Dr. Shimon Samuels
Director for International Relations
Simon Wiesenthal Center
7 April 2013
Mr. Ambassador of Rwanda to France, our host and my friend Marcel Kabanda, President of “Ibuka” (“Remember”), friends.
The late Simon Wiesenthal would have been most impressed by Ibuka’s tracking of Hutu genocidists’ fugitive in France, some of whom will finally be facing the bar of justice. Much more work is still required.
Genocide Avenue is marked with many chronological signposts and should provide a solidarity platform for all massacred peoples. Each signpost exposes the emptiness of such expressions as “Never Again”. But solidarity among the victims of genocides can act as a lever against the identity theft of the narratives of victim peoples’, in other words, to contain the subsequent denial, banalization and trivialization common to all victimologies.
Simon Wiesenthal, in 1998 – the UN “Year of Tolerance” – was Austria’s representative at the 50th General Assembly. There, he spoke out on Srebenica and Rwanda, calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators
In Kigali, in 1996, I sat among an intergenerational gathering of Armenian, Jewish, Cambodian and Tutsi survivors in a shared circle of communion.
Last week marked the 25th anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds of Halabja – over 5,000 dead and 27,000 wounded in one day.
Speaking to Kurdish television on a preparatory visit, I said, “As a Jew, once exiled from the Land of Israel to Babylon, here, a few kilometers from the border of today’s Iran, we wrote a book called the Talmud, which states, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, then when?’”
We are here for you, just as I believe you will be there for us.
I can never forget the Tutsi hecatomb of over 20,000 corpses of aged, adults and children in the open air at Morombi.
Halabja, Morombi, or a twenty-minute drive from here, Drancy, a way station to Auschwitz for French Jews. These today are monuments, signposts on the Avenue of Genocide that must serve as warnings, not as precedents.