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We, U.K. based artists and academics are dismayed that two Palestinian filmmakers Yousef Nateel and Hussein Owda from Gaza have been refused visitor visas to the UK. Their film Gazagraph is part of 'The Past in the Present' film programme developed for Creative Interruptions, a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. They have been invited to attend the world premier of their film, take part in further screenings and participate in an academic conference and networking events at Sheffield Hallam University, the British Film Institute, Kings College London, Regents University, Migration Matters Festival in Sheffield and HOME in Manchester . The events are due to take place in June.

We are alarmed at the recent trend of rejecting entry to academics and artists from Gaza. In August 2018 the Home Office delayed granting a visa to the Palestinian Author Nayrouz Qarmout making it impossible for her to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival. In the same month they prevented the young Palestinian visual artist Malak Mattar from attending an exhibition containing her own work. We wish to challenge what is a systemic problem affecting all artists in the Global South. Over the last two years there has been a significant increase in the number of rejections. In the case of Gaza, the systematic isolation of its artists and academics by the British government not only impedes academic and cultural exchange but also colludes in Israel’s efforts to isolate and inflict collective punishment on the people of Gaza. We call on the Home Office to reconsider their decision and allow Yousef and Hussein visitor visas to the U.K. to share their creative talents here.

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