Mon, Jan 28, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Israel, Germany offer lessons, Chen says

REMEMBERING THE HORROR:The Holocaust ‘has become an ethical code, a scale according to which every genocide in the modern era is measured,’ Israel’s envoy said

By Davina Tham  /  Staff reporter

Vice President Chen Chien-jen speaks at an International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the National Central Library in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Taiwan has much to learn from Germany and Israel in the pursuit of transitional justice, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday at a ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The commemoration was organized by the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei and the German Institute Taipei.

Israel’s example of advocating tolerance with reference to Jewish history, and Germany’s honest self-reflection and willingness to take responsibility are worth emulating, Chen said.

“We deeply look forward ... to giving citizens a clearer understanding of the development of human rights in Taiwan and the hardships necessary to strive for and defend human rights, not just to remind ourselves not to repeat the same mistakes, but also to unite and work together,” Chen said.

Taiwan would do its best to continue to stand with the international community in defense of common values of democracy, freedom and human rights, he said.

A 2005 UN resolution designated Jan. 27, the day on which Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp, was liberated in 1945, as the international day to commemorate the genocide in German-occupied Europe of more than 6 million Jews, as well as Roma, disabled people, homosexuals and other groups.

Israel Representative Asher Yarden and German Institute Taipei Director-General Thomas Prinz thanked Taiwan for holding a ceremony for the fourth consecutive year.

Some have questioned the need to commemorate the Holocaust, whether “in innocence” or “with malice,” Yarden said, adding that it is important to honor survivors and recognize the uniqueness of the Holocaust, which “has become an ethical code, a scale according to which every genocide in the modern era is measured.”

Taiwan’s participation made it part of a group that “unequivocally declares its commitment to human rights, to democratic values, to the commemoration of the Holocaust and to the learning of its lessons,” the Israeli envoy said.

Prinz said it was important to “promote a culture of remembrance as a bridge between the past and present,” especially as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles with each year.

Taiwan’s participation in the ceremony put it among the ranks of other liberal democracies, which are “strong bulwarks against human rights abuses and genocide,” he said.

Earlier in the ceremony, Rabbi Shlomi Tabib of the Taipei Jewish Center delivered a prayer in Hebrew.

A video of Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Co’s (台原偶戲團) 2012 play I Have a Name (我有名字), which depicts the real-life stories of three children in the Netherlands aged one-and-a-half to 15 who were killed during World War II, was also shown during the ceremony.

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