Sunday, November 22, 2015
Holodomor, Revolution of Dignity and War
Ukrainians around the world took a moment on Saturday, November 21, to reflect on three significant events in their history that contributed to defining who they are as a nation.
The oldest of the three events is the Russian murder by starvation of 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children in 1932-33 – known as Holodomor. This heinous premeditated crime against Ukrainians caused by man-made design is considered an act of genocide by governments and scholars around the world, including Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word genocide for the United Nations soon after it was established.
“Genocide is the crime of destroying national, racial or religious groups,” Lemkin wrote. Certainly Moscow’s intentions with regard to Ukraine over centuries can be similarly explained.
Lemkin further observed about the Holodomor:
“What I want to speak about is perhaps the classic example of Soviet genocide, its longest and broadest experiment in Russification – the destruction of the Ukrainian nation.”
“This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation. Soviet national unity is being created, not by any union of ideas and of cultures, but by the complete destruction of all cultures and of all ideas save one – the Soviet.
“It is difficult to imagine the calculated death of millions, but history is filled with similar atrocities, of which the Jewish Holocaust is another example. In both cases, the victims were annihilated merely because of their nationality.”
Today, non-Soviet Russia continues to deny the Holodomor as it does all of its crimes against humanity committed against Ukrainians.
Fortunately, since independence, Ukrainians have uncovered numerous additional Russian records that bear witness to Moscow’s guilt. This evidence has supplemented the scholarly research on the subject and added a historical background to the abundant monuments and memorials that have been dedicated to the famine victims around the world. The latest one was unveiled two weeks ago in Washington, DC.
On Saturday, Ukrainians filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City for the annual observance, at which Ukrainian diplomats and US officials paid tribute to the martyrs and pointed an accusing finger at Moscow.
William Paul of the US Permanent Mission to the United Nations read a statement from the White House, in which President Obama said he joins Ukrainian Americans and Ukrainians everywhere to mark the catastrophe of millions being starved to death by Stalin’s regime.
Recently appointed Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Valery Chaly likened the Holodomor to the 18-month long Russian war against Ukraine and added the 8,000 killed to the famine figures. He said the Ukrainian nation is facing another attempt at being destroyed by Moscow, but he expressed confidence that Ukraine will persevere but with aid from Washington, DC.
Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, reflected on the validity of remembering the Holodomor. In reply to numerous questions from fellow diplomats at the UN, Sergeyev pointed out that Ukrainians recall the Holodomor and other brutalities against their nation for the sake of “our children and grandchildren.” He said the incredible figure of millions killed can only be attributed to a concentration camp and, poignantly clarifying, that place of forced confinement was called the Soviet Union.
Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church urged his fellow Ukrainians never to forget the horror of the Holodomor because if its memory disappears from the memories of people – all people – then the occasion for the crime to be repeated will arise.
“God forbid,” the Archbishop intoned repeatedly.
Yesterday was also the second anniversary of what has become known as the Day of Dignity – the start of the national revolution in 2013 that sought to rid Ukraine of Russia and in the end ousted its corrupt lackey Viktor Yanukovych. Enraged by Yanukovych’s last-minute decision not to sign the European Union accession documents, Ukrainians from across Ukraine, lead mostly by young people, descended on Kyiv and occupied the capital for weeks until Yanukovych finally read the writing on the wall and fled to Russia out of fear for his life. His cronies also hightailed it with him.
What the crooked oligarchs left in their wake was a treasure trove of gaudy and not-so-gaudy stolen and accumulated wealth as well their Russian patron who was left wondering how such a buffoon of a president could have been allowed to lose Ukraine for Russia.
According to satellite photographs, 2 million Ukrainians filled the center of the Ukrainian capital, displaying their disgust with Yanukovych and Russian subjugation, while expressing support for a Ukrainian Ukraine, one that is aligned with Euro-Atlantic structures. The astounding, historical number of peaceful demonstrators could not be disregarded by friend and foe.
As revolutions go, Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity that began on the Maidan had its share of bloodshed before victory was finally claimed and peace restored. More than 100 defenders of Ukraine were killed by uniformed traitors, who shot at unarmed civilians from rooftops. Ultimately the nation was victorious and all of its denominations – men and women, senior citizens and youth, professionals and workers, Ukrainian and Russian speakers, Catholics, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims – could unite under one Ukrainian flag, one Ukrainian spirit and one Ukrainian cause.
The only casualties on the enemy side were the numerous statues of Lenin – symbols of Russian oppression – that were torn down by the people like the Germans that demolished the Berlin Wall.
As has often happened in Ukrainian history, this triumph was short lived. Putin and his Russian band of imperialists in the Kremlin couldn’t stomach losing Ukraine and their henchmen in Ukraine. Barely two weeks after the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and before the triumphant cheers of Ukrainians fell silent, Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine by storming the Crimean peninsula and imposing a reign of terror against the local Crimean Tatar population, outlawing their culture and heritage. Within a few weeks, Russia expanded its invasion of Ukraine by attacking the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.
Even though Soviet Russian communist domination of Eastern Europe and Ukraine came to an end a quarter of a century ago, Moscow’s desire to rebuild its empire and re-imprison the now x-captive nations is avaricious. Russia is still seeking to repair the iron curtain separating free men from slaves.
The Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-15 has raged since then, with some 8,000 soldiers and civilians killed, according to the United Nations. The Ukrainian Armed Forces, National Guard and independent battalions, mobilized in an Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) have been heroically defending their country from Russian air and ground attacks in eastern Ukraine. Three distinct sections of Ukraine are currently occupied by enemy forces: Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk.
There seems to be no end in sight to the war despite the free world’s mixed support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, which is as culpable of terrorism as is ISIS.
How have these events defined the Ukrainian nation?
The Holodomor shows that Russia will not be restrained in its tactics to destroy the Ukrainian nation – even resorting to starving to death men, women and children.
The Revolution of Dignity shows that the Ukrainian nation will mobilize to defend itself against homegrown and foreign enemies.
And the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-15 shows that Russia’s quest to restore its reprehensible empire is insatiable.
Throughout hardships and sacrifices, Ukrainians have remained undaunted in their commitment to the nation. Ukrainians have learned that freedom and independence aren’t abstract terms. They have been compelled to experience it, live it and defend it every day. They’re really left with one recourse. Thomas Jefferson, among other philosopher-statesmen who have said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, wrote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Keep faith in Ukraine.