The Action Committee for Artists Rights (ACAR) of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) follows with shock and grief the escalating mutual atrocities between Israel and the Hamas Organization in the Gaza Strip. We are mostly worried by the horrendous acts of lynching, vandalism, destruction and arson performed by extremist nationalist Jewish and Arab groups within the ethnically mixed towns throughout Israel. We call upon artists from both parties, as well as colleagues worldwide, to strongly condemn these actions fueled by blind racist and religious hatred that not only undermine the fragile co-existence between Jews and Arabs in the country, in general, and the cooperation in the field of Performative Arts in particular, but present a threat to Peace and tolerance in the entire area.
The facts and findings on the negative effects of the pandemic are pointing towards a “potential global cultural catastrophe … with severe, long-lasting consequences for cultural rights and other human rights.” At the moment, when culture was increasing valued as coping mechanism, means of building resilience, artists and cultural workers experienced increasing difficulties to continue their work.
The office of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner developed a special web site for cultural rights in global crises with the recent reports and other relevant events and information.
Freemuse has published its annual report on worldwide oppression of artists and freedom of artistic expression. In 2020, 26% of all documented restrictions of artistic freedom – 978 cases in 89 countries and online – took place in Europe, followed by 22% in North and South America, 19% in the Middle East and North Africa, 15% in Asia and Pacific, 9% in Africa and 9% Online. 17 artists were killed, 82 were imprisoned and 133 detained. “This year’s report illustrates increasing misuses of blasphemy, anti-terrorism legislation, and COVID-19 measures as pretexts, to silence dissident voices of artists and artworks” commented Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director.
Download the report here
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed some of the greatest threats to artistic freedom and cultural rights in recent memory. On February 3rd, Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America, together with UNs Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights Karima Bennoune, are launching the Safety Guide for Artists. The guide aimes to help artists navigate and overcome risks and better understand their work within the framework of human rights defense.
The launch features also a panel discussion with photojournalist, teacher and activist Shahidul Alam, director of Belarus Free Theatre Natalia Koliada, and director of Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Culture Resource) Helena Nassif. The conversation will draw upon the 2020 report of the Special Rapporteur and explore how art can be levied in the fight for human rights and how artists can be better protected against human rights violations.
Download the guide – PDF, 155 pages (en, fr, es)
Freemuse has developed with artists an online toolkit which provides information, best practice and advice for artists rights, especially in the digital sphere.
It gives also a good overview on additional resources, organizations and platforms.
The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, has published her annual report , which relates for the first time cultural rights with climate change. The report will be presented Thursday, 22 October, tentatively at 15:00, New York time. The presentation will be broadcasted via UN webtv. One day before, on 21 October, between 13:15 – 14:45 EDT Karima Bennoune will hold a a webinar addressing the theme of her report, entitled “Climate change and cultural extinction: A Human Rights Crisis”.
Benoune states in her introduction: “The mandate on cultural rights was established to protect not culture and cultural heritage per se, but rather the conditions allowing all people, without discrimination, to access, participate in and contribute to cultural life through a process of continuous development. These conditions are greatly jeopardized by the climate emergency.”
All relevant actors are requested to develop “a human rights-based global action plan to save the cultures of humanity and protect cultural rights from the climate emergency”. Engagement is needed in capacity-building on environmental issues for cultural rights defenders and on cultural rights issues for environmental human rights defenders and others. Further joint initiatives and advocacy campaigns should bring these sectors together.
The report can be downloaded here.