This week, CBLDF joined more than thirty cultural institutions and human rights organizations around the world in issuing a joint statement opposing United States President Donald J. Trump’s immigration ban on nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The ban is currently suspended by a court order, but if reinstated it will have a broad and far-reaching impact on artists’ freedom of movement and, as a result, will seriously inhibit creative freedom, collaboration, and the free flow of ideas.
Under this ban, some of the bravest and most endangered dissident artists whose stories we’ve covered on these pages could be barred from entering the United States — let alone seeking asylum here if needed. Some have already been forced into exile; one Syrian cartoonist died in prison; and others remain in their native countries under constant threat of reprisals for their work. They include:
- Eaten Fish
- Atena Farghadani
- Hadi Heidari
- Mahmoud Shokraye
- Mana Neyestani
- Bozorgmehr Hosseinpour
- Nik Kowsar
- Kianoush Ramezani
- Marjane Satrapi (dual French/Iranian citizen)
Here is the full joint statement and list of signatories:
JOINT STATEMENT REGARDING THE IMPACT OF THE U.S. IMMIGRATION BAN ON ARTISTIC FREEDOM
February 7, 2017
Freedom of artistic expression is fundamental to a free and open society. Uninhibited creative expression catalyzes social and political engagement, stimulates the exchange of ideas and opinions, and encourages cross-cultural understanding. It fosters empathy between individuals and communities, and challenges us to confront difficult realities with compassion.
Restricting creative freedom and the free flow of ideas strikes at the heart of the core values of an open society. By inhibiting artists’ ability to move freely in the performance, exhibition, or distribution of their work, United States President Trump’s January 27 Executive Order, blocking immigration from seven countries to the United States and refusing entry to all refugees, jettisons voices which contribute to the vibrancy, quality, and diversity of US cultural wealth and promote global understanding.
The Executive Order threatens the United States safe havens for artists who are at risk in their home countries, in many cases for daring to challenge repressive regimes. It will deprive those artists of crucial platforms for expression and thus deprive all of us of our best hopes for creating mutual understanding in a divided world. It will also damage global cultural economies, including the cultural economy of the United States.
Art has the power to transcend historical divisions and socio-cultural differences. It conveys essential, alternative perspectives on the world. The voices of cultural workers coming from every part of the world – writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, and performers – are more vital than ever today, at a time when we must listen to others in the search for unity and global understanding, when we need, more than anything else, to imagine creative solutions to the crises of our time.
As cultural or human rights organizations, we urge the United States government to take into consideration all these serious concerns and to adopt any regulations of United States borders only after a process of deliberation, which takes into account the impact such regulations would have on the core values of the country, on its cultural leadership, as well as on the world as a whole.
African Arts Institute (South Africa)
Aide aux Musiques Innovatrices(AMI) (France)
Association Racines (Morocco)
Bamboo Curtain Studio (Taiwan)
Cedilla & Co.(USA)
College Art Association (USA)
Levy Delval Gallery (Belgium)
Geneva Ethnography Museum (Switzerland)
PEN America (USA)
Queens Museum (USA)
Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) (USA)
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.