Posts Tagged ‘artist’

Helen Hunt joins list of celebrities that show insensitivity on human rights

November 10, 2017

Celebrity support for human rights can do much good but there are still too many who simply do not study the issue before accepting. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/28/and-the-nominees-are-oscars-for-human-rights/]. Two days ago Brian Rohan of Associated Press, reported that actress Helen Hunt just added her name to the list of ignoramuses (“Egyptian activists pan US actress Helen Hunt in open letter”  – 7 November, 2017).

5  November 2017: image taken from video, showing actress Helen Hunt speaking during a government-organized youth conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo /CAPITAL BROADCAST CENTER)
Egyptian activists condemned American actress Helen Hunt on Tuesday for her participation in a government-organized youth conference they say is whitewashing authorities’ appalling human rights record and suppression of free speech. The open letter by Mona Seif and other well-known human rights advocates gained nearly 300 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. They included Mohamed Zaree, who last month won the Martin Ennals Award, and Aida Seif el-Dawla, whose Nadeem Center treats victims of torture and trauma and was shuttered by the government earlier this year.

The letter follows a flurry of online criticism against this week’s “World Youth Forum,” hosted under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, 62, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Hunt, 54, was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. The event’s official Twitter hashtag #WeNeedToTalk has become a battleground for opposing viewpoints, with critics overwhelming the thread with images of Egyptian police beating and chasing down youths during el-Sissi’s rule alongside portraits of young jailed activists.

This isn’t just any forum that you chose to endorse,” the letter to Hunt read. “This is a youth forum with the slogan ‘We Need To Talk’ called for by a dictator who cannot stand any form of opposition or real criticism. He jails journalists for doing their jobs, youth for expressing their opinions, writers for writing fiction that violates ‘public morality,’ gays for coming out, supporters of LGBTQ for daring to support diversity, and he has blocked more than 400 different websites and media platforms.

Human rights defenders and their organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented enforced disappearances, widespread torture and a recent arrest campaign targeting people authorities believe are gay. The authorities have blocked hundreds of independent news and critical websites.[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/]

The forum, which lasts until Nov. 10, has been broadcast nearly all day long on state and private television since its opening ceremony Sunday night. It has been widely promoted with slick television ads in Egypt, where several major Western PR firms advise and work for the government. A giant billboard hovers over Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of the youth-led 2011 uprising.

Hunt, an Academy Award-winning actress who now directs films, delivered a speech Sunday in which she criticized the U.S. justice system for its high incarceration rates and voiced support for the online anti-sexual harassment movement #MeToo. That, however, did not deflect criticism from Seif and other Egyptian feminists. “Unbelievable Hypocrisy! @Helenhunt speaks of “Women Rights” in a PR circus for a general who justified forced virginity tests,” Seif tweeted, referring to the military’s “virginity tests” conducted on a group of women protesters detained in 2011. El-Sissi, who was the chief of military intelligence at the time, was quoted then as saying the tests were necessary to head off possible allegations that the women were sexually assaulted by soldiers.

Others accused Hunt, the most famous Western celebrity at the event, of selling out to el-Sissi, pointing out a string of websites that advertise her as a for-hire speaker with fees between $50,000 to $1 million. Hunt did not respond to a social media request to discuss her efforts in Egypt.

http://ktul.com/news/entertainment/egyptian-activists-pan-us-actress-helen-hunt-in-open-letter

https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/11/08/egyptian-rights-activists-slam-us-actress-helen-hunt-in-open-letter/

Havel Prize for Creative Dissent recognizes Human Rights Defenders in Bahrain, Venezuela and Zimbabwe

May 7, 2017

On 5 May 2017 the Human Rights Foundation in New York announced as the recipients of the 2017 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent the Zimbabwean activist and playwright Silvanos Mudzvova, Venezuelan satirical media project El Chigüire Bipolar, and Bahraini poet and activist Aayat Alqormozi.

the “Goddess of Democracy,” the iconic statue erected by Chinese students during the Tiananmen Square protests of June 1989.

