Ukranian March – Holomodor

My main source of information on upcoming events in NYC has failed me again (http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/index.jsp) .  They got almost every single point wrong.  Okay, they got the day right, and they got the nationality right.

Here’s the announcement:

20071117-ukranian-march-00-announcement.jpg

I was a bit askance at it from the beginning.  There’s no such thing as an “all day” parade.  But, I figured that if I went out around 11am and walked around the path (5th Avenue above 30th Street and 7th Avenue from 15th Street), I’d find out a little more about it.  No problem.  It was a nice day for walking and I thought I’d just pick up lunch while out and, even if the start were delayed until late, like 2pm, I’d survive.  I suspected it was nothing but a street fair, but that’d be okay if it were oriented toward the Ukraine.

So I went out.  Once I got to Fifth Avenue, I knew it wasn’t a parade.  There was no sign of any of the barriers that get put up the night before any parade.  So, I decided I’d go for that nice long walk though Chelsea and maybe see something a little new.

I followed the path southward and kept seeing…nothing.  I traced the entire route of the “parade”.  And. Saw. Nothing.  By the time I got to 15th Street, I gave up any hope of even a street fair.  So, I resigned myself to just a little wandering and went around and about the area and then decided to wander eastward and go up through the East Side.  Just a nice long pleasant walk in the cool temperature of the day.  Very pleasant, if a bit boring.

And then I reached 3rd Avenue and saw something.

20071117-ukranian-march-01.jpg

I couldn’t read the signs, but something told me this was the Ukranian Parade.  I started walking northward and easily outpaced the marchers.  They stretched up a long, long way so I certainly never got to the front of them, but I did find out that it was the Ukranians.

It wasn’t a “parade”.  It was a protest march.

20071117-ukranian-march-02.jpg

And they were restricted by the police to one lane of 3rd Avenue.

20071117-ukranian-march-03.jpg

They were protesting Joseph Stalin and the enforced collectivization and starvation of the Ukraine during the 1930s.  This was the 75th Anniversery of that event, known formally as the Holomodor.

20071117-ukranian-march-07.jpg

The era was in the darkest days of the American Depression (which actually spanned the whole world), but we had it so much easier than the Ukraine.  In that event, as many as 10 million died in the attempt to bring socialism/communism to fruition.  From Wikipedia: children as young as 12 could be executed for gathering corn that was missed during the harvest.  It was that generation’s “killing fields” and there is no excuse for it.

The marchers certainly held no qualms over the blame:  Stalin and the Russians.

20071117-ukranian-march-11-russians-to-blame.jpg

And there were symbolic demonstrations.

20071117-ukranian-march-12-symbolic-coffin.jpg

The above was the first in a procession.

20071117-ukranian-march-13-coffin-procession.jpg

I walked beside and with the procession for about 15 blocks.  I talked with some of the women who were handing out literature on the event.  They hadn’t been aware of the NYC event calendar error.  They said the march had always been planned for 3rd Avenue and that they had started at 11am from 7th Street, not 7th Avenue.

This being New York, they didn’t really understand why I hadn’t checked out the Ukrainian web sites.  Well, I had googled the parade, but it hadn’t turned up anything.  Maybe if I had known it was the 75th Anniversary of the famine and if I had googled a march instead of a parade, I’d have known.  Maybe I should have just dialed 311 for information.  Nah, that’s not the sort of thing I do.

The protest was an attempt to get the US to declare the Holomodor a genocidal event.  It’s not going to happen.  Look at the big international fiasco that happened when Congress wanted to classify the Armenian Genocide by the Turks a genocide and condemn (rightfully) the Turkish refusal to recognize it.

-H

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