Nine countries have condemned Russia for „crimes and atrocities” committed against Ukrainians after its invasion and for “misappropriating” Holocaust history for political ends.
Envoys for Holocaust issues from Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the U.S issued a statement on Thursday on the 81st anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the most infamous mass slaughters of World War II.
Nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in Babi Yar – a ravine in the Ukrainian capital – during the city’s occupation by Nazi forces in 1941.
“ We can never let the memories of those victims and all who were murdered in the Holocaust be dishonored, erased, or cynically misused for political purposes,” read the statement sent to Universul.net by Alexandru Muraru, Romania’s anti-Semitism czar.
“It is particularly horrifying that Vladimir Putin is trying to justify his unprovoked war against Ukraine by distorting and misappropriating Holocaust history. Saying that today’s democratic Ukraine needs to be “denazified” is an insult to all those who suffered under the Nazi regime in Ukraine and elsewhere.”
“Such distortion erodes understanding of the Holocaust, disrespects its legacy, and undermines contemporary global efforts to prevent mass atrocities so that another Holocaust can never again occur.”
It said Russia had violated the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention which protects civilians during armed conflict.
“The unlawful transfer or deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Convention and a war crime. Today, estimates from a variety of sources indicate that Russia’s authorities and its proxies have detained, interrogated, and reportedly tortured hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens” including children.
”Russian authorities have denied this is happening despite substantial evidence from many sources.”
We unequivocally condemn these actions and all of Russia’s crimes and atrocities in Ukraine. We call on Russia to immediately end its war of aggression against Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also paid his respects to the victims of the Babi Yar massacre.
He wrote on his social media page that similar crimes against humanity still occur today, “in particular, on our Ukrainian land.” He added that criminals responsible for such tragedies must be punished “so that dictators and tyrants are reluctant to repeat something similar in the future.”
The signatories of the statement are:
- Canada: Irwin Cotler, Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism
- Croatia: Sara Lustig, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Holocaust Issues and Combating Antisemitism
- Czech Republic: Robert Rehak, Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust, Interfaith Dialogue and Freedom of Religion
- Germany: Robert Klinke, Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organisations, Issues Relating to Antisemitism, International Sinti and Roma Affairs, and Holocaust Remembrance
- Greece: Dimitris Yannakakis, Ambassador, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Combating Antisemitism and Promoting Holocaust Remembrance
- Netherlands: Ernst Steigenga, National Delegate on Holocaust remembrance, education and research at the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
- Romania: Alexandru Muraru, Special Representative for Promoting the Policies of Memory, for Fighting against Antisemitism and Xenophobia
- United Kingdom: Lord Eric Pickles, Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues
- United States: Ellen Germain, Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues