Anti-War Statement and Peace Movement

Hannah Hennebert, Martin Armbrust, Veniamin Kolpachnikov, Barbara Williams, and Heather Williams

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin is a direct violation of the principles of the international legal order, which aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, and promote social progress. The humanitarian crisis as a consequence of this War is unforeseeable. Several countries will be directly impacted by it as this War will most likely prompt another migration crisis. This war is particularly cruel on women, who make up at least 15% of the Ukrainian armed forces and are also the adult civilians who historically suffer the most during any armed conflicts.

We write as a group of person-centered psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and academics to condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, which has resulted in the first significant War in Europe since the Second World War II. To bring nuclear forces to high alert reaches a point of tension which is even more dangerous and inacceptable. This is where we are now, after two World Wars. Have we learned from the past? 

The Center for Studies of the Person members and associate members call for an immediate ceasefire and the reopening of diplomatic negotiations to address the crisis. We currently don’t see any constructive alternative to negotiation and dialogue between all sides involved in the conflict, including Ukrainians, Russians, people of Donbas, EU and NATO, and other involved parties. When one ignores, rejects, or manipulates the interests of any side involved in this crisis, it can lead to the potential destruction of humanity. We realize the complexity of such negotiations, but only in this way is a possible appropriate resolution to the benefit of all parties involved. Person-centered specialists have successful experience in mediating severe conflicts in the hot points, like the Israel-Egypt conflict, North Ireland, Latin America, South Africa, etc. We will be happy to suggest our experience and competence in mediating conflicts to resolve the current crisis in Europe.

Wars have historically affected women, girls, and children disproportionately. According to the study The Impact of War on Women published in the journal War and public health, in 1997, women were the primary victims of War. The British online newspaper The Independent reported this week that “women are likely to be among those hardest hit” during this Russia-Ukraine war. During military actions, women’s rights violations include traumas inflicted by sexual violence, rape camps, military brothels, trafficking, domestic violence, poverty, severe illness, and prostitution.

It is important to be aware of the moment we are living so history do not repeat itself. In 1939, Stalin signed a pact with Hitler and occupied half of Poland before he learned: Never trust a dictator. From the time of the “Great Terror” 1936 to 1938, one thousand people were killed every day in the Soviet Union Russia. The then Russian government fought against its people. After World War II, Russian governments oppressed east European countries stripped them of their freedom to govern themselves freely for decades. The world is living through a climate crisis, and the Russian government regresses to dictatorship.

We cannot be indifferent in the face of such cruelty, and it is our responsibility as individuals and as a group to explore alternatives to create and promote peace in the world. Carl Rogers once said that the most important thing that we can do to promote world peace is to work with children. A road to peace is to help children keep their natural love and acceptance that they are born with. Their natural curiosity about differences rather than fear of differences. To nurture their wisdom and unconditional acceptance that they naturally have.

Developing a peace education model is an essential option to create peace. We need to invest more resources in a long-term project to encourage individuals to appreciate cultural differences and learn to live together in an ethnic-gender-neurodiverse world. Help to stop the war, even by speaking with only one person about it. You can contribute to give peace a chance. Responsible individuals can make a difference.

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  1. Today (03/04/2022), we know that already 1 million people are displaced in this war crisis (Guardian03/03/2022), that a nuclear plant in Ukraine sparked fire after coming under shelling (Guardian 03/04/2022). The flames are thankfully extinguished now. So much is destroyed and the war does not stop. There are voices telling that many Russian soldiers – estimated up to 90 % – who are deployed in this war are not satisfied with the order they got. It seems the men are often at the age of 19 or 20.

    It is said that they got nutrition for 2 to 3 days. I don`t know. Maybe this changed. But supposedly the conditions are not comfortable for the Russian soldiers either. If I remember it right, I read a longer while ago that the Russian army has one of the highest suicide numbers of military in the world. Maybe this is true till today. The Russian economy will struggle. The worth of the rouble lost a lot of its worth. Worse things will come for all.

    On the other hand I want to be and set a sign of hope against the terror of war in my limited way, as we all can do. I feel despair, but I also feel H o p e .A society is not a machine. Every Person is a Person. Every Person can decide to do something, to hold on to an decent attitude. To be compassionate. To notice war crimes. To organize help for the suffering population in Ukraine. To speak out about the injustice of this war. To be connected with inner values anchored in ethical principles. To work against indifference. To listen concisely to the people in my private and professional sphere. I imagine how hard it was for so many people, for the world as a whole, to go through the inhumanity, cruelties and contempt of Nazi-ism and World War II. We should never forget that. So many lost their lives, so many tortured brothers, mothers, siblings, friends, neighbors. Jewish people suffered most and are so often used as a scape goat for everything, even today. I remember the violent attacks on Synagogues in the recent past in the US. Synagogues in Europe live behind fences. The memorial of the mass murder of Babi Yar is already destroyed in this war. I am concerned about all people in Ukraine including Ukrainian and Russian soldiers but especially about the Jewish community there. How to encourage the Russian population to set signs against the war peacefully and decisive. I want to be part o an outcry against this war, against the will of the leaders of a country to hold all their parts violently together. This is the main problem of Russia since the time of the Zars how I see it. I don`t forget climate change. Time is running out here. Destroying a country and going back into martial forms of conflict behavior. This helps not.

    Every Russian soldier who is part of this war of aggression is responsible for it. Every Russian person who supports this war publicly an in private is responsible for it. I feel a principle trust in the Russian population an I really hope hat this trust is justified.

    1. Dear Martin,

      Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. You were able to pinpoint some important topics, including the concern about the current environmental issues. I appreciate your being willing to be part of an outcry against the war. This is important and welcome!