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February 07 2017

Cultural and Human Rights Organizations Denounce Trump’s Executive Order

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Over 40 cultural institutions and human rights organizations around the world, including international arts, curators’ and critics’ associations, organizations protecting free speech rights, as well as U.S. based performance, arts and creative freedom organizations and alliances, have now signed a joint statement opposing United States President Donald J. Trump’s immigration ban.

On Friday, January 27th, President Trump signed an Executive Order to temporarily block citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. This order bars citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. It also suspends the entry of all refugees for 120 days and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. The Executive Order was suspended on February 3rd after a federal judge issued a restraining order against it. The Department of Justice’s subsequent appeals against the judge’s decision have since been rejected because the order was deemed to cause "irreparable harm" to those affected by it and because it unconstitutionally discriminates against individuals on the basis of religion.

The organizations, who are expressing grave concern that the Executive Order will have a broad and far-reaching impact on artists’ freedom of movement and will seriously inhibit creative freedom and the free flow of ideas, argue that new U.S. border regulations must only be issued after a process of deliberation which takes into account their impact on the core values of the country, on its cultural leadership, and on the world as a whole.

Representatives of several of the participating organizations issued additional statements on the immigration ban and its impact on writers and artists:

Helge Lunde, Executive Director of ICORN, said, “Freedom of movement is a fundamental right. Curtailing this puts vulnerable people, people at risk and those who speak out against dictators and aggressors, at an even greater risk.”

Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of Programs at the U.S. National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), said, “In a troubled and divided world, we need more understanding, not greater divisions. It is the voices of artists that help us understand, empathize, and see the common humanity underlying the separations of political and religious differences. Silencing these voices is not likely to make us any safer.”

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America, said, “The immigration ban is interfering with the ability of artists and creators to pursue their work and exercise their right to free expression. In keeping with its mission to defend open expression and foster the free flow of ideas between cultures and across borders, PEN America vows to fight on behalf of the artists affected by this Executive Order.”

Diana Ramarohetra, Project Manager of Arterial Network, said, "A limit on mobility and limits on freedom of expression has the reverse effect – to spur hate and ignorance. Artists from Somalia and Sudan play a crucial role in spreading the message to their peers about human rights, often putting themselves at great risk in countries affected by ongoing conflict. Denying them safety is to fail them in our obligation to protect and defend their rights."

Ole Reitov, Executive Director of Freemuse, said, “This is a de-facto cultural boycott, not only preventing great artists from performing, but even negatively affecting the U.S. cultural economy and its citizens rights to access important diversity of artistic expressions.”

Shawn Van Sluys, Director of Musagetes and ArtsEverywhere, said, “Musagetes/ArtsEverywhere stands in solidarity with all who protect artist rights and the freedom of mobility. It is time for bold collective actions to defend free and open inquiry around the world.”

A growing number of organizations continue to sign the statement. Click here to view the statement.

CONTACT: Jas Chana, NCAC Communication, jas@ncac.org, 212-807-6222 ext.107

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