Thursday, May 8, 2014

A statue for Ira

I don't know Ira. I probably never will meet her. Though I feel that I should. This is what the Kyiv Post wrote about Ira:
»Meanwhile, in a courtyard near their apartment building a block from the local Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) office, Ira, a 30-year-old physical education teacher who did not give her last name because she feared being persecuted by the government for her separatist views, along with her five-year-old blue-eyed daughter Nastya and some neighbors, stood in protest. The group held signs reading: "Let's live in friendship," "SBU - here is my home" and "We don't want war."
With tears rolling down her cheeks, Ira explained that Sloviansk residents were not separatists as the Ukrainian government has painted them to be, but merely people who were fighting peacefully for their freedom. The violence witnessed in recent days, she said, began when the Ukrainian military went on the offensive.
"We are peaceful people. They brought this fight to us," she cried. "We can't sleep like normal anymore. Now we sleep together. But we don't sleep, we lay awake waiting for the war to begin."«

This little story of a young woman, with a lovely child captures in a few words the Ukrainian tragedy: the catastrophe nobody ever wanted. Just look at how she frames her reality: "As … painted them to be.” Painting the other in a dirty war of words is a very effective way of robbing the other of his or her humanity. On the one side, painting the other as 'facists, banderites', on the other side, 'separatists, thugs'. The truth is, as Ira shows, that this 'painting' is just what it is: throwing with cliches, deforming real humans to a caricature of what they realy are. You can't symphatize with a caricature, with a 'facist' or a 'seperatist', but you can shoot him. 
"We are peaceful people who are fighting for their freedom", says Ira. I know an Ira from Lviv, and I know her very well, who could have said the same - she actually did. The one Ira is painted as 'pro-Russian', the other as 'pro-Ukrainian'. It's a bloody shame that the painters of this All-Ukrainian drama have only blue and yellow and red and white pigments. They rob my both Iras of what they realy are and want: young Ukrainian women who both want to live in a peaceful Ukraine, that respects them and offers them them the possibility of a decent life. Not a life of fear.
In the end it is all about masks. It is no coincidence that Ira is a woman with a human face who moves me. It's a relief to see her face and 'hear' her voice, in stead of the abundance of pictures of men with masks who are hiding their humanity. I'm getting every day more fed up with this war of masks. As long as we keep wearing masks, we keep shouting and shooting. We keep painting the other in untruthful, inhuman colours. Ira doesn't wear a mask. That's why she deserves a statue.


  1. This article is a complete Russian Government propaganda bullshit. Peaceful protesters taking down helicopters with grenade launchers, torturing people to death, taking hostages. They are terrorists. And you collaborate with Putin's regime on posting things like that, how much do they pay you? Remember what you are doing - it's a crime, and sooner or later you will have to respond for this. As a Ukrainian patriot (from the East of Ukraine by the way, working in the Netherlands now) I am also taking things like that personally and am kindly asking you to stop.

    1. If you want to argue, fine. But I don't respond to threaths, accusations and insults.