Copyright 2004-2013

Recognition of Holodomor NSW Parliament 30 Oct 2013

The Hon Marie Ficarra MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of NSW and Chair of the Ukrainian Ministerial Consultative Committee


  • Acknowledge the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation – their elders past and present,

  • Minister Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs,
  • Stefan Romaniw OAM ,President of the Australian Federation of
    Ukrainian Organisations and former Chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Chair of the International Holodomor Committee and your lovely wife Anastasia,
  • Peter Shmigel, Public Affairs Director of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations,
  • The many representatives of the Ukrainian community of NSW; including Anna Vitruk from Kyiv:
    • Ukrainian Women’s Association lead by NSW President Olga
    • Ukrainian Council of NSW under the leadership of Acting President Mark Shumsky,
    • Ukrainian Association of Sydney,
    • Ukrainian Welfare Association,
    • Ukrainian Schools Board of NSW,
    • Ukrainian Studies Foundation in Australia,
    • Karpaty Foundation,
    • Plast Ukrainian Scouts NSW,
    • Ukrainian Association Cabramatta Fairfield,
    • Sutsvittya Ukrainian Women’s Ensemble,
    • Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church,
    • Ukrainian Medical Association of Australia,
    • Ukrainian Youth Association,
    • Ukrainian Kozak Brotherhood,
    • My Parliamentary Colleagues Rev Hon Fred Nile, Assistant President of the Legislative Council and leader of the NSW Christian Democratic Party,
    • Hon Amanda Fazio, Opposition Whip in the Legislative Council,
    • Hon David Clarke, Parliamentary Secretary for Justice,
    • Distinguished guests – ladies and gentlemen:

As Parliamentary Secretary to the NSW Premier, Hon Barry O’Farrell it was a great honour to successfully move on the 17 October the unanimously adopted motion in the NSW Parliament recognising the 80th Anniversary of the Holodomor – the Ukrainian word meaning “execution by hunger” – the forced famine perpetrated by Joseph Stalin’s Communist regime in 1932-33, responsible for the death of an estimated 7 million Ukrainians.


Minister Dominello Read motion
That this House:


Page: 24213

Motion by the Hon. MARIE FICARRA agreed to:

That this House:

(a) notes that 2013 is the eightieth anniversary of the Holodomor, an enforced famine in Ukraine caused by the deliberate actions of Stalin's Communist Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic [USSR];

(b) recalls that it is estimated up to seven million Ukrainians starved to death as a result of Stalin's policies in 1932 to 1933 alone;

(c) condemns this act of genocide aimed at destroying the national, cultural, religious and democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people;

(d) condemns all other acts of genocide during the twentieth century as the ultimate manifestation of racial, ethnic or religious hatred and violence;

(e) honours the memory of those who lost their lives during the Holodomor;

(f) resolves to annually mark the Holodomor on or about the international Holodomor Remembrance Day, being 24 November;

(g) joins the Ukrainian Australian community and the international community, including 16 sovereign governments who have formally recognised the Holodomor genocide, in commemorating this tragic milestone; and

(h) recognises the importance of remembering and learning from such dark chapters in human history to ensure that such crimes against humanity are not allowed to be repeated.


I am pleased to note that this was not the first time that this Parliament has recognised the did so originally on 25 September 2008 marking the 75th Anniversary of this soviet atrocity. We are also proud of the Federal Parliament’s similar resolution in October 2003.

It is vital that civilised democracies around the world acknowledge such acts against humanity so that we are reminded of the depravity that nations, governments, political establishments, their leaders, armies and enforcers are capable of throughout the history of mankind. By acknowledging these despicable acts we help ensure they are never repeated

There are over 30,000 Australians of Ukrainian decent according to our last census but as we know the family multiplier effect makes this Diaspora much larger. Whether it is the Ukrainian, Armenian, the Jewish, Assyrian or Pontian Greek community, we as your Government representatives stand united in our condemnation of such genocides – there are no partisan political differences when it comes to matters of human rights and recognition of atrocities
committed and the evil nature of such.

I wish to quote from the historical publication "Soviet Genocide in the Ukraine" by the very much respected Dr Raphael Lemkin, 1953, now found in the New York Public Library. Dr Lemkin, who coined the word genocide and authored the UN Convention on Genocide, asserts that

"the classic example of the Soviet genocide" is the "destruction of the Ukrainian nation." After laying out a clear description of the four pronged attack against the Ukrainian people: destruction of its intelligentsia, its spiritual leadership, its farmers, and its ethnic unity, he concludes "This is not simply a case of mass murder. It is a case of genocide, of the destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation."

