Perhaps each of us is following with fear and trembling the fate of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, illegally sentenced and held in the far north of the Russian Federation, imprisoned but unbroken. On 14 May 2018 he announced a hunger strike, demanding the release of 64 Ukrainian political prisoners. His hunger strike in the quiet time of vacations is a gesture of great strength and despair. Sentsov is ready to give his life so that the world will realize that #TheyAreStillThere. He and dozens of innocent people have become hostages of an inhuman system. Oleh Sentsov voluntarily chose a desperate gesture to become the voice of one crying in the wilderness, so that his suffering and truly incredible sacrifice will cry out to the whole world.
His fate is painful, his future frightening. What will tomorrow bring? Will he survive? How? What can I do?
In his gesture, Oleh shows us the example of the power of the powerless, those about whom Vaclav Havel spoke; once this was Ukrainian fighters in the resistance movement, and today this could be us.
We propose that each of us, separately and UCU as a community, unite efforts to free Oleh Sentsov and other Ukrainian prisoners.
How can we do this?
Pray. Sincerely, devotedly, constantly.
Speak. Don’t avoid this painful theme, not a “summer topic” at all. Follow events and talk about them.
Join initiatives, online and on the street. One-night protests with humble signs can sometimes work miracles.
Believe in symbols – giving up dinner or fasting for a day in solidarity can become an opportunity to focus and not forget. Challenge yourself.
A banner in support of Oleh Sentsov has appeared at the UCU Sheptytsky Center. May this be a constant reminder and call to prayer and action. For each of us. Because #TheyAreStillThere.