Ottawa Walk for Sanctions
UCC Executive Director, Mr.Taras Zalusky, invited Canadians concerned about human rights issues in Ukraine and abuse of power to participate in a peaceful demonstration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014. With temperatures -10 C, akin to those at Euromaidan in Kyiv, hundreds of concerned citizens (later joined also by 126 people arriving from Toronto) appeared carrying Canadian, Ukrainian and Polish flags and placards.
Ministers and MP’s gathered to make a statement to the protestors that the Ukrainian regime must cease abusing their power and that Canada will take the lead in immediately imposing visa and travel restrictions against top government officials, as a first step. Minister Jason Kenney, Minister Chris Alexander, the Hon. Ted Opitz, the Hon. Wladyslaw Lizon, the Hon. James Bezan, the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, the Hon. Peggy Nash, the Hon. Paul Dewar, the Hon. Marc Garneau, the Hon. Eve Adams, and the Hon. Larry McGuire all made non-partisan statements in condemnation of the Yanukowych regime and expressed an on-going willingness to help the people of Ukraine.
One of the protestors, Mr. Andris Kesteris, President of the Baltic Federation of Canada, Executive member of CEEC (Central and East European Council of Canada) and Chair of the Latvian National Federation in Canada stated in a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada that “a direct assault on the sovereignty of Ukraine is being orchestrated by a regime next door, which seeks geopolitical domination. In pursuing these goals, it threatens to destabilize this entire region of Europe and thus, the West.” Icelandic protester, Ms. Obba Balys denounced the actions of the corrupt Ukrainian Government.
Gazeta Polska and Polish TV producer, Mr. Waclaw Kujbida and his wife Elzbieta, also
televised the walk. On-line Polish newsletter webmaster, Mr. Czeslaw Piasta invited Polish participation. As well, Mr. Piotr Jakubiak, executive member of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in Canada, carried a Polish flag, in solidarity with Ukraine.
From Parliament Hill, the peace walk marched to the EU building asking for EU members to join the Canadian government and impose personal sanctions. Later the protestors walked to the Ukrainian Embassy, where Ambassador Vadym Prystajko was asked to come out of the Embassy and receive letters from concerned citizens addressed to Embassy officials and members of the Yanukowych regime.
That same evening, a panel discussion on EuroMaidan was held at the University of Ottawa, Chair of Ukrainian Studies.
The Ottawa protestors will continue in weeks ahead to call for further economic and criminal sanctions against those responsible for human rights abuse, for medical assistance, for return of assets to Ukraine that have left the country, as well as the resignation of Yanukowych. This strategy would support stability and EU integration.
The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, in a later conversation, agreed that stronger sanctions must be imposed.
Vicki Karpiak (Yuzyk)
The Hon. Minister Jason Kenney addresses demonstrators in Ottawa on Jan 29, 2014. L. to R.: The Hon. Minister Jason Kenney, MP Wladislaw Lizon, MP Bob Dechert, MP Chrystia Freeland