International & Antiwar News


Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

In May of 2016 three activists representing the United National Antiwar Coalition, including the editor of The Virginia Defender, traveled to the Black Sea city of Odessa, Ukraine in Eastern Europe. 

They were part of a group of international observers invited by the local Council of Mothers of May 2 to attend a memorial program on the site where their sons, daughters, other relatives and friends were murdered by a rightwing mob on May 2, 2014. Fascist organizations were threatening to attack the memorial, and it was thought that the presence of people from other countries might influence the Ukrainian government to prevent violence. 

The 2014 massacre took place just months after the president of the country was overthrown in a right-wing coup in which openly fascist organizations played a major role. With support from the U.S. government, the corrupt, pro-Russian president was replaced by a corrupt, pro-U.S. president. 

Emboldened by their success, the fascists started attacking anyone in the country who had opposed the coup – primarily the Russian-speaking minority, which in Ukraine tends to be antifascist, due to the oppression they suffered under Nazi occupation in World War II. One bad sign was when the new government immediately banned the use of the Russian language. 

The House of Trade Unions, a very large six-story building, on fire and surrounded by people.
May 2, 2014: A violent mob led right-wing extremists set fire to the House of Trade Unions in Odessa, Ukraine. At least 42 people were killed and many more injured. To date, not one person has been punished for this crime.

The massacre of May 2, 2014, is described in the Call below. In this age of cellphone cameras, social media and instant communication, many videos of the massacre were quickly posted online. Just google “May 2, 2014 Odessa” and you’ll find scores of them. 

After returning home, the UNAC activists formed the Odessa Solidarity Campaign to support the Council of Mothers. The OSC has organized international campaigns that have drawn attention to the situation in Odessa and at times have gotten the attention of the U.S. and Ukrainian governments. 

This coming May 2 will be the fifth anniversary of the massacre. The OSC has joined forces with a Swedish organization called Prague Spring II which also has been organizing support for the call for an international investigation. 

On May 2, 2017, there were 19 local actions across Europe and North America. In 2018 there were 40. In 2019, the hope is for many more, including a major action in Washington, D.C. 

The Odessa Solidarity Campaign and PS II are jointly issuing the following appeal for local actions on May 2, 2019. 

We strongly urge all justice-minded people to endorse this call and also to plan to hold some kind of event on that day: a march, a rally, a public showing of videos about the massacre, a silent vigil, a prayer service – whatever you can do. 

Only when masses of people learn about this massacre and the continuing repression of antifascists in Ukraine will justice come. 

To endorse the Call for International Actions, please send your name, organization, your position in the organization, city, country and email address to the Odessa Solidarity Campaign at: 

In cooperation with PS II, we will work to get the widest possible attention on the ongoing situation in Odessa.

A Call for International Actions on the 5th Memorial Day of the Attack on the House of Trade Unions in Odessa, Ukraine

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