The current war in Ukraine had been described by many as “genocide”.
Today, the world recognises the viciousness of Russian aggression and expansionism and the war of Kremlin aggression against Ukraine must be stopped.
While the war of Russian aggression against Ukraine is indeed genocide, Russian aggression 90 years ago must also be remembered. Unfortunately, these Russian traits have existed for centuries and affected Ukraine in 1932-1933 during the Holodomor, or “murder by starvation”.
Stalin’s forced famine-genocide killed an estimated 7-10 million Ukrainians.
The deliberate policies of forced collectivisation, confiscation of crops, and the denial of aid created unbearable conditions that led to widespread starvation and immense suffering.
The Holodomor stands as one of the darkest chapters in human history, where the systematic targeting of a specific ethnic group resulted in immense loss of life and destruction.
The leadership of the Soviet Union committed it with the aim of eliminating Ukrainian resistance to the regime and its attempts to build a Ukrainian state independent of Moscow. We are witnessing today that their aspirations in that regard have not changed.
The tactics being used in Ukraine by Russia today bear many similarities to those used 90 years ago. And just like back then, Russia’s war against Ukraine is a real threat to global food security.
Now more than ever it is crucial that New Zealand, as a free democratic nation, speaks up.
Whenever, the Ukrainian people rose up to fight for their freedom and sovereignty, Russia, in all its forms, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation, has tried to eliminate Ukraine from existence and history, and take all that is ours for their own.
These efforts have not been successful in the past and it will not be successful now.
More than 20 countries, including Ukraine, the US, Canada, Australia, and some European nations, have officially recognised the Holodomor as an act of genocide. Australia was one of the earliest.
Many countries have signed declarations in statements at the United Nations General Assembly affirming that the Holodomor was a “national tragedy of the Ukrainian people” caused by the “cruel actions and policies of the totalitarian regime”. Similar statements were passed as resolutions by international organisations such as the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).
New Zealand recognition would serve multiple purposes.
Firstly, it would bring awareness to this historical tragedy and promote a deeper understanding of the immense suffering endured by the Ukrainian people.
Secondly, it would provide solace to the descendants of the survivors and victims, affirming that their pain and loss have not been forgotten.
Lastly, it would demonstrate New Zealand’s commitment to upholding human rights and condemning acts of genocide, reinforcing our country’s values on the international stage.
By acknowledging this tragic event as genocide, we not only honour the memory of those who perished but also send a strong message that New Zealand stands firmly against such atrocities and upholds the principles of human rights and justice.
I urge the Prime Minister to initiate the necessary steps. By taking this vital step, New Zealand can join the ranks of nations that have already recognised the Holodomor for what it truly was — a crime against humanity.
All genocides must be recognised and acknowledged to effectively learn from history and to avoid repeating such atrocities.
As we continue the year-long commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Ukrainian Holodomor, it is important that the Holodomor be recognised as genocide by the New Zealand government, just like it has been by our other allies.
Eternal memory to the victims of the Holodomor and the victims of the current Russian genocide against Ukraine.
- Kate Turska is the spokesperson with Mahi for Ukraine.