personal cases

Ukraine: Appeal for the release of Pavlo Yurov and Denis Hryshchuk     15/05/2014, 10:53

Pavlo Yurov and Denis Hryshchuk, two Ukrainian theatre artists, are being detained by separatists in Sloviansk, Ukraine since April 25. There is apperantly no contact to both of them since that day. The East European Performing Arts Platform has published an appeal for immediate release of Pavlo and Denis. The appeal can be supported by eMail.


Jörg Albrecht granted passage home     15/05/2014, 10:39

After stunning efforts by the German embassy and an online petition which gathered more than 6.000 signatures within 24 hours the German playwright and author Jörg Albrecht has been granted passage home on Tuesday afternoon. Arabic Literature has an English summary.


German author and playwright Jörg Albrecht arrested at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair     12/05/2014, 10:37

Albrecht was arrested on the street near his hotel minutes after unintentionally  photographing  embassy  buildings  from  the outside. He was  imprisoned  by  the   Abu  Dhabi  secret  police  for  three  days. After realease without explanation he has not been  informed,  however,  whether he will have to return to prison or whether and when he will be allowed to leave Abu Dhabi. An open letter (english version) by artists and friends has been send to the Culture Minister of Abu Dhabi and a petition is online since Monday.


Mala Scena theatre in Zagreb under the threat of shutdown   29/05/2013, 15:15

Mala Scena theatre in Zagreb, Croatia is under the threat of shutdown, after 25 years of existence. The children and youth theatre is the only independent and privately owned theatre in Croatia and the only Croatian theatre that has toured all continents. The theatre has been founded by Ivica Šimić, artistic director and Secretary General of ASSITEJ, and PhD. Vitomira Lončar, theatre manager, actress and producer. Read their letter and send your support!

Respected Colleagues and dear Friends,

Mala Scena theatre in Zagreb, Croatia is under the threat of shutdown, after 25 years of existence.

Herby we appeal to the international theatre community and to theatre artists from all over the world, pleading for their support, hoping it will ensure survival of the theatre, enable continuity of our work as well as sheer existence of its founders and owners, Ivica Šimić, artistic director and Secretary General of ASSITEJ, and PhD. Vitomira Lončar, theatre manager, actress and producer.

Mala Scena is the only independent and privately owned theatre in Croatia that used its founders’ funds to build its own venue, as well the most successful one according to all standards of quality and quantity. Each year theatre produces at least three new shows for children of all ages, perform between 400 and 500 performances a year, and is the only Croatian theatre that has toured all continents and was invited to perform at the world’s landmark venues including Sydney Opera House, Kennedy Center in Washington, USA, Barbican Center in London, UK or Koen-ji theatre in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to that, Mala Scena has been in charge of several multicultural and intercultural international projects and continues to actively participate in international exchange.

Regardless of it all, The City of Zagreb, and the Mayor, through their Office for Culture, are doing all in their power to shutdown the theatre and stop the activities of its founders. Local politicians have been publishing falsified documents on Mala Scena’s ventures, threats have been made to both of its founders, and for over ten months the theatre has been scrutinized by different government inspections.

It is beyond any doubt that all aforementioned is an orchestrated retaliation campaign posed as well to silence the constant calls to end the corruption within both local cultural and municipal structures. Vitomira Lončar an accomplished scholar is writing a weekly blog exposing malpractices and corruption in both local authorities and different cultural institutions. Blog called ‘Slamka spasa’ quickly gained extreme popularity, threatening to change the ‘golden standard’ of an established ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy that has been ruling the local community for years.

