“Two out of every three people in the world – 4.9 billion people – are living in countries that are highly restricted or undergoing a free expression crisis, more than at any time in the last decade.”: ARTICLE 19 has published its Global Expression Report 2021 (GxR21). The report looks at the continued targeting of journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and political activists around the world, as well as the impact of COVID-19-linked restrictions on citizens everywhere.
The eroding situation in Afghanistan poses a threat to the lives of our colleagues in Afghanistan. Performing artists from Afghanistan were active in building up a society based on democracy, freedom, openness, human and cultural rights in their country. These are not the values of the Taliban, so their lives are now at risk. ITI applies to democratic governments to take immediate action to save Afghanistan’s performing artists and culture activists, especially women and ethnic and religious minorities. Thousands are already sought, have moved into hiding and may soon take the perilous step of looking for a way over land borders to Pakistan or Usbekistan.
Networks and organisation have startet support initiatives: Scholars at Risk with their relocation programme and an Urgent appeal to European Governments and EU Institutions, The Festival Academy with a collection of solidarity initiatives. See also the existing programmes for single persons of Artists at Risk and the Martin Roth Initiative. Right now joint effort is needed from governments and culture institutions to help a very big amount of people to relocate in safe places.
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)