Silvanos Mudzvova is a Zimbabwean actor, playwright, and activist known for challenging the country’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, in daring theatrical productions. Silvanos works with the protest group Tajamuka (“We are rising up”) and serves as the director of Vhitori Entertainment Trust, a theater group created to protest Zimbabwe’s democracy crisis, human rights abuses, and poor governance. Silvanos has directed several controversial performances including “The Final Push,” a political satire; “Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share;” a play on corruption in the diamond industry; and “Protest Revolutionaries,” a play that encourages Zimbabweans to plan their own Arab Spring. Silvanos has been detained and arrested several times. To avoid government persecution, Silvanos now performs what he calls “hit-and-run” performances in public spaces. Silvanos has been awarded an Artist Protection Fund (APF) Fellowship and is currently in-residence for this at The University of Manchester. “Silvanos Mudzvova’s persistence in using art and performance to challenge dictatorship is an inspiration. The persecution of Silvanos illustrates Robert Mugabe’s cruelty, intolerance, and cowardice,” said Havel Prize Committee Chairman Thor Halvorssen.

El Chigüire Bipolar is a Venezuelan satirical media project created in 2008 by Elio Casale, Oswaldo Graziani, and Juan Andrés Ravell. The website, most famous for mocking former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, is often described as a mix of the Onion and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. El Chigüire Bipolar’s popularity in Venezuela grows as the government increases pressure on independent news outlets. “El Chigüire Bipolar is playing an increasingly crucial role in resisting Maduro’s campaign to stifle free speech. Its raw humor and exacting analysis demonstrates the great power that satire has in criticizing authoritarian regimes,” said Havel Prize Committee member Garry Kasparov.

 Aayat Alqormozi is a Bahraini poet who uses her craft to advocate for the equal rights of Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims, and to express her opposition to Bahrain’s monarchy. In 2011, Aayat recited poetry during a protest at Pearl Square as a part of the Bahraini uprising. In response, she was expelled from university and imprisoned for “insulting the King and encouraging hatred of the ruling regime.” Nevertheless, Aayat’s poetry and peaceful defiance have made her a symbol of resistance against the al-Khalifa regime. “Aayat’s methods for peaceful resistance are motivating the next generation of artists and political dissidents in Bahrain. Her commitment to poetry as a vehicle for social and political change is worthy of recognition and encouragement,” said Havel Prize Committee member Amir Ahmad Nasr.

Past laureates include Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot, North Korean democracy activist Park Sang Hak, Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal al-Sharif, and Cuban graffiti artist El Sexto. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/05/05/2014-havel-prize-for-creative-dissent-awarded-to-erdem-gunduz-pussy-riot-and-dhondup-wangchen/]The Havel Prize ceremony will be broadcast live at oslofreedomforum.com beginning at10:00 a.m. Central European Time on Wednesday, May 24. The event will take place at the Oslo Nye Theater. Contact: Prachi Vidwans, (212) 246-8486, prachi@hrf.org.

Source: Havel Prize for Creative Dissent Recognizes Efforts in Bahrain, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe | Human Rights Foundation Home Page

International Human Rights Arts Festival in New York: 3-5 March 2017

March 3, 2017

International Human Rights Arts Festival to Feature HAMILTON Dancer, Bessie Winner and More

2016 Bessie Award-winning choreographer Joya Powell brings her Movement of the People Dance Company to the premiere International Human Rights Art Festival, New York City‘s first arts-advocacy festival of its kind. The Festival, presented by The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, co-sponsored and housed at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, NYC), will take place 3-5 March, 2017. As part of the Dance portion of the festival, Jessica Chen of J Chen Dance project is working with three additional dance companies to create human rights-oriented dance. Jacqueline Dugal will also create a piece incorporating human rights texts.

Tickets are $10-25 and are now available online with full schedule and participant information at www.dixonplace.org.

Dance can help translate unspoken fears and emotions…” noted Jessica Chen, of the J CHEN PROJECT, “the nuances of a leg held up, a body launched into space, a gesture of yearning is immensely powerful. For this festival, we will use movement and choreography to enhance the conversation about critical human rights issues.”

