Iranian protesters (undated)

Iranian protesters

World Artists Urge Boycott Of Islamic Republic In Cultural Arenas

Wednesday, 12/07/2022

Artists and writers have joined the international outcry of politicians and activists over the Islamic Republic’s crackdown on dissent, calling for a boycott of the regime in cultural arenas. 

Expressing solidarity with their Iranian colleagues, a group of over 500 artists, writers, academics, and cultural practitioners from across the world pledged in a statement Tuesday to do their utmost to boycott Iran’s governmental institutions and their covert affiliates, and prevent them from having any presence in international arenas of arts, culture, and education. 

They condemned “the violent crackdown of Iranian people by the Islamic state” in the strongest terms, and paid tribute to the women-led movement of Iranians who have “demonstrated determination in standing against state brutality in the past eighty days since the killing of 22-year-old woman, Zhina Mahsa Amini, at the hands of the Islamic state.” “What began as a protest against mandatory hejab (hijab) and decades of systemic human rights violations has now turned into the 'Woman, Life, Liberty' movement, demanding the end of the theocratic rule by an unelected clerical system in Iran.”

The signatories include high-profile artists and scholars from all over the globe, such as prominent photographer Cindy Sherman, influential philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, distinguished social artist and silhouettist Kara Walker, French critic Hélène Cixous, Turkish novelist and screenwriter Orhan Pamuk, German visual artist Hans Haacke, Greek economist and politician Yanis Varoufakis, Serbian conceptual and performance artist Marina Abramović, German-American artist Kiki Smith, Whitney Museum of American Art Director Adam Weinberg, and American actor Willem Dafoe. 

They also called on the world to “stand against the regime apologists who misappropriate anti-imperialist discourses in the west or other parts of the world to deflect attention away from the well-documented state violence committed against the people.”

The signatories also called for creating networks of support for dissidents and those who are being targeted, face intimidation, or risk harm at the hands of the regime, as well as raising awareness concerning the crimes against humanity committed by the regime.

They also expressed grave concern not only for their colleagues and students in the arts and cultural spheres who have stated their demands in several actions and open letters, including a recent statement signed by nearly 6,000 Iranian artists and scholars, but for citizens from all over the country “who face an increasingly brutal, violent, and deadly state crackdown, with kidnappings, disappearances, imprisonments, and multiple forms of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, torture, and open threats of mass executions.”

Aida Amidi and Roozbeh Sohani

In another statement on Tuesday, PEN America and PEN Sydney condemned the recent arrests of three Iranian writers Roozbeh Sohani, Aida Amidi, and Alireza Adineh, members of the Iranian Writers’ Association (IWA), a decades-old writers’ group that has been banned but steadfastly stands against state censorship. Raising alarm over the continued targeting of writers for their free expression, the statement, Karin Karlekar, PEN America’s director of Free Expression at Risk Programs, said “The violent and targeted arrests of the IWA’s board members are designed to intimidate and silence one of the leading independent civil society voices inside Iran.” She slammed the Iranian government’s “surge of baseless arrests and horrific record of mistreating political prisoners.”

Earlier in the month, more than 60 Iranian writers and poets announced they will publish their works without submission to Islamic Republic censors until such time when censorship stops in Iran.

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