Tuesday, January 23, 2007

U.S. drafts resolution condemning Holocaust deniers

U.S. drafts resolution condemning Holocaust deniers
By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States intends to introduce a U.N. resolution on Tuesday condemning deniers of the Holocaust, a document aimed at a conference in Iran last year dominated by delegates who questioned the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazis in World War Two.

U.S. officials hope the resolution, which so far is backed by 39 nations including Europeans, Russia and China, could be adopted on Friday in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly.

The measure urges member states "to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event" and "condemns without reservation any denial of the Holocaust."

It does not mention Iran by name, although American officials said it was a reaction to the Tehran conference convened in December by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Most speakers threw doubt on the mass extermination of Jews.

Since coming to power in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has caused an international outcry by terming the Holocaust a "myth" and calling Israel a "tumor" in the Middle East.

At the urging of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the General Assembly in 2005 held its first ever session on the Holocaust to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

The Assembly designated January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration for victims of the Holocaust and the U.S. resolution is timed to coincide with that date.

Up to 1.5 million prisoners, most of them Jews, were killed in Auschwitz alone. A total of six million Jews and millions of others including Poles, homosexuals, Russians and Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis and their allies during the war.

The United Nations was founded on the ashes of World War Two and the U.N. Charter includes the words "untold sorrow" as the world was learning the full horror of the Nazi German death camps.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in December, shortly before he took office, that it was unacceptable for Iran to deny the Holocaust or call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

"Denying historical facts especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust is just not acceptable," Ban said.