Impact of the Pandemic on Human Rights

For their next thematic reports to the UN General Assembly or the Human Rights Council, the effects of the COVID19 crisis will be closely analysed. A questionnaire will assist the human rights experts to obtain information and elaborate comprehensive recommendations on the measures taken by national, federal and local governments to protect their population and ensure the enjoyment of human rights, including particular groups at risk of discrimination or social exclusion. It consists of a section with joint questions for all mandates, and specific questions for each mandate. The report on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the exercise of cultural rights and on the role of culture and cultural rights in responding to the pandemic will be presented by Karima Bennoune in March 2021. The joint questionnaire can be consulted and downloaded online and should be sent electronically no later than 19 June 2020.

Albanian National Theatre Demolished

On Sunday, May 17, the historic National Theatre in Tirana has been demolished. Since 2018, artists and citizens have staged the longest active protest in the history of Albania to protect the theatre from demolition by the government (see ACAR posts 1, 2)  The government moved in amidst the emergency situation and lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus crisis. Resisting citizens, sitting in front of the theatre, were removed and detained. The Albanian National Theater is officially part of Europa Nostra’s 7 Most Endangered European Heritage Sites list for 2020.

Albania’s President Ilir Meta has called the demolition of the National Theatre by his own government “a constitutional, legal and moral crime that cannot be granted amnesty.”, done by the Mafia. The decision to demolish Albania’s National Theatre was approved in secret and was not on the agenda for the meeting of the Tirana Municipal Council.

Sources: exit news 1, 2, 3, 4; Europa Nostra, video 

Yulia Tsvetkova is the Freedom of Expression Awards Arts Fellow 2020

The 20th Freedom of Expression Awards were held online on Thursday 16th April as a digital celebration. The Russian theater director, visual artist, and activist from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Yulia Tsvetkova (see our posts 1, 2),  has been awarded the 2020 Freedom of Expression Award Arts Fellow. Index on Censorship works with the fellows during the awarding year to provide long-term, structured support. 

The other 2020 fellows are: Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei (campaigning); Turkish lawyer Veysel Ok (campaigning); 7amleh (digital activism) and OKO press (journalism).

Watch Yulia’s statement here

Where does Freedom of speech remain?

Governments have introduced drastic measures against the COVID-19 outbreak, suspending many fundamental freedoms and rights until further notice.

This discussion, originally planned for the IETM Plenary Meeting in Tromsø, took place as an interactive webinar on 24 April with Sara Whyatt, researcher on freedom of artistic expression and human rights, UK, Sina Saberi, Kakeshan, Iran, Israel Aloni, Ildance, Sweden/Australia, Salil Tripathi, Writer, Chair: Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International, India/USA. Moderator: Pelin Başaran,  Siyah Bant, UK/Turkey.

Watch on Youtube (1:27)

Plans for closed borders

Horizons threaten to close for international artistic mobility: On Monday, April 20, President Trump tweeted that he intends to suspend legal immigration to the U.S. indefinitely.

Although they are part of Schengen Territory, Czech Republic’s President Milos Zeman has suggested that all borders of the country should remain sealed off for a year, in order to prevent another surge of infections in the country. The Czech Republic has all air border controls in place as well as land border controls with Austria and Germany, set to expire on April 24, 2020.

Sources: Tamizdat, schengen visa info 

 

State of Artistic Freedom Report 2020

To celebrate World Art Day 2020 (April 15), Freemuse is launching the State of Artistic Freedom Report and discuss the current state for arts and culture in 2020. The digital seminar live stream will be available at YouTube (9 am – 10:45 am CET). You may  live join the live discussion on Twitter at #artisticfreedomSAF20

“This report shows that the west is losing its leading position as human rights and freedom defenders at a fast pace, while the world grows intolerant and violent against non-mainstream views and expression” (Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director).

After the launch the Report will be available for download on Freemuse.org.