Solidarity with protests in Iran: every chair for a dead person

Solidarity with protests in Iran: every chair for a dead person

An evening at the Berlin Academy of Arts was dedicated to solidarity with the protests in Iran. Digressions led to Afghanistan and Iran’s Kurds.

A person's face painted with the colors of Iran

Solidarity with the freedom movement in Iran, here at a demonstration in Berlin Photo: Jörg Carstensen/dpa

It was an almost idyllic image that greeted visitors to the evening “Woman, Life, Freedom: The Academy of Arts shows solidarity with the protesters in Iranian territory” in Berlin on Tuesday. On a screen, children were hurrying through a dusty maze of alleys. In the next shot, adults ran: The video showed young men rushing onto the tarmac at Kabul Airport during the first few days after the Taliban took power again in August 2021.

The men wanted to leave the country on a US military plane. Those who didn’t manage to stay on top of the starting plane fell down.

Graveyard is one of three short films by Afghan director Buda of Bamiyan that were screened in the Academy’s studio foyer and auditorium. Buda of Bamiyan attacks the journalistic exploited image of Afghanistan as the graveyard of empires: people, victims of international terrorist groups and the US army lie in the graves of empires.

The Afghan digression makes perfect sense: Iran and Afghanistan not only share a border that is around 950 kilometers long, but also a history. When the Soviet Union intervened in the Afghan civil war at Christmas 1979, Iran was already the Islamic Republic of Ruhollah Khomeini after the revolution and the fall of the Shah. Forced secularization was attempted in Afghanistan, and a theocracy was established in Iran, which in turn gave birth to terror.

shattered hopes

At the Academy of Arts, the political scientist and journalist Sham Jaff, to the autonomy efforts of the Iranian Kurds. Jaff performed “Big Village”an interactive documentary about the Kurdish rebel village of Gewredê, a place that only exists in memories and stories.

The film director Beri Shalmashi and the historian Lyangelo Vasquez have brought together the fragments of the “Big Village” to create a panorama that includes the sunflowers in the mountains as well as the gun right next to the cloakroom with a view of the valley. There is little to romanticize about.

One of the interviewees tells how on April 1, 1985, the Iranian troops began bombing the insubordinate village, which included a radio station. The documentary is dedicated to the victims of another state intervention, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ attack on Erbil and the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (DPKI) in 2018.

The academy dedicated the seating in the hall that evening, arm by arm, to a dead person who died in the protests in Iran.

What is a poem in the face of a revolution, asked the slam poet Tanasgol Sabbagh

What is a poem in the face of a revolution, asked the slam poet Tanasgol Sabbagh in her contribution, which she wanted to be understood as a poetic intervention. One of Sabbagh’s numerous multilingual answers was: a wooden ship with the name of a rainbow god. One of the listeners wore a slogan on her jacket: “Careful with each other / dangerous together.” It is to be hoped that this will remain the case. Robert Miessner

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