A message from the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO)
The appearance of a mural in Melbourne implying if only Russian and Ukrainian soldiers hugged and made peace with each other nuclear war would be averted, is a chilling attempt to diminish the reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, draw a false moral equivalence between the aggressor and the victim, and promote Russian disinformation.
“This is not a conflict with two equal combatants. This a valiant attempt by a beleaguered nation to defend itself from unwarranted and illegal aggression and violence,” said Stefan Romaniw OAM, Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO).
“To imply that Ukraine should hug its oppressor is a profound insult which detracts from the bigger issue – the brutality of the Russian army, its treatment of civilian populations, its war crimes, and its unwillingness to negotiate unless Ukraine gives up its independence and territorial sovereignty,” he said.
“What would people think if a mural featured a rapist and a victim hugging? Wouldn’t that offend any decent person’s conviction that to ask a victim to excuse their rapist while the crime is still occurring, not been acknowledged, and not been atoned for, is wrong?” he said.
“Ukrainians would dearly love peace. They want to go back to their homes, their jobs and their lives. But until Russia stops its brutal war in Ukraine and withdraws from areas it has occupied, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, how can true peace be obtained?” said Mr Romaniw.
“Trying to be ‘even-handed’ and accepting a false narrative that ‘all we need is peace’ in this case supports evil. It endorses Russia’s actions and enforces on Ukraine an obligation to accept attempts to destroy it,” he added.
Media inquires: Stefan Romaniw 0419 531 255
The Association of Ukrainians in Victoria’s Art for Ukraine project had been in contact with the offending artist some time ago, when enquiries were being made regarding murals depicting support for Ukraine at various locations across Melbourne.
The artist, CTO, or Peter Seaton, had presented this piece to the Art for Ukraine team, who explained the insensitive nature of the image and that the message was inappropriate. They rejected his offer to create it as part of our project, yet has progressed with the artwork himself regardless of our pleas for reason.