Artists Break the Chains: Global Action to Defend Peoples’ Culture

An initiative of the International Conference on Progressive Culture – People’s Art Network

All over the world, artists, writers, journalists, and cultural workers of all disciplines who lend their craft as a tool for progressive social change, challenge the status quo, or simply expose the truth, face various forms of persecution and attack from state apparatuses.

We call on those artists, cultural workers and journalists to join us and to build a global event to celebrate and defend people’s culture from 3 December (International day of solidarity with political prisoners) to 4 December.

Over those 2 days, events will take place in numerous cities throughout the world showing the power of our crafts to advance peoples’ struggles for fundamental social change.

We hope to build bridges across borders with fellow artists, writers, journalists and cultural workers and to contribute to the building of a united global movement to foster progressive grassroots culture and to protect freedom of expression.

If you would like participate or organize an event, please fill out the following form online. If you have any questions, you can reach us at peoplesartnet@gmail.com. The deadline for registration is November 20.

WHAT: Global Action to Defend Peoples’ Culture
WHERE: Wherever you are!
WHEN: 3 – 4 December 2012

HOW:

  1. Sign up to submit art or performance videos online https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGFSazUzLUYwU21nT3MyR0NrcGNnY2c6MQ
  2. Sign up to host an event and share by video or livestream
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGFSazUzLUYwU21nT3MyR0NrcGNnY2c6MQ

Victor JaraUnder the brutality of the state that seeks to silence them, some of these cultural workers have paid the ultimate price for their artistic creations and visions that advance the cause of people’s liberation, such as Chilean artist Victor Jara, who was brutally tortured and murdered by the Chilean state in 1973.

And still today, cultural workers continue to face state brutality.  Argentine songwriter and singer, Facundo Cabral, an icon of Latin American folk and protest music, was shot to death in the early morning of July 9, 2011 by unknown gunmen who intercepted his car in Guatemala City.

Free Ericson Acosta!Others have been unlawfully arrested and imprisoned in order to keep them from creating works that give hope to the people such as Ericson Acosta, a poet, thespian, singer and journalist, who was arrested without warrant by the Philippine military on February 13, 2011 while serving as a volunteer researcher in a highly-militarized, poor, rural village in the Philippines.

Ferhat Tunç, Kurdish singer and composer, has faced severe repression from the Turkish state for his songs that protest the oppression of Kurdish people, language, and culture. He was recently sentenced to two years in prison on terrorism related charges due to his invocation during a speech where he mentioned names of three deceased Turkish leftists.

In Russia, three members of the punk rock collective, Pussy Riot, were recently sentenced to two years in prison after performing a song in Moscow’s main cathedral criticizing Vladimir Putin.

In the US, journalist and former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu-Jamal, has spent nearly 30 years on death row and remains held in strict isolation and solitary confinement for a crime many believe he did not commit.

Arundhati RoyStill other artists face continuous state harassment and threats to their lives such as Arundhati Roy, an award-winning novelist and essayist, who faces continuous hostility from the Indian government for her outspoken criticisms against media censorship and state brutality in Kashmir, and the state’s counter-insurgency operations against the Adivasi peoples. She also faces harassment from the state for writing and speaking sympathetically towards the Adivasi peoples and the Naxalites who have taken up arms to defend themselves against large foreign dominated mining and dam projects backed by the Indian state.

Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange became the target of the US State Department when Wikileaks released classified documents on the US military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan that exposed the disturbing extent of US involvement in said occupations.

Despite these obstacles, genuine peoples artists and cultural workers defy state repression and continue to create works that serve the interest of the oppressed, risking their lives everyday.

For more information visit: http://peoplesart.info/ or facebook event page

*The Global Concert to Defend People’s Culture is an initiative of the People’s Art Network and the International Conference on Progressive Culture. The conference, held in July of 2011, in the Philippines, consisted of over 80 visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, media practitioners and cultural workers from around the world.

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