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Art Workers Speak out Against Wave of Violence in Serbia

October 19, 2020

Today, October 18 2020, in front of the pavilion of the Artists’ Union of Serbia (ULUS) in Belgrade, artists and cultural workers gathered to express solidarity with a comic artist group whose exhibition was destroyed five days ago. They were also protesting the inappropriate reaction of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia to the continuing violence of right-wing extremist groups against cultural workers.

Photographs by Rena Raedle 

Board members of the artists’ association and other speakers once again condemned the Ministry of Culture’s attacks on the freedom of art and the denigration of cultural and artists’ associations in its statements. The appointment of a competent person to the ministerial office was demanded.

The occasion for the solidarity gathering was the recent attack on the exhibition of comic drawings created by the group “Momci” during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990’s. Five days ago, a group of young people dressed in black and equipped with tear gas had entered the Stara Kapetanija Gallery and devastated the entire exhibition ( https://www.telegraf.rs/english/3249565-threats-over-drawing-of-a-bloodied-baby-carried-out-hooligans-break-into-exhibition-throw-tear-gas ). 

The exhibited works depicted the normalization of violence in the society of the Nineties in a morbid style of humor. The cartoon that incurred the anger of part of the internet public and eventually resulted in the attack, was the drawing of a baby with its eyes wide open, in a pool of blood and with an axe in its head. The caption “Crybaby – a baby who’s whiny gets an ax in the head” was a quotation that the illustrator took from the press at the time. 

The attack was sharply condemned by numerous cultural organizations, including the artists’ associations ULUS and ULUV, the Organization of the Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia NKSS and the PEN Club of Serbia. Attacks by right-wing extremist groups on theater makers, actors, artists and other cultural workers are common in Serbia. Mostly they are directed against any kind of activity dealing with the war crimes committed in the name of Serbia during the Yugoslav wars. 

Another dimension of hostility towards cultural workers became visible in the official statement of the Serbian Ministry of Culture (https://www.kultura.gov.rs/vest/sr/5318/saopstenje-ministarstva-kulture-i-informisanja-u-vezi-sa-izlozbom-u-umetnickoj-galeriji-stara-kapetanija-u-zemunu.php )

 in which it condemned the violent attack on the exhibition, while emphasizing that the exhibition should not have taken place in the first place. According to the Ministry of Culture, the works on display represent “a pathology and degeneration of consciousness and not any form of art”. The exhibition, it goes on to say, is “evil” and “belongs to the underworld of the human mind, just as the attackers on it belong to the underworld of hooligans”.

Large parts of the cultural public were appalled by the official reaction. They criticized the use of Nazi-like jargon and other discriminatory terms in the Ministry’s statement about the exhibited artwork and called for the protection of artistic freedom. 

The Ministry responded with a series of grave insults and accusations on its website against the artists’ organizations and individuals who had spoken out in the media, and threatened to file criminal charges in one case ( http://www.seecult.org/vest/protest-i-osuda-nasilja-na-izlozbi-ali-i-reagovanja-ministarstva-kulture ).

The rhetoric of the Ministry of Culture reminds in a disturbing way of the language used in hate campaigns. Blatant examples of such campaigns are conducted on the website “prismotra.” There, cultural workers, journalists, human rights activists and other committed individuals who do not fit into the platform’s right-wing extremist world view are pilloried. The unknown operators deliberately disseminate half-truths about the attitudes and activities of individuals, some of whom are barely known to the public, in order to publicly brand them as enemies of society.

– Rena Raedle, ArtLeaks

Photographs by Anita Buncic

Manifesta and the Minorities of Marseille: Answer the Accusations of Discrimination and Migrants Exploitation

October 16, 2020
Royalty free photo, taken from the experimental and intersectional exhibition at the Atelier de Mars, 44 rue du Refuge 13002, Sunday August 30, 2020 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

We are a Marseille-based and international network of artists, academics, activists and citizens, who are interested in centering the voices of black, people of color, LGBTIQ+[i], disabled and migrant communities through cultural programs and community building initiatives.

Through this statement, we would like to reiterate our desire for a truly inclusive avant-garde creative environment, challenging international artistic institutions that are most often radically above ground in Marseille, such as the Manifesta biennale present this month in Marseille.

Manifesta had previously been accused of exploitation and opaque funds management, today Manifesta’s board is accused of racial discrimination, Homonationalism, and the exploitation of the most marginalized.

We call on the artistic, intellectual, activist communities and any one engaged in this field to join us in this open discussion and debate that will hopefully provide collective reflections and ways forward for us as the creative and activist community in the city, as well as for representatives of Manifesta and partner associations, in the future as they move to another locale, in regards to these accusations of discrimination and exploitation of the most marginalized among us.

Indeed for the past year, many of us have been working with Manifesta, the nomadic European biennial of contemporary art, which came to Marseille for its 13th edition. Seeing this as a positive opportunity to showcase the city’s diversity, and in the spirit of openness, many of us agreed to collaborate with the biennale and planned a range of activities for August and September 2020. In addition to the challenges presented by the current pandemic, which has shaken the world as we know it, there have also been several accusations reported against certain members of the Manifesta team and associated artists and organizations exhibiting policies of systemic racism, exploitation of marginalized narratives and bodies, and the general lack of financial transparency.

In this call for collective inquiry and action, we would like to reaffirm our position, which puts the communities we are part of and represent at the forefront, and strongly oppose racial discrimination, and the extraction of experiences and work of marginalized groups in the name of cultural production and consumption. From our point of view, this is due to larger systeminc issues deeply rooted in the French society, where cycles and application of infrahumanizing[ii] mechanisms, whether conscious or unconscious, are even clear to see even in the so-called progressive movements.

