Dr. William Soto | Speech Given at the National Assembly of Panama

Dr. William Soto | Speech Given at the National Assembly of Panama

 Honorable Deputy Sergio Rafael Gálvez Evers, President of the National Assembly; Deputy Abraham Martínez Montilla, First Vice-President of the National Assembly; Deputy Miguel Ángel Fanovich, Second Vice-President; honorable deputies and other officials present, good morning.

I thank the Legislative Assembly for the opportunity to present the proposal of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace to include the course “The Holocaust as the Paradigm of Genocide” into Panama’s education system.

The Holocaust is a stain of indignity and shame on the history of the human race, because not only were those who perpetrated these acts guilty of the death of more than 20 million people, but those who remained silent also became accomplices of this barbaric act.

That is why today, although some people and nations attempt to hide or lessen the magnitude of this genocide, gathering here today and talking about this crime against humanity at the National Assembly of Panama is a way to honor the memory of the victims.

Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents, and the mentally ill were considered impure by the Nazi regime. What drove the Nazis was a racist ideology: they believed in a racial hierarchy. According to this theory, some races were superior, while others were considered “inferior” or “parasitic.” This is how they justified the extermination, through an ideology that Hitler implanted in schools.

While there have been other genocides, the Holocaust divided the history of civilized society in a before and after, because Hitler reached the dehumanization of man; he used science, technology, and industries for the purpose of mass destruction.

The United Nations Resolution 60/7 of November 1, 2005 urges Member States to develop educational programmes that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.” And Resolution 61/255 of January 26, 2007 “rejects efforts to deny the Holocaust which, by ignoring the historical fact of those terrible events, increase the risk they will be repeated.”

Genocide is neither inevitable nor accidental; it has been recognized as one of the gravest crimes against humanity, and one of the gravest violations of human rights.

The Holocaust is the paradigm par excellence of the genocidal act. As such, and in compliance with the guidelines established by the United Nations, the Holocaust must be studied in schools, public and private colleges, and as a case study in universities.

In order to prevent the repetition of crimes against humanity, we must promote in different educational centers an education with values, focused on respect for the dignity of the human being, so that students learn the value of the defense of human rights and become aware of the importance of building paths for the peace of the human family, and measure the consequences of wars and any other discriminatory and belligerent behavior.

The Holocaust did not happen abruptly or by chance. It was the result of education based on antisemitism; it is the fruit of hatred, discrimination, and intolerance. Such genocide was the greatest defeat of global education in universities and schools, the product of political irrationality and insensitivity.

For this genocide to have taken place, there was a systematic preparation and indoctrination based on the mistaken belief in the existence of a superior race. Known by history as a capital crime, it was committed with unfair advantage, in a premeditated and malicious manner, taking advantage of the helplessness of a people.

Discrimination, hatred and intolerance are the catalysts that trigger the explosion of genocide.

Hitler used education as an instrument to spread his ideologies.

The development of scientific and technological knowledge is not enough to prevent the repetition of an act as atrocious as this genocide, which claimed millions of lives. Hitler carried out these crimes in one of the most advanced nations of its.

Therefore, an education with values is one of the key instruments to prevent another genocide from happening. One can educate for hate or for peace.

In a study published earlier this year in France, the United Nations published a study through UNESCO which stated that genocides occur because people and governments make decisions that allow for the perpetuation of discrimination and persecution.

When the Holocaust is carefully studied, a profound sense of its complexity is acquired and one becomes aware that these events have no simple explanation, they are instead the result of the convergence of multiple historical, economic, religious, and political factors that must be studied. At the same time, this helps us understand that we can begin preventing genocide and mass atrocities by identifying warning signs.

When young people learn about other cases of genocide and crimes against humanity, they will understand that disasters caused by humans are not accidents of nature, and can therefore be avoided.

Our goal at the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace is to educate present and future generations, to raise awareness about the consequences of discrimination and intolerance so that crimes against a group of people due to racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, idiomatic, religious, gender, or any other type of discrimination, never take place again.

To achieve this goal, I would like to propose to you, honorable deputies, with the utmost respect, that through a law of the National Assembly “The Holocaust: Paradigm of Genocide” be included as a subject of study in the last years of study in schools, and as a course of study or a case study in universities, in order to encourage reflection on the value of life and human dignity.

Genocide can happen again. In fact, there are currently precursor conditions indicating the development of another genocide, which is preventable if we raise awareness among the global population as to the fact that we cannot be indifferent or passive in the face of current manifestations of intolerance and discrimination.

 During the Holocaust, about 20 million people died due to the indifference of authorities and political leaders who could have prevented these crimes, but preferred to remain silent. And in seeing the resurgence of extremist groups, particularly neo-Nazi groups in Latin America and Europe, we realize that we are seeing the warning signs which call on us to take action.

Honorable deputies: You have the freedom, but also the political responsibility and ethical and moral commitment to promote and enact laws in defense of human rights that guarantee the right to life and prohibit all forms of discrimination. The teaching of the origin, history, and repercussions of the Holocaust as the paradigm of genocide will raise awareness among new generations as to the ravages of hatred, intolerance and discrimination, and will allow them to identify the warning signs in order to counteract, and thus prevent, the recurrence of another genocide.

If this proposal is welcome among you, I offer all the assistance that the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace can provide.

Thank you very much.