On the afternoon of March 15, President Tsai Ing-wen attended an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event and delivered remarks, in which she said that history teaches us that unity is key to overcoming obstacles, and that unity has indeed never been more important as we seek to overcome the challenges we face today. The president also emphasized the importance of protecting the values of democracy and human rights, and said that Taiwan will work together with our democratic partners in order to leave a better world to future generations.
Upon arrival, President Tsai watched as a representative from Taiwan's Jewish community and a rabbi each recited prayers, and then joined other distinguished guests on stage to light candles in memory of the Holocaust's victims.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I want to thank you all for coming here today to join us in remembering those who lost their lives in the Holocaust, paying tribute to those who survived, and acknowledging the suffering of all the families and friends affected by this tragedy. My appreciation also goes to the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, the German Institute Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy for organizing this important event. I also want to extend a special thanks to the Holocaust survivor, Ms. Rena Quint, who will share her testimony with us today.
As we gather here to remember the victims of the Holocaust – the six million Jewish people and many others who were murdered – we pledge to never forget this period in history, when human dignity was cast aside for ideology. We should also never stop fighting against the scourge of bigotry.
In Taiwan, we are working to ensure that we also address the injustices of our past and uncover the atrocities committed under the authoritarian rule. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 228 Incident. The effects of the atrocities still linger among the people of Taiwan. After embarking on an endeavor these past few years in the pursuit of transitional justice, we are now entering a new phase.
Taiwan is elevating transitional justice to a priority for the highest levels of government. The Executive Yuan is establishing new government bodies to further instill the values of transitional justice in our policy implementation. We hope this will help bring some closure and comfort to the victims of the White Terror era and their families, while realizing transitional justice in our country.
Even though we have come quite a long way in our work to uphold human rights and fight discrimination, the world must continue to confront antisemitism and authoritarian aggression, which threatens the precious progress we have made. We are also seeing the horrifying effects of such aggression in Ukraine, which is experiencing destruction on a scale not seen since the Second World War.
If we do not remember the mistakes of the past, we are bound to repeat them. And while we are all shocked and saddened by the recent events in Ukraine, we can be heartened by how the international community has come to the support of the Ukrainian people. We have also been deeply moved by the Ukrainian people's resolve in defending their country and their democratic way of life. By speaking out together against the invasion of Ukraine, we stand united behind the values that we share: democracy, freedom, transparency, and peace.
As Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), a pioneering democracy activist in Taiwan, once said: "Compatriots must come together, because there is true strength in unity." History teaches us that unity is essential in overcoming obstacles, and it has never been more important as we seek to overcome the challenges we face today. As we are confronted with the growing threat of authoritarianism, we owe it to the memory of those who came before us to protect the values of democracy and human rights. We will continue to work together with our democratic partners to uphold these values, so that we can leave a better world to future generations.
Thank you all again for being a part of this Holocaust Remembrance Day event. The memories of the Holocaust's victims must be passed down from generation to generation. And, it is incumbent on all of us to remember them. We must never forget. Thank you.
Also in attendance at the event were Legislative Yuan President and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Chairman You Si-kun (游錫堃), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei Representative Omer Caspi, and German Institute Taipei Director General Jörg Polster.