HOLODOMOR QUESTION IN PARLIAMENT

01.12.16



The Rt Hon David Lidington MP and Dr Rupa Huq MP in Parliament today

PRESS RELEASE

HOLODOMOR QUESTION PUT TO UK PARLIAMENT

1 December 2016

 

The UK’s Shadow Cabinet minister for home affairs, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Rupa Huq, today tabled a question in the House of Commons, asking for Ukraine’s “forced famine of 1932-33” to be officially recognised as “Genocide.”

 

Dr Huq, also a newspaper columnist, writer and former lecturer in media studies and sociology, was inspired to ask the question after building ties with London’s Ukrainian community during a visit to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Cathedral in Acton, which falls within her constituency.

 

She made a speech to the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Natalia Galiberenko, parishioners, priests and representatives of community organisations after a wreath-laying ceremony and a short service of remembrance to commemorate the Holodomor famine on Ukraine’s national Remembrance Day of 26th November.

 

After speaking to older parishioners who lived in Ukraine at the time of the famine and looking at a photographic exhibition dedicated to victims, the front bench MP said: “My eyes were opened to this appalling atrocity. I owe it to this community, to my Ukrainian constituents, to have the suffering and deaths of their fellow citizens officially recognised.”

 

This is not the first time that politicians have tabled questions about this topic in parliament. Previous questions from MPs, particularly on the eve of the 75th anniversary in 2008, led to the Foreign Office recognising the Holodomor as a “crime against humanity” yet stopping short of using the term “Genocide”.

 

The text of Dr Huq’s parliamentary question and the reply of the Leader of the House, David Lidington MP, reads as follows:

 

Rupa Huq MP:  “Mr Speaker – On Saturday I was with a congregation of hundreds of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Acton, to mourn the up to 10 million who died in Stalin’s forced famine of 1932-33. It is an atrocity that was exposed by British journalists yet the British Government still fails to acknowledge this as genocide. Could we have an urgent statement on why we haven’t followed other countries on doing this. There was some progress under the Blair/Brown governments which seems to have stalled as do so many other things. These people feel swept under the carpet and they need our solidarity – they are under attack again.”

Leader of the House:  “With respect to the honourable lady, this was not recognised as a genocide under those governments. The principle that the Government follows, as I think she knows, is that we believe that the term genocide, because it carries today certain criminal implications in respect to those alleged to have carried out the genocidal acts, these are decisions that should be made by judges rather than by governments. But that should not diminish in any way our sense of horror at what happened in Ukraine during the 1930’s. I can remember when I was in Kyiv going to the Holodomor memorial in the centre of the city. The folk memory of that harrowing experience is still very central to Ukrainians’ conception of themselves as a people and as a nation. We are right to remember the horror that took place then and do all in our power to try to make sure through our foreign policy that such events never happen again.”

Speaking after the event the Chair of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Petro Rewko, welcomed Dr Huq’s question and the reply received and added that this was not the first time that reference had been made to the judiciary considering the question of genocide in relation to the Holodomor. In June 2013 the then Minister for Europe said that "it is a cause for some heart searching in the western world that for decades this tragedy was often overlooked or ignored… Recognition decisions should be based on a credible judicial process, and the courts are best placed to judge what are essentially criminal matters”.  

Mr Rewko said: "We must revisit this question and seek to obtain an assurance that such a judicial process will considered prior to the 85th anniversary of this genocide.” 

 

Further information from:

 

Fedir Kurlak, Chief Executive, Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB),

+44 (0) 207 229 8392

+44 (0) 7966 360 916

fedir.kurlak@augb.co.uk

 

Very Reverend Bohdan Matwijczuk, Dean of London Cathedral, Head of Clergy and Consistory Head, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in UK

+44 (0) 7957 236755

Bohdan.matwijczuk@zen.co.uk

 

Yuri Bender, Deputy Head of Consistory, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in UK,

+44 (0) 776 461 7823

Yuri.bender@ft.com



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