This week we remember and commemorate the terrible tragedy of the Holodomor where countless millions of men, women and children were senselessly murdered through starvation by the communist regime of Joseph Stalin. Today the Holodomor remains an incredibly important and relevant human rights story.
In trying to understand genocide, I have often asked myself why did dictators like Joseph Stalin or Adolph Hitler seek to destroy an entire people and why would countless collaborators do their bidding? And – Why is this relevant to us today? It seems so long ago.
Unfortunately more than 80 years later, the Holodomor has more relevance to the people of Ukraine and the world than it has ever had before. At a recent Annual Toronto Ukrainian Famine Lecture, Pulitzer prize winner Anne Applebaum discussed how Stalin saw in Ukraine an existential threat, as Putin sees in Ukraine today. Stalin launched his assault on Ukraine because he knew that Ukraine was resistant to centralized rule, that Ukrainians were attached to their land and their traditions, and that Ukrainians could challenge Bolshevism and even cause it to collapse. Today Russia’s President Vladimir Putin fears the attachment of Ukrainians to ideas of freedom, democracy, and western values like human rights. In fact Putin’s regime as did Stalin’s, cynically denies the very existence of a separate Ukrainian people. As Anne Applebaum said in her lecture, “If Stalin feared that Ukrainian nationalism could bring down the Soviet regime, Putin fears that Ukraine’s example could bring down his own regime, a modern autocratic kleptocracy.”
Ukraine today is under military, economic and political attack by the Putin regime, much like it was under Stalin over 80 years ago. There is no civil war nor was there ever any separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. This is conflict, which has resulted in more than 8,000 deaths in the past 2 years, is entirely engineered, organized and run by Putin’s regime and is driven by an evil propaganda war.
The peace and freedom loving people of the world must boldly and actively stand up together against this great threat to global peace and security.
Ukrainians have learned their lesson from the Holodomor and will not roll-over to the Putin’s attempt to eradicate the Ukrainian nation. Around the world Ukrainian communities are working in their respective countries to gain support for the plight of the Ukrainian people that desire nothing more than to live in a country that is free from foreign aggression and respects the human dignity of its people.
This week we look at today’s plight of the Ukrainian people through the historical lens of the Holodomor. Many initiatives are underway in Canada, including the recent launch of the National Holodomor Awareness Tour, an innovative mobile classroom; the Memorial to Victims of Communism scheduled to be built in Parliamentary Precinct of Ottawa; and many valuable teaching tools are available such as the very moving online video testimonials of Holodomor survivors at www.holodomorsurvivors.com.
Teaching the human rights lesson of the Holodomor will help ensure we stay vigilant and willing to stop modern day tyrants like Vladimir Putin who today has unleashed a war to eradicate the Ukrainian people.
May God inspire us to do good and may the memory of the victims of the Holodomor be eternal – Вічная Їм Пам’ять.