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Petitions/Protest against Censorship

Letter of endorsement

to the Japan branch of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) concerning its statement on the closure of After “Freedom of Expression” at Aichi Triennale 2019.

AICA INTERNATIONAL
The International Office
32 rue Yves Toudic – 75010 Paris – FRANCE

Paris, 14 October 2019

Subject:
- Closure of "After Freedom of Expression?” at Aichi Triennale 2019
- Protesting the decision of Agency of Cultural Affairs on September 26, to stop financial support (Yen 78,000,000) to Aichi Triennale 2019


Att.:
- Mr. Koichi Ogiuda, Miniater, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan-
- Mr. Ryohei Miyata, Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, Agency of Cultural Affairs, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan, Government of Japan

cc. Index on Censorship

The international Association of Art Critics (AICA) is a global organisation, established in 1948 by UNESCO, comprising art critics who are actively engaged in improving International cooperation in the fields of artistic creativity, mediation and endeavour.

On August 7 AICA Japan issued a statement, signed by its president Fumio Nanjo, on the closure of a section titled "After 'Freedom of Expression ?" within the Aichi Triennale 2019.
AICA Japan's statement expresses grave concern about the situation, firmly stating that “the suppression of expressive activities by violence and threats is unacceptable.” It continues, “Although it is the role of local authorities, including the police, to protect citizens’ activities from violent acts, giving in to violent demands for the closure of the exhibition on the grounds of protecting citizens from that violence is problematic.”

We furthermore protest the decision of the Agency of Cultural Affairs on September 26, to stop financial support (Yen 78,000,000) to Aichi Triennale 2019.

AICA International underlines emphatically the conclusion of the letter: "AICA Japan observes the developments at the Aichi Triennale 2019 with great concern. We hope that proper social conditions can be created in Japan in which all the works originally displayed at the opening of this international contemporary art exhibition could be freely shown again."

AICA International hereby endorses the protest of AICA Japan. Though we recognize the Triennale has reopened on October 8th, we deplore the fact that it was shut down for so long.

Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves
President AICA International

Robert-Jan Muller
Chair, AICA Committee on
Censorship and Freedom of Expression

Declaration of Kotoba

Auf dem 52. internationalen AICA Kongress teilte Yikiko Shikata, dass in Japan die Aichy Triennale 2019 wegen Zensur geschlossen wurde. Stein des Anstoßes war eine Skulptur, die an die comfort women - Frauen, die vor und während des 2. Weltkriegs in Korea von den Japanischen Truppen zu Sex gezwungen wurden - erinnert. Inzwischen ist die Triennale wieder eröffnet worden, mit strengen Sicherheitsmaßnahmen

AICA fühlt sich mit seinen Japanischen KollegInnen solidarisch. Ein offizielles Schreiben wird demnächst veröffentlicht.

Erklärung zur Unterstützung der Künstler, Wissenschaftler und Journalisten Japans

