Students and Aberdonians demonstrate on campus in support of Ukraine
Article by Mireia Jimenez. Additional reporting by Anttoni James Numminen and Olivia Mackenzie Smith.
Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen
A demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine, organised by Aberdeen University Amnesty International, took place on the afternoon of March 4 at Elphinstone Lawn.
More than a hundred people attended with anti-war banners, flags and candles, and an open microphone was provided for anyone wishing to speak up.
Boo Lindohf, one of the organisers said in his speech: “Remember this pain when you remember Syria, Myanmar, and all international conflicts. I want you to take this to any conflict that you see in the news. Just because Ukraine is close to the UK doesn’t mean that we should care about it any more or any less than any other conflict.”
He later told The Gaudie: “I wanted to bring together the community, students don’t have much of a political community so this could be the beginning of something bigger (...) I just wanted to help students who are in a much worse situation than I am.”
Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen
Dr Daria Shapovalova, a Ukrainian lecturer in Energy Law at the University told those gathered: “I hope you continue thinking about us, I hope you keep us in your thoughts.”
“I see signs here about discrimination at the border and I want to acknowledge that. I hope you know this is not representative of our country and I myself am in touch with some Indian students who are stuck in some of the worst areas in Ukraine,” she added.
Alisa Koester, AUSA Student President said: “You might feel hopeless and that you can’t do anything because you are too far away, but it has been proven that we can do something as a community.”
Halfway through the speeches, the crowd cheered: “No more war! We want peace!” repeatedly.
Student Piotr Wołodko asked for people to accommodate Ukrainian refugees if possible, highlighting how the Hungarian company Wizz Flights offers free flights for Ukrainians from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Poland.
Other students also raised their voices in support of Ukraine. Fourth-year student Jan Prażmowski commented: “This is a multinational disaster, a threat to global peace. It is outrageous that in the 21st century we have to experience military conflict in Europe.
“I think the response of the West has been good for now. I was afraid they wouldn’t care as much due to Ukraine being a post-Soviet country.”
When asked if Ukraine should become part of the European Union, he said: “It’s a difficult question, to be honest, it will all depend on how the situation escalates.”
Answering the same question, Oliver Preston said: “That is for the Ukrainian people to decide, we can’t decide for them. They have to make that choice themselves. If they want to be part of NATO or the EU (...) they can’t have America or Russia decide it for them”
Boo hugging a friend, courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen
Student Noah Robidoux said in his speech: “It’s great that everyone’s here right now, but you need to carry this into tomorrow, every time there is an election or civic action. You can’t let this die out (...) this isn’t over today.”
In addition to students, members of the Students’ Association (AUSA) took part as well as some University staff. It seems no members of the UoA senior management team were present.
Many of those attending the event were from or had close links to Ukraine. The Gaudie spoke to two students who were born outside the country but considered themselves Ukrainian.
Kaloian, a Bulgarian-born student who was brought up in Kyiv, said it meant “a lot” to see so many people gathered in support of his country, adding that “it means a lot to Ukrainian people, and it gives us hope.”
Another student, Anna Andrushko, who is Hungarian but whose family is Ukrainian said she wanted to show her support and to encourage people to act in “any way they can to help the people of Ukraine”.
She added that though she felt supported by the Students Association, she hoped to see more information reach people about how “how we can help, and how the University is using its resources to help.”
Find some pictures of the demonstration below, courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen.
Boo commenting for The Gaudie.
Demonstrator with banner "Slava Ukrayini" (Glory to Ukraine)
Demonstrator with banner "Stop the discrimination at borders!"
Noah and Oliver commenting for The Gaudie
Candles lit up by students at Elphinstone Lawn