By Kung Chan
The intense exchange of fire between the Russian and the Ukrainian forces at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been a worrying development. Video reports show that the fierce battle between the two sides at the site has caused fire to break out and thick smoke was seen rising. It has also been reported that firefighters were shot, and they were unable to approach the area. Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear power plant with its six nuclear reactors is the largest in Europe. Fearful of the consequences, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been standing by 24 hours a day.
The plight at Zaporizhzhia is of great concern worldwide, and it indicates that the war between the two sides has actually threatened the security of the whole Europe, affecting thousands of people who have nothing to do with the war. The fighting is still ongoing as this is written. In order to resolve potential humanitarian disasters, I call on the international community to support the establishment of a joint safety zone to include nuclear power plants, cultural heritage, hospitals, museums, kindergartens, churches, etc. for protection.
This joint security zone should be, in essence, jointly established by the two parties; and no matter which party manages it, it should be respected by the other. The zone should be unarmed, and the armed forces of the two sides are prohibited from fighting in the area, or even from entering it with weapons. It should have a special, easily recognizable flag and a specific symbol. A conscious attack on the joint security zone should be automatically regarded as a war crime by the United Nations and all countries in the world.
Whether such a vision can be realized remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I call on the world to pay attention to this matter and make it a reality. Thousands of innocent children and women, and artifacts that have lasted for centuries and millennia have been affected or even perished because of wars. The destruction born out of war is something that is irrational, and can never be forgiven. Therefore, I hope that people on both sides of the war, and their politicians, will show the moral courage to face the common crisis of mankind and support the establishment of a joint security zone.
We are now in the 21st century, and accordingly even in a war, the parties involved should really show their civility of this age.