In this statement from the Writers' Association of Iran, released on November 30th, 2013, the Association congratulates those who defend the freedom of speech while listing recent successes in the struggle against censorship. Despite this progress, the statement describes how Iran's censorship policies continue to keep Iranians from fully expressing themselves through art and literature: "the works of writers, artists and others are still under the blade of the censors; all the while, books are printed in smaller numbers, movie theaters grow emptier, theatrical productions become more anemic, and music sounds less musical."
December 4th, A Day to Say NO to Censorship and YES to Freedom of Speech
Objection to censorship has always been the primary cause for activism among progressive and dedicated authors and artists all over the globe.
Both artists whose principal commitment is to their art and craft and those who believe in human rights have tried different ways to end censorship. This struggle has been more intense in Iran.
Last December, on the Day of Struggle Against Censorship, a statement was released mainly asking for a ban on censorship before and after the publication of books; it was signed by 170 authors. During the last year, many authors and artists talked and wrote against censorship. The overall outrage and criticism was more than previous years and the results are obvious in the reactions of the new government officials.
The Minister of Islamic Guidance joined the critics in the beginning and indicated that the continuation of censorship has become very costly for the government. It soon became obvious, however, that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Nevertheless, criticism of the status quo coming from government itself released and bolstered the silenced voices in society.
There were articles and interviews about censorship being published in papers that could not even print the word “censorship” heretofore. An open letter of 204 authors to the Minister of Islamic Guidance was published during this period. The signatories demanded a stop to publications permission licensing. The Writers Association of Iran has always been an advocate of freedom of speech for all, and a voice against any kind of censorship in society.
Although objections and criticisms have slowed government censorship, and these protests in themselves are considered achievements, the status quo remains. The works of writers, artists and others are still under the blade of the censors; all the while, books are printed in smaller numbers, movie theaters grow emptier, theatrical productions become more anemic, and music sounds less musical. Overall, censorship has radically lowered the status of arts and literature among our people.
In order to remove this heavy shadow of censorship from arts and literature, and to wipe this ominous phenomenon off society, our only way is to unite and harmonize our voices. December 4th IS the day to do it; a day that random and solitary voices, screaming for freedom of speech and against censorship, are joined together into a united cry for freedom. December 4th is a day to say, “No to Censorship, and Yes to Freedom of Speech!”
On this symbolic day, the Writers’ Association of Iran hails all those who fight courageously for freedom of speech.
Writers’ Association of Iran
November 30th, 2013
Original Persian: Today's Iran