In May 2012, Zagreb City Council’s president of the Culture Committee published a falsified report on the operations of Mala Scena in a local weekly and thus started an intimidation campaign. The city’s Office for Culture decided to revoke the consent to three year old Mala Scena’s annual reports; the theatre is being forced to produce additional proof of its day-to-day operations in the past three years, although City had no objection to any of the reports at the time of their original filing. Although Mala Scena complied, submitting absolutely all the available documentation, City claimed it can not audit the records and wanting to find Mala Scena in breach of its public funding contract which would inevitably force the theatre into bankruptcy and closing. On top of it all, theatre has been scrutinized by inspections of all kinds, from State Inspector’s Office to police and revenue officers. All of them have been investigating the operations of Mala Scena for months but in the end could not find any anomaly at all.

Regardless the fact that theatre Mala Scena accomplished all the tasks and fulfilled the program for which it was contracted in 2012, and regardless the fact that inspections of all kinds found no anomalies, Office for Culture refuses to pay its dues, one third of funding, from 2012 to the Theatre. Furthermore, Office for Culture imposed severe cuts to the public funding of Mala Scena in 2013 reducing it to a minimum insufficient for any let alone artistic work. The amount of public funds granted to Mala Scena in 2013 are well under the amount that theatre got in 1993, i.e. 20 years ago, regardless of the exceptional results achieved in the meantime. Needless to say, under these circumstances it is impossible for Mala Scena to continue its work, and is threatening the closing of the theater.

With the campaign for the closure of the Theater, Vitomira Loncar PhD, assistant professor, who spent past eight years at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, is disabled to be employed at the Academy in an undemocratic manner that the lower competence candidate got the position. In this way, her academic career and professional development are stopped.

Vitomira Loncar and Ivica Simic became persona non grata in the Croatian culture, Ivica Simic and his position of Secretary General of the World Center ASSITEJ is systematically suppresses and discredited, the public media spread misinformation and lies about the work and the work of the Theater in the manner of certain other long-past political time. Although we have sought the protection of the legal system, we have not got it.

The last option for the small theater scene for us as artists and people is the voice of the public both domestic and international.

Therefore, we kindly ask you to support Mala Scena theatre in it’s struggle for survival, support the right of the individual to publicly reveal all the pathology of actual cultural policy in Croatia, and with that enhance the democratization processes as well as strengthening Civil Society and supporting the freedom of speech in Croatia.

We would highly appreciate your written support, and kindly ask you to send your electronic letters to and your letters will be sent to Mala Scena and to the office of the Major of the City of Zagreb.

Thank you for your support

Ivica Šimić
Artistic director of theatre Mala Scena
Secretary General of ASSITEJ


To whom it may concern:

The Association of Professional Performing Artists of Ecuador, ASOESCENA, sympathizes with the theater group Malaescena. We believe that the harassment by political bodies to performing artists is totally inappropriate and constitute cause for complaint with the human rights organizations linked to the United Nations.

We urge the authorities in Zagreb to correct their actions. As an emergency action we are sending this letter with a copy to the International Theatre Institute  to whom we ask them to send observers to Croatia for hear the case.

Juan Manuel Valencia Hinestrosa


Cameroun – SOS: Filmmaker RICHARD DJIMELI kidnapped in Yaounde for a critical film     31/03/2013, 16:51

A young critical cameroonian filmmaker, Richard FOUOFIE DJIMELI, has been kidnapped in the night from the 23 to 24 march 2013 in his house in Yaounde/Cameroon. The act seems to be related with several anonymous messages he got the days before. He was threatened with death concerning a critical film «139…Les derniers prédateurs». Does anyone know more about this case? See also this article in French


Uganda deports British theatre producer over play exploring gay issues     15/02/2013, 21:07

The Guardian: British theatre producer David Cecil, arrested in Uganda in 2012 for staging a play with a homosexual protagonist, has been deported back to the UK, leaving behind his partner and two children.


ACAR protests against dismissal of Valery N. Raykov, general manager of the Saratov Youth Theatre     30/01/2013, 14:02

The local government of the Saratov region (Russia) removed the general manager of one of the most prominent Russian theatres without explanation. The dismission happened last October after a fire accident in the theatre. Valeriy Nickolayevich Raykov was leading the Saratov Youth Theatre named after Kisselev since 30 years to high national and international reputation. The theatre staff and many theatre artists in Russia and abroad are expressing their protest.

