On this day: human rights in Canada

Ukrainians in Castle Mountain concentration camp in 1915.

The 22nd of August, 1914 saw the passing of Canada’s War Measures Act. The act would result in government-sanctioned human rights abuses against Canadians of largely Ukrainian origin.

Ukrainians were declared “enemy aliens” and thousands were put into concentration camps to be used for slave labour across Canada. They were seen as enemies because the western regions of their homeland were under Austro-Hungarian rule at the outbreak of the First World War.

Some 80 000 Ukrainians who weren’t imprisoned were still required to register as enemy aliens and barred from leaving the country.

Plaque and statue at Castle Mountain near Banff.

The infamous Castle Mountain Internment Camp in Alberta saw prisoners used to work in the national parks, where they established the groundwork for the massive tourism to Banff and Lake Louise seen today.

Abuses at the camp were widespread, and were reported as far away as Britain.

Internment continued for two years after the war ended.

Kapuskasing_ON_3The Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp a concentration camp for mostly ethnic Ukrainians imprisoned to be used for slave labour during the First Wor

Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp in Ontario.

The internment of ethnic groups was widespread across many countries in both the First and Second World Wars, including in Australia and the United States, though the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s is generally the only instance most know of.

On this day: Prisoners of War in Ukraine

Lager Winnica, gefangene Russen

28th July 1941: Red Army soldiers captured by the Nazis during food distribution at a camp in occupied Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

In contrast to their treatment of British and American prisoners, the Germans employed a policy of deliberately mistreating Soviet prisoners of war, which resulted in 3-3.5 million deaths – an estimated 57% of all soldiers captured.

From the German Federal Archives.

Four Years

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014298-mh17-candles

Today marks four years since the Russian military shot down passenger plane MH17 over the warzone in Ukraine.

Above is the service we held for ambassadors and politicians at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canberra in 2014 (twenty-seven Australians were killed in the disaster). In the first picture ambassadors and other embassy representatives from countries including the Netherlands, Malaysia, and the United States can be seen on the left.

The second is a cross surrounded by 298 candles – one for each victim of the attack.

A Reminder

Over the days of the World Cup Third Place Playoff and Final, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June. war

A Reminder

Over the days of the World Cup Semi-Finals, please remember that nobody should be enjoying soccer on Russian soil while the country is actively invading Ukraine, killing thousands of their neighbours, committing war crimes in Syria, assassinating political dissidents, torturing teenagers to death, committing ethnic cleansing in Crimea, shooting down airliners, illegally occupying parts of Georgia, illegally occupying parts of Moldova, committing war crimes in Ukraine, persecuting Catholics and Muslims and Jews, and actively trying to destroy Western democracies.

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Ukrainian artist Andriy Yermolenko has created an alternative series of posters for the FIFA World Cup in Russia which is set to start on 14 June

Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die

Cyborg_(film)Cyborgs Heroes Never Die (Кiборги Герої не вмирають). It is a movie about the battle for Donetsk Airport during the first year of the Russian invasion o

 

I’m a bit late with a post today, because I got home late last night and wanted to write about where I’d been. Also, the wine was free-flowing at the function, and I wasn’t in the mood to type when I got back!

At the invitation of the embassy, last night I attended the Australian premiere of the movie Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die (Кiборги: Герої не вмирають). It’s hard to believe, but this is the first time I’ve been to see a movie since Les Misérables in early 2012!

Cyborgs is a movie about the battle for Donetsk Sergey Prokofiev International Airport (named after the Ukrainian composer) during 2014, the first year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Cyborgs is the nickname given to the Ukrainian Army units who fought, lost, and died in the conflict.

When the battle began the airport was brand new, and had just been built for the Euro 2012 Football Championship.

Here is drone footage of the place after the battle (about twenty seconds in). Other than the ruined aerobridges, it’s hard to tell it’s an airport until about 2:20 when there’s suddenly a burnt-out plane. It’s total destruction:

 

 

At the moment, the major Ukrainian city of Donetsk has fallen to the Russians and is allegedly now part of the Kremlin-invented “Donetsk People’s Republic”. I have family who lived there who – like a few million others in the region – had to flee. Why this humanitarian crisis never makes the news is beyond me.

The film is entirely about the battle, which I’m sure was a little disturbing to some of the guests who attended! Think Black Hawk Down, with a bit less gore. Cyborgs is a brilliant movie because it utterly refuses to work as propaganda. I’d heard from Western journalists who’d already seen it in Europe that it was surprisingly balanced in its portrayal.

This is in stark contrast to most war movies that paint one side as perfect and the other evil. Right now in Australia they are showing WW2-era movies late at night, and they’re all ridiculous. The pre-Pearl Harbor ones – imported to America from Britain – have all war things edited out of them, and the post-Pearl Harbor ones are blatant propaganda, where the US singlehandedly saves the world a million times over.

I don’t know what more Ukraine can do to get anyone to give a damn about the ongoing Russian invasion. It’s ironic that the day I attended this function was the same day it was confirmed it was the Russian military who shot down MH17 (duh!). Imagine this war was happening in any other country in Europe. Imagine how different the international reaction would be.

From the Shadows

The Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, (which is actually a big military museum, not just a “memorial”), currently has an exhibition about the Special Forces: From the Shadows. As Monday was a public holiday we thought we’d better go and see it before we forget and it closes!

When we arrived, the brand new Army recruits were on a visit from Kapooka, and lined up outside for a group photograph.

The first two images are from the Special Forces part. The third is from the Vietnam War section of the building (my father is a veteran, and there are exhibits dedicated specifically to where he lived in Vietnam, and to a major battle he fought).

The fourth photograph is the view down ANZAC Parade from the War Memorial entrance. You can’t see it, but at the end of the road is Lake Burley Griffin, and then Australian Parliament is in the background.

ANZAC Parade is the street where people honour Australia’s military, and where parades happen. Both sides of the street are lined with monuments to military events (e.g. the First and Second World Wars, Vietnam, and beyond).

Look at the spectacular blue sky! According to the national news, it was cloudy and raining in Canberra. Uh…

IMG_20180312_175846_799 From the Shadows Special Forces Exhibition Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180202_131 Vietnam War Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces

IMG_20180312_180445_236 Sonya Heaney Oksana 12th March 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra Australian Army Australian Armed Forces ANZAC Parade Parliament House

100 Years Ago

allenby_enters_jerusalem_1917general-sir-edmund-allenby-entering-the-holy-city-of-jerusalem-on-foot-1917-to-show-respect-for-the-holy-place-first-world-war-one

Following the surrender of the Ottoman Empire two days earlier, Britain’s General Sir Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem on the 11th of December, 1917.

Described as a Christmas present to the British people, this event saw the city come under Christian rule for the first time in centuries.

Allenby entered the city on foot as a sign of respect to the holy place.

The Turkish surrender came during the Battle of Jerusalem that began in mid-November.

100 Years Ago

ottoman_surrender_of_jerusalem_restored-ottoman-empire-pows-of-world-war-i-in-jerusalem-ottoman-palestine-1917-mayor-of-jerusalem-hussein-effendi-el-husseini-al-husseini-meeting-

The Ottoman Empire surrendered Jerusalem to British rule on the 9th of December, 1917.

The surrender came during the Battle of Jerusalem, which was fought from the 17th of November. The battle saw the combined forces of Britain, Australia, India and New Zealand defeat the Ottoman (Turkish) and German Empires.

The image shows the Ottoman mayor of Jerusalem and Ottoman prisoners of war meeting British representatives under the white flag of surrender.