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Hito Steyerl. Photo: Dominik Butzmann.

Hito Steyerl Calls for Germany to Stop Selling Arms to Turkey

Artist Hito Steyerl has condemned the German government for supplying arms to Turkey and for its complicity in the offensive military action Turkish forces carried out in a Kurdish-held area of northern Syria earlier this month, Monopol reports. In solidarity with the women of Rojava, the artist has demanded that German federal institutions stop showing her work until the sale of weapons stops.

Steyerl is also calling for an end to the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement, which has given Turkey $6.6 billion in aid to help improve humanitarian conditions for Syrian migrants living there. Turkey invaded Syria after the United States pulled its troops from northern Syria in an attempt to create a buffer between the Kurds, whom President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan considers a security threat, and its borders. The country also plans to resettle at least one million Syrian refugees there.

The artist made the ultimatum during a recorded performance, titled Political Intervention, which was part of the opening of the Herbstsalon festival at Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater on Saturday, October 26. Theater artist Anina Jendreyko, filmmaker and musician Heja Netirk, and political scientist Bilgin Ayata also participated in the event.

“Until the German state changes its position, I am demanding that federal state institutions stop showing my work held in their collections as part of its external cultural diplomacy,” Steyerl said during the performance. “I am sick of my work being deployed to detract attention from the German state’s tacit agreement with displacement, ethnic cleansing, and warfare, and to lend it an aura of tolerance and inclusivity.”

The performers also sharply criticized Germany and the European Union for their refusal to impose sanctions against Turkey—Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened to open the borders to Europe and allow refugees to enter unchecked should the EU order sanctions.

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