An elderly couple lays a wreath in front of a memorial for the victims of the Nazi concentration camp in Sachsenhausen.
Those who deny the tragedy of the Shoah only “perpetuate falsehoods and make a mockery of the pain,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday.
Ban spoke during his address to the General Assembly at the official International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.
“The Holocaust was a colossal crime,” he continued. “The evidence is irrefutable.”
The secretary-general also said that he was “profoundly disappointed” to learn of Iran’s Holocaust cartoon contest to be held in June.
“At this time of sectarian tensions, mutual respect must be foremost in our minds,” Ban told the General Assembly. “Spreading hatred and toying with historical facts only leads down the dead-end of discord and danger.”
Ban also addressed the ongoing conflict in Syria and said it is “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”
“Today, we see actions of Da’esh [ISIS] that may amount to grave crimes against minority groups such as the Yazidis,” he said. “I call on those who have influence over the Syrian parties to press for sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout Syria. And I again remind all parties that starvation as a weapon of war and the deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime. All those responsible must be held accountable.
“On this day of Holocaust remembrance, I urge everyone to denounce political and religious ideologies that set people against people,” the secretary-general continued.
The 11th Tehran International Cartoon Biennial, which is sponsored by the municipal authorities in Tehran, will focus on cartoons depicting the Holocaust. The winner will receive a $50,000 cash prize.
Several Israeli officials including UN Ambassador Danny Danon have spoken against the competition. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote a letter to Ban urging him to condemn it and directly address Iran’s Holocaust denial.
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