In Solidarity With Ukraine: Indian cultural figures and human rights activists visit Ukraine

PEN Ukraine hosted a delegation of cultural figures from India within the framework of the In Solidarity With Ukraine programme supported by the International Renaissance Foundation.

Tehnaz J. Dastoor, a human rights activist and former UNICEF Global Coordinator for Mine Action and Childhood Arrivals, and Bishan Samaddar, editor of Seagull Books, visited Ukraine.

During the visit, they met with Ukrainian cultural figures, representatives of NGOs and human rights activists, and visited the sites where Russian aggression took place.

Upon arrival, the delegation got acquainted with Kyiv and cultural institutions such as PEN Ukraine, Mystetskyi Arsenal, Ukrainian Institute, Khanenko Museum and the Holodomor Museum. The delegates also met with the team of the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Voices of Children and Tata Kepler’s Birds foundations. During their five-day visit, Tenaz Dastur and Bishan Samaddar attended a poetry and music performance by the co-founder of the Staryi Lev Publishing House and poet Mariana Savka and actor Ostap Vakulyuk.

Impressed by these meetings, publisher Bishan Samaddar shared: “The spirit of resistance and dedication to the nation that I have seen in all Ukrainians is truly inspiring. We can all learn from it.”

For Tenaz Dastur, the most memorable part of the trip was meeting Ukrainian cultural figures: “I was amazed that people from different walks of life – successful artists, restaurateurs, writers – decided to unite and work to help the country, to do the right thing at this time, giving up their promising careers.”

The delegation travelled to Kyiv region to see first-hand the consequences of the Russian invasion. The Indian guests also visited Yahidne in Chernihiv Oblast, where the occupiers held local residents in the basement of a village school and used them as human shields.

Samaddar and Dastur took part in a public discussion in the space of PEN Ukraine on how people in Ukraine and India can learn more about each other. The event was moderated by philosopher, writer, PEN Ukraine President Volodymyr Yermolenko. The event was held in partnership with UkraineWorld, an English-language multimedia project about Ukraine.


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