Holodomor Exhibit Opening
Holodomor Exhibit Opening
David J. Kramer, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Ralph J. Bunche Library
September 16, 2008
Ambassador Shamshur, honored guests: Thank you for the opportunity to take part in the opening of this exhibition to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor tragedy.
Seventy-five years ago, the world witnessed a horrific episode of human suffering and deprivation in Ukraine. The Holodomor is an extraordinarily sad chapter in human history, all the more tragic because it was man-made. It is necessary that we honor the memory of the lives lost as a result of this communist oppression. I join with you and people everywhere in remembering the victims of this terrible tragedy, one that never should have happened.
A year ago, we co-sponsored a resolution on the Remembrance of Victims of the Great Famine in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, to call for promoting awareness of the Great Famine through educational and research programs.
We are also committed to permanently recognizing the victims in the United States. In October 2006, President Bush signed legislation authorizing a Holodomor memorial in Washington, D.C. This memorial will stand as a tribute to all people who suffered from the injustices of totalitarian regimes.
President and Mrs. Bush visited the Holodomor monument in Kyiv during their trip earlier this year, and Vice President Cheney earlier this month paid his respects as well. In the words of President Bush, during the Holodomor, “… millions died because they resisted Stalin’s brutal regime. We honor their memory and pledge to never forget their suffering. As we remember their struggle, we also condemn all authoritarian governments who have terrorized their people in the past and who continue to do so, thus continuing the fight for freedom and safety of all people."
Since those dark days, Ukraine has regained its status as an independent nation and today is marked by political freedom and economic growth. The political situation is never dull but very importantly has remained peaceful. The United States strongly supports Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen democracy, rule of law, and good governance in order to better bring the fruits of representational government to the Ukrainian people.
The opening of this exhibition is a time for remembrance, and a time for moving forward. As we reflect on this tragic event in history, we should also celebrate Ukraine’s progress and look to the future with hope and confidence.