12.02.2013 - ODG

The Director-General is shocked by the anti-Semitic representation at the Aalst carnival that caricatures the Holocaust

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova learned with deep indignation about the fake Nazi rail car that paraded during the Aalst Carnival, which is inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, where SS officers revel and drink champagne, to the tune of popular German songs.

I am deeply shocked by this unacceptable act that is an insult to the memory of the 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. This Nazi rail car goes against all the values of the Aalst Carnival, which is inscribed as part of humanity’s cultural heritage, as well as against the values of UNESCO, which works for mutual understanding, tolerance and peace,” declared the Director-General.

The history of the Holocaust must not be trivialized for the purposes of a local political situation or to fuel hatred. This testifies to the deeply worrying belittling of the Holocaust and the deportations, in the very heart of the continent where this tragedy occurred.”

I condemn firmly this violation of the spirit of the Aalst Carnival, characterized by freedom and satire, which cannot justify the recourse to antisemitic stereotypes,” continued the Director-General.

Irina Bokova immediately contacted the authorities of Belgium, as foreseen in the Directives of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, whose Article 2 stipulates that UNESCO will give consideration solely to “such intangible cultural heritage as is compatible with existing international human rights instruments, as well as with the requirements of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals, and of sustainable development.”

UNESCO is committed to promoting Holocaust education as a way to build peace through better understanding and knowledge about the darkest pages of humanity’s history. The Organization will not be associated with any declaration or position that goes against its fundamental principles and the objectives of promoting tolerance and mutual understanding on the basis of human rights and human dignity.

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