Scottish writer Paul Laverty and British director Ken Loach issued a joint statement on December 1st (commemorating the anniversary of Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her bus seat for a white passenger) in support of Western Saharan human rights activist Aminatou Haidar. Haidar is in the third week of a hunger strike after being deported against her will by Moroccan authorities occupying her homeland. You can watch Democracy Now!’s coverage of Haidar’s plight here.
Statement concerning Sahrawi human right’s activist Aminatou Haidar
Haidar’s boarding card and Rosa Parks’s seat
On the 1st December 1955, in Montgommery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver and give up her seat to a white passenger. On Friday the 13th of November 2009 Aminatou Haidar refused to fill out her boarding card as instructed by the authorities in Laayoun (where she lives) in Morocco controlled Western Sahara.
When we decided to pull our film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne film festival following our discovery that the festival was in part sponsored by the Israeli state we wrote to the Director Richard Moore with our detailed reasons. Continually he has dishonestly misrepresented us and does so again (Comment is Free 27th Aug ‘09) by stating that “to allow the personal politics of one film maker to proscribe a festival position…..goes against the grain of what festivals stand for.” Later “Loach’s demands were beyond the pale”. Once again Mr Moore, this decision was taken by three film makers, (director, producer, writer) not in some private abstract bubble, but after long discussion between us and in response to a call for a cultural boycott, including film festivals, from a wide spectrum of Palestinian civil society, including writers, film makers, cultural workers, human rights groups, journalists, trade unions, women’s groups, student organizations and many more besides. As Moore should know by now “The Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” (PACBI) was launched in Ramallah in April 2004, and its aims, reasons, and constituent parts are widely available on the net. This in turn is part of a much wider international movement for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction” (B. D. S.) against the Israeli State.
As you may have heard by now, British film legend Ken Loach has pulled out of the Melbourne Film Festival because the organizers’ refusal to observe the cultural boycott of Israel. Following is an exchange of letters that took place between Loach, long-time co-writer Paul Laverty, co-producer Rebecca O’Brien and Richard Moore, the director of the MFF. Recall that earlier Ken Loach had drawn hysterical responses from the media when he pressured the Edinburgh Film Festival to return the funding they had received from the Israeli embassy.
Letter to the Director of Melbourne Film Festival 2009
13th July 2009
Dear Richard Moore
Sadly, we learn that your festival is sponsored in part by the State of Israel.
As you are no doubt aware, many Palestinians, including artists and academics, have called for a boycott of events supported by Israel. There are many reasons for this; the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods, the massacres in Gaza, all are part of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people.