On Sunday 15 December 2013 Professor Marko Pavlyshyn, director of the Mykola Zerov Centre for Ukrainian Studies at Monash University, and Dr Natalie Doyle, deputy director of the Monash European and EU Centre addressed a rally organised by the Association of Ukrainians in Victoria in support of the EuroMaidans in Ukraine.
Since 21 November demonstrations in Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine, at times numbering many hundreds of thousands of participants, have protested against the decision by the government of Ukraine to curtail preparations for the signing of an Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. These demonstrations, called “EuroMaidans” because their main location is Kyiv's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), have been under threat of violent repression since 30 November, when police special forces attacked and brutally beat peaceful demonstrators. The police actions have catalysed broad-based demands for respect for human rights and the rule of law, for a return to European values in politics and economic life, and for an end to authoritarian and corrupt government.
In many cities around the world, demonstrations expressing solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine have been held, including Sunday's rally in Melbourne.
Professor Pavlyshyn spoke of the importance of demonstrating international solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their struggle for a future in a free and fair society. Many of the protesters in Ukraine, he pointed out, are university students who understand and cherish European ideals. Among the universities most active on the EuroMaidans are the Kyiv Mohyla Academy University, Kyiv National University and Lviv National University. Monash has sent students to study at all three of these universities.
Dr Doyle placed the EuroMaidan and its predominantly young protesters in the context of a worldwide disenchantment of young people with the pragmatism and often corruption of contemporary mainstream politics, and their yearning for a politics of ideals – the foundational ideals of freedom and justice with which Europe has once been, and should become again, synonymous.
Click here for the text of Professor Pavlyshyn's speech at the first Melbourne rally in support of the Maidan on 28 November.
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