“What is needed is a comprehensive, and sustainable ceasefire; the withdrawal of Russian troops, and a return to the negotiations table.”
This article is a published version of a speech given by Chris Hazzard MP at Stop the War’s “No to War in Ukraine” meeting on Wednesday, 2nd March.
By Chris Hazzard MP
Chairde, many thanks to the Stop the War Coalition for the invitation to speak here this evening on behalf of Sinn Féin.
It’s a real honour to share a platform with the Coalition – an organisation that has time and again proven itself to be on the right side of history An organisation that acts as a consistent disrupter of the establishment consensus when it comes to international affairs; and for that you should be commended.
Friends, can I extend my party’s, and my own, solidarity in the first instance tonight with the ordinary citizens of Ukraine, who are suffering the horrific impact of Russian military aggression in recent days.
Anyone who has seen the pictures coming out of Ukraine cannot help but be deeply saddened and troubled. Families being loaded onto trains for refuge. Mothers standing up to soldiers of occupation. Young men taking up arms and hastily preparing themselves for the next wave of attack.
With this in mind we welcome the fact that the Dublin Government has lifted Visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees. Boris Johnson, and the British Govt must do likewise.
There should be zero restrictions on those refugees forced to leave Ukraine to come to these islands. And there should be no conditions applied. Safe refuge so that families can be reunited on humanitarian grounds – should be the shared goal of us all.
Solidarity too with those protestors in Russia, and throughout the world, who stand for peace, and an end to war, death and destruction – to the displacement of people, and dislocation of family and community.
And whilst the eyes of the world appear fixed on Ukraine – let us too remember those who shelter from aerial bombardment in Yemen, in Syria, in Somalia, and to the men, women and children of Palestine, who still endure the brutal, repressive realities of apartheid life.
Can I also add my solidarity to those anti-war and peace activists across the global north, who are once again slandered as stooges and painted as puppets by establishment forces. In the words of the Irish folk singer Andy Irvine: ‘Never tire of the road!’
Friends, be under no illusions, we are facing the greatest security crisis in Europe for decades.
A failure to deescalate this crisis will lead Europe once again to the brink of wholesale conflict, and will undoubtedly deliver more death; more destruction; and an even deeper humanitarian crisis.
What is needed is a comprehensive, and sustainable ceasefire; the withdrawal of Russian troops, and a return to the negotiations table.
To return to the Budapest, and Minsk agreements which accepted the legitimacy of Ukraine’s independence, and created the basis for constructive dialogue and space for recognising the plurinational reality of the state of Ukraine.
Conflict has become a fact of life for millions of Ukrainians, as many thousands have been killed, injured, and displaced from their homes.
I am part of a generation that grew up in a post-conflict society in Ireland; I too have only known Europe free from Cold War tensions. The thought of Europe sliding once again into the imperialist wars of the past is horrifying.
However military solutions will only serve to prolong the suffering, the displacement and the murder of ordinary people. People who have – for far too long – been paying the collateral cost of the geopolitical interests and imperialist adventures of others.
Speaking in 1914, James Connolly described war as “the most fearful crime of the centuries. In it the working class are sacrificed that a small clique of rulers and armament makers may sate their lust for power and their greed for wealth!”
So instead we must strive to build a multi-polar geopolitical world, where peace is not merely the absence of war, but the existence of social justice
We need a security architecture that prioritises peace, social justice, and recognises the sovereignty of small nations and their right to peacefully determine their own future.
A modern-day escalation in armed conflict, increased militarisation and the spectre of nuclear war should move all of us to say no to war, to work for peace.
Following a decade of austerity, rising inequality, and stagnating living standards, the ordinary people of Europe want peace, and social justice.
As we face the unstoppable march of climate breakdown, and the stagnant symptoms of a decaying capitalist system, ordinary citizens demand that our collective energies are deployed positively in order to build a better world.
Lets do so, and lets do so peacefully.