June 29, 2018

State of Illinois commemorates 85th anniversary of the Holodomor


The government of Ukraine has designated 2018 as “Ukrainian Genocide Remembrance Year.” The emphasis during this year’s commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the Genocide-Famine Holodomor 1932-1933 in Ukraine is for the Ukrainian nation, its diaspora and freedom-loving people throughout the world, including here in the vast American heartland, to preserve the memory of the approximate 10,000,000 victims of this horrific event that will forever live in infamy. 

It was only fitting for the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation-USA, Inc. (Nicholas Kocherha, president) and Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Illinois Division (Dan I. Diaczun, president), in cooperation with the Consulate General of Ukraine in Chicago (Consul General Larysa Gerasko) to request that the governor and the Illinois State government join in the remembrance of one of the most heinous crimes against humanity ever, by honoring its victims and survivors. 

The UCCA Illinois represents 60 organizations and advances the interests of the Ukrainian American community in the state. It has taken on numerous initiatives that underscore and preserve Ukrainian historical and cultural traditions. 

The mission of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation-USA is to research, teach, promote awareness, and advocate on behalf of the victims and survivors by telling the truth about this genocide, and numerous other acts of genocide on the Ukrainian people committed by imperial and Soviet Russia. This is an all-American organization that continues to annually commemorate the victims of genocide and to propagate the historical truth. 

Through the efforts of foundation members, the Illinois School Code was amended with a mandatory statute (HB312 and SB23) which requires that the curriculum of every public elementary school and high school include a unit of instruction on the acts of genocide across the globe, including, but not limited to the Armenian Genocide, the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine, and more recent atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan. 

Internationally, the Holodomor has been condemned by 17 countries as a Soviet government policy of genocide in Ukraine. The crimes of the Soviet regime in the USSR were denounced in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Resolution No. 1481 of January 26, 2006) and “starvation” was defined as one of the major crimes of the Soviet government that caused the deaths of millions of innocent persons.

In 2003 in the United States, resolutions were introduced in both the United States Senate (Resolution 202) and the House of Representatives (Resolution 254). Both resolutions condemned the systematic violations of human rights, the right to self-determination and freedom of speech of the Ukrainian people by the former Soviet government. 

The Senate resolution of April 18, 2004, recognized that “…the man-made Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933 was an act of genocide as defined by the United Nations Genocide Convention” and “supported the efforts of the government of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament of Ukraine) to publicly acknowledge and call greater international attention to the Ukraine Famine.”

On November 26, 2006, President Viktor Yushchenko (president of Ukraine in 2005-2010) signed Law No. 376-V “On the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine” and the Verkhovna Rada passed the law recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. 

In his letter for the recent North American premiere of Yevhen Stankovych’s “Ukrainian Requiem” (May 19 at the Harris Theater in Chicago) in commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor, President Yushchenko wrote (translation from original in Ukrainian):

“…During the years when Ukraine was occupied by the Soviet Union and the truth about the millions of victims of the Holodomor Genocide in Ukraine was concealed by the Soviet propaganda machine, you [the Ukrainian diaspora] managed to communicate to the world and to Ukraine the truth about the horrors of this well-planned and executed genocide…

“For myself personally, and for tens of thousands of Ukrainians we began to work in Ukraine to recognize and commemorate the victims of the Holodomor. It was important to remember every innocently killed soul, every village destroyed by the Famine, to create a Book of Memory, and to document every testimony of every person who survived. 

“Of no less importance for us were the names of those who organized the Holodomor, who gave orders to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry, to confiscate bread and the means of its production, as well as those who carefully executed these orders… Villages were destroyed by famine, especially in eastern Ukraine, new slaves – obedient and grateful – were imported for whom the Ukrainian language and culture where alien. In my opinion, the war on the Donbas today is a direct consequence of the Holodomor Genocide…

“We built the National Memorial Museum to the Holodomor Victims, …reintroduced this history of Ukraine into school textbooks… We honor the memory of the victims of this genocide annually, …we encourage the governments and parliaments of many countries to officially recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The work continues today. But it would have been impossible without those who at various times spoke about the Holodomor to the world – Gareth Jones, James Mace, Robert Conquest, Morgan Williams and many others.

“Today, we continue to fight the powerful Kremlin propaganda machine… They know that their attempts to restore their empire will never be successful without Ukraine…”

Since Illinois is home to a large and well-organized Ukrainian community, on May 19, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois issued a proclamation in commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine and encouraged “all Illinoisans to memorialize the victims and survivors of the Holodomor.”