We all have responsibility to resist racism and violence – UN

As the world marks the 2018 International Day of Commemoration In Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust today, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has noted that “All of us have a responsibility to quickly, clearly and decisively resist racism and violence. Through education and understanding, we could build a future of dignity, human rights and peaceful coexistence for all.”

Mr Guterres acknowledged in his message delivered in Lagos by the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, that decades since the Second World War, “we see the persistence of anti-Semitism and an increase in other forms of prejudice.” He therefore charged everyone that “We must stand together against the normalization of hate. Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we are all at risk.”

Explaining why the UN was commemorating the Day, Mr Kayanja said that it was one of the saddest moments in human history and that was why the UN General Assembly decided that every 27 January, the world should remember the saddest event so that it would not happen again. “We are talking to the students because we do not want a future where a human being kills another human being just because they are different from him or her or they are of different tribes or religions.” He added.

Speaking, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District 1, Dr O. Abiose Ayandele, urged everyone to treat each other as fellow human beings and learn to live in peace and make the world a better place.Th e Tutor General who was represented by the District’s Director of School Administration, Mrs Akor, added that “We are all one created by one and the same God. No one is superior to the other.”

The observance of the 2018 Holocaust Remembrance in Nigeria, organized on Thursday 25 January 2018, by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Lagos Education District 1, turned out to be a great learning experience and lessons in tolerance, seeking peace and shunning prejudice and hatred for 500 secondary school students and 96 teachers from the Education District.

The students, drawn from the 99 secondary Schools in Education District 1, were exposed to a Poster Exhibition titled, “The Butterfly Project: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust”; Film Screening titled, “The Path To Nazi Genocide” and a Quiz Competition on the Holocaust and the United Nations.

It was a brilliant demonstration of knowledge of the Holocaust and the lessons derived therefrom by the students. Explaining his lessons learnt, Daniel Idulagbe (10 years old) of Meiran Community Junior High School Lagos gleefully acknowledged, “I learnt that we should ensure we are not involved in any form of racism, anti-Semitism, prejudice or hatred against anyone.”

According to Akinfewa Boluwatife (12 years old) Alimosho Junior Grammar school), “We should not discriminate against anyone or any religion or belief. There should be no room for intolerance.” Naomi Ifeoluwa Okikiri (14 years old) of Ojokoro Senior High School, Lagos, summarized her lessons learnt: “I learnt that as human beings, we should learn to tolerate our neighbours.”

Curating the Poster Exhibition, the National Information Officer of UNIC Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that the Poster Exhibition showed what happened to young people, and what happened to their hopes and dreams, during a very difficult time in world history known as the Holocaust.

According to him, “The Nazis were racist and anti-Semitic. The Nazis were anti-Semitic because they were prejudiced against Jewish people. The Nazis believed that people were born inferior or superior depending on the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs.”  This belief, he pointed out to the students, is racist because no person is born a superior or inferior person.

The Quiz competition started with 200 students from 99 schools out of whom 20 students from ten schools qualified for the finals. At the end of the finals the Winners emerged: First place winners were Chigozie Ndubusi and Mosimiloluwa Adebisi (Shasha Senior Community College); Second place were Barakat Adekanbi and Jessica Opara (Ipaja Junior College); while the Third place winners were Augustine Valentine (Stadium Junior Grammar school).

The theme of the Holocaust memorial ceremony is “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility”. The theme highlights the universal dimension of the Holocaust and encourages education on this tragedy so that future generations will firmly reject all forms of racism, violence and anti-Semitism. The Holocaust was a defining point in history and its lessons have much to teach about the danger of extremism and the prevention of genocide today.

Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/7) by consensus condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.