United States of America
Proceedings and Debates of the 107th Congress, First Session
Vol. 147; Washington, Tuesday, November 13, 2001No. 156
U. S. House of Representatives
(Legislative day of Wednesday, November 14, 2001)
Honorable Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey
Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the memory of innocent victims of an
abominable act perpetrated against the people of Ukraine in 1932-33. Seven
million innocent men, women and children were murdered so that one man,
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, could consolidate control over Ukraine. The
Ukrainian people resisted the Soviet policy of forced collectivization. The
innocent died a horrific death at the hands of a tyrannical dictatorship
which had crushed their freedom.
In an attempt to break the spirit of an independent-minded and
nationally-conscious Ukrainian peasantry, and ultimately to secure
collectivization, Stalin ordered the expropriation of all foodstuffs in the
hands of the rural population. The grain was shipped to other areas of the
Soviet Union or sold on the international market. Peasants who refused to
turn over grain to the state were deported or executed. Without food or
grain, mass starvation ensued.
This manmade famine was the consequence of deliberate policies which
aimed to destroy the political, cultural and human rights of the Ukrainian
people. In short, food was used as a weapon in what can only be described
as an organized act of terrorism designed to suppress a people's love of
their land and the basic liberty to live as they choose.
This month also marks an important milestone in more recent Ukrainian
history. Twenty-five years ago, on November 9, 1976, 10 courageous men and
women formed the Ukrainian Public Group to Promote the Implementation of the
Helsinki Accords. The work of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group focused on
monitoring human rights violations and on the Ukrainian national question as
an integral component of human rights issues. The Ukrainian Helsinki Group
eventually became the largest of its kind among similar groups in the Soviet
Union, but also the most repressed by the Soviet regime.
Of the 37 Ukrainians who eventually joined the Group, virtually all were
subjected to lengthy terms in labor camps and internal exile. Three--Oleksiy
Tykhy, Yuri Lytvyn and Vasyl Stus--died in the mid-1980s while serving
camp terms under extremely harsh conditions. Their courageous, active
commitment to human rights and freedom for the people of Ukraine laid
the foundation for the historic achievement of Ukrainian independence in
As we honor the memory of the millions of innocent victims of the Ukrainian
Famine, let us also not forget to honor the work and, in some instances, the
martyrdom, of the valiant members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group.
While similar atrocities are highly unlikely, Ukraine has yet to realize its
full democratic potential. Despite the real progress made in the decade
since independence, the unsolved murders of Georgiy Gongadze and other
journalists and political figures, the assaults on media freedoms, the
pervasive corruption, and the lack of respect for the rule of law
demonstrate a democratic deficit that must be overcome.
An independent, sovereign, democratic Ukraine--in which respect for the
dignity of human beings is the cornerstone--is the best guarantee that the
horrors of the last century become truly inconceivable.
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe