Lancaster Students Support Ukraine holds protest in Alex Square
‘I want to say that I have never been so proud to be Ukrainian’
Lancaster Students Support Ukraine organised a protest to show support for Ukraine today, Tuesday March 1st.
The protest, which was held in Alexandra Square, was attended by staff, students, and Lancaster residents of all ages and featured speeches from Ukrainian students, staff, and members of the Students’ Union.
Maria, a Ukrainian speaker said: “Don’t read Russian news because there is so much fake news. If you want to know what’s going on, come to Ukrainians and we will tell you what’s going on. It’s not only about Ukraine. It’s about the world.”
LUSU International Officer, Sonja Dembo, said: “I am not speaking to you as an international officer, I am speaking to you as a terrified Eastern European.
“I start my day with a cry. I finish it with a cry. And I have quite a few cries in between.”
She said that her heart is with the people of Ukraine as well as “people who are protesting a cruel authoritarian regime” in Russia.
“War is immoral, unjust and barbaric,” said Max Kafula, LUSU Racial and Ethnic Minorities Officer. “People in Ukraine are fighting for freedom, democracy, life and respect.
“The least we can all do is to show them we are standing with them and supporting them no matter what. Please donate what you can to verified sources. Please lobby the government to remove its barbaric visa systems. We must do what we can. ”
One Russian speaker said: “The Russian government is spreading propaganda denying to its citizens that there is a war.
“We must remember that there were students that took a stand in the 20th century. They rose up against the German state and we must rise up against the Russian state.
“Loads of people in Russia don’t even know there’s a war. If you can, go to Google Maps, go to Yandex. Maps and start writing reviews for businesses telling people that there is a war.
“If you find someone who doesn’t believe there is a war, talk to them calmly and explain that people are dying. ”
One Ukrainian speaker said: “I live in the centre of Ukraine where there have been a lot of attacks. I want to say that I have never been so proud to be Ukrainian. Our heroes are fighting for freedom and peace in my country. we are a very peaceful nation and all that we want is to keep our territory independent and govern our own country.
“War is not like what you see in movies. In real life, it is way more terrible. I talk to my parents every day and it’s always scary to call them and wait for their response because I’m not sure if they’re safe and still alive.
“Yesterday my parents told me that all life has stopped since the war started. Everything is closed; only some pharmacists and supermarkets are open. Now there is almost no food left in the shops and we don’t know when new food will be delivered.
“What is happening now is an apocalypse. The streets are empty. Everyone is afraid. People are hiding in basements; children are sleeping in subways. And what I want to say is thank you for coming today, thank you for your care, support, awareness.
“I really hope that things will get better as soon as possible. I really want to go home and see all my family members alive and in good health. Please support your friends who are affected by this situation. Everything is going to be fine. Truth will win and people will be safe.”
Photography by Charlie Mason.