ERG/AOP urges Picardo to not allow UN International Holocaust Memorial Day to slide in public importance


“For us at ERG/AOP, the pivotal importance to the community of Gibraltar of marking the annual commemoration which is the UN International Holocaust Memorial Day cannot be overstated’, Equality Rights Group/Action on Poverty Chair, Felix Alvarez said today.

‘The crimes that human beings are capable of perpetrating towards each other continue to populate and plague the world today and ‘never again’ simply does not go far enough in expressing the level of heightened vigilance we must all exercise.

‘From our earliest days as a human and civil rights NGO in Gibraltar, the Holocaust has been a top priority in marking our concern and commitment to the central urgency of respect for freedom, democracy and human rights. It was, after all, ERG that 18 years ago in January 2005, wrote to the Jewish Community Managing Board expressing our solidarity as we approached this signal international day, as well as to then Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Sir Peter Caruana, calling for the adoption of the event locally. That call for an annual local commemoration was to form a repeated campaign call through the years which culminated in its official adoption with the election of the first Picardo Administration.

This year, as every year, the event is being marked on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland on that day in 1945. And ERG/AOP will stand with the Chief Minister outside No. 6 for the lighting of a candle and a One Minute Silence.

‘Whilst I have officially responded to the invitation for participation in this planned commemoration action by No. 6 with acceptance on behalf of our organisations, this is too small a gesture for such an immeasurable scale of significance.

‘I have therefore also expressed our dissatisfaction with the trend which has become increasingly obvious over the past few years (and on which we have previously commented publicly) which contrasts significantly with the level of commitment accorded to an event which reminds us of the abhorrent crimes against humanity visited upon around 6 million Jews, people of different faiths and ethnicities, homosexuals and sexual minorities, women, the disabled, people of differing political opinion and many others. The gravity and weight of the historic abomination the Holocaust was and continues to represent today merits a consonant level of commemoration which the Gibraltar event originally attained and which, it appears, has slipped and relegated considerably on the official agenda.

‘Commonwealth Park was specifically provided and assigned a significant commeorative plaque to this end; and the active involvement of No. 6 assigned staff with relevant community organisations in the planning of the event appears to have been left behind in favour of bureaucratic brevity. This is not on, and constitutes a sad and bad signal to Gibraltar. We deserve better.

‘I have therefore urged the Chief Minister to do justice to this commemoration by laying plans for Gibraltar’s permanent raising of profile for the local marking of this event.

‘ERG/AOP reiterate their special sensibility and unwavering solidarity with the Jewish community of Gibraltar and again take the opportunity to extend sincerest respects and condolences for the still recent passing of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Levy. Our commitment to the rights of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable and poor, is as equally non-negotiable as the inalienable humanity which underlies and frames our collective well-being as a society.’