Regarding the dismissal of professors and research assistants of the theatre department of the Ankara University ACAR wrote to the Turkish government: “We, representing the international theatre community in many countries, express our deep concern about these dismissals of colleagues – professors as well as all the many Turkish artists and intellectuals being suspected and threatened within the past months.
We urgently ask your government to reconsider this decision.”
Seven members of Ankara University’s theatre department have been dismissed and claimed as threats to national security. The members of the Theatre Department published the following protest statement.
“Ankara University, Theatre department professors, namely Prof. Dr. Selda Berk Öndül, Prof. Dr. Tülin Sağlam, Prof. Dr. Beliz Güçbilmez, Dr. M. Elif Çongur and the research assistants Ceren Özcan and Şamil Yilmaz have been exported from duty by the new Decree-law No 686. With Assoc. Prof. Dr. Süreyya Karacabey, who had been exported before by the Decree-Law No. 679, seven of our colleagues who form the majority of our department have been expelled from work in government offices. As a result, the undergraduate programs of our department have received an irrepairable blow and the post-graduate programs are almost out of the question.
The exportation of our professors, who have invaluable works and undeniable contributions to the theatre world of Turkey, by the laws which, by definition, pertain to only those who “are connected with or are members of or partake in terror organizations, groups, organisms or organizations or other structures which are claimed by the National Security Council as threats to our national security” is inexplicable and wrong as far as justice and conscience are concerned.
This exportation process spreading in the Higher Education System, ie., in the majority of universities in Turkey via the new decree-laws has turned into a clearance or liquidation operation. Governance of universities, which are supposed to be institutions of freedom of thought and expression, by decree-laws can by no means be accepted. It is undoubtedly obvious that this attitude will bear critical outcomes and give an irredeemable harm to our colleagues’ and to our department’s future, as well as to our university, to the academia in general and to our country. We here resolve to blame the Ankara University rectorate and demand that our colleagues be returned to their posts immediately.”
Freemuse released today its new report on artistic freedom violations in 2016. The number of cases registered in 2016 more than doubled the amount in 2015, increasing by 119%, rising from 469 attacks. Of those more than one thousand cases, Freemuse documented 188 total serious violations of artistic freedom and 840 acts of censorship. Iran tops the list of countries, followed by Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, China and Russia.
The festival ran from 4-15 January 2017. Two performances – Singaporean danceer Ming Poon’s ‘Undressing Room’ and Canadian Thea Fitz-James’ ‘Naked Ldies’ – were cut by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), stating that the works have exceeded the R18 rating. Poon’s performance is a “one-to-one performance where the performer and an audience-participant execute a ritual of undressing each other in total silence” and is done in private, without an audience. Fitz-James’ performance is a “lecture about the history of the naked female body”, which the artist delivers in the nude. Festival organisers decided against compromising on the artistic integrity of these works and stay convinced that the performances made “deliberate attempts to distinguish nudity from sexual connotations”.
A Festival press realases says “Through history, the arts have demonstrated its power to open minds and hearts, to transform and heal, and to inspire – if not effect – real, valuable change. We stand resolutely for this, and despite the hurdles that can seem daunting and sometimes enervating, we are not backing down from doing what the Fringe Festival does best: challenge all that is taken for granted as intransigent, unwavering and unforgiving.”
In Turkey, under state of emergency and long before, the freedom of expression has always been censored. Two recent collection have been published now: Freemuse presents with “Turkey – The Freemuse Files” a selection from hundreds of documents and publications on violations on artistic freedom from almost 20 years.
Siah Bant, the platform for artistic freedom of expression in Turkey and the journalist Elif İnce published for IFEX the special report “Peace is a no-go zone for artists in Turkey’s state of emergency”, referring especially to Kurdish artists.
To reject Abu Sakha’s petition for a fair trial after one year of administrative detention without charge the Supreme court hearing took only 15 minutes on 5th December. His re-appeal June this year ended with an extention of 6 months. A delegation of 15 representatives from the Palestinian Circus School, the EU and several NGOs like Amnesty International and Terre des Hommes Italy attended the hearing.
Around 580 Palestinians are presently held by Israel under administrative detention, as Amnesty International reports. AI calls on Israel to stop the usage of administrative detention and to release all conscience prisoners immediately and unconditionally. On January 27 the EU office in Jerusalem made also an official statement and expressed its concern towards Israel about the extensive use of administrative detention without formal charge.
The Palestinian Circus School calls all supporterts to contact the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic representations to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the EU representation offices to put pressure on Israel to stop the arbitrary use of administrative detention and free all Palestinian administrative detainees or give them the right to a fair trial.