Category Archives: personal case

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

Germany refuses visa for Nigerian actors

The international festival for children and youth theatre “Starke Stücke” in Germany had invited the theatre group KiNiNso Koncepts from Lagos (Nigeria) with their play “Sandscapes”. The play was co-produced with the Goethe Institute Lagos, the German cultural institute which itself is founded by the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The visa applications from 6 members of the group – Tolu Aina, Joy Akrah, Jubril Gbadamosi, Anifiok Inyang, Michael Ajimati, Abisoye Kadiku – were rejected by the German embassy on January 20th. To provide evidence of their family and economic rootings in Nigeria the artists delivered more than 10 different documents, among them bank statements of the company, Letter of reference, guarantee and assurance from a lawyer, invitation letters to the ASSITEJ world congress as well as from the British Council. Regardless of all appeals, no visa were permitted. “I wonder whether such cases are still bureaucracy or already lived everyday racism” commented Stefan Fischer-Fels, artistic director of Junges Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf and vice president of ASSITEJ international at his festival opening speech. “It is unacceptable that we build walls that even the artists can not overcome.”

“What thoughts and feelings did this visa incident invoke in you and your colleagues?” answers from Joshua Alabi,  Artistic & Creative Director KiNiNso-koncepts Productions, Lagos to German journalist Elena Philipp.

Source: KJTZ – Centre for children and youth theatre in Germany, Starke Stücke festival

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.”

Abu Sakha one year in administrative detention

To reject Abu Sakha’s petition for a fair trial after one year of administrative detention without charge the Supreme court hearing took only 15 minutes on 5th December. His re-appeal June this year ended with an extention of 6 months. A delegation of 15 representatives from the Palestinian Circus School, the EU and several NGOs like Amnesty International and Terre des Hommes Italy attended the hearing.

Around 580 Palestinians are presently held by Israel under administrative detention, as Amnesty International reports. AI calls on Israel to stop the usage of administrative detention and to release all conscience prisoners immediately and unconditionally. On January 27 the EU office in Jerusalem made also an official statement and expressed its concern towards Israel about the extensive use of administrative detention without formal charge.

The Palestinian Circus School calls all supporterts to contact the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic representations to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the EU representation offices to put pressure on Israel to stop the arbitrary use of administrative detention and free all Palestinian administrative detainees or give them the right to a fair trial.

Silvanos Mudzvova abducted and tortured

mudzvovaThe 38-year-old theatre artist and activist from Harare (Zimbabwe) has been arrested in April this year for staging his play “Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share”.  Mudzova was abducted by six armed men from his home late in the evening on 13 September 2015. They drove him out of the capital city and brutally tortured him.  “They targeted me as I am responsible for the creative side of a movement called Tajamuka and was also acting as its spokesperson” Mudzvova told Freemuse from his hospital bed. The group Tajamuka has been involved in calling into question various governmental measures over, among other things, policing, unemployment, the country’s cash crisis and an accounting of the $15 billion President Mugabe recently said went missing from mining operations. The group is also in the final stages of submitting an application to the International Criminal Court addressing cases of abduction and political violence.

Sources: Freemuse, Daily News (Harare, Zimbabwe), News24