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Holodomor: a never ending story?

Feb 9, 2024 | Community, Featured

Reverend Fathers Mykhailo Ozorovych (Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral), Joseph Pidskalny (St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Chuch), Mykhaylo Pozdyk (St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church) and Roman Tsaplan (Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral)

Lev Romanyshyn for NP-UN, Vancouver.

The Holodomor was but one more notch on the “anti-Ukrainian gun” of the russian leadership. Notches which they’ve been adding for over 300 years and continue to add, even as you read this article.

The Holodomor was an attempt to eliminate Ukrainian nationalism and identity and ultimately to assimilate Ukrainians into the russian culture. Not very much different than what russians are attempting to do in Ukraine right now. To date, over 30 countries have declared that the Holodomor was an act of Genocide. Something which the russians have refused to acknowledge or accept, and indeed, for many years suppressed any mention of the Holodomor itself.

Ukrainians around the world commemorate the Holodomor on the 4th Saturday of November, fittingly, the month in which Western countries commemorate their war dead on the 11th day of the month. In Vancouver, we gathered on the next day, Sunday, November 26th, at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral to remember the millions who died needlessly because of one deranged psychopath, Josef Stalin, his vicious right hand man, Lazar Kaganovich, and thousands of their cowardly, uniformed accomplices who put their leaders’ unholy plan into action.

Vancouver’s Holodomor event was opened by prayers led by four of our priests: Reverend Fathers Mykhailo Ozorovych (Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral), Joseph Pidskalny (St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Chuch), Mykhaylo Pozdyk (St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church) and Roman Tsaplan (Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral).

The organizing committee did an excellent job in having all 3 levels of government represented at the commemoration. This is important because they NEED to hear and NEED to understand what Holodomor was; what its importance is to Ukrainians; its links to current events and its implications for the world at large.

This message was brought to them quite clearly and explicitly by Iryna Shyroka, President of UCC/KYK British Columbia: i.e., this commemoration is not just a reminder of the horrors perpetrated on Ukrainians 90 years ago, but that the same mindset and similar goals are still in play today in Ukraine.

Underscoring that Ukraine is living through another attempt to starve it into submission, following is a recent excerpt from the prestigious journal, The Atlantic: “On November 16 [2023], international human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance (GRC) released a report alleging that, months prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces engaged in a “highly coordinated level of pre-planning” to weaponize Ukrainian grain.

The new evidence suggests that these preparations—including the procurement of trucks and cargo ships to carry extracted grain—are part of a “broader, systematic strategy” to seize Ukrainian grain and transport it to Russia. GRC announced that it will be submitting its evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be prosecuted for the war crime of starvation.

Following the onset of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia was accused of weaponizing starvation against Ukrainians using various methods, including through its destruction of grain warehouses and during its siege of Mariupol.”

Not mentioned in the article are the rocket attacks on Odesa’s port where much of Ukraine’s export-bound agricultural products are stored or the thousands of landmines scattered and buried throughout farmers’ fields in Ukraine, each one deployed to maim or kill farmers ploughing, planting and harvesting their crops.

All of which are meant (again? or, is it still?) to starve Ukrainians into submission. The knock-on effect is that destroying and halting Ukrainian food exports will affect thousands, if not millions, of people in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

During the ceremonies, the MC, Mary Ann Pylypchuk and her niece, Olena Honchar read, in English and Ukrainian respectively, the recollections of Holodomor survivors, as recounted by their children and grandchildren. These stories included descriptions of children starving to death; soldiers relentlessly searching homes for hidden grain and food (hiding food was punishable by shooting); the wagons transporting the dead to mass burial pits; soldiers guarding villages and shooting anyone who tried to leave.

The idea that people could be so cruel to other people is almost unimaginable. If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud it is that the BC government has announced that teaching of the Holodomor will form part of the secondary school curriculum no later than 2025.

Our Honorary Consul, Lubomyr Huculak, expressed disappointment, also for the government officials’ education, that the Holodomor Committee, in spite of continued lobbying of both provincial and municipal politicians, was still not able to secure this year a permanent spot for the bronze statue of the “Girl” who represents Holodomor world-wide. (This statue of a young girl clutching a handful of wheat is officially named, Bitter Memory of Childhood. It is dedicated to the most vulnerable victims of starvation — children.) As a side-note, one of the photos accompanying this article is of the statue with Alexandra and Anatoly Ciacka, both of whom were among the founding members of the Holodomor Committee in Vancouver. Anatoly is originally from Kharkiv and is the son of Holodomor survivors.

Alexandra and Anatoly Ciacka with the statue Bitter Memory of Childhood

We are guardedly optimistic that for next year’s Holodomor commemoration the “Girl” will have found a permanent home in a prominent location in Vancouver, where it will serve as a reminder to all passersby of the horrors that russia inflicted on Ukraine in the early 1930s. And, simultaneously, jog their consciousness that russia continues, to this day, to brutally oppress Ukraine and Ukrainians.

A Never Ending Story, indeed.

Вічна їм пам’ять.

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