South Africa-based scientists condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine

Originally published here.

We, scientists working in South Africa, strongly condemn the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Scientists play an important role in the development of just and peaceful societies and we cannot stay silent when fundamental values, basic human rights and international law are violated. We are shocked by the brutal attacks of the Russian army on civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, schools, universities, research institutes, and hospitals. We are also extremely worried about nuclear power plants in Ukraine being captured by the Russian Armed Forces, where our fellow-scientists are working now under tremendous stress at gunpoint. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people whose lives are currently endangered. We call for an immediate stop of the violence and withdrawal of all Russian troops from internationally recognised Ukrainian territory as proclaimed in the UN resolution.

We would also like to state the following:

  • We are deeply disappointed with the abstention of South Africa on the UN resolution that called for the withdrawal of the Russian Armed Forces from the territory of Ukraine. We believe that to ensure peace and possibility of negotiations the violence perpetrated by the Russian Federation must be stopped.

  • We strongly believe that South African academic institutions should align themselves with the strong response against the invasion among scientists and academics worldwide. We also strongly urge South Africa to provide support through offering temporary positions for fleeing Ukrainian scientists and possibilities for Ukraine-based students to finish their studies. This especially concerns African students where the South African government is obliged to take vigorous action to ensure the safety, possibility of repatriation, and availability of alternative educational opportunities.

  • It must be remembered that South Africa benefitted significantly from international solidarity, which contributed to the peaceful transition from apartheid. Now it is our time to show solidarity in the fight for fundamental values.

  • Finally, we strongly oppose governmental attempts to silence research bodies in South Africa, instructing not to engage in activities that could be construed as a political commentary or political reaction to the developments in Ukraine. The freedom of speech is a constitutional right of everyone, and we affirm the right of South African scientists and institutions to speak out following their conscience. We urge the research entities to not allow being censored.

Signed:
Iurii Sushch, Associate Professor, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
Markus Böttcher, Professor and NRF SARChI Chair of Astrophysics and Space Physics, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
Hartmut Winkler, Professor, Department of Physics, University of Johannesburg
Martin Bucher, Fractional Professor of Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; Member, ASSAf; CNRS Directeur de recherche, Paris, France
Andrew Chen, Professor, School of Physics, University of the Witwatersrand
Robert Warmbier, Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics, University of Johannesburg
Soebur Razzaque, Professor and Director, Centre for Astro-Particle Physics (CAPP), Department of Physics, University of Johannesburg
Yaroslav Syrota, Postdoctoral fellow, School of Biological Sciences, North-West University
Nukri Komin, Professor, School of Physics, University of the Witwatersrand
Pranjupriya Goswami, Postdoctoral fellow, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
Anton Dmytriiev, Postdoctoral fellow, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
David Buckley, Affiliate Professor, Department of Physics, University of the Free State and Honorary Research Associate, Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town
Ian Glass, Associate Research Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
Bryan Doyle, Associate Professor, University of Johannesburg
Marlina Elburg, Professor and Head of Department, Department of Geology, University of Johannesburg
Patricia Whitelock, Honorary Professor, Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town
Sarah Blyth, Associate Professor, Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town
Thomas Jarrett, Professor and NRF SARChI Chair of Astrophysics and Space Physics, Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town
Charmaine Arderne, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Johannesburg
Russ Taylor, Professor and SKA Research Chair, University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape; Director, Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy
Pieter Meintjes, Professor, Department of Physics, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State
Derck P Smits, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of South Africa
Christo Venter, Professor and Research Director, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
Mario Santos, Professor and SARChI chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of the Western Cape
Katlego Moloto, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
Oleg Smirnov, Professor and SKA SARChI chair, Rhodes University and South African Radio Astronomy Observatory
Anja Visser, lecturer in Education and member of Education and Human Rights in Diversity Research, Faculty of Education, North-West University
Annamagriet de Wet, Senior Lecturer Education Law, Faculty of Education, North-West University
Jan Dirk Kramers, Professor, Geology Department, University of Johannesburg
Sreejith P Babu, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, North-West University
Petro Du Preez, Professor in curriculum studies, North-west university
Landman Bester, Data Scientist, South African Radio Astronomy Observatory
Ernest van Dyk, Professor, Department of Physics, Nelson Mandela University
Anu Kundu, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Space Research, North-West University
Retha Pretorius, Staff Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory
Micky Josipovic, Senior Lecturer, Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group/Chemical Resource Beneficiation (CRB), North-West University
David Kilkenny, Extraordinary Professor, Dept Physics & Astronomy, University of the Western Cape
Renée C. Kraan-Korteweg, Emeritus Professor, FRSSAf, MASSAf, Astronomy Department, University of Cape Town
Angus Comrie, Senior Researcher, Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy
Matthew Bershady, South African Research Chair, SAAO, Adjunct Full Professor, Astronomy, University of Cape Town
Kavilan Moodley, Professor, Astrophysics Research Centre, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Gareth Amery, Associate Professor, Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Maths., Stats. and Comp. Sci., University of KwaZulu-Natal
Enrico J. Kotze, Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory
Rosalind Skelton, SALT Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory
Kesh Govinder, Professor of Applied Mathematics, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Jacinta Delhaize, Lecturer, Astronomy Department, University of Cape Town
Michael Backes, Extraordinary Associate Professor, Centre for Space Research, North-West University & Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Material Science, University of Namibia & Member Global Young Academy
Thomas Konrad, Professor of Physics, School of Chemistry and Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Moumita Aich, Contract senior-lecturer/Honorary research associate, Astrophysics Research Centre, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Krish BharuthRam, Professor Emeritus, School of Chemistry and Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Alan Matthews, Associate Professor of Physics, School of Chemistry and Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Anslyn J John, Lecturer, Department of Physics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
James Raftery, Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, University of Pretoria
Filippus S Roux, Scientist, photonics at the National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA)
Simon H Connell, Professor of Physics, Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg
Hannah Worters, Astronomer, South African Astronomical Observatory

For those willing to join the open letter, please contact iurii.sushch@gmail.com.