Words Are Not Enough For Ukrainians

Blog#104- 4/6/22

Richard Davis

When Hitler was committing atrocities too much of the world stood by and did not do enough to protect the 12 million people whose lives became just one of the horrors of war. People who survived the Holocaust try to keep the memory of those events alive because they don’t want that kind of horror to play out again.

What we are witnessing now in Ukraine is the systematic brutality and elimination of a population of people deemed to be expendable by Putin and the Russian war machine. We are able to see the images of what war does to people and places at a level of detail never before possible and that should be enough to force world leaders to act to stop the Russian war machine.

Instead we have sanctions which are doing little to stop the torture and killing of civilians. NATO countries are supplying weapons and money to Ukraine, but it is not enough to get the job done. Diplomats have made their best efforts at mediating peace but there have been no results. It is time to move on.

What does moving on mean? NATO countries fear that if they directly engage in battle then world War 3 will begin. The truth is that WW3 is already here. Do you think that the Ukrainians who were beaten and tortured by Russian troops while they had their hands tied behind their backs cared if WW 3 is here or not? Do you think that the elderly men shot in the back as they rode their bicycles home with food for their families cared if WW3 is here or not? Do you think that the women who were raped by Russian soldiers in front of their children cared if WW3 was here or not?

The Russians must be stopped. Now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now. We can’t wait to see if the Russians are made accountable for the war crimes they are committing. The first priority for the rest of the world should be stopping the loss of life. That does not seem to be the case.

I fear what Putin and his generals will do if NATO countries directly engage with him. It will be risky, but it is a risk that we must take. If we do not end the horror in Ukraine then we will be guilty of not making the preservation of life our highest priority.

When Jews and other people were being gassed in the camps in Europe President Roosevelt and other world leaders knew what was going on. The only thing that the U.S. did to help the concentration camp survivors was to guide them back to the world after the war was over. Too little too late. If we wait for this war to play out it will also be too little too late.

The world has already done little to stop the numerous instances of genocidal warfare since the Holocaust. The war in Ukraine is only the most recent post-Holocaust atrocity.

According to a report in the April 4 Toronto Star, “Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed Sunday a case of repeated rape of a woman by a Russian soldier on March 13 at a school in the Kharkiv region, where she and her family had been sheltering. “She said that he beat her and cut her face, neck and hair with a knife,” HRW reported. Last week, a Ukrainian MP, Maria Mezentseva, alerted the world to sexual war crimes by Russians, raising a case in Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv, where a woman was said to have been raped by two soldiers in front of her child after her husband was shot dead. A Kremlin spokesperson has denied that the woman was raped by soldiers in an interview with reporters in Moscow.”

Human Rights Watch has also noted that, “From 4 a.m. on 24 February 2022, when the Russian Federation’s armed attack against Ukraine started, to 24:00 midnight on 1 April 2022 (local time), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 3,342 civilian casualties in the country: 1,325 killed and 2,017 injured.” Those numbers are, most likely low estimates.

I am reminded of the poem by pastor and theologian Martin Niemoller who was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps for his opposition to Hitler.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

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