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U.S: Democracy, Human Rights, Refugees

Democracy, Human Rights, Refugees: Remarks at the Holodomor Memorial Event

Ukrainian Embassy

Washington, DC

November 22, 2008

Ambassador Shamshur, distinguished guests: Thank you for inviting me to take part in this solemn occasion marking the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor tragedy. The Holodomor is an extraordinarily sad chapter in human history, one that never should have happened. Seventy-five years ago, the world witnessed a horrific episode of human suffering and deprivation in Ukraine. It is important to honor the memory of those who lost their lives not because of natural tragedy, but as a result of totalitarian oppression. I join with you in remembering the victims of this terrible man-made catastrophe.

The United States has regularly joined Ukraine in its public reflection on this dark period – this year and in years past. In fact, U.S. AID Administrator Henrietta Fore is in Kyiv today as President Bush’s representative to the international Holodomor forum hosted by President Yushchenko. And, in September, I joined Ambassador Shamshur in opening an exhibit on the Holodomor at the State Department’s Ralph J. Bunche Library to which our friends in the Ukrainian Embassy made a strong contribution.

Together, our governments have supported resolutions in international organizations aimed at recognizing victims of the Holodomor. We are also committed to permanently recognizing this tragedy in the United States. In October 2006, President Bush signed legislation authorizing a Holomodor memorial in Washington, DC. In October 2008, the National Capital Planning Commission designated land at the intersection of North Capitol Street and Massachusetts Avenue as the location of the U.S. Holodomor memorial. We look forward to the groundbreaking of this monument next month. It will stand as a permanent reminder of the consequences of man’s inhumanity to man.

This is both a time for remembrance, and for looking forward. Since those dark days in 1932 and 33, Ukraine has regained its status as an independent nation and today is marked by political freedom and economic opportunity. As Ukrainians reflect on this tragic event in their history, I encourage them also to celebrate their progress in strenghthening their young democracy. Ukrainians should look to their future with hope and confidence, knowing that the United States will continue to support them. Together, we can also work together to make sure that this kind of cruelty and suffering not be allowed to ever happen again.

Thank you.


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