Wed | Feb 8, 2023

One-man anti-war protest in Jamaica

Published:Monday | April 18, 2022 | 12:09 AMDavid Salmon/Gleaner Writer
Allan Lewis who has made it his personal duty to protest weekly against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Allan Lewis who has made it his personal duty to protest weekly against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A view of the Illich Iron & Steel Works Metallurgical Plant, the second largest metallurgical enterprise in Ukraine on Saturday. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist a
A view of the Illich Iron & Steel Works Metallurgical Plant, the second largest metallurgical enterprise in Ukraine on Saturday. Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov, has been besieged by Russian troops and forces from self-proclaimed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine for more than six weeks.
A woman makes the sign of cross during in an Orthodox service celebrating Palm Sunday, in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on April 17. Celebrations in the Eastern Orthodox Church are a week later than in much of the Christian world.
A woman makes the sign of cross during in an Orthodox service celebrating Palm Sunday, in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on April 17. Celebrations in the Eastern Orthodox Church are a week later than in much of the Christian world.
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked numerous demonstrations across the globe, but there hasn’t been similar anger on the streets of Jamaica. But that lack of support hasn’t stopped one Jamaican from standing outside the Embassy of the Russian...

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked numerous demonstrations across the globe, but there hasn’t been similar anger on the streets of Jamaica.

But that lack of support hasn’t stopped one Jamaican from standing outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kingston every Saturday afternoon to register his dissatisfaction with the invasion.

Allan Lewis, the affable and soft-spoken Norbrook resident, explains why he felt prompted to engage in the symbolic opposition to the Vladimir Putin regime.

“On a Saturday afternoon, it doesn’t take anything out of me to stand there for half an hour,” Lewis said in a recent Gleaner interview.

“I live in the neighbourhood and I just thought it was important that it can never be said that Jamaica does not register any opposition to what has taken place in Ukraine. I thought about it and I said, ‘Suppose someone came and invaded Jamaica just like that?’ How would we feel?”

Lewis believes that in 2022, countries should resolve conflicts using diplomatic channels instead of using war to control territories.

As at April 11,the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded more than 3,600 civilian casualties in Ukraine since the February 24 invasion. The true number of fatalities is expected to be much higher.

It is those statistics and the dire human-rights crisis unfolding in the Eastern European country that have impelled Lewis to highlight injustice and press for the elimination of division.

“It is not as if I’m saying that Russia is the only country that has done wrong … . I don’t want anyone to think that somehow this is just showing displeasure at Russia. We have situations where other countries have done similar things to other countries, which I think is just as unjust,” he said.

Lewis has received token support since he started demonstrating outside the embassy.

“Two people have stopped and stood with me for a few minutes - one person on a motorcycle and one person in a car. Then persons when they are driving past toot their horn in support,” he said.

However, Lewis shared that his actions have caused some discontent from the staff of the Russian Embassy.

“The Russians have come out and taken my picture. The last time they called security, and I heard the security person telling them that there is nothing they can do since I was just standing on the sidewalk.

“I wasn’t making any noise, I wasn’t making any disturbance, I wasn’t preventing anybody from coming to the embassy or anything like that,” he said.

Those efforts haven’t deterred him, he said. And after a two-week break from Jamaica, Lewis will be returning to mount his one-man demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy.

david.salmon@gleanerjm.com