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
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
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)
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
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.
The 2020 reports of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, to the Human Rights Council have been published. The Special Rapporteur will be presenting these reports to the Council on Tuesday, 3 March, tentatively at 16:00, Geneva time. The presentation will be available as live-webcast at the UN- website.
Cultural rights defenders – Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
Assorted Country reports and special reports (conflict and post-conflict situations and communications with governments) are available on the website of the 43rd session of the HRC (scroll down to A/HRC/43/50/Add.1 ff)
Source: SR Cultural Rights OHCHR mailout 02/25/2020