Humanist values in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Board of the BC Humanist Association has released the following statement in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month.

“Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.” - Carl Sagan

The BC Humanist Association unequivocally condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting human rights violations and abuses. We call for an immediate ceasefire, a deescalation of tensions and for multilateral diplomacy to prevail. In our response to this conflict, the Humanist values of reason, compassion and equality must take centre stage.

Our compassion should extend to all the people who are touched by these events. Notably those people under siege in Ukraine and those who have fled their homes, the young people forced to fight and die, the people of Russia who oppose the war and those most likely to suffer the brunt of the economic sanctions placed on the country. We support efforts to resettle those fleeing this conflict to Canada but we also note the double standard by which people fleeing persecution and war in other parts of the world are subjected to onerous restrictions. The compassion we show toward Ukrainians should extend to all peoples, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality and belief.

Prior to the most recent invasion, Ukraine was on a path toward greater protections for freedom of belief, freedom of expression and equality. The Russian government, by contrast, was becoming increasingly authoritarian and intertwined with the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukraine’s advances are now under significant threat should the country be occupied by Russia. Even if Ukraine ultimately prevails in maintaining its independence, the growth of far right militias and domestic nationalism that occur during times of conflict should concern human rights supporters.

Finally, misinformation has been on the rise in recent years and the ability to discern fact from fiction fades quickly during times of global conflict. We must critically evaluate all reports for propaganda and misinformation. Governments on both sides of the conflict have been quick to weaponize accusations of misinformation to dodge uncomfortable questions. These trends should concern all who value truth and accountability.

The BCHA has long stood alongside peace activists, including participating in the Walk for Peace and co-hosting the Peace Poppies alternative remembrance ceremony in past years. A more peaceful future will not be built through stockpiling armaments and stoking nationalism but by developing and strengthening global democratic and pluralistic institutions.

“Striving for peace and preparing for war are incompatible with each other.” - Albert Einstein


How you can help

Humanist Canada released its statement on Instagram

Humanist Canada joins with citizens worldwide in outrage over the attack that Russia, under the governance of Vladimir Putin, has launched upon Ukraine.

A fundamental principle of modern Humanism is the support of democracy and human rights. To this end, we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are experiencing incalculable devastation and losses. We stand with the people in Russia who oppose Putin's war, as well as millions around the world who demand peace. We stand against any form of discrimination amid this crisis and value everyone that calls Ukraine home.

Any solutions must be based on principles that prioritize the dignity and well-being of all peoples and the respect of human rights and international law. Rooted in our Humanist principles and by utilizing free inquiry, the power of science, critical thinking and creative imagination for the furtherance of peace and in the service of compassion, we have confidence that we have the means to solve the problems that confront us all. (The Amsterdam Declaration)

We call on our members, community leaders, elected representatives, and all Canadians to support a negotiated solution to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We encourage you to support humanitarian efforts, one of which is the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. The Government of Canada will match donations dollar-for-dollar. DONATE HERE.

Humanists International has put out the following appeal:

The Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation, an Associate of Humanists International, has put together an important initiative called Humanists across borders for Ukraine, in response to the humanitarian challenges in Ukraine brought by the unprovoked and illegal invasion by Russia.

To date, they have helped house more than 30 people temporarily in Warsaw. Some of them have now left Poland for other European countries. Aside from providing housing and emotional support to Ukrainian refugees, they are also helping with language, translation and access to information and advice. 

They have now 21 people in their care at this time, with housing, medical, food, clothes, and other complex services. And have managed to connect other people with families who can host them in their own homes.

They are requesting financial assistance, which you can find the details on their website, as well as moral support and solidarity on their Facebook page

And our allies at Vancouver Peace Poppies are encouraging supporters to:

  • wear your white poppies
  • speak up against increasing military spending
  • raise your voice for a negotiated solution to the violent and appalling invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, and to the ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Ethiopia and elsewhere 
  • urge our government to be equally welcoming to refugees from all conflicts

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