print this page

Chair's Blog


Learn more about the activities of IHRA Chair Dr. Mario Silva in his latest blog post below.

Read the IHRA Chair's Blog

Follow the IHRA Chair on Twitter

New Post – 28 November 2013

In November, Holocaust Education Week takes place in my home city of Toronto. I was pleased to participate in an event at Ryerson University, organized by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, titled The Holocaust Legacies: The Canadian Connection. The panel included Irving Abella and Harold Troper, co-authors of None Is Too Many, which is a treatise on Canada’s infamous policies towards Jewish refugees fleeing Europe. This year marks 30 years after its publication.

Next, I left for Uruguay, only a month after the country joined IHRA as an Observer. I met with key officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Education and Culture, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, as well as other government representatives and ambassadors from IHRA member countries. I also delivered speeches at the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and at ORT University, met with students at a Jewish school, as well as Holocaust survivors at the Museum of the Shoa. I was honoured to be recognized as a "Distinguished Visitor” of Montevideo’s City Hall by the Mayor.

One key proposal made by the Jewish community is to integrate Holocaust learning/teaching within the famous Ceibal Plan (one laptop for each student), which is currently a successful pilot project in Uruguay. For his part, the President of the Chamber of Deputies even said that he is committed to creating an inter-party dialogue on this topic.

Brazil was next on my agenda and, during my visit to Brasilia, I had the opportunity to meet Minister Alexandre Pena Ghisleni, who has responsibilities for human rights, and Minister Luiz Fux of the Supreme Court of Brazil. I also met with Deputy Gabriel Chalita, who chaired the Parliamentary Education Committee and is a former State Secretary of Education. Brazil has a very active and vibrant Jewish community. President Dilma Rousseff attends annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day events and, recently, Brazil also opened a Holocaust Museum in Curitiba. I had several important meetings with members of the Association Brasileira Israelita, diplomatic representatives of other IHRA member countries, as well as a series of roundtable discussions with academics from local universities, which have tremendously raised the profile and network of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in Brazil and the leadership of Canada during our Chairmanship year.

While in Sao Paulo, I met with prominent community leaders, including Dr. Claudio Lottenberg, Marcia Feldon, Abraham Goldstein and Professor Maria Luiza Carneiro, who were extremely helpful in supporting Brazil's future candidacy as an IHRA Observer. I was also grateful for the opportunity to meet with so many survivors at B'nai Brith and for the exchange of views with human rights leaders and students.

My next visit was to Argentina and Paraguay. I appreciated the significance of meeting Argentina's IHRA working group at the ESMA detention and extermination camp, and meeting grandmothers who searched for their missing grandchildren. I was especially moved that one of the grandmothers was a Holocaust survivor, who lost family members in both the Holocaust and during the dictatorship in Argentina. The meeting with the Secretary of Foreign Relations, Eduardo Zuain, was a very useful occasion to outline IHRA's direction and to solicit their support. The several events that I attended at both the AMIA and at the Holocaust Museum were a useful reminder of the importance of state and individual vigilance to combat all forms of hate. I also appreciated meeting several members of civil society for a very lively discussion regarding human rights. Finally, the visit to Paraguay was appreciated by both government and members of the Jewish community. The meetings with members of the Human Rights Commission, including with senators, was very productive.