CMHR to commission inaugural film on Ukrainian genocide

Tags for CMHR to commission inaugural film on Ukrainian genocide

News release details

WINNIPEG, December 20, 2012 — The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) today announced it will commission, as one of its inaugural films, a mini‐documentary on the silence and secrecy surrounding the1932‐33 Ukrainian genocide.

"The human‐rights lessons of the Holodomor will be a valuable teaching tool throughout the Museum when it opens in 2014," said president and CEO Stuart Murray. "Our new film will emphasize the power of publicly acknowledging mass atrocities, and the danger of denying them."

This introductory film to a key Museum gallery will explore how the news media can play a crucial role in breaking the silence surrounding human‐rights violations – but can also create or abet the denial. It is being produced in cooperation with Ukraine's national Holodomor memorial museum, under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed earlier this year.

The film's storyline will centre on international press coverage of the Holodomor in the 1930s, when millions of Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death in order to crush resistance to Stalin‐era collectivization of agriculture. A central focus will be the media struggle between New York Times reporter William Duranty, who actively denied and distorted the famine, and journalists such as Gareth Jones and Malcolm Muggeridge, who attempted to bring the truth to light.

"Genocide like the Holodomor is not only a crime against its victims, but against all of humanity, perpetuated by denial and minimization," Murray said. "It is essential that we learn to stay vigilant in defense of human rights – and understand what can happen when we look the other way."

He said Ukrainian Canadian content will be included in at least seven other exhibits:

  • A gallery examining Canada's own human‐rights journey will explore the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War.
  • An interactive study table in a gallery devoted to "breaking the silence" will contain primary‐source evidence about the Holodomor in Ukraine, including its historical context, the violation itself, efforts to deny it, and the subsequent struggle for justice, which continues today.
  • A built exhibit will explore the struggle by the Ukrainian‐Canadian community which led to Canadian Parliamentary recognition of five genocides.
  • Another exhibit will feature first‐hand testimony from individuals affected by human‐rights violations, including the Holodomor, with a special focus on Canadian Holodomor survivors.
  • The influence of the Holodomor in the development of the concept of genocide will be acknowledged a gallery devoted to international human‐rights law.
  • An interactive exhibit will explore Raphael Lemkin's analysis of the "techniques" of genocide deployed by the Stalinist regime.
  • A large recognition wall will feature the atrocities treated in the CMHR galleries, including the Holodomor.

Under the MOU signed in July 2012 with Ukraine's national Holodomor museum, and in collaboration with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Manitoba), CMHR recently finished a series of lectures and public events across Canada. The series featured world‐renowned Ukrainian researchers who have worked to bring evidence of the genocide to public light, including new research on hundreds of thousands of Soviet secret‐police orders and case files that have only recently been opened to the public.

Currently under construction in Winnipeg, the CMHR is the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights in Canada. It is the first national museum to be established since 1967 and the first outside the National Capital Region.

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