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Eesti sõnavõt Holodomori mälestuspäeval

02.12.2013

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Every human being has a right to life, liberty and security. Every human being should have the right to live in dignity, in a stable and peaceful environment with the right to exercise the freedom of expression and assembly. Ensuring these rights to everyone is central to the Millennium Development Goals, but also to the emerging Sustainable Development Agenda. Within it, food security is getting more and more global attention. But it has not always been so. Our world has not been perfect. There are events in our history that have to be remembered in order to avoid the repetition of human suffering they caused.

 

That is the reason why we are here today to commemorate the millions of victims of the famine-genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, known as the Holodomor. This is a tragedy everybody should know and remember as one of the catastrophic consequences of totalitarianism in the 20th century, resulting from the Stalinist policy of collectivisation and its aggressive dehumanisation. 

Hereby, I would like to recall the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry Into the 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine, presented in 1990 to the UN Under-Secretary for Human Rights in Geneva, and to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The document concluded that the famine in the Ukraine was genocide. Among the countries that have declared the Holodomor genocide, Estonia was the first to adopt a parliamentary declaration on October 20, 1993 condemning “the communist policy of genocide in Ukraine”.

Significant progress in the global recognition of the Holodomor tragedy was made with the pronouncement of the Joint Declaration at the United Nations on November 10, 2003, in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor.  With this document the Holdomor was declared a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people caused by the policies of the totalitarian regime. It considerably enhanced our knowledge about the catastrophe and restrained those who would like to lessen the significance of the consequences of the political manoeuvring that caused it.    

This year, 80 years after the tragedy and ten years after the Joint Declaration was issued, we should commemorate its casualties and also the millions of representatives of other nationalities who died of starvation in the Volga River region, the Northern Caucasus, Kazakhstan and in other parts of the former Soviet Union, as a result of the Civil War and the forced collectivisation of the 1930s. As a Nation, Estonians experienced similar events 20 years later, although on a lesser scale. Therefore, we know what that meant to the Nation and its people. With this I want to underline the importance of continued revelations of abuses and violations of human rights, preservation of historical evidence, and restoration of the dignity of victims. Knowledge of history will help us avoid the repetition of the atrocities described above.

In the 21st century unfortunately, famine has not yet become history - mostly because of wars and instability, but also because of political manoeuvring. The unwillingness or inability of certain governments to implement the necessary reforms on food security and in the agricultural sector has been a major cause of this. Just a few years ago we faced famine in the Horn of Africa - the worst in 60 years. Last year, people faced food insecurity in the Sahel region. As a donor, Estonia has provided food assistance to the people in need, as have many other nations. But the problem needs a long-term solution such as an increased resilience to droughts and other hazards, not just emergency relief. We have to address the root causes. Among other things the sustainable development agenda should bring those questions into the light and seek comprehensive solutions. 

The Holodomor is and will stay in our minds as a warning. This anniversary reminds us that we have to take tremendous efforts to avoid the recurrence of similar catastrophes in the future. We also have to remember what horrific effect totalitarianism has had and still has on people, what suffering it has brought. And we have to continue to fight it.

 

Thank you for your attention.

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