Alfira Arslanova, Secretary General, ITI-Russia:
“The dismissal took place after the fire in the theatre which happened in October last year, in spite of fire-prevention was found in accordance with norms and regulations and the theatre manager wasn’t charged with anything. The Governor of Saratov Region neither gave an official reply to the theatre nor considered it necessary to answer many appeals of prominent Russian and foreign professionals of performing arts in defense of a person who spent more than 30 years serving theatre famous in Russia and abroad for its productions.
There are letters from Professional Guild of Theatre Managers of Russia, Theatre Union of Russia, employees of Saratov Youth Theatre and stage director Matthias Langhoff. They are written by professionals in support of their colleague, whose prolonged absence from the theatre does only harm to both the theatre centre and theatre-lovers.

ITI Russian National Centre voices a protest against this kind of ill treatment of performing arts professionals on the part of bureaucracy and demands local authorities of Saratov Region to start dialogue”

Ann Mari Engel, President of ACAR and Vice President of the ITI in an open letter to the Governor of the Saratov Region:

“We want to join the Russian centre of the International Theatre Institute in its protest and request to reinstate V.N.Raykov in the position of theatre manager. We regard this arbitrary decision; made against the wishes of the theatre company, to be a violation of the freedom of the arts. We urge the authorities to start a constructive dialogue with the theatre and to listen to all the voices from the international theatre community.”


Alexander A.Kalyagin, President, People’s Artist of Russia
A.E.Polyankin, President, Professional Guild of Theatre Managers of Russia
(English translation)

Interational supporters: Letter from Matthias Langhoff (German/French director)


Zakaria Zubeidi and Nabil Al-Rae released     24/10/2012, 21:20

Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre was released on bail pending a court hearing on October 7th. Zubeidi was released after having spent almost five months in Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho. He has carried out two hunger strikes during his imprisonment, protesting against inhumane treatment and violation of rule of law. More than 3,000 people around the world have signed petitions calling for his release.

The Freedom Theatre’s press release 2012-10-02

Already on July 29 Nabil Al-Raee, The Freedom Theatre’s Artistic Director, pleaded guilty to amended charges of assisting Zakaria Zubeidi in 2010 with food, cigarettes and car drives, and once answering Zakaria’s question about presence of the Israeli army in the camp. Since Zakaria was not wanted by the Israeli army at the time, Nabil pleaded guilty to assisting a previously wanted person. The sentence was the time that Nabil served in detention plus a 3,000 shekel fine, suspended imprisonment of four months for one year.

The Freedom Theatre’s press release 2012-07-29


Concert for Rodolfo Cázares     24/10/2012, 21:06

Cultura Latina announced a concert for Rodolfo Cázares on 2 October in Vienna and offers a huge collection of links to other sources.

Help Rodolfo Cázares” on facebook.


Prohibited play in Zimbabwe     06/09/2012, 16:49

Human rights lawyers are now fighting to overturn the ban of “No Voice No Choice” by the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe who last week “prohibited and banned” the play, alleging that its contents were “inciteful and against the spirit of national healing and reconciliation”.

Lawyers Take on Censorship Board

Human rights lawyers are now fighting to overturn the ban of “No Voice No Choice” by the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe who last week “prohibited and banned” the play, alleging that its contents were “inciteful and against the spirit of national healing and reconciliation”. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), representing the celebrated playwright Tafadzwa Muzondo filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court challenging the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe’s decision.

The lawyers Tawanda Zhuwarara and Bellinda Chinowawa of ZLHR want the high court to issue an order interdicting the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe and its functionaries from preventing the staging of the performance at any venue in Zimbabwe and permit Muzondo and his Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project to perform the play at the Intwasa Arts Festival.

No Voice, No choice was expected to run at several Zimbabwean theatre halls and community centers as part of artists’ bid to spread the message of peace using theatre including at the forthcoming Intwasa Arts Festival scheduled for Bulawayo later this month.

