UN honours Witnesses on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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FILE PHOTO: The United Nations emblem is pictured at the 2nd Preparatory session of the 2020 Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

BY ATHLAI TATENDA MDZUNGAIRI
THE United Nations (UN) has urged member States to honour the six million Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other victim groups, who were systematically and ruthlessly murdered by the Nazis.

The UN made the statement as the world commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD). The commemorations are held annually on January 27.

This year’s theme is Memory, Dignity and Justice.

In its remarks, the UN encouraged member States to bring awareness and help prevent future genocides.

“The writing of history and the act of remembering brings dignity and justice to those whom the perpetrators of the Holocaust intended to obliterate,” the UN said

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum said Jehovah’s Witnesses prisoners deserved recognition over the way “they managed to hold on to their moral principles under camp conditions”.

“Aside from brief mentions, the literature on the history of Auschwitz Concentration Camp does not take account of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (referred to in the camp records as Bible Students) who were imprisoned because of their religious convictions,” the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum said in a statement.

The Auschwitz left its mark as one of the most infamous camps of the Holocaust.

Jehovah’s Witness Zimbabwe spokesperson John Hunguka emphasised the importance of remembering Jehovah’s Witnesses’ prisoners who were subjected to intense persecution under the Nazi regime.

“Out of 35 000 Witnesses lived in Nazi-occupied Europe, more than one-third suffered direct persecution. 1 600 killed, 548 by executed by firing squad and beheading, including 39 minors. Hundreds of children were abducted from Witnesses’ families and taken to reformatories,” he said.

“Remembering the Witnesses’ experiences is important because they are still being systematically attacked imprisoned, beaten, and tortured for peacefully practicing their faith in some countries, Russia being the foremost persecutor.”

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