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Address of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada H.E. Volodymyr Khandogiy in Commemoration of the 66th Anniversary of the Artificial Famine in Ukraine

Ottawa, Parliament Hill, Central Block, November 23, 1999

Reverend Clergy, Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are tragic events in the history of every nation. For Ukraine, one such event that stands out most prominently in the memory of our people is the artificial famine of 1932-33 engineered by the Stalin's regime.

These days Ukraine commemorates the 66th anniversary of the most tragic chapter of its history, when the Ukrainian people became the object of a conscious and deliberate genocide undertaken by the Soviet totalitarian regime. It will forever be remembered as one of the most horrific crimes of the XX century, on par with the genocide of the Armenian and Jewish nations.

This artificially imposed famine is considered to be the largest one of the XX-th century. According to the most modest estimates, it took some seven million of innocent lives. Some researchers suggest that the actual number could be much bigger. Thousands of facts testify to this cruel Holocaust of the Ukrainian people.

Judging by European standards, the equivalent of an entire nation, an entire country was lost. This was in fact a war that the Stalinist communist regime waged against its own people. But, while during the war, at least some international conventions protect civilian population, in 1932-33 in Ukraine no such legal instruments applied.

The communist regime consciously sought to uproot the genetic source of the Ukrainian nation, to avenge resistance to collectivization and the Ukrainian farmers' aspirations for freedom during the existence of the Ukrainian Republic. Consequences of the artificial famine are still obvious today - for today there is still fear of the state, fear of famine, reluctance to own land for fear of its eventual forced confiscation.

For decades the government of the former USSR did not recognize that the famine took place in Ukraine. All truth came out only since the fall of the Soviet regime and the establishment of independent Ukraine.

Nowadays monuments have been erected to commemorate the victims, secret archive files have been made public, dozens of books, memoirs and studies published. The famine theme is included in Ukrainian History studies at schools and universities. We have yet to tell all the truth about the artificial famine, to preach its horrible lessons to humankind.

A year ago President Leonid Kuchma issued a Decree by which every year, the last Saturday of November, will be marked as the Famine Victims Memorial Day. And this solemn commemoration of those perished is the least we can do to remember innocent victims.

The establishment of the independent Ukrainian state is the best guarantee that the tragedy of 1933 will never happen again. The existence of an independent Ukraine testifies to the immortality of the Ukrainian nation, and its love for freedom that withstood the test of Stalin's terror and Hitler's occupation.

Today, we bow our heads in memory of our countrymen who perished in 1932-33, in memory of millions of compatriots.

I would like to thank all those Ukrainian-Canadians who kept and cherished the memory of those tragic events in our history. It has been said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We pledge: "We remember. Never again."


Thank you for your attention.