- International Holocaust Remembrance Day observed
- Iran executes 20 people in one day
- Rivlin meets envoys of 10 Asian-Pacific nations
- Israeli team named finalist in international race to moon
Auschwitz survivors gathered at the camp and walked from the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate to the Black Wall, where tens of thousands of prisoners were executed, to pay their respects to the murdered. The commemoration ceremony then moved to nearby Birkenau, which housed the gassing and cremation facilities in which over one million Jews were killed.
A chief flight attendant on an Israel to Warsaw flight on LOT, the Polish national airliner, made an announcement commemorating the Jews murdered during the Holocaust, ending her statement with “shalom.” Flags were flown at half-mast throughout Germany, including at its parliament building. In Tirana, Albania, an olive tree was planted in homage to Albanian non-Jews who protected Jews during the Second World War. As the Associated Press reported, “Albania was the only country in Europe where the number of the Jews during World War II increased after the Muslim majority provided refuge to Jews fleeing other countries.”
Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blasted Iran for its “alarming rate” of executions and the lack of improvement made under the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a report released last October.
Ban was “deeply troubled” by accounts “of executions, floggings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, denial of access to medical care and possible torture and ill-treatment,” according to the 19-page assessment, the last one issued before his term expires.
He also expressed concern “about continued restrictions of public freedoms and the related persecution of civil society actors, the persistence of discrimination against women and minorities and conditions of detention.”
The rate of executions — which in 2015 reached a decade high of 966, according to the UN — is still a matter of concern to the world body, especially because trials “fall short of the international fair standards,” the report added.
Speaking at his residence with ambassadors and charges d’affaires of Australia, India, South Korea, the Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Myanmar, and Nepal, Rivlin observed that “in the last decade we have increased the trade relationship between our peoples.”
“Today, 27 percent of Israel’s trade is now with the Asia-Pacific. The cooperation is wonderful and we are looking to extend our partnerships with every one of you, and all together,” he added.
Rivlin also highlighted the academic ties between Israel and the represented nations, saying that the exchange of students was a way to unite people.