Peace Bell in Mariupol Falls Silent

As the horrors of the Russian invasion of Ukraine continue to unfold, one bell stands in mute testimony to the resilience of the Ukrainian people: Mariupol’s Peace Bell.

In early March, the Russian Army encircled Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine along the north coast of the Sea of Azov, and laid siege. Relentless and indiscriminate bombing followed and still persists, trapping civilians in a waking nightmare. Food and water have grown scarce. Fuel, electricity, phone service, and internet access are nonexistent. Efforts at creating humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of women, children, and the elderly have sputtered and collapsed.

In the heart of Mariupol is Freedom Square, built as an idyllic community gathering place. Before the invasion, Freedom Square embodied Mariupol’s path from confrontation to peace and development. At one end of the square, a single bronze bell hangs between two stone plinths. Called the Peace Bell, it rings to remind of the past and inspire the future.

It now hangs silently. In an act of dignified defiance of the brutality of war, the Mariupol city council has vowed that the bell will only ring again when all invading forces have left the country. In lieu of a rich, bellowing toll, the council has asked everyone to honor one minute of silence every morning at 9:00am, a solemn tribute to the memory of Ukrainians who have lost their lives defending their land.

Cover image: The Peace Bell at Freedom Square in Mariupol, Ukraine. Courtesy: Mariupol City Council.