Even in light of a grave humanitarian crisis, racism still persists.
Since the year 2018, Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace (CD4Peace) has been actively advocating for sustainable development, cultural diversity, and peacebuilding. The last few days have witnessed one of the gravest humanitarian crises since the beginning of 2022. More than a million Ukrainians have been forced to leave and seek asylum in neighbouring countries. We, the CD4Peace team, are deeply concerned about the massive human rights violations and believe in the importance of non-violent and peaceful approaches to conflict resolution. Moreover, we strongly condemn incidences of racism amid the ongoing conflict. We gather evidence of racism from law enforcement, the Eurocentric mentality of European officials, and the media coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in the following statement:
As millions of Ukrainian citizens are fleeing the country after the war began between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, more and more cases of racism by law enforcement against Non-White people who try to leave Ukraine are being reported. While we see the media praising Ukraine’s neighbours (Slovakia, Poland, Moldova, and Romania) for the aid given to refugees and the “open borders” offered by them, we were able to report on human rights violations related to the evacuation of some refugees. Indeed, at the Ukrainian border, it was noted an imminent sorting out among the persons entitled to help, prioritizing Ukrainian citizens while discriminating, and outright rejecting, non-white/non-Ukrainian citizens. Several videos and posts on social networks emitted by international students and expatriates have shown how discrimination is embedded in our societies. Despite this painful and distressing situation for all, racial and religious discrimination still rises with a “white and true Ukrainian first” practice established at the Polish and Hungarian borders.
In light of this ongoing refugee crisis, many European countries pledged solidarity with the fleeing civilians from Ukraine. Neighbouring countries such as Poland and Romania have welcomed many refugees fleeing from Ukraine. Many EU countries have formulated an emergency response that allows Ukrainians to enter the EU for asylum. Nonetheless, we noted certain commentaries from government officials which illustrates a racist double standard that categorizes refugees and places them on a hierarchy of values. Notably, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkove commented on Ukrainian asylum seekers as intelligent and educated Europeans, who are not the type of refugees that he is used to (referring to previous refugee waves from outside Europe). The previous refugees, according to him, have uncertain pasts and could have been terrorists (source: The Washington Post). Not long ago, in Europe, we witnessed the reluctance of some countries in granting refugees safe passage or asylum, despite strong condemnation from human rights advocacy groups. The embrace and warm gestures from some EU countries towards fleeing Ukrainians, in contrast with their attitudes towards previous refugee crises, reveals the dehumanization of non-European refugees, whose outcry for peace and security is considered less significant. CD4Peace genuinely believes in equality, regardless of cultural differences. We condemn differential treatments of asylum seekers based on their ethnicities, cultural beliefs, or geographical locations and call for righteous action from responsible authorities.
During the past few days, we have also closely followed the news coverage of the conflict situation in Ukraine. We also noticed racist narratives in certain media coverage that disobey journalist professionalism and integrity. Values of humanity and equality are profoundly challenged by news coverage that perpetrates epistemic violence against nonwhite populations. For example, CBS News reporter Charlie D’Agata identifies Ukraine as a civilized country, in comparison with Iraq or Afghanistan. French journalist Phillipe Corbé dismissed violence against Syrians but emphasized violence against Ukrainians as Ukrainians look just like other Europeans. We are saddened by the racist mentality which places indifference and insignificance to massive human rights violations happening outside Europe, in contrast with the heightened attention to tragedies happening in the European continent. Such mentality dehumanizes the lives of non-European civilians as if war and violence are normalized parts of their human experience. Moreover, the categorization of “civilized” and “uncivilized” further perpetuates the Orientalist mindset rooted in imperial colonialism. As an organization dedicated to cultural diversity, sustainable development, and peace resolution, we call for culturally sensitive news coverage that respects principle values of integrity and equality.
We conclude the stated evidence of racism by stressing the importance of humanity, integrity, and the value of freedom. We are saddened by affected people in the ongoing conflict and deeply concerned about the emotional and physical well-being of individuals seeking human security and dignity. We condemn differential treatments of asylum seekers based on their ethnicities, cultural beliefs, or geographical locations and call for righteous action from responsible authorities. We call for culturally sensitive news coverage that respects the principle values of integrity and equality. Finally, we call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Le Monde Magazine: Ukraine – Africans prevented from fleeing war
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsJE8WStrGI Courrier international : War in Ukraine: refugees discriminated against because of their skin colour
The Tatva, Indian Media/news company: Black and Indians being assaulted by Ukrainian military
The Ignant Intellectual: Denunciation of media racist coverage
Samir Kissi: Compilation of interventions by some European officials on Ukrainian refugees crisis
The Washington Post : Europe welcomes Ukrainian refugees — others, less so
The Guardian: They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine