Holocaust Remembrance Day and freedom of expression

On Monday the 27th of January, Robyn Baker, Chairperson of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and Vicki Soanes, Secretary General, attended Holocaust Remembrance Day organised by the Holocaust Centre in Wellington.

The commemoration also acknowledged the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp, Auschwitz.

National Commission Chair, Robyn Baker, spoke at the Wellington event highlighting the importance of freedom of expression as central to our human rights, but also stressing the that it is a right that needs to be collectively protected.

Speaking to the audience, she emphasised that freedom of expression is linked to peace, stating:

“UNESCO views freedom of expression and the sharing and building of collective knowledge and mutual understanding as essential for creating an environment where peace thrives.”

She continued by acknowledging the March 15 mosque attacks, and their intention to quell religious and cultural freedom in New Zealand, while remarking on New Zealand’s prompt response and commitment to prevent the spread of hatred through the internet, by working to establish the Christchurch Call – which UNESCO is a signatory to, saying:

“A founding principle of the Call is to ensure that action taken be consistent with the principles of a free, open and secure internet, and without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression.”

MP for Wellington Central, and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Grant Robertson also spoke at the event and laid a stone of remembrance alongside Secretary General, Vicki Soanes.