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Acceptance Speech upon the Conferral of the "Educator's Award" 2011

by Canadians for Genocide Education

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you for this honour and bow my head in respect before those who really deserve to be honoured and to be remembered,
before the victims and their descendats, often victims of silence, of indiffenrence, of negationism.

Remembrance is a noble duty, which we owe to the past and to the future. Memory is identity, and identity is a fundamental human right.
The first United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Jose Ayala Lasso, always spoke about human dignity as the source of all human rights.
He insisted on the equality in dignity of all human beings and the right of all victims to our compassion. He reminded us that there can be no 
discrimination or competition among victims.  
I agree with Ayala Lasso and encourage you to persevere in your work of remembrance.  
You owe it to yourselves and to future generations. 

The current UN High Commissioner, Judge Navi Pillay, is committed to giving a voice to all victims
and to reaffirm a fundamental right that has yet to be codified:  The right to truth.
This right also entails the right to historical memory.  Judge Pillay has recently presented a report to the Human Rights Council on this subject.

All victims are entitled to the truth, to their history, to their honour, to recognition of their status as victims.
Such recognition represents an essential form of rehabilitation to victims.
Thus, you are entitled to see your histories recognized in education and reflected in a dignified manner in museums and exhibitions.
We all want reconciliation among peoples and generations. But reconciliation is only possible on the basis of an acceptance of historical facts
and on a sincere commitment to make amends for past wrongs.
Indeed, truth must be lived in society, every day.  It must be conveyed in the media, in the classroom, in universities, in history books, in museums.

Ladies and gentlemen, 
as I accept this honour from you, I encourage you to share your history with your children, with friends, with colleagues at work and in the community.
I for one believe in the power of reason and of dialogue.  I teach genocide studies in Geneva and endeavour to honour the memory of the "unsung victims",
the victims of silence and indifference.
One day you shall have recognition and rehabilitation.  I am convinced that truth and justice shall prevail.

May God bless you.

 

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