Canadian democrats appeal to Harper for help on Ukraine

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May 9, 2012, 6:16 p.m. |

resident of the Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych (L) and Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper walk in front of their national flags prior to a joint press conference following talks in Kyiv on Oct. 25, 2010.

Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter sent April 27 to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper from the Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine. Dear Prime Minister Harper:

Again we seek your help. The deterioration of democracy in Ukraine is reaching a critical point. Canada, in large part through the good offices of your government, has been a vital critic of Ukraine’s horrendous treatment of its political opposition.

The statement by Yulia Tymoshenko on April 24th concerning her beating puts the spotlight clearly on the dangers she faces personally, and the dire consequences of no further action by the international community. We strongly support the position taken by the Canada Ukraine Foundation and the World Congress of Ukrainians in this matter.

We implore you to communicate Canada’s deep concern in the strongest possible terms.

There are meaningful expressions of concern from many other like-minded countries and grass roots--from the cancellation of the visit to Ukraine by Germany’s president, to Dutch women urging their husband to boycott the Euro 2012 vents in protest of Tymosenko’s abuses. Canada stands out as a country with particular bonds to Ukraine and it is our sincere hope that our valuable diplomatic initiatives can, and will, bear fruit.

If Tymoshenko is not released, we request that Canada play a further valuable role as a catalyst in international efforts to stop and reverse the decline of democracy in Ukraine by moving from a friendly, but critical stance, to a more serious position.

The United States has already begun a targeting process that might merit consideration vis-a-vis Ukraine.

The Magnitsky List means to blacklist all those implicated in the death of Russian whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison after 11 months of horror.

Russia is feeling the heat, calling the gesture “an unfriendly step against Russia.”

Sometimes constructive unfriendliness is a valuable form of good friendship. We request that Canada consider a similar approach for abusers of the rule of law in Ukraine.

Canada’s leadership in the international effort to stop the decline of Ukraine’s democracy is crucial. We thank you, prime minister, for all you have done and respectfully ask again that Canada continue advancing the cause of democracy in Ukraine by systematically increasing pressure on the Yanukovych
government to abide by democratic norms.

With warm regards,

Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
Myroslava Oleksiuk
Maksym Protskiv

Hon. John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific
Hon. Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation
Hon. Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Opposition
Hon. Bob Rae, Leader, Liberal Party of Canada
Mr. Robert Sopuck, Chair, Canada Parliamentary Friends for Ukraine
Mr. James Bezan, MP
Hon. Ralph Goodale, MP
H.E. Troy Lulashnyk, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine
Mr. Eugene Cholij, President, World Congress of Ukrainians
Mr. Paul Grod, President, Ukrainian Canadian Congress
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