Remembering Ukraine victims of starvation

11:12, 03 July 2008

Ukrainian community gathered this week...

Ukrainian community gathered this week to mark one of the darkest hours in its people’s history, according to Tameside Advertiser.

Scores of people with family ties to the former Soviet country filled Ashton’s Ukrainian Club to remember the famine of 1932-33.

To raise awareness of the mass starvation, in which 10m Ukrainians died, a torch is travelling round the world’s Ukrainian communities — with Tameside among those selected to receive it.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, local and international members of the Ukrainian community welcomed the torch, spoke of the need to recognise the famine, known as the Holodomor, and held a minute’s silence to remember the dead.

Martyn Chymera, of the UK’s Holodomor Commemoration Committee, said: "For a long time the Holodomor was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. But this is a chance to tell the world — it’s such a significant part of history. People should be aware of it as they are aware of other tragedies."

Ukrainians all over the world want the famine officially recognised as genocide. They say that the United Kingdom and other countries need to accept that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin deliberately starved millions of Ukrainians in order to suppress dissent across the Soviet Union.

Mr Chymera added: "The British government probably are scared of the Kremlin’s reaction and want to keep good relations with Russia."

The Mayor of Tameside, Jack Davis, was presented with a book about the famine, saying he had never realised the scale of the atrocities.

He said: "Tameside is very honoured and very proud to have been chosen for the torch here today."

The Ukrainian community in Tameside dates back to about 1946, when Ukrainians started entering the UK after World War Two. Many of them headed for Yorkshire and Lancashire, where they set up communities in mill towns.

Peter Revko, Secretary of the Tameside Ukrainian Association, says today’s Ukrainian community is now pushing hard to get the Holodomor on the GCSE history syllabus.

By Jennifer Williams, Tameside Advertiser.

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