Before its ban, the play had been to regional countries such as South Africa and Zambia, while locally it was staged in Harare, Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. “We are seating on 150 A2 full colour posters for Intwasa which were delivered to us yesterday but we cannot send them to Bulawayo where they are needed to advertise the show because there is an entry fee to the Bulawayo theatre”, commented Muzondo. Any further questions are referred to the lawyers.


Conductor Rodolfo Cazares held captive for over a year     13/07/2012, 16:40

The conductor Rodolfo Cazares who works with the city theatre orchestra of Bremerhaven (Germany)has been seized by Mexican Bandits one year ago. His family have paid four separate ransoms. They have been given no proof that he is alive.

English press report, German press report


Zakaria Zubeidi on hunger strike, Nabil Al-Raee’s detention extended     04/07/2012, 20:42

Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre who has been incarcerated in Jericho prison by the Palestinian Authority since the 13th of May, has initiated a hunger strike as he is continuing to be denied of his rights as stated in Palestinian law. On July 2nd Zakaria made a statement that was passed on by a recently released prisoner saying that if necessary he will continue the hunger strike until death. Nabil Al-Raee’s detention in Israeli prison has once again been extended. While the judge at the latest military court hearing on July 1st very clearly pointed out that Nabil was not suspected of any crime, his detention was still extended for 48 hours and now recently for another 4 days.

See The Freedom Theatre’s press relaease


Bolat Atabayev released from jail     04/07/2012, 19:52

The rumours have been proofed now. According to Kazakh newspaper “Respublika” from June 28, and Goethe Institute Almaty (July 4) Bolat Atabayev has been freed. The journalist and youth organization leader Zhanbolat Mamay who was arrested with him is still in prison.

Atabayev on a press conference after his relaease (language: Russian).


Theatre director and author Bolat Atabayev from Kazakhsatan arrested     18/06/2012, 13:38

On Friday, 15.06.2012, the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan arrested the well-known director and co-founder of Almaty’s German Theatre Bolat Atabaev together with the leader of the youth organization “Rukh pen til”, Zhanbolat Mamay.

Bolat Atabayev is also an activist of the opposition movement “Halyk Maidany”. Atabaev and Mamay are accused of alleged incitement of social discord which led to riots in Zhanaozen in December 2011. Both are are charged under Art. 164 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (incitement of social hatred.)

Bolat Atabayev is a major theatre figure in Kazakhstan. For over thirty years, the co-founder of the German Theatre in Almaty has trod an undaunted and perilous path within the Kazakh cultural landscape. In 1998 Bolat Atabayev was awarded the honorary title of “Artist of Merit of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” Atabaev dealt with the fates of the German minority even in times when ethnic Germans were still a taboo subject in the Soviet Union. During his stays in Germany he made contacts that he still maintains today; for instance with the director of the Theater an der Ruhr Roberto Ciulli, playwright Volker Schmidt, and film director Volker Schlöndorff. In his artistic work he is an open, critical opponent of the prevailing circumstances, for example handling taboo themes such as the genocide of the Volga Germans in Kazakhstan in his plays. Until 2003 Atabayev was a lecturer at the Kazakh National Academy of Arts in Almaty and from 2004 until 2007 chief director of the Almaty German Theatre. Since 2005 he has been director and head of his own theatre “Aksarai,” which he founded together with his theatre students. Atabayev is presently working on a Brecht piece.

Atabayev had been invited this August to Weimar to receive the Goethe Medal recognising his merits for German-Kazakh theatre relations and as a courageous fighter for democratic structures. This distinction has been awarded since 1955 to 329 figures from 61 countries, including Daniel Barenboim, Billy Wilder, John Le Carré and Ariane Mnouchkine, for outstanding services for the German language and international cultural relations.

