SAIH Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

SAIH Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

SAIH strongly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which constitutes an illegal act of aggression under the United Nation’s Charter. Our solidarity goes out to all of those affected by the war, whose lives are now interrupted by an unjustified conflict which will bring great economic consequences, more violations to human rights, stronger societal polarization, and the loss of innocent lives.

In addition to these brutal consequences of war, the ongoing conflict will interrupt the right of academics and students to further construct critical knowledge, and disseminate it through research publications or public debate, in a time where it is needed the most - as societies are bombarded with manipulative propaganda.

It is based on this premise that SAIH commits to support students and academics affected by this conflict, independently of their nationality, ethnicity, religious belief, or gender identity, by aiding them in continuing their studies or research work in safe spaces which guarantee their human rights.

This conflict proves, once again, the necessity of having wider and faster protection mechanisms specially focused towards students and academics. Mechanisms which could be modeled after existing initiatives, such as the Students at Risk program in Norway, or the program’s equivalents in Germany and Poland.

While SAIH and others work for these mechanisms to be established, we exhort the international higher education community to commit their resources to ensure students and academics who are now in need are welcomed to peaceful campuses.

We call for solidarity with students and academics in both Russia and Ukraine. In times of darkness, the higher education community must support those actors who remain in a position to be critical against authoritarian forces, and be cautious about unnecessarily suppressing academic contacts or activities which may lead to a limitation of the academic freedom of students and academics in or from Russia. Researchers’ construction of knowledge and students’ mobilization has time after time proven to be the spark to initiate the path towards brighter days. Therefore, the existence of a free and critical higher education sector must be protected even in times of conflict.

As a member of Scholars at Risk, we encourage researchers fleeing Ukraine to apply for assistance through their network - a network which includes many Norwegian higher education institutions. Link: Get Help | Scholars at Risk

SAIH works in partnership with student democracies, teacher unions, civil society organizations, as well as higher education institutions around the world. We are in dialogue with many of our partner organization concerning the war in Ukraine and have been informed by one of our partners, the Zambian National Students Union (Zanasu), about their efforts in contacting Zambian students affected by the situation.

The European Student Union has voiced the need to support students fleeing from Ukraine and we are in close contact with them to back their efforts.

Based on these experiences, we encourage students to contact the student representatives of the countries they are fleeing to, as well as those from their countries of origin. If you are a student in need of assistance, we have also put together this list of resources that we will continue to update as we learn of new resources.

War times are also special times for solidarity – we stand up, together with many more, to defend democracy, the right to education, and human rights.

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