Oyoun is a cultural organisation at the heart of Berlin, dedicated to advancing social justice for, by and with marginalised creatives. Since its inception, Oyoun has been funded by the “Senate of Culture and Social Cohesion”. Over the past years, we have seen the scope of our work being increasingly scrutinised and controlled, at the cost of our artistic freedom and freedom of expression.
We have been warned by the Berlin Senate that artistic freedom is no longer granted for topics too politically charged. For lack of an objective definition of “too politically charged”, we have been dependent on the subjective and arbitrary judgement of the Senate as we curate our activities, events and partnerships.
We have been pressured to cancel several events in the past, most recently one by the “Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East e.V.” a group of Jewish and Israeli members and winner of the renowned Göttingen Peace Prize 2019 for their outstanding work on fostering peace and justice in Israel-Palestine. We have been and are in full solidarity with them.
In the face of the grief and sorrow they are currently going through after losing loved ones to the widely condemned brutal murders committed by the terrorist organisation Hamas as well as by the right-wing Israeli government, we will not bow to the pressure exerted by the Senate. This event will take place on November 4th and provide a shared space of grief and allow their important work to be continued at this critical time.
Oyoun’s position is clear: Just as we unconditionally condemn all forms of antisemitism, so too do we fight any other forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Arab and anti-Muslim discrimination. We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s violent siege and continuous bombardment on Gaza causing the tragic loss of thousands of lives, including the heartbreaking deaths of hundreds of children, extreme trauma, severe human rights violations, and immeasurable tragedy continuing every day, as well as Israel’s exacerbating annexation policies in the Palestinian West Bank. And we unequivocally condemn the brutal violence by Hamas.
We call for (trans)national solidarity, for civil courage and determination to end decades of settler-colonialism.
With the siege of Gaza and current denial of access to water, food, medicine and electricity, the use of white phosphorus and collective punishment by the Israeli government – we are factually and by definition of international law witnessing war crimes and yet Germany affirms “unconditional support” for measures that lead to famine and extermination.
As a cultural organisation in a democratic state like Germany, it is our duty to foster transnational solidarity beyond borders, beyond race, ethnicity, religion and nationality and to ensure that artistic freedom and freedom of speech are protected, promoted and upheld, especially under the most critical circumstances. Censorship and cancellations of (cultural) events create an erasure of public discourse, which is at the core of democracy.
It is our duty to stay true to our values, our code of conduct and our work and we stand up against the silencing of voices, the limitations of artistic freedom and freedom of speech.
Stop the war. End the occupation. Protect civilians on all sides.