Since October 2019, a range of proposals and consultations have been provided to Manifesta on effective mapping of the artistic and cultural context of Marseille, alongside the planning and implementation of inclusive and intersectional events by members of our network. However, to date some of our most marginalized partners are yet to be paid and the costs incurred reimbursed[iii], despite the fact that our budgets and program were ready for June[iv].

And, where decisions to pay such groups have been made, they have been done last minute due to tense confronations convincing the budget holders that indeed, everyone contributing to projects has the right to be paid for their labor, not just professional artists, intellectuals, and racially white people, who are still prioritized financially and hierarchically at the moment. An overall report of Manifesta 13’s artists by gender, race, and nationalaity is already publically available, where men and white people form the majority of the participants[v].

Therefore, some of us have put forward the hypothesis, which remains to be validated, that while Manifesta proposes to “rethink the relations between culture and society investigating and catalyzing positive social change in Europe through contemporary culture in a continuous dialogue with the social sphere of a specific place,” the reality is that it instead uses the reputation of local associations, with long histories of social justice work on ground in Marseille, without adequately reimbursing their expenses or citing them appropriately in their produced program from a perspective that is both clientelist and based on entryism.

Although agreements have now been made to cover some of these tiny expenses in the overall budget, we do not yet know, among other things, if the activities including people with disabilities, participating in a show scheduled for mid-October at La Criée will or will not be compensated financially. Furthermore, it could now be argued that the resistance to immediately agree to pay marginalized communities contributing to projects points to more problematic financial policies that prioritize and privilege institutional stakeholders, while expecting black, communities of color, and people with disabilities to contribute for free as an act of solidarity, as if it were already a sufficient honor for us to be highlighted in the programming of this biennial.

Based on our experiences, we decided to launch an informal survey to see if this kind of dynamic was applied to other networks in the city, which revealed that our network is not alone, and indeed, many other local artists, intellectuals and cultural organizers have criticized the biennale for similar issues as addressed in this statement, for having repeatedly renounced the initial commitments, without financially compensating the social actors concerned, for their working time and their intellectual productions. Confronted with this state of affairs, it is also curious to see Manifesta now push racialized  members of their team to the forefront to resolve these issues, when a few months ago, it was also reported that certain Manifesta bosses and patrons would not appreciate the Islamic identities to be put forward in artistic programming[vi].

Since many of these concerns have been directly addressed with the biennial, the artistic team of the 13th edition now seems open addressing some of these structural issues within.  However, in the past, the 11th edition of the biennal was also criticized harshly for problematic payment policies and non-payment of workers[vii], which potentially points towards a deeper structural and systemic issue, where in the bi-annually evolving teams and locations of Manifesta allows for the institution to push critical reflections under the rug and thus, avoid any change of consequence.

Instead our collective, joined in this endeavor by certain Manifesta curators who want to work on that issue internally, in order to ask the board of the latter for a truly progressive and inclusive work ethic towards all, which was the basis of our proposals for Manifesta 13. We ask for open critical reflections on the impact of the biennial’s collaborations and partnerships in the city and its communities, in order for Manifesta to get rid of any rag having to do with “pinkwahsing” [viii], “institutional racism” [ix], and “migrantwashing.” [x]

From this experience, many of us have been compelled to ask, why are the most marginalized among us not the first to benefit from the fruits of our labor? Are these dynamics related to the little consideration given to contemporary and social art, or is there an additional dimension to these visibly recurring inequalities?

In these times of  “Black lives Matters”, and deconstruction of fascistic or supremacist identities, we invited the people of Marseille who are concerned to join us during a dinner debate on these topics[xi], at the CALEM institute of Marseille, and we have now created a fundraising campaign in order to compensate the marginalized artists cheated by Manifesta 13[xii].

“For us, the act of making ourselves visible is political”

– Angela Robertson, Our Dance of Revolution[xiii].

Dr. Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed (director of the CALEM[xiv] Institute, the gay imam of Marseille)

Dr. Amina wadud (retired Professor of Islamic Studies and The Lady Imam)

Dr. Michaël Privot (Islamologue, Fondateur de l’IEEI, Bruxelles, ancien président de l’ENAR)

Abdullah Qureshi (independent artist and visual curator, PhD candidate in contemporary art)

Alexandre Marcel (president of the IDAHOT France committee)

Erika Nomeni (Baham Arts, pour visibiliser les artistes minorisé.es et les femmes à Marseille)

Paulo Hggns (Ze Gaithoqueer inclusive parties in Marseille)

Moussa Fofana (co-founder of Migrants LGBT+ & solidaires in Marseille)

Souleymane Traore  (co-founder of Migrants LGBT+ & solidaires in Marseille)

Tom Porcher Guinet (El Manba, citizen network for the rights of Migrants in Marseille)

Mariam SaintDenis (Filles de Blédards, in Paris and Marseille)

Yvan X. (artistic director of an LGBT+ festival in France)

Harry Gaabor (plastician artist in Marseille)

Rabha Attaf (journalist & president of Confluences, for human rights in Marseille)

Osman X. (coordinator for Hidayahqueer Muslims UK)

Fares Chiter (linguist, member of CALEM in Marseille)

Jérémie Yorillo (in charge of information and trainings in Marseille)

Denis Caiozzi (filmaker and member of Migrants LGBT+ & solidaires in Marseille)

Didier Dubois Laume (artist painter, founder of café lunettes rouge for LGBT+ HIV+)

Adam Hussain (dance-artist, somatic movement practitioner and researcher)

Adi Bharat (PhD, university of Michigan, JMRN – Jewish Muslim dialogue)

Adrian Stiefel (Eglise protestante de Genève, responsable de l’Antenne LGBTI du LAB)

Musab Atasoy (imam queer de la communauté inclusive de Londres et conseiller de CALEM)


[i] Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and plus.

