Amon Amarth vocalist Johan Hegg called out the UFC yesterday over their choice not to ban Russian fighters. Hegg said that athletes represent their country, and not banning Russian fighters “is to support Putin.” Which of course drew some varied opinions across the Internet.
Now Hegg has clarified his statement, saying that if the fighters still present in the UFC don’t speak up against the war, “then why should they escape sanctions when people actually protesting the war in Russia, at the risk of being imprisoned or worse, do not?” Though I’d imagine being Russian and against the war right now is a little difficult, considering the immediate and severe consequences people in the country are facing when speaking ill of their government’s choices.
“I feel I have to clarify my point of view. I love watching [the UFC], and I have nothing but respect for the skill and dedication of the athletes competing in the octagon.
“What is happening right now in Ukraine is a tragedy. It’s the biggest war we’ve seen in Europe since WWII. Two weeks ago Putin made an unprovoked attack on Ukraine. A democratic, sovereign nation. In doing so he caused the biggest humanitarian catastrophe in modern history. 1.5 million people has fled the war so far.
“Putin‘s armies are committing war crimes such as shelling residential areas, hospitals and even firing on civilians trying to flee. So far over 30 children have been killed in this war. More than 70 wounded. Putin has repeatedly broken cease fire agreements, basically luring people out of their shelters only to hit them with artillery.
“Am I angry and frustrated? Yes.
“This war doesn’t only threaten and affect Ukraine. Putin has threatened to invade Finland and Sweden. He threatens the whole of Europe. Ukraine will not be able to export wheat and other crops during the invasion, which will have consequences for Middle Eastern and African nations that depend heavily on the Black Sea region for food. World Food Programme (WFP) executive director David Beasley has warned that the ‘world cannot afford to let another conflict drive the numbers of hungry people even higher.’ Putin has threatened the world, including the US with Nuclear weapons.
“Is it fair to target Russian fighters/athletes with sanctions? I think it is. It’s not that I want to hurt them personally, but there is no middle ground here. Athletes have influence. If they don’t want to speak up against this war, then why should they escape sanctions when people actually protesting the war in Russia, at the risk of being imprisoned or worse, do not?
“You don’t have to agree with me, I don’t expect everyone to do so, but in my opinion the world has to put enough pressure on Putin and his regime that he will end this war.”
Hegg‘s entire statement was across a handful of tweets, which can be found here. You can also check out our growing list of metal and rock bands putting out music and merch to support the Ukrainian people here.
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