14 July, 2017

“Don’t enter with guns”

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Category: News from the activists
Campaign Activist
10 pm

Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere or at the edge of civilization? Where asphalt ends and car is not able to go faster than 40 km/h. Where time stopped in Soviet 70’s. Where “Don’t enter with guns” is common sign at the café entrance.

It’s just few sketches of reality in post-conflict Donbass that return as flashbacks day by day.

Ukrainian National No Hate Speech Movement Campaign made third annual bus-tour to Donbass in June 2017. Supported by Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine the project was aimed to foster dialog between youth of different regions of Ukraine, combat stereotypes and give NHSM educational instruments for local educators and youth workers. We organized seminars, exhibitions, round-tables, concerts, flash mobs in four cities that were visited during the trip (Lubny, Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, Svyatogirsk).

In May 2014 Svyatogirsk, in July 2014 Rubizhne and Severodonetsk were released by Ukrainian army, but it seems that the fear of war is still in the air.

Every year it is a big challenge to promote No Hate Speech Movement in that region. It is still hard to talk about controversial topics, it is better not to tackle politics, and definitely not to remind what is happening just in 40 km from there.

What we tried – was to hear and give positive emotions, to show how important is to respect, tolerate and stand up for human rights even in this situation. Young people from different regions of Ukraine came to Donbass to see the reality by themselves, not in the way media shows. They talked to the locals, shared their realities and built invisible bridges of common understanding and peace. And then smiles appeared, freeze of first glance broke down and you felt warmth of other’s hearts.

Behind any tragedy there are always people, people that are not mentioned in everyday newsfeed, they are not so powerful or well-known as presidents, chancellors or general secretaries. Though they fight fear, hardships and desperate every day. They rebuild their houses, give birth to children and continue to live despite any troubles. People who wish each other peace  any occasion.

And we are coming back to civilization, enjoying good mobile and Internet connection, sitting next to air conditioner, forgetting that next to us is totally different reality. That it is so near, in the same country, for people with the same citizenship, represented by the same government. And then flashback. And a question. WHY?

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