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AN OPEN LETTER ON THE OPPRESSION OF INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS
In the wake of governmental repression of theater artists in Hungary and, more recently,
in Belarus, the International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC) adds its voice
to the global chorus calling for greater freedom on the pages of publications and on the
stages of oppressed theatre companies.
As a non-profit, Non-Govermental Organization recognized under Statute B of
UNESCO, the purpose of the IATC is to promote international cooperation through
international engagement and advocacy for building bridges among cultures. In the recent
repression and imprisonment of theatre artists, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko gives credence
to critics who have called Belarus “the last true remaining dictatorship in the heart of
Europe.” According to the New York Times, the deeply contentious election of December
19, 2010, after which Lukashenko claimed to have received 79 percent of the vote, led to
the leader’s announcement that more than 600 “bandits and saboteurs,” including several
of his opponents, had been arrested.
The leadership of the IATC is deeply disturbed by the rising international tide of
oppression of the arts and literature, especially of theatres and theatre artists. We deplore
the conviction and brief imprisonment of Belarus Free Theatre’s company manager
Artiom Zhelezniak on charges of „illegal assembly.” We celebrate the departure from
Belarus of company members Nikolai Khalezin, Natalia Kolyada and others, who have
been recognized internationally and were honored with a „Special Mention” by the
Europe Theatre Prize.
Members of the IATC are theatre critics, but we are also theatre advocates and we will
resist all governmental attempts to censor or otherwise marginalize the important work of
our global theatre artists. When some artists and writers are not free to think, work, and
create in an unrestricted manner, we all suffer a loss of freedom and of human possibility.
We call on all who love freedom—artists, audience members, governments—to rally
against these specific oppressions, to agitate for greater creative freedom, and to join our
voices in support of those who cannot, or may not, speak for themselves. We encourage
our members to shine a bright light on these events and to keep these matters in the
forefront of our global artistic discourse.
If we join together in this struggle, we shall prevail.
Yun-Cheol Kim, President (Korea)
Michel Vaïs, Secretary General (Canada)
Association internationale des critiques de théâtre / International Association of Theatre