We are pleased that we were able to secure the Ukrainian human rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk for the Speech to Europe 2023, which marked the beginning of this year's Wiener Festwochen program. After a three-year hiatus, the event returns to the Judenplatz in Vienna, where Yale historian and IWM Permanent Fellow Timothy Snyder delivered the first Speech to Europe in 2019.
Oleksandra Matviichuk’s organization Center for Civil Liberties was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022. Under the banner No Peace without Freedom, no Justice without Law, she underlined the importance of international solidarity and resistance against injustice:
“Those who survived the Second World War mourned the dead, rebuilt what had been destroyed, and established institutions to ensure international security. The recurring refrain of "Never again!" evoked the dramatic lessons of history. Yet today a war of aggression, destruction, and bloodshed is again raging in Europe, confronting us with the same question we asked ourselves eight decades ago: Are we willing to accept that military power dictates the rules of the game, or will we fight to protect people and their freedom through law? Our answer to this question determines our future.“
Oleksandra Matviichuk is a human rights defender who works on issues in Ukraine and the OSCE region. Time Magazine named her one of the most influential people of 2023. At present, she heads the human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties and also coordinates the work of the initiative group Euromaidan SOS. The activities of the Center for Civil Liberties are aimed at protecting human rights and establishing democracy.
Since the beginning of Russian aggression in Ukraine, the initiative has been monitoring political persecution in occupied Crimea, documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity during the hybrid war in the Donbas, and conducting international campaigns to release political prisoners detained by the Russian authorities. Together with other partners, Oleksandra Matviichuk created the “Tribunal for Putin” initiative in order to document international crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in all regions of Ukraine which became the targets of attacks of the Russian Federation.
In 2022, the Center for Civil Liberties received the Nobel Peace Prize.
A recording of the event is available here: