November 21, 2016. OTTAWA. Three years ago today, the people of Ukraine took to the streets to protest the decision of their government not to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
On the night of November 29-30, 2013, Berkut security forces attacked and savagely beat the young protestors gathered at Kyiv’s Independence Square. The citizens of Ukraine responded with mass demonstrations against the corrupt, authoritarian and violent regime of then-president Yanukovych. So began the Revolution of Dignity.
Today Ukraine marks this anniversary with the Day of Dignity and Freedom. The Revolution of Dignity was the Ukrainian peoples’ expression of a centuries-long struggle to live in freedom, peace and human dignity. It was an expression of their inalienable right to have their voices heard by their government.
On Independence Square (the “Maidan”) in Kyiv and countless city and town squares across the country, the people of Ukraine answered the call of history with courage and unity of purpose and cemented Ukraine’s choice to join the European community of nations.
Months of protests were met with increasing repression and violence by the state. On February 20, 2014, one hundred people were murdered when the Yanukovych regime ordered security forces to fire upon their own people. Yanukovych fled the capital, abdicating his office, and was removed as President by a constitutional majority vote in Ukraine’s Parliament.
Today we honour the memory of the brave patriots – the Heavenly Hundred (Небесна Сотня) – who paid with their lives for Ukraine’s freedom. Their sacrifice shall never be forgotten.
Today Ukraine defends itself against an external aggressor. On the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, Russia wages war against Ukraine in an attempt to once again subjugate the people of Ukraine to Moscow’s tyranny. Every day, Ukrainian soldiers fight and die to protect Ukraine’s liberty and the ideals of the Revolution of Dignity. With God’s help, they will be victorious.
The Ukrainian Canadian community has many projects underway to support Ukraine during this difficult time. To find out more please visit www.ucc.ca/