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Berlin: A Sanctuary for Persecuted Artists

November 20, 2020

They’re from China, Belarus, Syria and Iran - exiled artists who have made a new home in Berlin. They share their stories on Arts.21, and talk about their hopes and struggles.

DW Arts.21 (Sendungslogo Kultur.21 englisch)
Videostill Kultur.21 | Zmicer Chartkou
Image: DW

Zmicer Chartkou: Art over prison

If Zmicer Chartkou had stayed in Belarus, he would have either become a revolutionary, or landed in prison. But the director decided he’d rather make art, so he left the country. In Berlin, he continues to fight for freedom of expression in Belarus.


Videostill Kultur.21 | Zhou Qing
Image: DW

Zhou Qing: Life is everywhere & nowhere

The time Zhou Qing spent in prison changed him forever. Since leaving the country, he hasn't been able to put down roots. But the author and film maker won’t be intimidated. Even in exile, he tackles topics about China no one else will touch.


Syrien | Kefah Ali Deeb, Künstlerin und Schriftstellerin aus Syrien
Image: DW

Kefah Ali Deeb: intermediary between people & culture

Kefah Ali Deeb didn’t want to leave Syria; she had to. Now the artist lives in Berlin where she works as a museum guide. The job helps her fight homesickness, and work toward peaceful relationships between refugees and native-born residents.  


Iran | Shahabaddin Sheikhi, Schriftsteller aus dem Iran
Image: DW

Shahabaddin Sheikhi’s new start in Berlin

Shahabaddin Sheikhi had a great job, he’d made a name for himself as a lyricist, and he was well connected. But the Green Movement in Iran brought all that to an end. The Kurd found safety in Berlin, but had to start from scratch.


Ralf Nestmeyer, PEN Vizepräsident
Image: privat

Ralf Nestmeyer: Champion of Freedom of expression

The organization PEN - which stands for poets, essayists and novelists—fights the persecution of journalists and authors worldwide. Ralf Nestmeyer is the vice president of the German chapter. He talks to Arts.21 about PEN’s work. 


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