Category Archives: Asia/Pacific

Chinese Performance Artist Chen Yunfei for 4 years in prison

The Wuhou District PChen Yunfeieople’s Court in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, convicted Chen Yunfei, 49, for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and sentenced him to four years in prison, reported Human Rights Watch on 31 March 2017. The conviction of Chen Yunfei related to tweets critical of the Chinese government and his various performance art projects, including one in which Chen Yunfei called the police to report an “illegal gathering,” which turned out to be a government conference. Police had detained Chen Yunfei in March 2015, after he organized a memorial service for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Chen has suffered a near 2 year long pre-trial detention and he was tortured twice for violating the rules of the detention center. One of the original charges against Chen – “inciting subversion of state power” – was dropped from the indictment in March 2016.
Voice Project has an online petition.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Artsfreedom

Singapore M1 Fringe Festival “Art & Skin” censored

Thea Fitz-James’ Naked Ladies (Photo – Thea Fitz-James)

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.”

Sources: Artsfreedom, The Straits Times,  The Online Citizen

Toolkit on Artistic Freedom of Expression published in Turkey

The toolkit was prepared by Siyah Bant and Istanbul Bilgi University Human Rights Law Research Center and contains suggestions for Turkish artists and art institutions on how to pursue legal remedies when their right to artistic freedom is violated. The toolkit comprises two sections. The first part, “Legal Framework,” outlines the basic parameters of the freedom of expression in the arts as well as information about Turkish and international legislation regarding the freedom of artistic expression. The second part, “Practical Information and Recommendations,” contains sample cases adapted from actual stories of censorship, and roadmaps that artists and arts institutions can follow when they encounter repression of their rights to freedom of expression.
A digital copy of the toolkit in Turkish is available for download at the website of Siyah Bant.

Source: Siyah Bant press relaease

Director of Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater fired for insulting religious feeelings

novosibirskThe Wagner opera “Tannhauser”, which was updated for a contemporary audience by director Timofei Kulyabin, was premiered in December 2014. The Novosibirsk Orthodox Diocese has called on the Federal Security Service, Prosecutor General and Investigative Committee to conduct an objective investigation into the activities of anyone connected with the “Tannhauser” production. End of March, Boris Mezdrich, the director of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater has been fired by Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky. The minister appointed the director general of St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatrer, Vladimir Kekhman, as the new director.
Many theaters from across the nation have sent their letters to Novosibirsk law enforcement agencies and officials, voicing support for the production. The independent Teatr.doc, raided by police in December last year (and luckily celebrating a house warming party at their new address at Razgulyay Sqare in February) organized a solidarity action for “Freedom of creativity” on April 5th in Moscow.

Sources: The Moscow TimesRussia Beyond the Headlines

UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights: Report on the visit to Viet Nam now available

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, on her visit to Viet Nam (18 – 29 November 2013), is now available at the UN HR site under the symbol number (A/HRC/28/57/Add.1). Comments submitted from the Government of Viet Nam are also available, under the symbol number A/HRC/28/57/Add.2.
Special Rapporteur Farida Shaheed will present this report at the Human Rights Council on 11 March 2015, in Geneva.

“Did you get permission?” B-Floor Theatre Group in Bangkok under pressure

bangTheir solo theater performance “Bang La Merd” was premiered 2012, very well received and won several awards. Bang La Merd, ((“District of Violiation”) portrays the violation of rights in Thai society. After three years, the show returned on stage. Before the press preview, a military officer demanded for a written permission though there is no such law requiring a theatre company to do so. Since 20 January, every performance has been observed by three military officers who video- recorded the shows. The show received a lot of support from many media and parties, including human rights and political officers from the UN and the European Union. The hashtag #SupportThaiTheatre spread on social media, along with the sarcastic #ขออนุญาตรึยัง, meaning “did you get permission?” “Bang La Merd” will run until February 9.
Sources to follow: asiacorrespondent, bankogkpost 1, bankogkpost 2B-Floor Theatre