[ii] Consider that some are less worthy of being respected by their work, with regard to their body, in their identity.

[iii] In particular, the association of LGBT + Migrants in Marseille. At the same time, the migrants from the Saint-Just squat had to establish a “more equal balance of power”, they told us, so that each of the participants was paid fairly, with a proper employment contract.

[iv] Initial date of the Manifesta 13, before the Covid crisis postponed the entire programming.

[v] We refer here to a study by Daria Harper, intersectional journalist and New York writer, on the over-representation of artists of European origin, in Marseille, during Manifesta 13. Available online: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-manifesta-13s-artists-gender-race-nationality

[vi] A call was launched in 2018, following racist remarks by curator Kasper König, presented as a prominent member of the German artistic community, by a collective of migrant, black, indigenous, lesbian, queer and trans artists from color: “We observe that structural levels of racism and discrimination disappear when we voice our criticisms, and that we are accused of being aggressive or of feeling sorry for ourselves when we speak out! “WE ARE SICK OF IT”. Available online: https://hyperallergic.com/474836/german-museum-director-and-curator-accused-of-making-racist-remarks-about-german-turks-at-panel/ . Plus, according to certain curators of Manifesta 13, the former right wing mayor of Marseille asked the Manifesta board not to talk about “migrations”.

[vii] In 2018, Manifesta came under fire for criticism over charges of exploitation and unpaid labor. Available online: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/manifesta-11-comes-fire-unpaid-labor-620975

[viii] According to L. Zahed, it is the use of the struggles for the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex minorities for ideological and capitalist ends. Cf. « LGBT musulman-es : du Placard aux Lumières » (CALEM, 2016 – http://www.calem.eu/francais2/CALEM-edition-LGBT-Musulman-es-face-obscurantismes-homonationalismes_Ludovic-Mohamed-Zahed-2017.html). In 2014, Russian artists called for a boycott of Manifesta because, in their view, this biennial, taking place at the time in Saint Petersburg, did not attach any importance to V. Putin’s discrimination against their LGBT + communities. Available online: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/world/europe/allowed-a-space-for-criticism-artists-in-russia-have-fun-with-it.html

[ix] According to F. Dhume, we speak of institutional racism when, apart from any clear and direct intention to harm certain ethnic groups, the institutions or actors within them develop practices whose effect is to exclude or to interiorize such groups. Cf. « Du racisme institutionnel à la discrimination systémique ? Reformuler l’approche critique » (Migrations Société 2016/1 (N° 163), pages 33 à 46 – https://www.cairn.info/revue-migrations-societe-2016-1-page-33.htm).

[x] Using the bodies and life stories of migrants to generate buzz, compensation and strengthen the humanist reputation of an institution that in reality cares little for their fate, neither on the court nor on the long term. Some Manifesta curators showed their attachment to the fight against poverty, while on the same day we were told that the budget allocated to activities developed by LGBT + migrants would not benefit from any financial support, however, we have concluded for several years. months, before the postponement of Manifesta from June to September 2020. Available online: https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/manifesta-13-interview-1904466

[xi] on Saturday, October 3rd 2020.

[xii] Especially the LGBT+ Migrants and the disabled ones: https://www.helloasso.com/associations/calem/collectes/for-the-lgbt-migrants-and-disabled-of-manifesta-13

[xiii] In the documentary by Phillip Pike (2019): «Our Dance of Revolution» (minutes 31.45). Roaring rivers films, Canada.

[xiv] This international organization, based in Marseille, is no longer an advisor to Manifesta or the AOZIZ network (founded by Andrew Graham, L’Autre Maison, and Béatrice Pedraza, Arthalie), for the realization of the intersectional activities planned for the end of September, the beginning of October. CALEM has accepted this new proposal from some curators of Manifesta which consists in helping them to put together a report on the current situation, as well as a preliminary investigation questionnaire and an ethical charter for future Manifesta 13 and their partners.

Cancelled Collective Actions: Open Letter

September 18, 2020
Steven Montinar’s digital drawing “Koupe Tet, Boule Kay” (2020) was among the works selected for the Whitney Museum’s exhibition Collective Actions: Artist Interventions In a Time of Change (image courtesy of Steven Montinar)

To the curators, directors, and board members of the Whitney Museum:

We are living through a moment marked by well-intentioned, but all too often hollow, gestures of support for Black Lives and racial justice. We understand that the now cancelled Collective Actions originated from a place of well intentioned interest in marking a historical moment of political action. Though it was our commitment to mutual aid and political action that brought us together and drew you to us in the first place, rather than joining us in that effort and that spirit of reciprocal support, the missteps made here stand in marked contrast to the ethical framework within which these projects were created. We come together here to ask what a real effort by the Whitney Museum to support communities further marginalized and pushed toward precarity in this moment of global crisis and national reckoning might look like.

The Whitney’s formal statement in support of Black communities states that you have increased the racial diversity of your collection, exhibitions, and performances. The ways in which you acquired our work and planned to show it, without conversation with or consent from many of the included artists, demonstrates an undervaluing of our labor and denial of our agency. This calls into question how you have increased the diversity of your collection. The purpose of acquiring work is not only to preserve a moment in time but also to support living artists. All too often, Black, Indigineous, and POC artists are invited in because our radicality serves to signify institutional inclusivity and progressiveness. This performance of racial inclusion seldom comes alongside a real commitment to supporting historically excluded communities. That we were brought into the museum through an administrative loophole in which the special collection acquisition made it possible to collect and exhibit our work without adhering to the museum’s own standards of compensation offers an important insight into how Black, Indigineous, and POC artists continue to be inadvertently marginalized and exploited.

