A statement on the war in Ukraine by Citizen Network.

Statement | 15.03.22

On the War in Ukraine

A statement by Citizen Network made on 15th March 2022

War is terrible. Unjustified war is a great evil. The destruction of a people is genocide, perhaps the greatest evil of all. This is what the people of Ukraine face today - denial, not only of their right to independence, but of their existence as a people. We must stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Everyone matters and every human identity is precious.

Denial of our differences is a denial of our humanity, of what makes each life precious. We must protect and celebrate diversity and our unique existence as human beings, right here and right now!

The fact that this war is led by a national government, armed with nuclear weapons, a threat to all human life, is a stark reminder that the current world order is profoundly unjust. Human rights are widely ignored, democracy is absent or very weak and we continue to fail to protect the planet we live on. Many species have been driven to destruction, ecological diversity is not protected and the planet’s atmosphere continues to warm, with no respite, despite endless reports and conferences. The recent attacks on nuclear power plants in Ukraine show us that our whole approach is unsustainable.

But what can we do?

We can begin by remembering that this is not a war launched by the Russian people. This war has been launched by Vladimir Putin and his allies - individuals with extreme levels of power and wealth, who maintain their power by corruption, propaganda and police control of the Russian people. Let us do all we can to support the Russian people who want to end his dictatorship.

We can also honour the right of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against their destruction. Do not blame people who want freedom for not bowing their heads to oppression.

We can also protect those fleeing war. Many countries in Europe and around the world have failed to respect the human rights of refugees. We have not welcomed people as our equals. We have not made it easy for people to survive, thrive and make a home for themselves. Let this be the moment where we change our approach.

There are many practical things we can do to help Ukrainian refugees - and refugees from all countries. This must start by listening to what people are saying, respecting them and helping them to meet their needs in the way that makes most sense to them. 

We have what it takes to respect everyone as an equal:

  1. Refugees must have political representation in every community.
  2. Refugees must have a portable basic income, initially this could be funded from the assets of oligarchs.
  3. Refugees must have same rights as other citizens, this means we must end ‘hostile environment’ policies.
  4. Refugees must be able to find a homes in all the neighbourhoods of Europe, not be forced into camps, sited on the Ukrainian border.
  5. Refugees must be respected as unique individuals, regardless of their background, wealth, age, ability, sexual orientation or any other individual feature that makes us unique.

We are all one!

Of course this means that all the citizens and communities of Europe must share in the responsibility, as well as share the necessary means and powers, to help make people welcome. We need citizen solutions - not charity, stigma and segregation. Without this we will simply repeat the old patterns of prejudice and suspicion that have so harmed the people of Europe in the past. This is our chance to create a new culture of inclusion and of living together in our diversity.

If we learn anything from this crisis it is that the old ways, the ways of power and control, are not working. They are inhuman, harmful and ultimately deadly. Waiting for the powerful to solve these problems is at the root of our problems. Power must not be concentrated in the hands of a few; it must be shared and distributed across all our communities, in the hands of citizens everywhere.

It is time for all of us to wake up to our citizenship, collaborate, cooperate and network. We need to show that human beings can live together in justice and peace. We can make it happen. We need to make it happen.