The “Open Dialogue” Foundation is deeply concerned about worsening of repression in Kazakhstan and appeal to the international civil community to start a campaign of support and solidarity with the detainees and send requests to the local embassy offices in Kazakhstan with the requirement to explain the reason of arrest of the Goethe Prize winner Bolat Atabaev and the leader of the youth movement “Rukh pen til”, Zhanbolat Mamay.

The German film director and Oscar prize winner Volker Schlöndorff calls in an open letter to the responsible judge Nariman Begaliev for release of Bolat Atabaev.

In the name of ITI the vice President of the German ITI centre and artistic director of Theater an der Ruhr Roberto Ciulli has also send a letter of protest to the judge.

Sources:  open dialog foundation:, Goethe Institute: About the awardee Bolat Atabaev

video on Bolat Atabayev’s 60th birthday, and after his detention

Campaign Kazakhstan

Human Rights Commissioner of the German Foreign Office demands immediate freeing of Bolat Atabayev

Foreign Affairs Commission of the German Parliament protests

German artists committee to free Bolat Atabayev


Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre taken by Israeli army     12/06/2012, 10:07

Nabil Al-Raee, Artistic Director of The Freedom Theatre, was abducted in the early hours of June 6th by the Israeli army and is presently being held in the Jalameh detention centre north of Jenin, inside Israel. The interrogations at Jalameh and other military detention centres commonly involve inhuman treatment; sleep deprivation, psychological pressure and binding in painful positions.

More than half the employees of The Freedom Theatre were recently called to interrogations by the Israeli army. This is the Israeli army’s fourth attack on The Freedom Theatre, its employees and their families. On numerous occasions The Freedom Theatre has expressed its full cooperation in the investigation of the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis and has proved this cooperation by meeting every requested appointment.

The Freedom Theatre is urging all supporters of their theatre specifically and protectors of art and culture in general to call and e-mail the nearest Israeli representative office to demand the immediate release of Nabil Al-Raee (ID-number 906349162) and an end to the systematic harassment of the members of The Freedom Theatre.

Press release of the Freedom Theatre


Zakaria Zubeidi arrested again by Palestinian Authority 13th of May     12/06/2012, 09:56

Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder and avid supporter of The Freedom Theatre, was arrested by Palestinian security forces on the 13th of May and taken to Jericho prison. Since then Zakaria has not been allowed to meet his lawyer Farid Hawash or have any contact with his family.

According to his lawyer, Zakaria’s arrest has not followed due process since he should have been brought before a Jenin court and not taken away to Jericho. His right to communicate with his family after a maximum of 10 days has also been violated, as has his right to consult with a lawyer.

The freedom theatre is asking for support by contacting the local representativs of the Palestinian Authority and gives the teleophone numbers of the ministry of interior and the intelligence service.


Zakaria Zubeidi released after international campaign 10th of February     01/03/2012, 12:34

After spending twelve days in confinement, Zubeidi could return to his family on the 10th of February. He was informed that his amnesty had been reinstated, however it is an amnesty with restrictions…

Zubeidi can only move within the area of Jenin. It is also obvious from recent events that the Israeli authorities reserve the right to revoke Zubeidi’s amnesty at any time and thus put his life at risk.

An international campaign was launched demanding that Israel either reinstate Zubeidi’s amnesty or put forth any accusations they had against him. The campaign was endorsed by among others renowned human rights activist Bianca Jagger. Statements by PA officials testify to thousands of people around the world joining the campaign and contacted persons responsible for Zubeidi’s confinement and revoking of the amnesty.



Zakaria Zubeidi arrested     09/10/2011, 15:26

The Freedom Theatre is a cultural venue in Jenin  Refugee Camp, which uses the arts as a form of resistance against  oppression. In the last weeks Jenin refugee camp has suffered a higher number of arrests than usual. Over thirty arrests have been made in the past month. Among the people arrested were three members of The  Freedom Theatre, a cultural centre for children and youth.