While this is very much a situation born of the specific longstanding problems of the Whitney Museum, it is also true that there are very few institutions who don’t suffer from the same blindspots. Rather than hurriedly cancelling a show whose failures lay in the museum’s rush to encapsulate a still unfolding historical moment, the museum could have taken the time to listen and respond. The brave move would have been to lean into the discomfort rather than further demonstrating our dispensability to your institution by cancelling the show within hours of receiving criticism online. We want to be clear that this is not a calling out of the failure of any individual. These fumblings are born of the broken system that undergirds all of our lives and our institutions. That the Whitney found itself in a situation in which it was called out by individuals and communities who felt their actions here were unethical and exploitative is neither new nor remarkable. What could be new, what could be remarkable is to allow the radicality of collective vision and action to seep into the fabric of your institutional foundation. You could change. 

We urge the Whitney Museum to take this opportunity to do so. We’re writing to you on September 17th, the day of the scheduled opening of the Collective Action exhibition. We ask that you as an institution commit to a year of action – of mobilization and introspection. How will you take less and give more to historically excluded communities? How will you institute ethical guidelines in future acquisition practices? How will you ensure that your institution holds the capacity to navigate this charged political moment without relying on the unpaid labour of Black, Indigenous, and POC artists and community members to advocate for the betterment of your institution?

We appreciate that the Whitney has entered into dialogue with many of the artists from the now cancelled Collective Actions. The question at the root of our collective actions and of your assembling of our work, is how can we make use of the means we have available to us to support the urgent needs of our most vulnerable in this time of global and national crisis? This is a critical historical moment that calls for us to move past easy statements of support for Black lives into the real work to transform and dismantle oppressive systems of power. We, the undersigned, come together now as we will again in a year, as an offer of accountability. Let us hold each other to the task of real action and intervention in this time of change.

Sincerely,

Kara Springer, Whitney ISP ‘18

Chiara No, Artist

fields harrington, Whitney ISP ‘20

Kirsten Hatfield

Nicole Rodrigues

Charles Mason III, Artist 

Spyros Rennt, Artist

Simi Mahtani, Artist

Joe Kusy, Artist

Texas Isaiah, Artist

Katy Nelson

Jessica Caponigro, Snake Hair Press

Mark Clennon 

Marcus Maddox

Zora J Murff, University of Arkansas / Strange Fire Collective 

Lola Flash, Artist

Kevin Claiborne

Christelle de Castro

Clay Hickson 

Linda Huang, Designer

Andrew LeClair, Designer

Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo

Mimi Zhu, Artist

Sheldon Abba, People’s Film Program

Alicia Smith

Daniel Arnold

Denise Shanté Brown, Holistic Design Strategist

Anthony Geathers

Milcah Bassel, Sol JC

Shantal Henry, Sol JC

Michelle Pérez, Sol JC

Gisel Endara, Sol JC

Joana Arruda, Sol JC

Serena Hocharoen

Kimi Hanauer, Press Press

Seitu Ken Jones, Seitu Jones Studio

Justine Kelley

Julia Kim Smith, Artist

Ike Edeani

Taeyoon Choi

Ciara Mendez

Alex Hodor-Lee

Kenny Cousins

Shaniqwa Jarvis, Artist

Georgia McCandlish

Jessica Foley, Photographer

Dana Scruggs, Photographer

Brandon English, Resistor NYC

Matt Lavine

Steve Saiz, Artist

Adam Lucas, Designer

L’Sharesee Burrell

Read more:

https://hyperallergic.com/584340/whitney-museum-black-lives-matter-covid-19-exhibition-canceled/

Open Letter to Southbank Centre from British Art Show 9 Artists (London, UK)

August 30, 2020

We write as artists taking part in British Art Show 9, a major touring exhibition of contemporary art in the UK that will open in Wolverhampton before travelling to Aberdeen, Plymouth, and Manchester in 2021/22. This exhibition is organised by Hayward Gallery Touring, part of the Southbank Centre, Europe’s largest centre for the arts. We write to condemn the Southbank Centre’s plan to make almost 400 staff redundant across all departments, including 37 of 38 front of house staff at the Hayward Gallery.

These redundancies will affect 63-68% of the Southbank Centre’s workforce, disproportionately impacting the most disadvantaged and precarious: the largely young people, Black and POC members of staff, and people with disabilities who make up the lowest paid strata of the institution. For a detailed description of the situation, and a thorough assessment of the Southbank Centre’s responses, we refer to https://saveoursouthbank.com.

British Art Show 9 is framed around the key categories of ‘healing, care and reparative history; tactics for togetherness; and imagining new futures’. With this in mind, as artists contributing to this exhibition, as workers affiliated with the Southbank centre, and many of us directly affected by similar actions at other institutions, we refuse to separate the actions of the Senior Leadership Team at Southbank Centre from the work we are being asked to perform. We refuse to remain silent as these brutal and unnecessary cuts are rolled out. We stand in solidarity with all members of staff directly affected.Arts institutions espousing the politics of anti-racism, class mobility, queer struggle, disability activism, social justice, and the work of liberation must embed these politics within their structures, and not just present them as topics of exhibition or performative statements.

These organisations have a responsibility to represent the public interest and an accordant duty to their staff. It is unconscionable that in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, and the climate of stress, economic uncertainty, and insecurity that accompanies it, the Southbank Centre and other large arts institutions are abandoning huge swathes of their workforces. These actions blatantly contradict their stated aims and purposes.We reiterate the demands of PCS and Unite in asking that the Southbank Centre uses the Culture Recovery Fund to pay full redundancy agreements for all affected staff.We question the decision not to re-open the Southbank Centre site until at least April 2021 (with the exception of Hayward Gallery, which provisionally reopened to the public on Saturday 1 August for a maximum of three months).

