In the wake of February’s national holiday, prominent prisoners in particular were released from prison. Tens of thousands remain in prison and arrests continue. Newly detained are four actors: Ali Baraghbani, Ramin Ramezanian, Hossein Padegan and Masih Kamali. This brings our list of arrested theater artists in Iran to 45. In the meantime, 15 have been released from prison after several months of imprisonment, 6 of them only temporarily.
March 8 is International Women’s Day. While the world public is following with disgust and indignation the recent series of poison attacks against girls’ schools in Iran, the 2nd Sahebdlan International Theater Festival in Iran invites in an email to the national ITI centers for March 7 to an online debate under the motto: „Human rights according to the Qur’an in the production of dramatic literature“. The ITI centers from Czech Republic, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland Uganda and USA, which are active in the Artists Rights Committee, declare together with the German centre: We received the call of the Sahebdlan International Theatre Festival with astonishment. We strongly reject the invitation to discuss human rights within the framework of the Qur’an in drama on the eve of International Women’s Day, while dozens of our Iranian performing arts colleagues are being held in prison or threatened with death for expressing their protest against arbitrariness, murder and state terror. We stand in solidarity with all people on stage and in the auditorium, on the street and in the universities, against the bloody violence perpetrated by the Iranian state against women and children in the name of the Qur’an!
Since 2003, high school education for artists has been abolished in Greece. In mid-December 2022, Presidential Decree 85 was announced, signed by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou. It stipulates that all graduates of theater colleges, dance schools and film schools are considered employees who have completed secondary education only. Thus, theater artists in Greece do not have access to master’s degrees in their disciplines. Foreign master’s or doctoral degrees are no longer recognized. They only have access to the lowest level of unemployment benefits and salaries are no longer determined by collective agreements but by ministerial decisions.
For more than 40 days, the drama schools of the National Theater, the National Theater of Northern Greece and the Municipal Theater of Patras have been occupied by their students. Theaters in several major cities of the country meanwhile went on strike, thousands demonstrated in the streets of Athens under the slogan: “The attack on art is an attack on freedom”.
ITI Germany has signed a solidarity address to Greek theatre artists, initiated by the Berlin based GRIPS theatre: “We hereby support the demands of the actors, directors, teachers of performing arts in Greece who have been protesting for over 40 days against the Dec. 17, 22, Presidential Decree 85. Presidential Decree 85 in Greece and have occupied theaters and universities in Greece: -The removal of the current classification of performing artists from Presidential Decree 85. -The establishment of a public university for performing arts free of charge for all students -A final solution to the problem of the status of the diplomas issued from 2003 to this establishment -Tariff agreements for the private theater and audiovisual sectors, as well as for Greece’s regional municipal theaters -A generous increase in public funding for the theater For the human right to art and theater in Greece!”
Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), founded 2005 in Iran, is a NGO which aims to promote, safeguard and sustain human rights in Iran. Since 2010 HRAI is registered as non-profit organization in the U.S.
The 62 pages report, published December 26, is based on 1.3342 cases, gathered from 267 news sources during 2022 [January 1st to December 20th]. 55% of reports analysed came from sources gathered and reported by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), HRAI’s press association. 13% came from official Iranian government sources or sources close to the government. 32% of reports came from other human rights news agencies. The report has 13 chapters on different fields of Human Rights, as ethnic and religious rights, education, work and trade unions, children, women, gender and sexual minorities. The cases are also sorted by months and regions.
The chapter on violation of cultural rights reports 17 cases. This included reports of 7 arrests, 27 individuals summoned to judicial and security organizations, 4 trials held, 1 house search, 4 cases of obstruction and interference with publications, 1 case of stopping an event and speech, 2 cases of confiscation of property and belongings. In this category, arrests have increased by 16% compared to the previous year.
6.311 reports of violations against freedom of thought and expression have been registered. These violations included 2.2655 individuals arrested.
ACAR’S list of arrested Iranian theatre artists grows to 41 names: The revolution court of Tehran has announced 6 years jail sentence for Shiva Shabani, film and theater actress. She was arrested in early November in connection with nationwide protests and released on bail later that month.
Shabani was sentenced to five years for “assembly and collusion against national security” and an additional year for “propaganda against the state”. In addition to the six-year prison sentence, there is a two-year ban on leaving the country, a two-year ban on membership of political organizations, a ban on publishing in print and digital media, and a two-year ban on working in theatre and film.
The HRW World report looks at the state of human rights and covers nearly 100 countries. Besides the crises arise and authoritarian governments deepen their assault on human rights, HRW’s Acting Executive Director Tirana Hassan writes that 2022 revealed a “fundamental shift in power in the world that opens the way for all concerned governments to push back against…abuses by protecting and strengthening the global human rights system.”
The 712-page world report can be downloaded in total or browsed by country at the HRW website.