The Freedom Theatre is a cultural venue in Jenin  Refugee Camp, which uses the arts as a form of resistance against  oppression. In the last weeks Jenin refugee camp has suffered a higher number of arrests than usual. Over thirty arrests have been made in the past month. Among the people arrested were three members of The  Freedom Theatre, a cultural centre for children and youth.

The 29th of December, the  co-founder, avid supporter and mentor of The Freedom Theatre, Zakaria  Zubeidi, was told by the Palestinian Authority that his amnesty had been revoked by the Israeli authorities. Zubeidi is since then being held in arrest inside the Palestinian security headquarters, supposedly on orders from Israel. No reason has  been given for this incarceration.

The amnesty agreement, granted in 2007 by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office was in return for  Zubeidi’s ending of armed resistance. Zubeidi managed to escape numerous Israeli attempts to assassinate him during the Intifada. The amnesty agreement allowed him to remain safe inside the Palestinian Authority  district of Jenin where the Israeli military would not seek to arrest or assassinate him.

After  having been the leader of the armed resistance during the second  Intifada, Zubeidi is since 2006 committed to cultural, non-violent  resistance through theatre. He founded The Freedom Theatre together  with Juliano Mer Khamis, who was assassinated earlier this year by  unknown assailants.

No reason has been  given for the sudden withdrawal of Zubeidi’s amnesty. The Freedom  Theatre regards this as yet another stage in the continued attacks and harassment that the theatre has been facing for several months;  including attacks on the theatre and repeated nightly arrests of its  members by the Israeli military.

The  Freedom Theatre strongly condemns these actions and wishes to emphasize  that Zubeidi’s life is in real danger. The Freedom Theatre urges all  its friends to contact the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli DCO  in Jenin, the local Israeli representation and parliamentarians to voice  opposition to this move and show support to Zakaria Zubeidi.

For more info, visit:


Marzieh Vafamehr released from jail     09/11/2011, 11:46

Actors Equity reports on 28 October Marzieh Vafamehr had her sentence reduced to three months and will not receive any form of corporal punishment. As Ms Vafamehr has already served four months in jail she has now been released. More than 9000 people signed Actors Equity’s petition calling for the immediate release of Ms Vafamehr. Read the whole article at The Equity Foundation’s website.


Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr sentences to jail and 90 lashes     09/11/2011, 11:26

You might already have heard about the Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr, who is sentences to jail and 90 lashes for starring in the film My Tehran for Sale.
Here below is a letter from the British Equity and a petition to sign.
I know there more countries have joined this campaign. Please help to protest and spread it around.

“A campaigning has been launched for the freedom of Marzieh Vafamehr, an Iranian actress who has been sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in jail for her role in My Tehran for Sale, an Australian film about an actress whose theatre work is banned in Iran.

Actors’ Equity of Australia has set up an on-line petition  calling for her release and Equity UK is encouraging all members to sign up to it.

Vafamehr, wife of the acclaimed film-maker Nasser Taghvai, was arrested in July after starring in the film, which touches on many of the taboo issues of modern life in Iran. Iranian human rights activists have reacted with outrage to her conviction and in particular the fact that she faces 90 lashes. It comes only two days after a student activist, Peyman Aref, was lashed 74 times in Tehran’s Evin prison for insulting the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The film, directed by Granaz Moussavi, features Vafamehr as an actress who flees to Australia as an illegal immigrant after being persecuted in Iran.
She appears with a shaved head and without a hijab in some scenes. In the film, an underground party where men and women dance and drink is disrupted by a group of moral police who arrest some of the partygoers. My Tehran for Sale premiered at the Adelaide film festival in 2009 but remains banned in Iran.

Other members of Iran’s film industry have also been arrested in recent years. Pegah Ahangarani, a popular actor was released from jail in July.
Director Jafar Panahi received a six-year prison term and 20-year ban from film-making last year. Mohammad Rasoulof was also sentenced to six years in jail. Ramin Parchami, an actor who voiced support for the opposition, still remains in jail.”


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