Mykola Lajszczuk, author of the motion

Keighley Town Council has made history by becoming the first Council in the UK to pass a motion unanimously condemning the 1932-33 Holodomor in Ukraine as genocide.

During an emotional evening of the Full Council held on 4 September 2008 a motion was put forward by a former councillor and Deputy Mayor, Mykola Lajszczuk, who is also a former Chair of the local AUGB Branch in Keighley and who presided over this year's AUGB AGM.

Mr Lajszczuk's address to the Council was as follows:

"Mr Mayor, Councillors, colleagues, dear friends.

May I first of all thank you Mr Mayor, for accepting the Torch of Remembrance on behalf of this Council, back in July this year, and indeed those Councillors who attended.

On behalf of the Ukrainian Community in Keighley, I would like to express our sincere thanks for the support which you all gave us.

In the  late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Stalin’s policy of collectivisation in Ukraine, the bread basket of Eastern Europe,  led to mass starvation of our people, where more than seven  million of our population were starved to death. Not because there was no harvest or food, but because Stalin’s policy to meet the draconian targets,  and for the food to be taken to Russia before any was allowed to be used in Ukraine.

Peasant farmers were executed or deported for hiding or steeling their own food. The result was a famine on an unimaginable scale.

In 1932 and 1933, the famine reached its peak with 25,000 people dying every day. Some 25% of our people were exterminated by this man made famine.

Stalin refused offers of help by the International Red Cross sitting that this was only propaganda. Many governments, including Britain at that time, continued to buy grain from Soviet Russia, grain which had been taken by the Russians from Ukraine, and Ukraine left to starve.
By starving our people, Stalin tried to destroy our nation and its people, and in so doing, annexe totally Ukrainian lands forever, and re-settle ethnic Russians into Ukraine.

Little was said about this tragedy at the time, as press was censored, visits were controlled and Russia continued to subjugate our people.

Ukraine is now independent and to some extent free of Russia. Much of our economy is still dependant to some degree on Russia; but hopefully with time and joining of NATO and the EU, we will be allowed to develop independently and in a true democracy.

However, we must not allow the Holodomor, the death by starvation as it is called, to ever happen again. This Genocide, or ethnic cleansing carried out by Stalin 75 years ago must be recognised as such, and the Genocide or Holocaust, should be stopped in its tracks and never be allowed to happen again, be it against Ukrainians, Jews, Georgians or in certain African states. It is a crime against humanity.

The Ukrainian Nation this year remembers the seven and more millions of people who died during the 1932/33 famine. November 22nd is the Memorial Day for those victims, and the torch of remembrance which you Mr Mayor accepted on behalf of Keighley some weeks ago, will finally make its journey to Ukraine where a formal memorial is to take place.

On the 22nd November, the Ukrainians in Great Britain will be converging on Westminster, where members of Parliament of all parties will be present to offer support for our request, and an Early Day Motion has already before Parliament for the recognition of the Ukrainian Genocide, also supported by our own MP Mrs Anne Cryer.

It is only now, since the break up of the Soviet Union that records are openly available to support and record  the events of that time.
Indeed,  Malcolm Muggeridge wrote in the Manchester Guardian on the 27 March 1933 “ The population is starving, hunger was the word I heard most, cattle and horses dead, fields neglected, all the grain that was produced was taken by the government, now no bread at all, no bread anywhere.”

Gareth Jones,  secretary to Lloyd George also wrote on the 30th March 1933, “I walked alone through villages and twelve collective farms – everywhere was the cry – there is no bread,  we are dying.”

Independent reports, not propaganda.

The history books need to be written with the truth of what happened.

Mr Mayor, Councillors, I have come to this Chamber today to formally ask for your support and the support of this Council, for you to support a motion for the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 to be recognised  by This Council as Genocide in order that those victims can be properly remembered, and that this is never allowed to happen again.

We further ask that you petition our Government in the UK to formally recognise the Ukrainian Genocide and give the Holodomor its rightful place in 20th century history."

Keighley Town Council's decision, which was accepted by all of its 26 members, now puts pressure on other councils to follow suit and acknowledge one of the worst attrocities in the history of mankind.

Ukrayinska Dumka


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