United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he was “deeply saddened” to learn the passing yesterday of Elie Wiesel, 87, a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and long-standing UN Messenger of Peace.
“The world has lost one of its most important witnesses -- and one of its most eloquent advocates of tolerance and peace,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, describing him as “a powerful voice” for Holocaust remembrance.
“Elie Wiesel turned the nightmare of his youth into a lifelong campaign for global equality and peace,” Mr. Ban said. “As a UN Messenger of Peace since 1998, he called for constant vigilance in combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.”
According to the statement, Mr. Wiesel was a regular presence at the UN, including at the first-ever International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and often spoke about his experiences at the Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp and appealed to the world to “reject indifference” in the face of genocide, discrimination and other horrors.
Extending his condolences to Mr. Wiesel's wife, family and all others touched by this loss, the Secretary-General said that the UN is grateful for Mr. Wiesel's contributions and remains strongly committed to Holocaust remembrance and the wider struggle for human rights for all, the spokesperson added.
His family said, according to media reports, Mr. Wiesel died peacefully after a long illness.
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), also paid tribute to the memory of Mr. Wiesel.
“Elie Wiesel was a pillar of the conscience of humanity, a moral compass for human rights, human dignity, human strength,” said Ms. Bokova. “Through his work, he put words on the unspeakable, to awaken all minds to the horror of the Holocaust.”
“His legacy is unparalleled and his message is more relevant than ever to fight against antisemitism in all its forms. We all owe him an immense debt, and this is our duty to take forward,” she added.