UCCA Statement on Ukraine’s Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide

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Every 18th of May, communities across the world pause to reflect on the mass murder of over 100,000 Crimean Tatars, a genocide conceived of and perpetrated by Josef Stalin, in the course of the Soviets physically removing all indigenous people from the Crimean peninsula in 1944. Approximately 238,000 deportees, 113,000 of whom were children, 93,000 women, were rounded up in the early morning hours, placed on cattle cars, and sent away to far-off Soviet farm collectives and forced labor camps. This Sürgün, or “violent expulsion,” remains hidden in the annals of 20th century atrocities, just as the brutal colonization of Crimea in 1783 by Tsarist Russia, which saw tens of thousands of indigenous Crimean Tatars drowned alive for the amusement of their captors.

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UCCA NYC Branch President, Ivanka Zajac, Awarded for Her Dedication to Ukraine’s Freedom Fighters

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New York, NY (UCCA) --- On April 26th, Ivanka Zajac, President of the UCCA NYC Branch, was honored for her selfless and continuous dedication in assisting Ukraine’s Freedom Fighters since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine.  Before colleagues and friends, Ms. Zajac was bestowed a series of awards, including the prestigious “Order of St. Barbara” Award, for her tireless efforts in raising funds to equip our Ukrainian soldiers who are currently fighting to secure Ukraine’s freedom and territorial integrity.

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On the 30th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Catastrophe

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Thirty years ago today, the worst nuclear disaster in history occurred at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, causing irreparable harm and tragic human, natural and economic losses to Ukraine and its people.

On the night of Saturday, April 26, 1986, an act of unforgivable negligence at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Northern Ukraine resulted in disaster. An explosion at the plant blew the concrete roof off of Reactor #4 sending large amounts of toxic radioactivity billowing into the atmosphere.  This was not simply an industrial accident, but the unimaginable result of carelessness and disregard on the part of Soviet authorities, that led to human tragedy on a massive scale. Cognizant of their error, the regime did the unthinkable. It imperiled millions of lives by remaining silent and refusing to admit that anything out of the ordinary had happened! It wasn’t until Swedish diplomats, having detected abnormal amounts of radioactivity within their own country, gave notice on Monday, April 28th of their impending desire to file an official alert with the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Moscow finally issued this brief five-sentence statement, which read: “An accident has occurred at Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station.  One of the atomic reactors has been damaged.  Measures are being taken to eliminate the consequences of the accident.  Aid is being given to the victims.  A government commission has been set up.”

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United Nations Marks the 30th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Catastrophe

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On April 26th the United Nations General Assembly held a commemorative meeting to mark the 30th anniversary of the Chornobyl catastrophe.

As President of the 70th session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mogens Lykketoftl opened the session by reminding everyone that, although 30 years have passed since this catastrophe, when huge quantities of radioactive particles exploded into the atmosphere over large parts of Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation, the areas affected by Chornobyl are still struggling to overcome poverty, exclusion and stigma.  “Moving forward, we must continue to demonstrate international solidarity so that those most affected by this accident will be able to recover to the fullest,” he emphasized.

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The UCCA Condemns the Ongoing Occupation of Crimea

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It should come as no surprise to our fellow Americans, and those who value freedom and equality as basic human rights, that the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the representative organization for the over one million Americans of Ukrainian descent does not, has not, nor will ever recognize Russia’s March 2014 staged plebiscite in Crimea. Russia’s military invasion and current illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory has shed Ukrainian blood from day one, while journalists, activists and community leaders who support Ukraine’s territorial integrity continue to “disappear” from their native land. In the words of Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, “Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea is not a one-time violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, but rather represents an ongoing, continuous violation, one that persists for every day that Russia continues to occupy the peninsula.”

After two years of the illegal occupation of Crimea, Russia has once again escalated its crimes by seeking to deprive the Indigenous Crimean Tatars of their representative body, the Mejlis. By exporting his inhumane anti-extremism legislation to Crimea, Vladimir Putin has found yet another devious method to target the leadership of Ukraine’s indigenous population, who had already suffered through Stalin’s 1944 act of genocide and earlier periods of ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Russian Tsars.

The UCCA urges the United States of America to enforce stricter sanctions against those who choose to ignore Russia’s heinous crimes, and encourage the international community to intensify their condemnation of Russia’s aggression towards and illegal occupation of Ukraine. Ukraine must take its rightful place among the free nations of Europe, as a sovereign and whole nation.