This decision means that this major cultural space, so closely linked to the post-war vision of cultural access for all, is very visibly deemed to be unimportant, and the public are denied its spaces and its resources. If the Southbank were to be open now (as many cultural spaces are, with creative solutions to public health needs) we suggest these redundancies could be mitigated, as work, footfall, and engagement would be possible, if greatly changed. Furthermore, when the Southbank Centre reopens officially in 2021, it will operate with an entirely new operating structure. According to senior management only 10% of its full capacity across its venues will be used for the arts and the other 90% will be reserved for rental!

This shows the undue influence of neo-liberal tactics on the future of the Southbank and public art venues in the U.K in general, by putting profits before people!We decry any institution in which senior staff make annual salaries over £100,000 (and according to Southbank Centre’s 18/19 annual report, their Chief Executive’s salary and bonus subject to tax totalled £240,750) while instituting mass redundancies.

We insist upon an art world that respects, honours, and protects its workers.

Simeon Barclay

Oliver Beer

Zach Blas

Kathrin Böhm

Maeve Brennan

James Bridle

Helen Cammock

Jamie Crewe

Sean Edwards

Mandy El-Sayegh

Mark Essen

Daniel Fernández Pascual

Gaika

Beatrice Gibson

Patrick Goddard

Anne Hardy

Celia Hempton

Andy Holden

Joey Holder

Marguerite Humeau

Lawrence Lek

Ghislaine Leung

Paul Maheke

Elaine Mitchener

Oscar Murillo

Grace Ndiritu

Uriel Orlow

Hardeep Pandhal

Hetain Patel

Florence Peake

Heather Phillipson

Joanna Piotrowska

Abigail Reynolds

Margaret Salmon

Hrair Sarkissian

Katie Schwab

Alon Schwabe

Tai Shani

Marianna Simnett

Victoria Sin

Hanna Tuulikki

Alberta Whittle

Rehana Zaman

International Scholars Call for End to Police Violence and Free Elections in Belarus

August 16, 2020

English/ беларуская/ русская

* * *

To:

Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus
Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus
State Secretariat of the Security Council of the Republic of Belarus
Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus
House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus
Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus
Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus
National Bank of the Republic of Belarus
General Prosecutor`s Office of the Republic of Belarus
State Control Committee

We, the undersigned, are scholars of Central and Eastern Europe with a strong interest in Belarus’ history and culture. Many of us have spent considerable time in Belarus to conduct research or teach, and we have developed friendships and professional networks with scholars and scientists in the cities, towns, and villages of the Republic.

We are deeply troubled by Belarus’ acute state crisis in the aftermath of Election Day on August 9, 2020. We are particularly worried about the escalation of violence against thousands of Belarusian citizens since Sunday that is being documented by a number of news outlets.

We are concerned that thousands of Belarusian citizens who have taken to the streets to demand free and democratic elections have been chased, beaten, arrested, and detained for days and under inhumane conditions by law enforcement without the ability to contact family and friends.

We are concerned about our colleagues who were among thousands of people who have peacefully demonstrated and were subsequently targeted by police and other violence.

We are concerned about police and other law enforcement agencies’ random attacks on citizens in public spaces or in their homes.

We are concerned about systematic attacks on, and arrests of, journalists, civic activists, and scholars.

We are concerned about systematic disruptions to the country’s phone and internet network, which inhibit Belarusian citizens’ ability to communicate with each other and the wider world.

As historians, sociologists, political scientists, and scholars of Belarusian culture we are keenly aware of the social, economic, and political challenges that Belarus has been experiencing since the break-up of the USSR. By relying on physical and military violence against its own citizens, Belarusian state authorities will be unable to overcome these challenges, especially the country’s economic crisis and the crisis of political representation that has become plainly obvious during this past electoral cycle. Any government loses its legitimacy once and when the majority of the citizenry refuses to accept rules that are dictated from above without any regard for the polity’s interests.

Due to its location between the European Union and the Russian Federation, Belarus is uniquely positioned to participate in the global exchange of ideas, knowledge, and services. However, it will be able to do so only when fundamental democratic principles such as the right to free speech and assembly, full voting rights, and freedom from persecution for political ideas are respected and guide state policies.

Academic freedom and the uninhibited pursuit of scholarly and scientific work are at the heart of a society’s growth. Scholars of and in Belarus rely on an environment free from violence and censorship; only under such conditions can we exchange and develop ideas and important insights. Scholarship and science can only thrive when governmental institutions and agencies represent and operate based on principles of democracy, civil liberties, and justice.

Therefore:

We appeal to all government and law enforcement agencies including police, OMON, Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs, and the Armed Forces of Belarus to cease indiscriminate attacks on demonstrators and members of the Belarusian public.

We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all citizens who have been arrested during the protests in the aftermath of Election Day on August 9, 2020.

We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners including and especially all candidates in the 2020 Belarusian election.

We call for free and fair elections. Only an electoral process in which all candidates have equal access to all media and public spaces to make their case, and a transparent and truthful count of all ballots guarantee a democratic election. To ensure this process, we recommend the establishment of a new Central Election Commission that includes an equal number of representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations.

We recall that, among others, the Belarusian Constitution

– declares Belarus a multi-party representative democracy,

– establishes that the state protects the rights and freedoms of its citizens while its citizens bear reciprocal responsibility towards the State,

– promulgates the rule of law in accordance with universally acknowledged principles of international law,

– prescribes the separation of powers under the condition of cooperation of state offices,

– guarantees that citizens have the right to vote, and

– recognizes that citizens have the right to protest against the government.

Belarus is not an island. Belarus is the geographic center of Europe, and it is at the heart of our concern for a world free from injustice and violence.

