Friday, November 25, 2016

Member of Parliament James Bezan Marks Holodomor Memorial Day


Despite changes in leadership, the Government of Canada still supports the sovereignty of Ukraine, and the right of self-determination for Ukrainians.

On November 25, 2016, James Bezan, Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman, issued this  statement to mark Holodomor Memorial Day:

“Today we stand united with Ukrainians in Canada and around the world as we mark the solemn anniversary of the Holodomor. We remember the millions of innocent men, women, and children that perished as result of the forced starvation and oppression by Joesph Stalin’s soviet regime.

“The Holodomor was an attempt to put an end to the Ukrainian people’s aspirations for a free and independent country by a ruthless communist regime. This horrific act of genocide, which took place between 1932 and 1933, saw Europe’s breadbasket depleted to a barren land of suffering. It represents one of the darkest chapters in human history.

“With the passing of my private member’s bill in 2008, Canada became the first country to officially recognize the Holodomor as genocide. It is vitally important that we remember and raise awareness, not only to honour the victims and survivors, but to make sure future generations never witness such an atrocity.

“It is also important to acknowledge that the struggle of the Ukrainian people is not over. Canada stands proudly with the people of Ukraine as they work towards a brighter future for their children and grandchildren. Today, the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine is once again being threatened by an authoritarian Russian leader. Vladmir Putin and the Russian military have illegally annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and continue to maintain military aggression in the east of Ukraine.

I encourage all Canadians to attend Holodomor Memorial Day services being held in communities across the country and remember the millions of victims and honour the courage of those who survived. Their memories shall be eternal.


“Vichnaya Pamyat”

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Armistice Film series on Canada's First Internment operations

Ryan Boyko of Armistice Films has created a brilliant series of video vignettes on Canada's first internment operations from 1914-1920.

There were 26 camps from coast to coast, including one in Nanaimo on Canada's west coast.

I don't really consider myself an internee descendant. I am only the great-niece of an internee, and don't recall ever meeting my great Uncle Harry (perhaps as a young child). I only recently met his son, Ed (my dad's cousin) and his wife Josie in person when they were here visiting Nanaimo this past fall.

Still, I think the experience had an impact on the entire family, if not succeeding generations of Ukrainian Canadians descended from that time.

Maybe it explains how such a large family as ours became so disconnected in just a generation or two. Dad loves to tell stories of how close everyone was in his youth. Yet of all the cousins I have, including those I was so close to during my own youth, I am in (infrequent) touch with just a handful.

Who can really know the full extent of the consequences resulting from the cruelty and indifference that human beings are capable of manifesting?

Last November Ryan and his film crew came to Nanaimo to document the camp that existed here, in which Uncle Harry may have briefly been.

What wasn't included in this film is the discussion we had at the site with someone who had witnessed vandalism of the plaque from his apartment across the street.

Just as well, perhaps. Ryan tells a powerful story without it.




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Canada's Official Opposition calls on Government of Canada to enact tougher human rights laws on the anniversary of the murder of Sergei Magnitsky


On November 16, 2016, The Hon. Rona Ambrose, Leader of Canada's Official Opposition, issued the following statement:

“On November 16th, 2009, Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in a Moscow prison after he uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history. To date, none of the individuals responsible have been brought to justice.

“The United States and the European Union have both adopted Magnitsky sanctions. Unfortunately, despite their campaign promise, the Liberal government has yet to act. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has repeatedly broken his party’s commitment to update Canada’s laws and ensure that foreign nationals who are responsible for gross human rights violations can be punished and sanctioned accordingly.

“Last month financial expert and human rights advocate Bill Browder announced that he and a team of investigators have tracked more than $13 million dollars associated with an elaborate tax fraud in Russia to bank accounts in Canada. It is clear that Canada is not immune to the actions of corrupt foreign officials, who would use our banking system to hide their assets. The time has come for the Liberal government to act.

“While Minister Dion has embarked upon a misguided effort to re-engage with Vladimir Putin, Conservatives have filled the void. MP James Bezan has tabled Bill C-267, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law). Senator Raynell Andreychuk has tabled similar legislation in the Senate. We have provided the Liberal government with multiple options should they wish to finally listen to the advice of former Liberal MPs such as Bob Rae and Irwin Cotler.

“The world’s worst human rights violators must be held accountable. They cannot be allowed to hide their assets in Canada. On the anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder in a Russian prison, we urge the Liberal government, particularly Minister Dion, to remember their promise to human rights advocates both in Canada and around the world: support and pass the Magnitsky Law.”


 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Canadian government being urged to acknowledge 1944 genocide of Crimean Tatars

On Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, Member of Parliament Kerry Diotte started second reading of Bill C-306, Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day Act in the House of Commons. 
MP James Bezan seconded the bill and urged all Parliamentarians to recognize the grave human rights abuses and to forbid history from repeating itself by supporting Bill C-306.
The intention of Bill C-306 is to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide and establish a national memorial day. 

In 1944, the Soviet regime under Josef Stalin ripped hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children from their homes in Crimea, and sent them into permanent exile simply on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” said Bezan echoing the words of Sir Winston Churchill.  

“The mass deportation occurred over two days, Soviet agents forced all of the Tatars into cattle cars, onto trains, and onto barges and deported them to gulags in Uzbekistan, where they were put into forced labour camps.  Half of them died of starvation,” he added.

“As we think of the persecution imposed on the Crimean Tatars in 1944, we are eerily reminded of the plights they are faced with today,” said Bezan.

In 2014, Russian president, Vladmir Putin, illegally annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, where the Tatars are the indigenous population.

“The Russians went in and immediately removed the Tatar’s freedom of the press by shutting down their newspapers and radio stations. Then they shut down their political ability to work together at the Meijles, their parliament. Then the Russians made sure that they could no longer go to their mosques to gather. There is no freedom of association, no freedom of political affiliation, and no freedom of religion,” said Bezan.

If passed, Bill C-306 will recognize the mass deportations of Crimean Tatars in 1944 by the Soviet regime as genocide and establish May 18 as a day of commemoration. 

In 2015, the Parliament of Ukraine officially recognized the deportations of 1944 as genocide, the first country in the world to do so. Subsequently, the Ukrainian Parliament called on other countries to join them in recognizing this atrocity as genocide.


“Today’s efforts by the Putin regime to eliminate the cultural identity of the Tatars should be an indicator as to why supporting Bill C-306 is essential. If we do not recognize and learn from the atrocities of the past, they are bound to repeat themselves,” said Bezan.