A group of artistes from Iran have written a moving open letter to the artiste community of the world about the despairing COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, aggravated in the light of the U.S.-led Security Council sanctions. The signatories — 302 as of March 28 — include stalwarts of cinema such as Majid Majidi and Rakshan Banietemad, popular actor-filmmaker-writer Niki Karimi, actor Babak Karimi and Shahab Hosseini who won the best actor award at Cannes Film Festival in 2016 for Asghar Farhadi’s celebrated film, The Salesman.
“The people of Iran are facing a crisis today; the Corona crisis you are aware of, as well as the ‘Crisis of Unjust Imposed Sanctions’ you might not be aware of,” the artistes’ letter states. There is implicit hope that their global counterparts would be able to influence public opinion and politicians so that they’d act before it’s too late. Iran is currently fighting the worst Corona outbreak in the Middle East.
The letter starts off by saying that artistes, no matter what their nationality, are “citizens of a borderless utopia called ‘art’ which exists in a world entitled ‘culture’ ”. They strive to improve their nations with their collective works and have talent to influence people and make them understand issues. “Regardless of our religious backgrounds and ideologies, using our individual tastes, styles and cultural characteristics, we all create narratives and images with our works of art; for peace over war, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and of course for our salvation and resurrection,” the letter states.
It goes on to say that though global politics and its superpowers have created gaps to keep the artistes separated, they have become stronger and more determined in transferring their collective messages of humanity and peace to the world.
It talks of everyone, regardless of their geographic or political situation, coming face to face with a common enemy — COVID-19. “We are all equally vulnerable to this microscopic adversary. The salvation of one, depends on the salvation of all. Corona is not just a virus, it is a simple and historic question that is waiting for complex answers from the people and governments of the world.” It then goes on to focus on the debilitating effect of the sanctions on Iran in the country’s fight against the pandemic saying that “its breaths are limited by inhumane global sanctions”.
“This crisis shall pass too, with small or catastrophic losses, but the collection of tales will remain as well. The stories of exhausted nurses dancing in contaminated hospital hallways to raise the morale of patients, as they hide their worries about the lack of medicines and basic hospital facilities; stories of physicians who haven’t been home in weeks and are forced to work without masks, gloves, gowns as they search for Corona victims in the hallways of the hospitals. These will all remain in the micro-historical memories of our time, and will be heard by all, sooner or later, either from us or from you all,” it states.
Hoping that it will not be too late for influential and unified artistes of the world to tell the stories of the injustices towards the Iranian people, so that the powerful politicians of the world may make the right choices, it informs them that a large number of infected victims (including the elderly who are the most vulnerable) are facing shortages of medical supplies. It ends with questions posited to the artistes of the world — “What do you think? What do you say? And what will you do?”
Source: The Hindu
By: Namrata Joshi