Rochdale has become the first town in the UK to honour the victims of the 'Holodomor' genocide by unveiling a memorial stone at the Memorial Gardens.
The ceremony, which was held on Friday 20th November and organised by Rochdale Council and Rochdale Friends of Lviv and the Ukrainian Community, was part of a tribute to commemorate the fallen victims of the genocide.
Up to seven million Ukrainians were killed in the genocide between 1932-1933, and it was one of the most brutal acts carried out by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
As well as becoming the first town to honour the victims, Rochdale Council became the first Metropolitan Borough Council in the country to recognise the Holodomor as an act of genocide last year, when it put through a motion to Council in honour of the 75th anniversary of Holodomor.
Those in attendance at the memorial ceremony included Paul Rowen, MP for Rochdale, the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Keith Swift and The Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Dr.Ihor Kharchenko.
The moving ceremony saw members of Rochdale's Ukrainian community come together at the newly unveiled stone. Prayers were given and a minute silence was held to remember the fallen.
Unveiling the memorial stone, Ambassador Dr.Kharachenko said: "As Ukrainians all around the world come together to remember this occasion, I am grateful that Rochdale has recognised this atrocity by unveiling this stone. It will give many generations a chance to learn about what happened and why it is such a sad part of Ukraine's history."
Mr Rowen has been an active campaigner for the 'Holodomor' genocide to be widely recognised by the UK Government. He signed an Early Day motion 1693 calling for the Government to officially recognise Holodomor as genocide.
Speaking at the memorial, Mr.Rowen said: "This memorial is dedicated to the Ukrainian community in Rochdale, who have been here since the Second World War and who have contributed so much to Rochdale's heritage and culture. This stone will stand as a testament to the fallen and to the people of Ukraine."
Rochdale has been twinned with Lviv since 1992 and has organised various civic and cultural functions, as well as student and professional exchange programmes to celebrate the ties between the two towns.
Anna Kecyk, Chair of Rochdale Friends of Lviv said: "I'm so proud that Rochdale is the first town in the UK to recognise this. It allows us to commemorate a tragic chapter in Ukraine's history and to have this stone in such a prestigious location in Rochdale will allow our Ukrainian community to constantly remember those who were brutally killed in the genocide."
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