We will not accept any attempts to isolate Belarusian society from the rest of the world, neither by actively placing Belarus outside of the purview of internationally agreed upon basic human rights, nor by interrupting networks of communication between scholars and citizens all over the globe.

We will keep the petition open for signatures until August 16, noon (12pm) CST. The petition continues to be available at https://forms.gle/BvRqWvJRcFp9QbsB9 

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BY:
Адресат:
Канстытуцыйны Суд Рэспублікі Беларусь
Вярхоўны Суд Рэспублікі Беларусь
Дзяржаўны сакратарыят Савета Бяспекі Рэспублікі Беларусь
Савет Міністраў Рэспублікі Беларусь
Палата прадстаўнікоў Нацыянальнага сходу Рэспублікі Беларусь
Савет Рэспублікі Нацыянальнага сходу Рэспублікі Беларусь
Адміністрацыя Прэзідэнта Рэспублікі Беларусь
Нацыянальны банк Рэспублікі Беларусь
Генеральная пракуратура Рэспублікі Беларусь
Камітэт дзяржаўнага кантролю

Мы, ніжэйпадпісаныя навукоўцы і даследчыкі Цэнтральнай і Усходняй Еўропы, якія праяўляюць вялікую цікавасць да гісторыі і культуры Беларусі. Шмат хто з нас правёў значны час у Беларусі, праводзячы даследаванні або выкладаючы, развіваючы сяброўскія і прафесійныя сувязі з навукоўцамі і даследчыкамі ў гарадах, пасёлках і вёсках Беларусі.

Мы глыбока занепакоены вострым дзяржаўным крызісам у Беларусі пасля дня выбараў 9 жніўня 2020 года. Асабліва нас непакоіць эскалацыя гвалту ў дачыненні да тысяч беларускіх грамадзян з мінулай нядзелі, што дакументальна пацвярджаецца шэрагам інфармацыйных агенцтваў.

Мы занепакоеныя тым, што тысячы беларускіх грамадзян, якія выйшлі на вуліцы з патрабаваннем правядзення свабодных і дэмакратычных выбараў, пераследуюцца, збіваюцца супрацоўнікамі праваахоўных органаў, арыштоўваюцца і ўтрымліваюцца пад вартай на працягу некалькіх дзён у нечалавечых умовах, не маючы магчымасці звязацца з роднымі і блізкімі.

Мы турбуемся за нашых калег, якія былі сярод тысяч людзей, якія мірна выйшлі на дэманстрацыі і сталі мішэнню міліцыі і іншых сілавых структур.

Мы занепакоеныя адвольнымі нападамі міліцыі і іншых праваахоўных органаў на грамадзян у грамадскіх месцах або ў іх дамах.

Мы занепакоеныя сістэматычнымі нападамі на журналістаў, грамадзянскіх актывістаў і навукоўцаў, а таксама іх арыштамі.

Нас турбуюць сістэматычныя збоі ў працы тэлефоннай і інтэрнэт-сувязі, якія перашкаджаюць беларускім грамадзянам мець зносіны адзін з адным і з усім светам.

Як гісторыкі, сацыёлагі, палітолагі і даследчыкі беларускай культуры, мы выдатна ўсведамляем сацыяльныя, эканамічныя і палітычныя выклікі, з якімі Беларусь сутыкнулася пасля распаду СССР. Абапіраючыся на фізічны і ваенны гвалт у дачыненні да ўласных грамадзян, беларускія ўлады не змогуць пераадолець гэтыя выклікі, асабліва эканамічны крызіс краіны і крызіс палітычнага прадстаўніцтва, які стаў відавочным у ходзе мінулай выбарчай кампаніі. Любы ўрад раз і назаўсёды губляе легітымнасць, калі большасць грамадзян адмаўляецца прымаць правілы, прадыктаваныя звыш, без уліку дзяржаўных інтарэсаў.

Дзякуючы свайму геаграфiчнаму знаходжанню паміж Еўрапейскім Саюзам і Расійскай Федэрацыяй Беларусь валодае унікальнымі магчымасцямі для ўдзелу ў глабальным абмене ідэямі, ведамі і паслугамі. Аднак гэта магчыма зрабіць толькі тады, калі дзяржаўныя інстытуты будуць выконваць i гарантаваць такія базавыя дэмакратычныя прынцыпы як права на свабоду слова і сходаў, поўнае права голасу, свабода ад пераследаў за палітычныя ідэі. .

Акадэмічная свабода і бесперашкоднае ажыццяўленне навуковай і выкладчыцкай дзейнасці ляжаць у аснове развіцця грамадства. Навукоўцы і даследчыкі за межамі Беларусі і ўнутры краіны спадзяюцца на свабоднае ад гвалту і цэнзуры асяроддзе. Толькі ў такіх умовах мы можам абменьвацца ідэямі і важнымі даследаваннямі, а таксама развіваць іх. Навука і выкладанне могуць квітнець толькі тады, калі дзяржаўныя ўстановы і ведамствы дзейнічаюць на аснове прынцыпаў дэмакратыі, грамадзянскіх свабод і справядлівасці.

Таму:

Мы заклікаем усе дзяржаўныя і праваахоўныя органы, уключна міліцыяю і АМАП, унутраныя войскі МУС, узброеныя сілы Беларусі, спыніць напады на дэманстрантаў і прадстаўнікоў беларускай грамадскасці.

Мы заклікаем да неадкладнага і безумоўнага вызвалення ўсіх грамадзян, якія былі арыштаваныя падчас акцый пратэсту пасля дня выбараў 9 жніўня 2020 года.

Мы заклікаем да неадкладнага вызвалення ўсіх палітычных зняволеных, уключаючы усіх кандыдатаў на выбары ў Беларусі ў 2020 годзе.

