Montreal against police brutality in Ukraine

Dec 3rd, 2013 | By | Category: Canada, News, Politics, Ukraine

Montreal – On December 2, 2013 just two days after the brutal crackdown by Berkut special riot forces in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Montreal’s Ukrainian community gathered to both oppose this unwanton use of force against peaceful protestors, as well as to show solidarity for their brethren in Europe’s largest country. The attack came in the early morning of Saturday the 30th of November, which left many protestors and journalists injured. This was after more than a week of peaceful protests without major incident, which was brought about by the Government’s flip-flop regarding its stance on moving towards harmonizing its legislation, reforming its judicial system and to openning up trade between Ukraine and the European Union.

At the Third Eastern Partnership Summit in Lithuanian’s capital Vilnius Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanuchovch was clearly shunned by western leaders when he failed to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. This shunning was a clear reaction of EU leaders after witnessing the displeasure of close to a hundred-thousand people protest in Ukaine’s capital of Kyiv on November 24, 2013.


European Union Flag being installed on Monument to Edward VII in Montreal's Phillips Square. Rally against Police brutallity in Ukraine.

European Union Flag being installed on Monument to Edward VII in Montreal’s Phillips Square. #Euromaidan December 2, 2013

A statement issued by the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union encouraging people to support the rallies in Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg stated, “The President’s failure to sign the EU agreement on Friday raised frustrations among Ukrainians and the brutal clearing of Maidan on Saturday at 4 AM was the final straw for everyone.”

As the crowd gathered, organizers hunted down local media in attendance and handed them small reminder cards of reliable sources on social media, together with their affiliated hashtags – of #Euromaidan; #Euromaydan and #Євромайдан.

Once once large flag of the European Union was affixed to the monument of Britain’s King Edward VII, who ruled from 1901 to 1910, the close to one-hundred and fifty participants gathered on Montreals Philips Square started by sing the Canadian national anthem in both official languages.

Participants spanned a number of generations, from some of the oldest of the Montreal community to its youngest members, born of parents of the fourth wave of immigration of Ukrainians to Canada – a group which wanted a future for themselves and their often still unborn children in a land where the rule of law has some meaning. It is the these current events events in Ukraine – that many could identify with.


December 2, 2013 Montreal Rally against Police Butality in Ukraine - Different Generations

Many generations want a more prosperous Ukraine.

Young parents under thirty years of age with their young children could very well understand the aspirations of the youth on the street of Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil and other cities that many still call home. When many of them arrived in Montreal they did not even think about the possibility of Ukraine having the aspirations to become part of the European Union.

Those rallying were clearly opposed to the brutal use of force shouting out “Bandits out!” “Shame!” and on a more positive note in three languages: “Montreal Supports Ukraine!”, “Quebec Supports Ukraine!” and “Canada Supports Ukraine!”

Simon Kouklewsky, the producer of Montreal’s Ukrainian radio program and oldest such program in North America, Ukrainian Time, read a statement by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress which, “denounced the brutal violence perpetrated against the peaceful protestors of “Euromaidan” in Kyiv Ukraine by Berkut special forces, which have left dozens seriously injured.”

The statement went on to “call upon the Ukrainian Canadian community to contact their elected officials to condemn this brutal act. We further call upon all Canadians to suppor t the people of Ukraine through peaceful demonstrations and acts of protest at venues across the country.”

When Kouklewsky, read the statement further, regarding a quote from the Ukrainian Canadidan Congress President Paul Grod stating: “We thank the Government of Canada for their strong condemnation of the actions by the government of Ukraine. We ask all western governments to immediately impose targeted economic sanctions against those individuals responsible for these human rights abuses in Ukraine, including the freezing of assets and restrictions on visas,” subdued but audible applause was heard from the crowd.

Community church leaders held a common prayer for the protection of those on the streets an squares of Kyiv and many of its other cities throughout Ukraine. This was followed by the sacred hymn “Prayer for Ukraine”.

What followed was more chantings of support for Ukraine followed by more nationally oriented songs from Volodymyr Ivaskyuk’s “Chervona Ruta” to Mandry’s “Ne spy moya ridna zemlya!”

Before the crowd dispersed, Kouklewsky asked those who were not of Ukrainian decent to identify themselves and thanked them for their support in English and French and then thanked his fellow Ukrainian-Canadians for their support on such an important matter.

All photographs from this event are available here!

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