J CHEN PROJECT Commissions: Jessica Chen of JChen Dance Project comissioned works will be based in and incorporate a specific textual inspiration, ranging from the words of great human rights defenders (such as MLK Jr. or Gandhi) to a bland recitation of statistics on refugees, civilian war deaths, famine due to autocratic governments etc. The four pieces, comprising an hour of dance, will run both Saturday and Sunday, and be previewed at the opening festivities. Saturday, March 4, at 10:00 pm; Sunday, March 5, at 4 pm (see below for full lineup)…

 

The International Human Rights Art Festival will bring together more than 70 artists producing more than 40 events, all of them oriented toward advocacy. Artistic media will include theatre, performance, dance, spoken word, painting, photography, music, literary arts, workshops, panel discussions, a kidsfest (hands-on activities to introduce children to using art for socially-transformative purpose), film and others. Rigorously curated for quality as well as content, the event includes some of New York’s most passionate rising artist-activists. It will raise social, cultural and political issues, as well as offering gentle, positive responses through thoughtful beauty and political and social thinking.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Producer Tom Block, a 20-year activist painter, author, playwright and arts producer, as well as creator of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival (MD, 2010) is bringing the concept to NYC, with the 2017 International Human Rights Art Festival. The event is part of the growing number of initiatives of the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, which Mr. Block founded last year to teach, learn from, and work with New York’s activist artist community. www.tomblock.com

Russian protest artist Pavlensky stripped of Havel Prize over support for violent ‘Partisans’

July 10, 2016

On 5 May 2016 I reported on the Havel Prize winners [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/2016-havel-prize-of-the-human-rights-foundation-goes-to-atena-farghadani-petr-pavlensky-and-umida-akhmedova/], including the ‘protest artist’ Pyotr Pavlensky. Now that he has been stripped of this award two months later, this should also be reported. The choice may have seemed a bit shaky from the beginning, but the more important is to recognize the decisive action by the award giver, the Human Rights Foundation.

Pyotr Pavlensky
Pyotr Pavlensky
Pavlensky told RFE/RL on July 8 that HRF President Thor Halvorssen had informed him of the formal decision to revoke his prize in an e-mailed letter. The letter, which has been seen by RFE/RL, states that HRF regrets the decision as “unfortunate and unprecedented” but says the prize’s selection criteria disqualify those who have “advocated the use of violence as a valid method to fight government oppression.” Speaking to RFE/RL on July 8, Halvorssen confirmed that the organization had revoked Pavlensky’s prize but said HRF had nothing to add beyond the text of the letter sent to the artist.
Dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky talked to RFE/RL [Tom Balmforth] about what prompted him to take up political art, and how he sees his political stunts as a rejection of a pervasive “clerical” ideology. He does not take the cancellation lightly and accused the organizers of the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent of essentially “acknowledging their support for police terror” by withdrawing the award after he pledged to devote the $42,000 in prize money to the legal defense of convicted police killers in Russia’s Far East.

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Urgent: award-winning cartoonist Zunar under threat in Malaysia needs support

May 19, 2016

On 3 May 2016 Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was one of the winners of the international Cartooning for Peace Prize [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/cartoonists-gado-kenya-and-zunar-malaysia-get-2016-cartooning-for-peace-prize/].
Back home the backlash has started and he has asked for support:
– Malaysian ministers threaten him anew;
– a government-backed NGO is going to protest at Kofi Annan’s office.
The award was presented by ex-UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the winners were given a chance to exhibit their artworks at Lac Léman in Geneva. Zunar’s cartoons covers issues such as corruption, freedom of expression, conspiracy against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and the new National Security law.
In reaction Deputy-Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi hinted that the police may take action on him. Ahmad Zahid added that he hopes that Zunar will repent and find other ways to express himself. “I think in this regard, I am seeking Allah to open his (Zunar) heart so that he quickly repents and uses other approaches to express opposing opinions,” he said ( http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/05/14/zahid-hopes-zunar-repents-criticise-but-dont-insult/ )

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2016 Havel Prize of the Human Rights Foundation goes to Atena Farghadani, Petr Pavlensky, and Umida Akhmedova

May 5, 2016

The New-York based Human Rights Foundation announced on 5 May 2016 that the laureates of the 2016 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent are:

  • Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani,
  • Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky, and
  • Uzbek photojournalist Umida Akhmedova.
2016 Havel Prize Awarded to Atena Farghadani, Petr Pavlensky, and Umida Akhmedova

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