At the Gardner Auditorium at the State House of Massachusetts, on January 30, students from different educational sectors participated at the first “Educating to Remember – The Holocaust, Paradigm of Genocide” forum in the United States.
With the reading of Resolution 60/7, of November 1, 2005, the CEO of the United Nations in Boston, Fiona Creed, began the presentation of the important, distinguished professionals from different organizations and entities, whose purpose is to work on the defense and promotion of Human Rights.
Dr. Soto spoke on the topic,
“The preservation of historical truth: An imperative to honor the memory of the Holocaust victims”, and he urged to be vigilant to conflicts that are currently taking place in the world.
“The warning signs of a possible commission of genocides is being seen in newspapers. We must be proactive so that anti-discrimination laws are globally passed, so that denial is counteracted, and the honor of the memory of the Holocaust victims, and of every other genocide, are preserved in historical truth”,
State Representative, Brendan Crighton, who formed part of the lecturers, spoke about “Democracy and Human Rights”, and advised young people to become more active in the formation of important laws for their State:
“We are here today at the State House. I have the honor of coming here to work every day; you are my boss. I see a great number of students here that are from Lynn. This is big, this is where laws are made, you are in this building today; take advantage of that. We need to hear more from you, about things that are of utmost importance to you. We must work harder to explain what we are doing here today. This educational component is really the only way we are going to make a difference, in the United States as well as around the world.”
Robert O Trestan, Director of the Regional Anti-Defamation League of New England, shared the theme “Racism: Improvements and challenges”, and performed a reflection with the students on the latest results obtained from surveys which were globally conducted, in order to measure levels of discrimination:
“Listen to this, only 54% of those surveyed have heard of the Holocaust. Now, this is very serious. Two of every three people surveyed have never heard of the Holocaust or do not believe in the historical background of the Holocaust. Well, what does this mean? This means they think it was exaggerated. They think that the number of people mentioned today, mentioned in the video, is an exaggeration or that it is simply false. This is a very serious problem. Education is truly critical for what we are speaking of and to prevent this from happening again.”
Moreover, they had the valuable testimony of a survivor of the Cambodian genocide, who currently holds the position of Councilor of the City of Lynn, Mr. Hong Net, who recounted the most difficult moments of his childhood when he lost his mother under the rule of the Khmer Rouge:
“So the Khmer Rouge began to evacuate everyone; within hours, the entire country was empty; everyone went to live in forests or fields and nobody knew where they were going. Women would give birth to babies on the streets. Those who were injured, sick, or children that could not continue, were left on the streets to be murdered by the Khmer Rouge, and they forced their families to continue moving forward.
My mother died of overwork, after she gave birth to a baby, my youngest brother. Immediately after giving birth to my youngest brother she was forced to work in the rice fields. She could not take it, so she died suddenly in front of me.”
Lectures were also given by the Attorney before the Superior Court of Bogota, Colombia, Dr. Camilo Montoya Reyes; Consul General of Israel in New England, Yeduda Yaakon; and Chief of the Lynn Police Department, Kervin Coppinger. The forum included a photographic exhibition at the State House, which was presented by student volunteers, and was carried out to celebrate the International Commemoration Day of the Victims of the Holocaust, January 27, date declared by the United Nations on January 2005.