WASHINGTON – The Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) called today for stronger action by governments and international organizations against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
Appearing in taped remarks before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Conference on Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance in Cordoba, Spain, Senator Brownback said, “Sadly, while the world professed shock at the scope of the atrocities and cruelty of the Holocaust, it has not prevented genocides elsewhere – Bosnia, Rwanda and now Darfur.”
The Cordoba Conference is a meeting of government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to discuss their progress in combating anti-Semitism and other forms of racism. The main purpose of the conference is to allow governments to report on specific measures they have undertaken to implement relevant to OSCE commitments on opposing racism.
While arguing that non-governmental organizations were an important part of the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, Brownback added, “We must never lose sight of the fact that the responsibility for action rests first and foremost with governments. Unfortunately, for too many countries we’ve only seen lip service…Political will is essential. Regrettably, implementation has been uneven.”
Brownback also added that the Helsinki Commission would continue to work with other governments and parliamentarians to encourage them to be proactive in the battle against anti-Semitism and racism generally. He also mentioned that recent episodes of violence suggest that bigotry toward Jews, Roma and persons of African and Arab descent is on the rise and that the history of the Holocaust must be taught in schools and homes everywhere with the lesson “never again.”
“The testimonies of those who survived Auschwitz and the other death camps attest to the capacity of evil,” noted Brownback. “At the same time, the lives of the survivors underscore the resilience of the human spirit and the fact that good can and must prevail over evil.”