Over the years, I have noted that the news media, politicians and public figures are reluctant to refer to human rights abuses perpetrated against Ukrainians. I have often wondered whether these errors of omission are deliberate, simply a result of ignorance, or a matter of political correctness -- or lack thereof.
The issue of Internment of Ukrainians during WWI is a perfect example. Despite being on the political agenda since the 1980s and the recent sniping between Liberal and Conservative politicians (see the March 07-20, 2007 issue of the Ukrainian News), this event is absent from public discourse:
- On 22Feb2007 during a House of Commons discussion on Citizenship and Immigration, two MPs (Brian Fitzpatrick and Jason Kenney) talked at some length as to incidents of discrimination against immigrants in Canada -- the ship with Jewish refugees before WWII being denied landing rights, Japanese Internment, the Chinese head tax, FLQ crisis, etc., but failed to refer to Ukrainian WWI Internment. (A couple of days earlier, Joe Comartin was guilty of a similar omission.)
- On 28Feb2007 (about 7:15 a.m.) CBC Radio 740 in Edmonton had Ron Wilson interviewing criminal lawyer, Bob Aloneissi, about security certificates. He referred to Internment of Japanese during WWII and the Chinese head tax, but did not refer to Internment of Ukrainians during WWI as examples of discrimination.
- On 04Mar2007 (2:00 - 4:00 p.m. MST), CBC Radio Cross Country Checkup had a discussion on security certificates, sunsetting 2 clauses, etc. At least 2 people referred to War Measures Act applied in 1970 FLQ crisis in Quebec and internment of Japanese during WWII. No one mentioned that the War Measures Act was initially used to intern over 5000 Ukrainians in 26 concentration camps scattered across Canada from 1914 to 1920.
The second issue, which is missing from public discourse, is the denaturalization and deportation (d&d) policy being utilized since 1995 to revoke the citizenship of aging Ukrainians for alleged immigration infractions. The Ukrainian-Canadian community must demand an apology and financial restitution for the victims of this fraudulent process.
Proper understanding of the Holodomor of 1932-33 and of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) fighting for Ukraine's independence against both the Germans and the Bolsheviks during WWII and thereafter is crucial to Ukraine's development as a democratic independent state.
Thanks to the efforts of James Mace and his supporters much of the world is beginning to recognize the Holodomor as genocide, although there is vicious resistance from Ukrainophobes and Russophiles both within and outside of Ukraine. It is interesting that General Romeo Dallaire, who was a direct witness of the genocide in Rwanda, confessed that he had been unaware of the Ukrainian genocide.
Unfortunately, few people around the world recognize that Ukraine suffered complete devastation and over nine million dead, imprisoned or exiled during and after WWII. In particular, the heroic and tragic story of the UPA in Western Ukraine is comparable to the Holodomor in Eastern Ukraine. Both traumatized Ukrainians for generations and unto the present day. A snapshot of the "UPA resistance in the Bereziv region" is available at /tp/wllzzk/zuzak20060506SpalakhReview.html
So how are we to prevent "errors of omission" in the future? Simply become informed about these issues and when someone on radio, TV or live fails to make an appropriate reference to the Ukrainian tragedy bring it to their attention if at all possible. Many of these people will appreciate our interruption or intercession. Record the incident for posterity. Each of us can do our little bit.
[W.Z. This article was published in the April 08, 2007 issue of e-Poshta.]