Category Archives: Middle East

Mohammed Abu Sakha released on 30 August

After after spending 625 days in an Israeli prison without charge or trial (see ACAR posts 1, 2, 3, and 4) , Mohammed Abu Sakha, trainer and performer at Palestinian Circus School was released on 30 August and returned to his family. He was arrested at an Israeli checkpoint on 14 December 2015 on his way to work at the Palestinian Circus School, and held since then under a series of administrative orders. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency accused him of being a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the Jewish state considers a terrorist group because of its armed wing. Abu Sakha denied the allegations and said Israeli forces never told him the exact reason for his arrest or how long he would be detained. His imprisonment had sparked a high-profile campaign for his release, with support from circus performers and activists around the world, with Amnesty international calling for him to be “charged with a crime or released”.

“It’s shocking to see how someone can be imprisoned for 21 months, without charge, and at the end be released without being charged with any crime at all. They took away 21 months of his life, and 21 months from those that needed him.” (Shadi Zmorrod, founder of the Palestinian Circus School).

Abu Sakha’s release came against the backdrop of a stark rise in the number of those newly detained without charge or trial by Israel.

Sources: Amnesty International, Middle East Eye, The Times of Israel

 

27 May, Nörrköpping: ACAR-Seminar “Artistic Expression as Political Manifestation”

“Theatre as Resistance – artistic expression as political manifestation” is a public seminar, organized by Scensverige (former Teaterunionen) in the framework of the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts 2017 in Norrköping.
In 2016, the number of offenses against artistes and crimes against artistic freedom around the world doubled according to a recent report. The seminar presents the facts surrounding this together with Jonatan Stanczak, The Freedom Theatre Jenin, Natalia Koliada, Belarus Free Theatre and Abduljaebbar Alsuhili, comedian, actor and activist from Yemen.
The seminar is arranged in collaboration with Kulturhuset Stadsteatern and ITI’s Action Committe for Artists Rights.
Date: Saturday May 27, 10:00-11:45. Place: Louis De Geer Konsert & Kongress, Nörrköping, Sweden.
Source and info at Scensverige

ITI concerned about dismissals in Turkey

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.”
Letter to Turkish Government

update: Read also the statement of the Turkish section of the  International Association of Theatre Critics and from the Executive Committee of the International Federation for Theatre Research

DECLARATION BY THE THEATRE DEPARTMENT OF ANKARA UNIVERSITY

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.”

Turkey’s state of emergency

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.