Culture NGOs targeted in Slovenia

Non-governmental organizations in Slovenia are increasingly targeted by the radical right Slovenian Democratic Party government’s restrictive measures. 18 NGOs (among them associations for film, literature, dance, fine art, the MASKA Institute and the Legal Informaton Centre for NGos) were requested by the Ministry of Culture to vacate their premises in the building at No. 6 Metelkova Street in Ljubljana, a place with a hertitage of civil society movements. In 1993 cultural workers, artists and activists occupied the former command headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army barracks in Slovenia and made it a home to non-governmental organizations, collectives and individuals engaged in independent cultural and artistic production and research.

On October 20 the NGOs stated: “The reason given is that the Ministry supposedly needs the premises for its own use and intends to renovate them, although the budget is not slated to provide funds for such renovation until 2023, and the Ministry has not offered tenants replacement premises, nor has it entered into any sort of dialogue with us. The termination of the leases came to our addresses unannounced and on the very day when the SARS-CoV-2 virus epidemic and curfew were declared.” 

“We hereby inform the Ministry of Culture and the government of the Republic of Slovenia that we have no intention of leaving No. 6 Metelkova and that we will resist with all possible means these attacks on civil society, independent culture, and democracy.”

ACAR calls to sign the petition of the Slovenian Culture NGOs.

Create or Decrease?

ITI Sweden, ASSITEJ Sweden and the Swedish Performing Arts Coalition are presenting a panel conversation about freedom of speech and democracy. The event is on November 9, 2 pm CET in the framework of Swedstage Online , this years corona version of the Swedish performing arts festival. The panel: Nedjma Chaouche, Freelance journalist and facilitator, Nasim Aghili, Director and playwright , Louise Frisk, Secretary General Clowns without Borders Sweden, Astrid Menasanch Tobieson, Actor and director.  The questions: Can art be used as resistance? Can art break down walls? Can art pave the way forward? Swedstage has also asked several of their peers around the world for short video statements which will be presented online.

After the panel discussion there will be a live chat with Srirak Plipat, the Executive Director of Freemuse.

UN Human Rights Report on Cultural Rights and Climate Change

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.

Sudan: Five Young Artists Sentenced for “Public Annoyance”

Duaa Tarig Ahmed Mohamed (photo: SIHA)

The Central Khartoum Primary Court issued a verdict against five young artists to two months imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 SDG (equivalent of 90,9 USD). On August 10th, neighbors of Civic Lab network, an organization in Khartoum where rehearsal of a play was taking place, complained about too much noise. The complaint increased to physical attacks to the artists and the staff of the Civic Lab. When the police arrived they arrested the artists and did not stop the neighbors to beat them with sticks and to throw stones at them.
The artists are: Duaa Tarig Mohamed Ahmed (Program and Office Manage), Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hamdan, Ayman Khalaf Allah Mohamed Ahmed, Ahmed Elsadig Ahmed Hammad, Hajooj Mohamed Haj Omar (aka Hajooj Kuka, awarded filmmaker). These artists have spent the last two years creating art to support Sudan’s quest for freedom and democracy. They have created hundreds of murals and films in the public service, supported the Prime Minister’s office and Sudan National Television, and conducted hundreds of civic engagement workshops across Sudan through their work at the Civic Lab network.
Duaa, along with 4 of her colleagues were charged separately while another 6 artists are awaiting a verdict on Sunday 20th September. The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africe (SIHA) is extremliy concerned that “The legal framework, legal procedures and the articles of the law itself are designed to criminalise and prosecute civilians, particularly women and minorities. Women and activists are still an active target of the law enforcement in Sudan, and the criminalisation of women is legally enabled.”

ACAR states that artists are at the vanguard of positive change in Sudan. They have to be protected from violent mobs. The civilian led government has to to investigate the judges and police involved in this case. 

Sources: Press release from SIHA network, Durban FilmMart Institute, Gisa Media

Hungary: Free SZFE!

The Hungarian government continues to expand its influence on universities and cultural institutions in the country. A reform is planned to transform the Theater and Film University in Budapest (SZFE) into a foundation close to the right-wing national government of Victor Orbán and to better adapt the challenges of the market for the whole educational sector. An adjustment process originally planned for six months was shortened to three months and the university senate was excluded from all structural discussions by the supervisory board of the future foundation appointed by the responsible Ministry of Innovation and Technology, writes Anna Lakos, the long-standing Hungarian ITI director. The supervisory board is headed by the director of the Hungarian National Theatre Attila Vidnyánszky, an actor of the National Theatre, a film producer and the directors of two oil companies.
The occupation of the university by its students to protest against the complete loss of independence, experienced solidarity from theatrical artists from all over the world (#FreeSZFE). Here is the text of the SZFE “Magna Charta Universitatum”. The “Call for Academic Freedom in Hungary”  has been signed by more than 100 playwrights. 

Public sources: New York Times online, Nachtkritik.de