Мы заклікаем да свабодных і справядлівых выбараў. Толькі выбарчы працэс, падчас якога ўсе кандыдаты маюць роўны доступ да ўсіх сродкаў масавай інфармацыі і грамадскіх месц для адстойвання сваіх правоў, а таксама празрысты і праўдзівы падлік усіх бюлетэняў гарантуе дэмакратычныя выбары. Для забеспячэння гэтага працэсу мы рэкамендуем стварыць новую Цэнтральную выбарчую камісію, у склад якой увойдзе роўная колькасць прадстаўнікоў дзяржаўных і няўрадавых арганізацый.

Мы нагадваем, што, Канстытуцыя Беларусі, у прыватнасці:

– дэкларуе Беларусь як шматпартыйную прадстаўнічую дэмакратыю,

– прапісвае, што дзяржава абараняе правы і свабоды сваіх грамадзян, у той час як яго грамадзяне нясуць узаемную адказнасць перад дзяржавай,

– сцвярджае вяршэнства закона ў адпаведнасці з агульнапрызнанымі прынцыпамі міжнароднага права,

– прадуглелджвае падзел паўнамоцтваў пры ўмове супрацоўніцтва дзяржаўных органаў,

– гарантуе грамадзянам права голасу, і

– прызнае, што грамадзяне маюць права пратэставаць супраць урада.

Беларусь – гэта не востраў. Беларусь – гэта геаграфічны цэнтр Еўропы, і зараз яна ў цэнтры нашага клопату аб свеце, свабодным ад несправядлівасці і гвалту.

Мы будзем супрацьстаяць спробам ізаляваць беларускае грамадзтва ад астатняга свету, спробам вывесці Беларусь за рамкі ўзгодненых на міжнародным узроўні базавых правоў чалавека, мы пратэстуем супраць спроб перапыніць магчымасць зносін паміж навукоўцамі і грамадзянамі па ўсім свеце.

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RU:
Адресат:

Конституционный Суд Республики Беларусь
Верховный Суд Республики Беларусь
Государственный секретариат Совета Безопасности Республики Беларусь
Совет Министров Республики Беларусь
Палата представителей Национального собрания Республики Беларусь
Совет Республики Национального собрания Республики Беларусь
Администрация Президента Республики Беларусь
Национальный банк Республики Беларусь
Генеральная прокуратура Республики Беларусь
Комитет государственного контроля

Мы, нижеподписавшиеся учёные и исследователи Центральной и Восточной Европы, проявляем большой интерес к истории и культуре Беларуси. Многие из нас провели значительное время в Беларуси, занимаясь исследованиями или преподаванием, заводили дружеские и развивали профессиональные связи с исследователями и учёными в городах, посёлках и деревнях Беларуси.

Мы глубоко встревожены острым государственным кризисом в Беларуси после дня выборов 9 августа 2020 года. Особенно нас беспокоит эскалация насилия в отношении тысяч беларуских граждан с прошлого воскресенья, что документально подтверждается рядом информационных агентств.

Мы обеспокоены тем, что тысячи беларуских граждан, вышедших на улицы с требованием проведения свободных и демократических выборов, преследуются и избиваются сотрудниками правоохранительных органов, арестовываются и содержатся под стражей в течение нескольких дней в нечеловеческих условиях, не имея возможности связаться с родными и близкими.

Мы беспокоимся за наших коллег, которые были среди тысяч людей, мирно проводивших демонстрации и впоследствии ставших мишенью милиции и других силовых структур.

Мы обеспокоены произвольными нападениями милиции и других правоохранительных органов на граждан в общественных местах или в их домах.

Мы обеспокоены систематическими нападениями на журналистов, гражданских активистов и ученых, а также их арестами.

Нас беспокоят систематические сбои в работе телефонной и интернет-связи, которые мешают беларуским гражданам общаться друг с другом и со всем миром.

Как историки, социологи, политологи и исследователи беларуской культуры, мы прекрасно осознаем социальные, экономические и политические вызовы, с которыми Беларусь столкнулась после распада СССР. Делая ставку на приминение физического и военного насилия в отношении собственных граждан, беларуские власти не смогут преодолеть эти вызовы, в особенности экономический кризис страны и кризис политического представительства, ставший очевидным в ходе прошедшей избирательной кампании. Любое правительство раз и навсегда теряет легитимность, когда большинство граждан отказывается принимать правила, продиктованные свыше, без учета государственных интересов.

Благодаря своему расположению между Европейским Союзом и Российской Федерацией Беларусь обладает уникальными возможностями для участия в глобальном обмене идеями, знаниями и услугами. Однако Беларусь сможет это сделать только тогда, когда государство будет соблюдать и гарантировать такие базовые демократические принципы, как право на свободу слова и собраний, полное право голоса, свобода от преследований за политические идеи.

Академическая свобода и беспрепятственное осуществление научной и преподавательской деятельности лежат в основе развития общества. Учёные и исследователи как в Беларуси, так и за её пределами надеются на свободную от насилия и цензуры рабочую среду. Только в таких условиях мы можем обмениваться идеями и важными исследованиями и развивать их. Наука и преподавание могут процветать только тогда когда государственные учреждения и ведомства действуют на основе демократических принципов, гражданских свобод и справедливости.

Поэтому:

Мы призываем все государственные и правоохранительные органы, включая милицию, ОМОН, внутренние войска МВД, вооруженные силы Беларуси, прекратить нападения на демонстрантов и представителей беларуской общественности.

Мы призываем к немедленному и безоговорочному освобождению всех граждан, которые были арестованы во время акций протеста после дня выборов 9 августа 2020 года.

Мы призываем к немедленному освобождению всех политических заключенных, включая всех кандидатов на выборах в Беларуси в 2020 году.

