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20.03.2007

Open letter over the refusal of the Kharkiv city authorities to allow a Memorial to the Victims of Holodomor and Political Repression

   

They seem to feel irritated by the very word “Ukraine” and they respond with hostility to any reminder of the great or tragic times in Ukraine’s history.
For two months now the city authorities have been refusing to provide a place for a memorial complex in memory of the Victims of Holodomor [the manmade Famine of 1932-1933] and Political Repression which members of the public planned to erect in the Youth Park.
The Law on the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression has been in force since April 1991, and since November last year there has also been the Law on Holodomor 1932-1933 in Ukraine. We could also mention the President’s Decree No. 1544 “On honouring those who died and suffered from the Holodomor* in Ukraine”. None of that seems to bother those ignorant individuals who have gained control in Kharkiv.
In response to letters from the Organizing Committee on measures in the region for honouring the memory of the Victims of Holodomor and Political Repression, the city authorities said that Holodomor had not affected Kharkiv (maybe not the political repressions either?}, but only the Kharkiv region, and claimed that the monument should be built there. The Chief City Architect Serhiy Chechelnytsky confirmed this figment of a diseased imagination.
It is not clear what is most dominant here – ignorance, arrogance, baseness or contempt for people whose ancestors gave them power. We are therefore providing the following information not for the Mayor and his people, since there is absolutely no point, but for those citizens who want to draw attention to what the Kharkiv authorities are doing. We are turning to the leaders of the country – to the President, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and the Prime Minister. Are they not ashamed that this is happening in the first capital of Ukraine?
Historical information
Specialists from the Kharkiv Karamzin National University calculated the mortality rate for the years from 1929 to 1933 around the regions. In Kharkiv it was over 25% and the Kharkiv region had the worst rate in Ukraine. A letter from the head of the regional executive committee Shepkhes to the Central Committee of the Communist Party from 30 May 1933 says that from 27 – 28 May 1933 5,447 people were picked up in a grave condition on the streets of Kharkiv, and 147 corpses.
It should be particularly noted that at that time Kharkiv was the capital of Ukraine. This meant on the one hand that the murderous instructions came from Kharkiv, and on the other that people who were desperate came to the capital seeking justice. However there were military cordons on all approaches to the capital which had orders not to allow famine victims into the city.
In the same letter, Shepkhes wrote that Kharkiv had a problem with what to do with homeless children – orphans. Just on one day, 25 May, 2 thousand were picked up from the Kharkiv railway station, while during the night from 27-28 May 500 children were taken off the streets. In 5 months of 1933 the number of children in the children’s homes in Kharkiv and the region more than doubled (by 14,185 children).
With regard to political repression, here Kharkiv also dominates in the number of people from all walks of life killed.
It is staggering to see such aggressive unwillingness to recognize the history of their own country shown by the city authorities. Without memory, there can be no future. Kharkiv remains the only regional centre in Ukraine where the city authorities are flatly refusing to provide a site for a Memorial to the Victims of Holodomor and Political Repression.
We call on all people of good will, on all who refuse to use the history of our country as a source of political speculation and idiocy.
We would ask you to support the wishes of Kharkiv residents to honour the memory of the innocent victims from our city and to send letters in support to the leaders of the country.

Kharkiv “Memorial”
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

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