On February 24, a crowded rally dedicated to the first anniversary of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine took place in the center of Bremen. According to the police, 850 people gathered in the market square of the city.
Representatives of trade unions, national associations, as well as Frank Imhoff, chairman of the Bremen parliament, Andreas Bovenschulte, burgomaster of Bremen, spoke at the rally to express support for Ukraine and condemn the war. In their speeches, they stressed that people were shocked by the violence and brutality of the war. Bovenschulte urged the people of Bremen to continue to help Ukraine and thanked them for their support already given:
- We are a cosmopolitan city. We welcome people with open arms to help them and with no reservations. The same was yesterday, will be today and tomorrow.
On behalf of the association of Belarusians in Germany "Razam" and the Association "Salidarnast" spoke Lizaveta Merliak, who noted that Belarusians do not want to fight against Ukraine:
- I and many others were forced to flee Belarus with the outbreak of the war against Ukraine. Here, in Bremen, we found shelter and a new home. I would like to thank the city of Bremen and the people of this city for this solidarity.
By all accounts, there is no war in Belarus. But de facto Belarus is occupied by Russia, and Lukashenko's collaborationist regime has taken Belarusians hostage.
More than 1,500 political prisoners, including 30 of our colleagues from the democratic trade unions, are currently held in inhumane conditions for protesting against injustice in Belarus and the war against Ukraine. Many Belarusians who tried to sabotage trains with Russian military equipment at the beginning of the Russian invasion were sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Ordinary Belarusians do not want our country to go to war with Russia against Ukraine. Many Belarusians donate to the Ukrainian army, help Ukrainian refugees, and thousands of Belarusian volunteers are fighting on the side of Ukraine.
But anyone who stands up for Ukraine in Belarus is in danger. Anyone who wears blue and yellow clothing, listens to Ukrainian pop music or publicly opposes the war can be arrested and tortured. Belarusians are not allowed to openly fly their own flag or the Ukrainian flag in Belarus, but we will continue to do so here in Bremen and everywhere else in the world until our homeland is free.
No matter how Russia holds its neighboring peoples in its bloody embrace, we have the right to self-determination. We want and will choose our own way independently, without the dictate of any regime.
With unprecedented courage Ukraine fights for its freedom, with great sacrifice it fights for all of us. Russia will not defeat Ukraine as long as we all stand firmly by their side.
Ukrainians need and deserve all the solidarity and help we can give them today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.
Together Forever! Long live Belarus! Glory to Ukraine!
On this day numerous actions of solidarity with Ukraine were held all over Germany. As a sign of solidarity, the facade of the Bremen parliament was illuminated with the yellow and blue Ukrainian national colors from early Friday morning. Services for peace were held in the central cathedrals of Bremen and Bremerhaven, including St. Peter's Cathedral in Bremen and the Herz-Jesus-Kirche Church in Bremerhaven.
In neighboring Lower Saxony in Hanover and Lingen similar events were also held. In addition, thousands of people honored this sad anniversary with a 50-kilometer human chain between Osnabrück and Münster.