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There is war in Europe

Folk på flykt i Europa

It's hard to take in, but there is war in Europe. It feels more like something you read about in the history books than experience yourself. The linear distance is closer between Lund and the border with Ukraine than between Lund and Umeå.

I had the radio on in the background all day yesterday, but only in the evening when I sat down and concentrated on watching the news on TV did I really take it all in. An explosion and a child screaming in horror, an elderly man swearing at Putin and at the same time crying out of grief, pain, and fear. Then came the tears. This is really happening.

The authoritarian idea has returned in the last 10 to 15 years. We see it in how democracy in the world backs down, for the sixteenth year in a row in 2021. We see it in how “strong” men despise what they see as weakness. How they try to control women’s bodies and go back to a time when “men were men” and “women were women”. How they look down on homosexuals, transgender people and others who deviate from the norm they want to maintain. We see it in the longing for these “strong” leaders who put their own nation first and who “really understand the real will of the people”, who do not listen to politically correct elites in the form of media and researchers. Authoritarian leaders who seem to stand above the democratic rules of the game and international conventions. Authoritarian leaders who deny the legitimacy of their opponents and portray them as traitors. Authoritarian leaders glorifying violence. In the natural extension of the authoritarian idea lies war.

IM started as early as 1938 as a reaction to the authoritarian movements of the time, Nazism and Communism. IM’s founder Britta Holmström expressed it as: “I immediately understood what it was about, that it was about the victims of the German boot tramp”. Then there were far too few who reacted clearly enough and in time.

At the same time, there is still a countermovement today. Those who dare to stand up and defend democracy and human rights around the world are actually becoming more numerous. Those who unite and demand compassion, peace, and freedom. It is these people that IM today works with around the world. Women who demand the right to their body and their sexuality, LGBTQI people who demand to be who they are and love who they want to be. People with disabilities that require accessibility. Displaced people who demand the right to seek asylum.

IM works closely with people in Ukraine who stand for precisely these values. Who protects the right to come together and express their opinions. Just like you and I want to live in peace and democracy. They also have their siblings and fellow human beings in Russia, who dare to defy power and go out and openly protest against the war.

There is war in Europe. This is not the Russian war. It is the war of the authoritarian leader. It is here and now that the rest of us, you and I, must stand up for something else. For peace, democracy, and humanity. It will be needed when people in Europe are fleeing again, whether they flee war-torn Ukraine or despot Russia.

By: Malin Kihlström