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20 February 2012

 

FOR A EUROPEAN UKRAINE

 

We women of Ukraine who work as professionals in culture, science, and journalism, we women who are from different generations and who come from different locales now stand as one in support of the open letter addressed to the worlds women of influence signed by Lina Kostenko, Nina Matvienko and Oleksandra Kuzhel. This letter calls for the serious consideration of implementing sanctions against members of the current Ukrainian leadership in order to compel them to react responsibly to the demands of the international community with regard to ceasing the political persecution of the opposition as well as freeing Yulia Tymoshenko and other opposition figures from jail. This would then return Ukraine to a path towards democracy, to a serious and substantive dialogue with the EU, and to its future integration within the European Union.

We express our support for and solidarity with the signatories of that letter and wholeheartedly join their appeal.

It is often said that Ukraine is the geographical centre of Europe. However, it was in this supposed centre of Europe that a shameful show trial was staged and directed against a woman who had the strength to challenge the present-day political establishment. This was a trial conceived at the highest echelons of the government as a cynical spectacle of international dimensions. This was a trial with multiple goals. It was aimed at halting Ukraines progress towards Europe by demeaning and discrediting the country by highlighting an incompetent judicial system that is willing to sell out justice. It was aimed at further helping the governments unchecked campaign of destruction of its political opponents. And it was aimed at the physical, moral and spiritual humiliation of a woman who once was Prime Minister.

Yulia Tymoshenko, however, is not the only political prisoner of our state. There are other political opponents now behind bars who suffer from serious illnesses and who are kept in prison for long periods without receiving any proper medical attention. In the civilized world, such treatment is considered tantamount to torture.

We now stand to defend not just a specific person but, rather, the most fundamental principles of democracy: a genuine opportunity to elect a different government; civil liberties; and that all should be equal before the law.

We now stand to defend the right of the opposition to freedom of thought and action, and to its right to fully and freely participate in elections.

We now stand to defend the right of Ukraine to become part of the free democratic world.

The consensus position of the entire democratic world was recently expressed by the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, when he said that the key to the signing of an agreement between Ukraine and the EU was to be found in Tymoshenkos cell.

The present-day establishment must return the key of freedom to Ukrainian society. It must stop conducting its political discourse solely through the means of a repressive penal system instead of engaging in proper democratic electoral politics.

Solidarity has always been the key word for any resistance movement standing up against dictatorship in any era. If the women of this country, with your help, come to uphold the ethical principle of solidarity, then this country will not morph into an authoritarian police state.

For centuries, Ukraine was a part and parcel of European civilization. Many sacrificed their lives, generation after generation, for the right and the possibility of belonging to that civilization. Today, in an attempt to flee from what may seem to them to be a hopeless reality permeated by social injustice and pervasive corruption, many of our young people are forced to search for a place abroad where rule of law is the norm. That is why we, the women of this country, have a civic and professional duty to defend the possibility of a European future for our children.

We now hereby beseach all persons of good will, whether inside or outside of Ukraine, to help us defend the possibility of a democratic future for Ukraine.

 

 

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KRAVETS Nadiya, DPhil, Oxon, St. Antony's College, Shklar Reaserch Fellow, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

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OLEKSIUK Myroslava, journalist, filmmaker, editor-in-chief ePOSHTA (www.eposhta.com); founding member Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine (Toronto) , , , - (www.eposhta.com), ()

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RUBCHAK Mar'ian, PhD., Senior Research Professor Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, USA)

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STASYSHYN Olenka, President/CEO of OlenkaSchool of Music, Inc. in Maryland, USAwww.olenkaschoolofmusic.com, President of Washington, DC metropolitan Chapter of New Ukrainian Wave Organization (Washington)

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TRAVERSA Halyna, J.D., former General Counsel, Rexam Beverage Can Company of North America, former Senior International Counsel, Motorola former Senior International Counsel, Abbott Laboratories (Chicago)

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