Die Unterzeichneten sind zutiefst besorgt über die gegenwärtigen Bedrohungen der Meinungsfreiheit in Japan und fordern die japanische Regierung und alle ihre Behörden auf, die notwendigen Schritte zu unternehmen, um die in der japanischen Verfassung verankerten Rechte von Künstlern, Journalisten und Wissenschaftlern zu wahren . Insbesondere fordern wir die Agentur für kulturelle Angelegenheiten nachdrücklich auf, ihre Entscheidung, die Unterstützung für die Aichi-Triennale 2019 zurückzuziehen, zu widerrufen. Es kann nicht akzeptiert werden, dass in einer demokratischen und pluralistischen Gesellschaft Politik und Verwaltung populistischen Forderungen und sogar terroristischen Drohungen nachgeben, anstatt Kunst und Wissenschaft gegen die Feinde der Meinungsfreiheit zu verteidigen. Wir sind zutiefst besorgt darüber, dass das Vertrauen in japanische offizielle Institutionen inzwischen in einem Maße erschüttert wurde, das die Zusammenarbeit zwischen ausländischen Künstlern, Wissenschaftlern und Institutionen mit japanischen Regierungsinstitutionen gefährdet.
Wir fordern auch die japanische Regierung und die politischen Führer Japans nachdrücklich auf, ihren gesetzlichen Verpflichtungen nachzukommen, um Hassreden und jede andere verbale oder nonverbale Bedrohung des Geistes der internationalen Zusammenarbeit, Versöhnung und des Friedens zu bekämpfen.
Schließlich fordern wir die japanische Regierung und alle verantwortlichen Politiker nachdrücklich auf, allen Künstlern, Wissenschaftlern und Journalisten Japans bei ihrem Streben nach Meinungs- und Meinungsfreiheit uneingeschränkte und öffentliche Unterstützung zukommen zu lassen, um die freie und offene Diskussion politischer Fragen in Bezug auf Frieden und Völkerverständigung zu fördern sowie den Ruf Japans als sicherer Hafen von Freiheit, Vielfalt und Kreativität wiederherzustellen, welche die wahren Quellen des menschlichen Wachstums und der menschlichen Entwicklung sind.

Originaler Protestbrief aus Japan

Background

On September 26, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, published its decision to withdraw all financial support from this year’s Aichi Triennale, one of the largest international art festivals in Japan. The decision was made after the exhibition displayed at the Triennale had to be closed down after only three days, on August 4, 2019, because violent threats including calls announcing acts of terrorism had been made to the Triennale office alleging that, among others, the display of a „comfort woman“ by a South Korean artist violated the feelings of the Japanese people. The mayor of Nagoya city demanded that public financial support be withdrawn from the Triennale. The Agency had originally consented to support the Triennale with 78 million Yen (c. 724,000 USD).
The Agency now claims that the organizers of the Triennale, „with regard to the exhibition, despite recognizing important facts that threaten the safety of the exhibition hall, including visitors, and the smooth operation of the business received notification of the decision of eligibility [for support by the Agency] without declaring those facts. Even after submitting a grant application form, they did not declare these facts until they received an inquiry from the Agency for Cultural Affairs at the subsequent screening stage.“ (Source).
The Minister of Education has since denied that the (highly rare) decision to withdraw support was related to the contents of the exhibition and thus could qualify as an act of censorship. (Source)
However, the Governor of Aichi has called this decision „a grave violation of article 21 of the Japanese constitution“ which guarantees the freedom of expression, and has announced to take court action. (Source)
Japanese artists and media have also been highly critical of the Agency’s decision. The Asahi Shimbun commented that „internationally, it may invite distrust and contempt for Japanese cultural administration.“ (Source) The Mainichi Shimbun demanded that „political power should not be able to select exhibition contents and works through subsidy decisions.“ (Source)


Further information
Japan reopens exhibit closed over censored 'comfort woman' statue
 and 
Controversial art exhibition featuring 'comfort woman' statue reopens in Nagoya


Free Osman Kavala

On the 52nd International AICA Congress the participating members asked to free Osman Kavala.#

The membership of AICA International (International Association of Art Critics) is global and culturally diverse and we believe firmly in the principle of freedom of expression.

Mr. Osman Kavala who is a businessman and philanthropist has been remanded in custody for almost two years with an indictment that is not based on any concrete evidence. Kavala has always supported civic engagement, democratic forms of expression and equality of access for arts and culture. Osman Kavala has been active in fostering culture and education in Turkey. As a member of numerous boards and president of the cultural institution Anadolu Kültür, which he founded 16 years ago, he has constructed bridges in civil society from Turkey to Europe and neighboring countries.

We, as members of AICA International and participants of the 52nd International AICA Congress 2019 in Cologne & Berlin, are stating that Osman Kavala must be released immediately.

Berlin, 5 October 2019
Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves
President AICA International

Robert-Jan Muller
Chair, AICA Committee on
Censorship and Freedom of Expression