‘Refugees welcome here’: Everything that happened at Exeter’s peaceful protest for Ukraine

The protest took place at Bedford Square on Wednesday evening

Almost a week since Russia invaded Ukraine, Putin intensifies bombardment on Ukrainian cities, causing abandonment, death, and helplessness among thousands of families.

The Tab Exeter attended the protest at Bedford Square on Wednesday evening. The protest took place in order to spread awareness across the student body and the wider community, and to show the rest of the country that Exeter stands with Ukraine during this inhumane crisis.

It was a cold and rainy day, and upon arrival I found the crowd was not as big as I thought it would be. However, as minutes slipped by a lot of people started coming with Ukrainian flags and candles to show their solidarity towards this situation.

The crowd was mainly made up of Ukrainians and Europeans, but it was amazing to see a group which represented the support of people from Hong Kong. The protesters included small children, teenagers, and the elderly.

People were to the point with their numerous signs and flags. One bore a caption like “STOP WAR” while the another said “REFUGEES WELCOME HERE.”

The Tab Exeter spoke to one of the attendees who was from Ukraine, and she said, “people here are protesting very silently against the war in Ukraine. As a Ukrainian myself and for the people affected by the war, I am so grateful for the number of people gathered here today. Those who are distressed can get so much hope from this. Our families at home are so proud of us for standing against Putin and the cruelty that is going on.”

On being asked who conducted the protest, another of the attendees said, “I don’t know her by name, but I do know that she prefers to remain anonymous. She is a girl who feels strongly against the war: even though she is not a Ukrainian herself she is very affected, and it’s heart-warming to know that.”

One of the protesters was seen collecting donations for the people affected in war. On being asked how the donations are going to reach the Ukrainians, the protestor said, “there is a rugby player who is collecting donations. He is going to travel to Topsham, where he will join his father. Both of them will drop the donations at the Ukrainian border.”