The letter, signed by 253 Iranian artists, has complained about the unfair and cruel Western sanctions against people of Iran while the country is struggling to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
“Iranians are facing the Corona crisis and the crisis of unjustly imposed sanctions. It’s important to know that when our large numbers of infected are waiting for their turn and facing shortages of medical supplies, what will you do?” said Hossein Entezami, head of the Cinema Organization of Iran, citing part of the letter in a post on his Twitter account.
Following is an English version of the Iranian artists’ letter:
“All of us, citizens of any country and of any nationality, are also citizens of a territory without borders and flags called “art”, in a world called “culture”, and no power can ever deprive us of this citizenship.
In this common and dream territory, Asian or European, American or African, we all possess the gift of cultural understanding and communication, the talent to influence public opinion, the ability to analyze and the opportunity to change the conditions of human society.
All of us, with our works, with our artistic tastes, with the particularities and uniqueness of our cultures, have imagined and expressed faith and unbelief, love and hate, peace and war, knowledge and ignorance, goodness and malice, damnation, salvation and redemption, and through these works we have learned to know and make known a shared world much larger than the countries in which we live.
The more the powers and their policies, driven by hatred and intolerance, have tried to divide and oppress us, the more we have become united and strong and courageous, more determined and incisive in transmitting our common humanitarian messages.
At this moment, all of us, regardless of the geographic and political positions, are facing a common mortal enemy that does not matter where it comes from, but imports itself everywhere, in freedom and in a hurry. In the face of this tiny enemy, we are fragile and vulnerable to the same extent, and we cannot save ourselves without saving the other.
Coronavirus is not only a virus, but a historical, yet simple, question that is receiving complicated answers from the nations and governments of the world.
We ask you: “Can the response of the Iranian nation, suffocated by sanctions, be on a par with the responses of all other nations to this historic question?”
Is it not legitimate to expect that the response of free and independent artists from around the world to the question “Coronavirus”, with the common danger behind the doors, will be different and more effective than the answers of their politicians and the powerful sides?
This crisis will sooner or later pass, with more or less victims, but its stories, common or different, will remain. The story will remain about the exhausted nurses who, to raise the morale of the patients and colleagues, started dancing in the infected corridors of the hospitals, hiding their despair behind this fake cheerfulness because of the lack of means and medicines. The story of the doctors who stayed away from home for weeks, without masks and gloves, among the patients in the intensive care unit often treated on the ground in the hospital corridors, will remain.
These and other stories will remain indelible in the historical memory of the world, and sooner or later, by you or us, they will be told.
Maybe before it’s too late, before even some of us are out of breath, the artists engaged and influential in the public opinion would do well to tell the story of the oppression and isolation against the Iranian people, appealing to politicians and to the powerful parties of the world.
The Iranian people today face two emergencies; one that you know as “Coronavirus”, and the other that we wish you would never know: the “sanctions”.
For us Iranian artists, in this moment of humanitarian emergency, it is vitally important to know what you, artists from all over the world, think of the conditions in which our infected citizens, children and elderly people suffering from Coronavirus find themselves… of the disastrous shortcomings of the Iranian medical community and health system collapsed between emergency and sanctions. It is essential to know how you plan to support us.”