Yushchenko urged to prosecute Soviet crimes against humanity
The following press release by the UCCLA (Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association) calls on President Yushchenko to prosecute Soviet war criminals to expose the crimes of the Soviet era. This is a most important step if the people of Ukraine and also Russia wish to move forward and acknowledge and openly air the manifold crimes against humanity committed by the communist regime of the Soviet Union. Without such an airing the younger generation, and even the older one, risks falling back into dangerous patterns of thinking about and viewing the former regime.
My mother tells me that she only really learned of the horrors and truth of what had been happening in the Soviet Union after she emigrated and began reading uncensored accounts of what took place and talking to survivors of the gulags and prisons. When she lived there she and others knew it was dangerous to speak out. People knew about the famine, but were forbidden to speak or write about it. They knew that their neighbors and friends and family "disappeared" on a regular basis, but no one ever knew what happened to them. They did not know of the gulags. Although there were rumors, most people were afraid to discuss such things with their most trusted friends or neighbors, because even children were indoctrinated to inform on their parents.
As a result of there having been no purging of the former criminals of the Soviet regime, many Ukrainians and Russians are still not fully aware of the crimes committed by the communists. This also explains why many Russians nostalgically long for the days of Stalin and Brezhnev. They are in many cases ignorant of the extent of the abuses, the tortures, the gulags, and the executions -- they only remember that Russia was a great power, and they long for that prestige once again.
Similarly in Ukraine, many Ukrainians are simply still uninformed about the true extent of the crimes perpetrated against the Ukrainian people by the communist regime. After the war, Germany waged an intensive de-Nazification program, declared the Nazi party illegal, and prosecuted war criminals. Unfortunately a similar undertaking did not take place in Ukraine or Russia. People were eager to move on and forget the past. The Communist party, instead of being exposed as a genocidal criminal enterprise, became just another benign party, competing with all the others in "free" parliamentary elections. Just imagine a Nazi freely campaigning to become the new Chancellor of Germany under the Nazi flag, and representing a new and revived Nazi party. The German people -- and the world -- would not stand for it. Why should we stand for it in the former Soviet countries, which lost millions upon millions of its citizens to this evil ideology.
We must never forget the fateful words of George Santayana, "Those who do not know history, are doomed to repeat it."
FINALLY BRINGING SOVIET WAR CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE (15 April 2005)
An international campaign aimed at having Ukraine's president, Viktor Yuschenko, establish an official Commission of Inquiry on Soviet War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Ukraine has now begun.
Thousands of postcards addressed to President Yuschenko are being sent into Kyiv from around the world, asking for Ukraine's new government to establish an official commission that would determine the nature and extent of Soviet war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Ukraine between 1917-1991.
Organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and enjoying the support of other Ukrainian organizations in the USA, Australia, Canada, Poland, Estonia, France, the United Kingdom and Ukraine itself, the project is timed to coincide with the forthcoming 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, commemorated on 8 May.
Speaking about this international initiative, UCCLA's chairman, John B Gregorovich, said:
"After the Second World War a major effort was made to bring Nazi war criminals to trial, and fittingly so, given that Ukraine lost more of its people than any other nation in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Unfortunately, no comparable effort has ever been made to identify and prosecute the individuals who were responsible for communist atrocities on Ukrainian lands - before, during and after the war. Many millions of Ukrainians perished during the genocidal Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine, the Holodomor. And millions of others were enslaved or murdered for resisting Soviet tyranny.
Today some of those responsible for these crimes against humanity are still alive, living not only in Ukraine, but in Russia, throughout western Europe, in Israel and North America. We have insisted, consistently and over many years, that all war criminals found in Canada should be brought to justice in our country's criminal courts. We also believe that those who ravaged Ukraine should be identified and punished, before it is too late. We call upon President Yuschenko to establish a Commission on Soviet War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Ukraine.
And the rest of the world can help Ukraine purge itself by ensuring that no place remains a safe haven for Soviet war criminals. There should be no statute of limitations, anywhere, that prevents such persons from being extradited to stand trial. Ukraine's Orange Revolution offers us a welcome last chance to see justice done. With this campaign we offer President Yuschenko a mandate to do just that."
For more about the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association go to www.uccla.ca
For an interview please contact Dr Lubomyr Luciuk, UCCLA's director of research, (613) 546-8364