Wrong side of History?
Yesterday, 2 March 2022, the UN voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Only 5 countries voted against – Russia of course, along with Belarus (from where Russia is staging its invasion), North Korea, Eriteria & Syria. And there were 34 abstentions – including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka. All the so-called “South Asian” countries.
I am embarrassed. As much by the refusal of our so-called “mother countries” as by fellow Asians not speaking out. Yes, I know there are equivalences – the invasion of Iraq a prime example. But as far as I can understand the situation, there are NO recent equivalences to what’s happening in Ukraine. The Ukrainians weren’t oppressing their own (as Bashar in Syria), they hadn’t invaded Russia (as Saddam did Kuwait). The closest analogy is in the period of classic Imperialism – when Britain, France, Germany, Belgium simply took over countries, with no regard for the interests of the native peoples. But, as Martin Kimani, Kenya’s ambassador to the UN said, “Today, across the border of every single African country, live our countrymen with whom we share deep historical, cultural, and linguistic bonds. At independence, had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethnic, racial, or religious homogeneity, we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later.”
And I know there are racists amongst both Ukrainians and Russians.
Is it that this seems a “European” problem, with little consequence for other parts of the world/skin? Is it that there have been other “invasions” – Iraq, Afghanistan, etc with significantly less universal concern from Europeans? Or is it that I am taking this so much to heart because I am reminded that in my personal life my instinctive reaction is often to withdraw into my own shell?
Whatever it is, I cry, rage and want to help defend the Ukrainians – that is my pure instinct. Why? Is it Baba Yar and other such violent histories of Europe? Or is it that I now feel I’ve walked into the history I read so avidly? And, simply, am appalled by the overwhelming injustice in front of me.