March for Peace in the East

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Credit: Hussein Malek

Bournemouth University students sets up anti-war march for Ukraine as they march for solidarity. 

 
Sunday afternoon and the sun lit up a vibrant life in Bournemouth town. The cool breeze and clear skies brought people out to visit the beaches and relax in the gardens. In the busy movements of town, the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag made its appearance. The Bomo Swing setting up their band with musical stands plastered with Ukrainian flags, and protesters holding up “Say No To War” signs pulled the attention of locals.
 
On February 24th 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and has committed a series of war acts. This led to civilians being affected by explosions and Ukrainian spaces being invaded by Russian troops. This war has caused significant and detrimental impacts to the lives of Ukrainians who many of which have fled the country or have been internally displaced. The UN has reported that up until the 15th of March there have been a recorded of 1900 civilian casualties, with 726 killed, 52 of which are children.
 
For a small group of Bournemouth University students fighting for Peace in the East, Saga Kindstrand, the organiser of the march has set up the event to highlight the message of Saying No to War.
 
It was 2pm and a crowd began to gather in Bournemouth Square, the Bomo Swing band sets up slowly and surely while blurts of notes from musical instruments played as the band warms up. On one side, stands a group of Bournemouth University students ready for the start of the event. On the other the Dorset for Europe group with Ukrainians local to Bournemouth stands quietly with “Stand with Ukraine” banners.
 
Across the two groups supporters with flags, banners, and signs are patiently waiting for the band to perform. Saga herself is slowly making her moves from people to people hosting conversations about the day and preparing to commencement of the march.
 
Shortly pass two, the band played a soft composure of music and played the Ukrainian’s national anthem. It was mellow and sweet in solidarity, the audience
stood in silence to elevate the band’s sound to its fullest extent and paid careful attention.
 
“It’s amazing to see so many people here today,” Saga, the politics student at Bournemouth University speaks into the mic after the band finishes. She proceeds to address the importance of the day, the event, and what to expect. After a short speech, the group prepare itself for the march.
 
A megaphone in Saga’s hand, banners in the front, and a strip of protesters following suit, the march began. Side by side protesters marched from the square, up through town, round through Old Christchurch Road, and back down to the beach. The march was quick but effective, powerful, and attractive. All through town, claps and smiles, and car honks were shared in support. There was an immediate collective understanding of the march’s purpose and significance.
 
Following the event Saga shares: “I’m really happy about this. It has been amazing. I’m studying politics and everyone has been super involved in this crisis going on in Ukraine and the brutal invasion. I think it is so important to show solidarity, international solidarity. We know that thousands of protesters in Russia are protesting this war. We need to show solidarity for the people who do not want this war, that the people in Ukraine do not want this war, the people of Russia do not want this war and that’s why it’s so important to do something here where we can protest and where we have democracy.”
 
The march ended close to 3pm in the Bournemouth Gardens, where a stand was set up ready with petitions and QR codes to donate. The public continued chatting and people were ready to scan codes, and sign petitions. The Bomo Swing continues to set up and proceeded to play a few more pieces to complete the event.
 
Protesters who have made an appearance shared their solidarity for the day:
 
Oskar: “As much as I read up on politics and situations, I don’t really know who’s in the right or who’s in the wrong what we do know is that war isn’t great and they’re probably people in Ukraine or Russia who don’t want this war to happen and a thing that is great is spreading awareness about it.”
 
Jon: “Today is showing solidarity to people in Ukraine. And to the anti-war movement in Russia. They [Russians] have been suppressed by the government, they have been imprisoned and it’s important to show that we aren’t just lumping the Russian in one group, and we want to support them and we’re with them.”
 
Ewan: “I’m here to show solidarity for all the people in this conflict who don’t want this. I am not trying to support or endorse one side but to support the victims of this conflict, it’s great to see all the turn out for it.”
 
The event spanned across two hours, short and peaceful yet influential. The sun shining into town that attracted many locals to go out, has in turn given them a sight for an important message to be held. A message sent by a mighty collective regardless of one’s background, race, religion, and ideologies. Instead, a diverse group agreeing on the notion that the war should stop.
 
Solidarity, a common terminology used by members of the participating public during active conversations.
 
Solidarity, noun, “Unity or Agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest. Mutual support within a group.”

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