Russia-Ukraine crisis leads to disturbing reports of racism against students: Nelson Mandela Foundation

AgenciesUpdated: Monday, March 07, 2022, 09:23 AM IST
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Due to the current Ukraine crisis triggered by the Russian military operation, there have been "disturbing" reports of racism against students from several nations, including India, who are attempting to flee the war-torn country,the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) said.

According to reports in the international media in the past few days, Indian, South African, Nigerian and students of other nationalities have been debarred from using transport to reach neighbouring Poland as thousands of Ukrainianians fled the country.

Some complained of being beaten up as they tried to join the fleeing crowds, purely because of their skin colour.

"The conflict in Ukraine has foregrounded another global fault line: racism. There have been disturbing reports of Black people and people of colour, being denied seats in buses evacuating refugees, and turned away from the Polish border," the NMF said.

"This illustrates once more a common global phenomenon in which the sufferings of white people in conflict situations habitually receive more attention and care," it said, adding that white lives are seen to matter far more than the lives of others.

"Racism remains as insidious and ubiquitous as it has ever been," it said in a statement said.

The Johannesburg-based Non-profit organisation said that achieving solidarity in the global community required recognition of shared humanity and defending equally all victims of war and prejudice.

"One of the ironies of the public discourses swirling around the Ukraine invasion has been the outrage expressed by the United States, a country which, for some time, has perfected the arts of invasion, occupation, and a contemptuous dismissal of international bodies," it said. "Over months and years now we've listened to Putin's representations of Ru

ssian and European history to justify Ukraine staying within that sphere. Whatever we may think of this logic, it informed the United States acting against Cuba in the 1960s and Grenada in the 1980s, who were within its perceived sphere of influence.”

“To accept this logic in respect of the behaviour of the United States but deny its pertinence to the current conflict over Ukraine is to put a hand over one eye and claim to see everything," the statement said.

The foundation offered its assistance to the South African government to show leadership at this critical moment and press for a ceasefire so that rigorous negotiations on the future can be mapped out.

After initially strongly condemning the Russian action, South Africa later adopted a softer line, calling for negotiations. South Africa was also one of the countries to abstain in a UN vote calling on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine.

Separately, internationally-renowned South African Indian-origin filmmaker Anant Singh has said his company Videovision Entertainment will stop licensing its content to Russia.

"The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the resulting humanitarian crisis is reprehensible. We join the millions of people around the world and peace-loving nations in asking for Russia's immediate withdrawal," Singh said

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