience from schools and universities of Yerevan was gathered, UN, MFA and Jewish community representatives spoke about the mass killings of primarily Jews, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, Sintiand Roma, homosexuals, disabled persons and Jehovah’s witnesses.

In his speech, UN Resident Coordinator Bradley Busetto stated: “While honoring the memory of the victims, this international day of commemoration is our opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the international community to taking action against anti-semitism, racism, and intolerance, and to preventing similar violence in the future.”

Seventy years have passed since the liberation of the Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, a place where the Nazis introduced the monstrous concept of “industrialized murder”.While speaking about these tragic events and crimes against humanity Rabbi Gershon Meir Burshtein, and the Chairwoman of the Jewish Community Rimma Varzhapetyan-Feller highlighted the lessons of tolerance that especially the youth should learn. Speaking and telling about these inhuman acts of genocide and annihilation can prevent the modern day crimes and attempts of genocide, hatred, discrimination and xenophobia.

As the theme of this year’s observance was “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors” UN HQ films on liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau through testimonies of survivors and veterans, as well as on the 10th anniversary of the Holocaust and UN Outreach Programme were also screened. Information materials on Holocaust were available for media and youth.The whole event was concluded by Willy Weiner’s somber music (a prominent Jewish composer in Armenia, chairman of the Jewish Cultural Center Menora).

UN Department of Public Information Yerevan Office jointly with the UN Depository Library located in the National Library of Armenia were the main organizers of the day. To mark this observance through education outreach activity had a goal to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations preventing genocides from occurring again.

President Sarkisian’s message

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has issued a message on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The message reads, in part:

“The genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people during the years of theWorld War Second is, indeed, one of the most cruel and tragic pages in human history. January 27, which symbolized the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, became an important haven for stopping the evil of the Holocaust.

The commemoration of the Holocaust victims and the condemnation of this genocide is urgent as long as there are most different expressions of hatred and intolerance based on national, racist and religious ground, and as long as the threat of reoccurrence of crimes against humanity is there.

It’s an unequivocal truth that consigning of the victims of genocide to oblivion and denying the genocides, especially on a state level, is one of the stages of that crime. It’s a double crime not only against the innocent victims, but also against the present and the future. Perhaps, it could be possible to prevent the crime perpetrated under the cover of World War Second, had the crime against humanity perpetrated during World War First been dully condemned by the international community.

Once again bowing before the memory of the innocent victims of the Holocaust, I would like to express my support and solidarity to the Jewish people, the Jewish community of Armenia. The Armenian nation, which is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, more than empathizes the pain of the Jewish people.

I reiterate our commitment to fight jointly to prevent the crimes against humanity with a resoluteness to say “never again.”

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