The following statement by the Executive Council (AU) of the Student Parliament was first held as a speech on March 9 2022. This is a slightly edited version of the speech.
Last month, the Russian government launched an invasion into Ukraine. This comes after months and years of escalation where Vladimir Putin has routinely disrespected and assaulted Ukraine’s rights as a democratic and sovereign country. The people of Ukraine are not only defending their homeland, but the prosperity of democracy in Europe as well.
The student democracy at UiB condemns this war, and we implore the student movement to get together and make their voices heard. Just as much as this is a war against peace, freedom and democracy, it is also a war against students, against researchers, against the academic community represented by Ukrainians both at home and abroad.
Right now, countless Ukrainians are escaping the war and seeking refuge in Europe, and here in Norway. We must give them refuge, and we must ensure that students and academics that arrive in Norway are allowed to study and research at Norwegian universities. Now is the time for the universities to prioritize our comrades, and ensure that Ukrainian students and academics are listened to, included and supported – as well as Russian students and academics who are also impacted by the war.
The University of Bergen currently have no students in Ukraine, but we have several Ukrainian students at the university, and they have organized to promote information, support and education. We must support them, and we must support the Russian students and academics at UiB and ensure that they are included and listened to. This is first and foremost Putin’s war.
At this crucial hour, the student movement must stand together and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. The student movement has historically formed an integral part of initiatives for peace and democracy. This is the time to do so again. Make your voice heard, protest against this unfounded and dangerous war, and donate to a charity or organization that works for the Ukrainian cause.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a blatant attack on peace, democracy and the international law. His war has jeopardized the safety of students, academics and academic employees not just in Ukraine, but also for international students both in and outside of Ukraine and for academics and students in Russia who speak out against the war, despite threats of arrestations and suppression. They all require our solidarity and our support. We stand together to demand an end to Putin’s illegal invasion, and to demand peace, freedom and refuge for the Ukrainian people. Stop Putin’s war!
Thomas Helland-Hansen, President of the Student Parliament at the University of Bergen