Monday, 21 March 2016
Ethnic Cleansing in Europe, 2016
A very poignant moment.
My son is simply mad about soccer. He knows every statistic, every name, and he loves every team (except Chelsea).
And so I passed by this expo at Place St Gery in Brussels - which I visited for the first time earlier this week - with him. It is about Ukrainians who have been displaced following the Russian invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea.
Some 10,000 Crimean Tatars have been made to leave their homeland, and many others are forced to take Russian citizenship against their will. Those who were outside the region at the time of annexation are forbidden to return home to their families.
Their mosques are being closed, politicians are persecuted, and the only Tatar language TV station has been closed down on the orders of the Kremlin.
This is ethnic cleansing - not yet on the scale of what the Nazis did, but it is still early days, and the signs are pointing in that direction.
The gentleman featured in this picture, Roman Podenezhny, is a teacher, and like George, is clearly a football fan.
George would even be able to speak with him in his own tongue (George has better language skills than I do, but you might say that about anybody).
We had talked about the invasion, about war, and what it means to the people who have been caught up in it.
George looked at the picture of this chap and said "He's just like me."
That is the whole point. The dispossessed, the refugees, the dead and the wounded victims of war are just like us. The victims of war are us.