The internal policy of the Kremlin and in particular Stalin at the time was to
produce the ideal “Soviet Nation” similar to the objectives of mass murderer
Adolf Hitler and his “pure Aryan nation”. The Kremlin proceeded to destroy the
nations and cultures that have long inhabited Eastern Europe, in particular the

The fierce independence and nationalism of the Ukrainian people was viewed as the most serious threat to Sovietism. As Lemkin said; “the Ukrainian is not and has never been, a Russian. His culture, his temperament, his language, his religion – all are different. He refused to be collectivised, accepting deportation, even death.

One third of all Ukrainian children died during the Holodomor. Ukrainian leadership- religious, intellectual and political was targeted and eliminated early on through mass murders, deportation and forced labour, exile and starvation. In 1920, 1926, and again in 1930-33, teachers, writers, artists, thinkers, the church hierarchy and clergy, community and political leaders were killed, imprisoned or deported. It is estimated that by 1933, 75% of Ukrainian intellectuals, religious and professionals had suffered this fate as classified “enemies of the State”.

Whole villages were depopulated – so often those families who were deported were forcibly separated – fathers to Siberia, mothers to the brickworks in Turkestan and children to communist homes to be “re-educated”.

But the third prong of the Soviet plan was aimed at the farmers or as the Soviets viewed them- the deeply nationalistic peasants – the repository of Ukrainian tradition. Folklore, music, language and literature – the national spirit of the Ukraine. The weapon used against them was the most terrible of all- starvation. Between 1932 and 1933, over 5 million Ukrainians starved to death. As a Soviet politician Kosior declared in Izvestiia on 2 December 1933 “Ukrainian nationalism is our chief danger” – and to eliminate this threat Ukrainian farmers were sacrificed.

All suffered men, women and children. Even though the Ukrainian soil is rich and fertile, unreasonable grain allotments were demanded as state taxes, thousands of acres of wheat were ordered not to be harvested and left to rot in the fields.......the rest sent to government granaries and then exported to pay for the industrialisation of the USSR cities.

Starving rural folk moved into towns to beg only to be sent back.............parents placed their children on trains hoping they would be looked after by those in cities that took pity on them is reported that thousands of children were abandoned as their parents could not feed them..........people in their agony resorted to killing dogs and cats for food........eating pests and insects and even resorting to cannibalism in their desperation.

The forth evil arm in the Soviet plan was added to mass deportations – that is, the mass settlement of non Ukrainian Soviets so that by 1939 only 63% of the population were of Ukrainian origin. Birth rates had plummeted and it would take Ukrainians many years to begin to recover.................but recover they did, and thrive they have.

I read many recollections from those who survived the Holodomor and I can say it was such a horrific experience these Ukrainians had to endure – remarkably some survived and rebuilt their lives and rebuilt the Ukraine..........many of them your parents and grandparents.

Ladies and gentlemen there is much more to be said about such a sorry part of Ukrainian history. I have been so moved by the writings of Arthur Kaestler, a British novelist and journalist along with those of war correspondent for the Guardian at the time, Malcolm Muggeridge, documenting the many Soviet atrocities they witnessed at the time.

The Holodomor was a Soviet crime against humanity, but the Ukrainian spirit was made stronger by such a failed attempt to destroy it. It resurged and grows stronger within Ukraine - spreading to all its Diaspora who love their heritage, as strongly as their love the lands where they now live.

Ukraine is blessed to have a passionate, caring and loyal Diaspora who work hard to ensure these tragic events are not just relegated to the history books but are taught to generations that follow us and are made known to community and political leaders, so that they may never be allowed to happen again.

In this respect I want to recognise the fine efforts over so many years of Stefan Romaniw and his fellow executive members both at a Federation level and a State level...............your perseverance to bring before the attention of our media, federal government as well as State parliaments the historical facts, documentation and reports of atrocities in Ukraine over many years of communist rule, especially the Holodomor have enabled these Parliaments to place on the record Australia’s abhorrence of what happened, our belief that all genocides are to be condemned and that these crimes against humanity need to be addressed by the world democracies as soon as they occur and justice pursued through international courts.

We have a moral responsibility to the memory of all those brave men, women and children who were murdered and harmed in so many ways to continue spreading the truth about the supreme sacrifice they made for their beloved nation.

In the words of the famous Volodymyr Sosyura’s poem “Love Ukraine”

“You cannot love other peoples
Unless you love Ukraine”


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