HOLODOMOR COMMEMORATION IN ROCHDALE

25.11.13


By Taras Melnyk

On Friday 22nd November 2013 Rochdale commemorated the 80th Anniversary of Holodomor, honouring the memory of 7-10 million innocent victims who perished as a result of Stalin’s man-made famine in Ukraine 1932-33.

     Almost 100 people gathered at the Rochdale Town Hall on a sunny,cold morning. In attendance were: Mitred Rev. Bohdan Matvijczuk of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC),Rev. Ewhen Nebesnyak, Yaroslav Riy and Volodymyr Sampara of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Chuch (UGCC). The Church of England represented by Canon Alan Shackelton. Also attended by the Mayor & Mayoress of Rochdale Cllr. Peter Rush & Monica Rush and Members of the Metropolitan Borough Council. The Deputy Mayor of Keighley Cllr. Judith Brooksbank & Mr.Brooksbank & former Deputy Mayor of Keighley - Mykola Lajszczuk. The Member of Parliament for Rochdale Simon Danczuk and his wife Cllr.Karen Danczuk,  the President of  the Association of Ukrainians in Greta Britain, Zenko Lastowiecki and our honoured and distinguished guest Nigel Linsan-Colley the great- nephew of Gareth Jones.

    There were Ukrainians from Rochdale, Todmorden, Keighley, Manchester, Bury and other neighbouring towns. Also present were reporters from the 'The Rochdale Observer’ and ‘Rochdale Online’. 

     At 11.30 a.m with the Ukrainian flag at the forefront the procession made its way to the Holodomor Memorial located in The Memorial Gardens. It was in 2009 that a Memorial to the victims of the Holodomor in UK was the first of its kind to be placed in such a prestigious place in a town centre. 

     Anna Kecyk (Chair of ‘The Friends of Lviv’) welcomed everyone. In her opening address she said, that today we join in thought and prayers with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and around the world to honour the memory of the innocent victims of the 1932-33 Holodomor-Genocide. Wreaths were then layed by the The Mayor Rochdale, The Member of Parliament for Rochdale, Nigel Linsan- Colley, and the Deputy Mayors of Keighley. A minutes silence was followed by a Memorial Service led by the priests.

     After the Service everyone made their way to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. There the programme opened with a minutes silence and to the sound of a bell the lighting of 8 candles by Maria Kopczyk symbolising the 80th Anniversary of the Holodomor.

     The programme continued with a Power Point Presentation about the ‘Historical Commemoration of the Holodomor’ created by Taras  Melnyk, Anna Lysseyko, Anna Kecyk and Natalka Hewka.  The audience was informed about the causes of the tragedy, the accounts of witnesses,  archives from the press and how the world commemorated and recognises the Holodomor. Rochdale and Keighley were the first towns in the U.K. whose Councils in2008 recognised the Holodomor as Genocide.

     In Rochdale this year’s  80th anniversary commemoration of the Holodomor was dedicated to the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who uncovered the truth about the Holodomor to the world - and gave his life for the truth and also to his niece the late Dr. Margaret Siriol Colley (Mother of Nigel Linsan Colley ).

      Nigel Linsan- Colley was then invited to give his presentation "The Gareth Jones Diaries ."  In his illustrated talk, he  gave a detailed account about the original handwritten letters which Mr. Linsan Colley personally transcribed. Gareth Jones wrote to his family in Wales as a witness in 1932 -33, travelling through regions of Ukraine during the terrible famine.  Up to the present time, he has been the only journalist who highlighted the truth about the Holodomor, reporting from inside the borders of the former Soviet Union.

     After the presentation the following guests gave short speeches: The Mayor of Rochdale Cllr. Peter Rush, the President of the AUGB Zenko Lastowiecki and the former deputy Mayor of Keighley Mykola Lajszczuk.

      On behalf of the ' Friends of Lviv’, Nigel Linsan- Colley presented three books «Gareth Jones - Eyewitness to Holodomor by Ray Gamache» to two former Rochdale Councillors: Irene Davidson & Angela Coric for their tireless and persistent work in having the Holodomor recognised as Genocide by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council in 2008 and for their help in placing of the Holodomor Memorial in the town centre. The third book was presented to former MP Paul Rowen, who raised the question in the European Parliament of having the Holodomor recognised as Genocide.  

    Unfortunately, the Member of Parliament for Rochdale Simon Danczuk was unable to come to the hall, so the book «Gareth Jones - Eyewitness to Holodomor by Ray Gamache» will be passed to him.  The day before the commemoration, Anna Kecyk  received a letter which she read, from Simon Danczuk MP addressed to William Hague (the UK Foreign Secretary) with a request for the UK government to officially recognise the Holodomor as Genocide . Mr Danczuk will also possible bring this matter up again in the "House of Commons".

     Finally, Anna Kecyk thanked Nigel Linsan- Colley for his valuable talk and for his tireless work in spreading the truth about the Holodomor and Gareth Jones worldwide. As a token of our appreciation he was presented with a book about the town of Rochdale .

In her closing remarks, Anna Kecyk thanked all the guests and everyone who attended, especially those who came from further away. She encouraged the younger generation in the UK to study and not to forget this tragic period of our Ukrainian history. The commemoration concluded with the singing of "A Prayer for Ukraine".  

 



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