This week's blog is authored by Aliona Hlivco, Policy Analyst and Former Ukrainian MP.
In 2014, when we in Ukraine were fighting for our freedoms on the Independence Square in Kyiv, hiding from police bullets behind hand-made wooden shields, little did I know that thousands of miles away, there were equally brave people shielding themselves with yellow umbrellas. The fight for freedom and dignity transcends distances and borders.
In Ukraine, we managed to push the authoritarian government out of the country and elected a new president who sought to move the country towards European values of human rights, rule of law, and democracy. But our fight was far from over. Russia annexed part of our territory – the Crimean Peninsula – and started the war that has been ongoing for over nine years now. The full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February last year highlighted the brutal reality of an authoritarian regime drunk on a sense of delusional almightiness and impunity. Global ambiguity on core issues like upholding sovereignty and the territorial integrity of independent states, appeasement of aggressor and a choice of economic profits over human rights, have resulted into Ukrainians sacrificing thousands of lives to protect the very existence of our nation.
But we have also proven one simple truth – that might is not always right. The strength of major powers is not limitless, and courage, dedication, and belief in oneself and one's cause can defy the odds. As my brother risks his life fighting on the frontline in Eastern Ukraine, I am doing my part by fighting on the informational front, tackling the fakes of Russian propaganda, exposing malign actors, and supporting my country through volunteering, fundraising, and advocating for truth, through believing.
As an expat in a safe country, I know the struggle of trying to carry on with daily life while my homeland suffers. The constant worry for loved ones at risk, the uncertainty of tomorrow, and the weight of the heartache can be overwhelming. Being in a peaceful, safe country doesn’t grant you peace. But it is the sense of community, purpose, and unity around the cause that gives us strength. Nurturing our culture, protecting and proclaiming our identity, celebrating life are all ways to support those facing danger every day back home.
The fight for freedom and dignity knows no boundaries. It is a universal struggle that requires unwavering courage, resilience, and unity. Whether it is in Ukraine, Hong Kong, or any part of the world, we must continue to stand up for our values, protect our rights, and support those who face oppression. Let us draw inspiration from each other's struggles and stand together for a more just and free world.
For me as a Ukrainian, it was deeply humbling to learn that the unofficial anthem of Hong Kong was inspired by the anthem of Ukraine. Freedom and courage transcend space and time, and I extend my gratitude and respect to the people of Hong Kong for that honour. To them, I say, be brave like Ukraine! "May people reign, proud and free, now and evermore. Glory be to thee Hong Kong!"