Kyiv Post | 18Jun2010 | Marco Levytsky

Bravo Quebec

Congratulations to Québec’s National Assembly for unanimously passing Bill 390 [02Jun2010] -- An Act to proclaim Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day. Québec now becomes the fifth province in Canada and the sixth Canadian jurisdiction (including the federal Parliament) to recognize the 1932-33 famine as the act of genocide it was and memorialize its victims.

The onus now is upon British Columbia to follow suit. Holodomor bills were presented in both legislatures on the very same day -- November 25, 2009. But B.C.’s was allowed to die on the Order Paper when the session closed the next day, while Québec’s proceeded to the next session. It is imperative that both the Government and the Opposition in B.C. get together to enact such a bill. Québec’s successful enactment serves as a further spur to B.C. seeing how there are more than six times as many British Columbians of Ukrainian origin (197,265, according to the 2006 census) as Québecers (31,955).

Much credit for the passage of Bill 390 is due Parti Québecois MNA Louise Beaudoin whose Rosemont constituency houses the heart of Montreal’s Ukrainian community. Significantly, while both Pierre Arcand, speaking for the governing Liberals and Gérard Deltell, Leader of Action démocratique du Québec judiciously avoided using the G word, Beaudoin tackled the issue head on, citing Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish lawyer who fled in 1941 to the United States, and invented in 1943 the term and concept of genocide. In Lemkin’s own words, which she cited in her speech: “This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation.”

However, Québec’s example is most relevant to Ukraine itself, where a revisionist movement has been initiated by the neo-Soviet “Little Russian” government that’s taken over since Viktor Yanukovych’s razor-thin victory in the presidential elections. Parroting the Kremlin line, Yanukovych himself told the European Parliament the famine cannot be considered a genocide. On May 26, 2010 Party of Regions Deputy Vasyll Kyseliov introduced Bill 6427, which downgrades the Holodomor from ”genocide” under the current law, to “tragedy”. And Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk has issued directives for schools to stop teaching that the Holodomor was a genocide. Central to all the revisionism that the Little Russian government is pushing is the idiotic argument that the Holodomor was not a genocide because nationalities other than Ukrainians also died during the famine. That is the equivalent of saying the Holocaust was not a genocide because Adolph Hitler killed millions of other people besides Jews.

But the Holocaust was a genocide because Hitler specifically targeted Jews and the Holodomor was a genocide because Joseph Stalin specifically targeted Ukrainians. The areas outside Ukraine where the famine prevailed were areas populated by ethnic Ukrainians. The borders of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic were sealed off so that Ukrainian peasants could not travel to Russia to obtain food where it was plentiful. The Holodomor was accompanied by the elimination of the Ukrainian intelligentsia and Ukrainian schools and newspapers. Entire villages comprised entirely of ethnic Ukrainians were wiped out in such regions as Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Odesa. These areas were resettled by ethnic Russians, changing the demographics to a pro-Russian political sentiment. By specifically targeting ethnic Ukrainians, Moscow destroyed their sense of national consciousness, instilling a sense of fear for simply admitting their national identity.

It is for that very reason that the regions of Ukraine that endured the most losses from the Holodomor are now those same regions that elect neo-Soviet Little Russian politicians like Yanukovych and Tabachnyk. To that, all we can say is: Vive l’ Assemblée nationale du Québec! A bas la Verkhovna Rada de la Petite Russie!

Marco Levytsky is the editor and publisher of Ukrainian News, a bi-weekly newspaper distributed across Canada.