Мы призываем к свободным и справедливым выборам. Только избирательный процесс, в ходе которого все кандидаты имеют равный доступ ко всем средствам массовой информации и общественным местам для отстаивания своих прав, а также прозрачный и правдивый подсчет всех бюллетеней гарантирует демократические выборы. Для обеспечения этого процесса мы рекомендуем создать новую Центральную избирательную комиссию, в состав которой войдет равное количество представителей государственных и неправительственных организаций.

Мы напоминаем, что Конституция Беларуси, в частности:

– провозглашает Беларусь как многопартийную представительную демократию,

– устанавливает, что государство защищает права и свободы своих граждан, в то время как его граждане несут взаимную ответственность перед государством,

– утверждает верховенство закона в соответствии с общепризнанными принципами международного права,

– предусматривает разделение полномочий при условии сотрудничества государственных органов,

– гарантирует, что граждане имеют право голоса, и

– признает, что граждане имеют право протестовать против правительства.

Беларусь–это не остров. Беларусь—это географический центр Европы, и сейчас в центре нашей заботы о мире, свободном от несправедливости и насилия.

Мы будем противостоять попыткам изолировать беларуское общество от остального мира, попыткам вывести Беларусь за рамки согласованных на международном уровне базовых прав человека, попыткам прервать связи между учеными и гражданами по всему миру.

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First signatories (in alphabetical order):

Felix Ackermann, Research Fellow, German Historical Institute Warsaw, Poland

Natalia Aleksiun, Touro College, New York, USA

Barbara Anderson, University of Michigan, USA

Elissa Bemporad, Professor of History, Ungar Chair in East European Jewish History and the Holocaust, Queens College and The CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA

Alain Blum, Centre d’études du monde russe, caucasien et centre européen, EHESS, Paris, France

Kate Brown, Professor of History, Science, Technology, and Society Department of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA

Masha Cerovic, School for the Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Paris, France

Julie Fedor, University of Melbourne, Australia

Piotr Filipkowski, Centrum Badan Historycznych Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Warsaw, Poland

Michal Frankl, Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic

Mischa Gabowitsch, Researcher, Einstein Forum, Potsdam, Germany

Elena Gapova, Professor, Western Michigan University, USA

Zina Gimpelevich, Professor Emerita, University of Waterloo, Canada

Maciej Górny, Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Oxana Gourinovitch, TU Berlin, Germany

Paulina Gulińska-Jurgiel, Aleksander Brückner Center for Polish Studies, Halle (Saale), Germany

Heiko Haumann, Prof. em. für Osteuropäische und Neuere Allgemeine Geschichte, Universität Basel, Switzerland

Christhardt Henschel, German Historical Institute Warsaw, Poland

Bert Hoppe, Historian, Berlin, Germany

Grigory Ioffe, Professor, Radford University, USA

Volha Isakava, Associate Professor of Russian, Central Washington University, Ellensburg WA, USA

Daivita Jackeviciene, Vilnius, Lithuania

Maciej Janowski, Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland/ Department of History, Central European University, Vienna/Budapest, Austria/ Hungary

Robert Kindler, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany

Claudia Kraft, Institute for Contemporary History, Vienna University, Austria

Mikhail Krutikov, Professor and Chair, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Preston R. Tisch Professor, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Kornelia Kurowska, Borussia Olsztyn, Poland

Veranika Laputska, the Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Simon Lewis, Associate Professor in the Cultural History of Eastern and East-Central Europe, University of Bremen, Germany

Siarhei Liubimau, European Humanities University, Minsk-Vilnius, Belarus/ Lithuania

David R. Marples, Distinguished Professor, University of Alberta, Canada

Wiktor Marzec, University of Warsaw, Poland

Ekaterina Melnikova, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera)/ European University at St. Petersburg, Russia

Jerzy Milewski, dr historii, były prezes Polskiego Towarzystwa Historycznego w Białymstoku, były członek Polsko-Białoruskiej Komisji Państwowej d/s Podręczników Historii, były redaktor “Biuletynu Historii Pogranicza”, Poland

Mykhailo Minakov, Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, USA; Associate Fellow, Institute for European Studies, Europa-University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

Jan Musekamp, DAAD Visiting Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh, USA

Katarzyna Naliwajek, Instytut Muzykologii , Uniwersytet Warszawski, Warsaw, Poland

Benjamin Paloff, Acting Director of the Copernicus Center for Polish Studies, University of Michigan, USA

Kevin M.F. Platt, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Joachim von Puttkamer, Professor of History, Director of Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Małgorzata Ruchniewicz, University of Wrocław, Poland

Per Anders Rudling, Associate Professor, Lund University, and Research Associate, Center for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University College, Sweden

Andrej Ryčkov, Institute for Lithuanian History, Lithuania

Manfred Sapper, Chefredakteur “Osteuropa”, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, Berlin, Germany

David Shneer, Louis Singer Chair of Jewish History, Professor of History, University of Colorado Boulder, USA

Diana Siebert, Köln, Germany

Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Professor Emeritus of History, Michigan State University, USA

Iryna Sklokina, the Center for Urban History, Lviv, Ukraine

Leonid Smilovitsky, senior researcher, The Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center,
Tel Aviv University, Israel

Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History, Yale University, USA

Balazs Trencsenyi, Professor of History, Central European University Vienna-Budapest, Austria/ Hungary

George Tsebelis, Anatol Rapoport Collegiate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, USA

Tomas Venclova, Professor emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University, USA

Anika Walke, Associate Professor of History, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

Joanna Wawrzyniak, University of Warsaw, Poland

Theodore R. Weeks, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA

Anna Veronika Wendland, Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association, DFG Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio 138 “Dynamics of Security”, Marburg – Giessen, Germany

Anna Wylegała, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

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