Australian-Ukrainian communities marched on the weekend to commemorate 100 days since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, calling on the world to not forget the war still raging in their homeland and urging the continued provision of critical military and humanitarian assistance to defend and rebuild areas devastated by Russian artillery fire, attack and occupation.
In Sydney, around 200 people rallied and marched from Martin Place to Circular Quay, while in Tasmania people gathered on the Parliament Lawns in Hobart.
“We honour the thousands of Ukrainians, including hundreds of children, who have lost their lives as a result of this invasion; the millions who have been forced to flee their homes; the innocent civilians forced to live in desperate conditions in areas under Russian attack, without access to sufficient water, food and electricity,” said Ms Kateryna Argyrou, Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO).
Both rallies also paid tribute to Tasmanian man, Michael O’Neill, who was killed early last week while helping to transport the injured and wounded, including civilians, from the front line of the war.
In Tasmania, one of the rally organisers, Mr Ivan Shevchenko, recollected that Mr O’Neill had joined their rallies prior to leaving for Ukraine and expressed the community’s sorrow that Mr O’Neill had lost his life helping Ukraine.
“This person stood with us here. We commemorate him today, and feel sadness” said Mr Shevchenko.
Ms Argyrou said “The war has continued to take a huge toll, claiming the life of a brave and courageous Australian man who was helping to provide humanitarian aid services in Ukraine. We honoured Mr O’Neill here today by wearing his AFL club team colours – navy and red – and making an “M” out of AFL balls.
“The war is far from over. Ukraine needs more heavy artillery to repel Russian attacks in the Donbas region, and continued shelling in cities such as Kyiv and Kharvkiv. Ukraine also needs significant amounts of humanitarian and financial aid to rebuild in those areas which have been reclaimed from invading forces,” she added.
“Ukrainian people are resilient and united behind the war effort. They know they are fighting to defend their own country, identity and future. They have taken on the fight for security in Europe and the international-rules based order. That is why it is in the interest of the West to continue to help Ukraine and defeat Russia’s attempt to violently and illegally wage a war of destruction and occupation,” said Ms Argyrou.