In solidarity with the popular youth uprisings that have erupted in Iraq against state corruption and deteriorating economic and living conditions, Ruya Foundation calls for a strike of cultural institutions in Iraq.

We condemn the use of violence against peaceful protesting, and the bloodshed that has lead to the death of over 265 protestors so far. Peaceful protesting is a basic right, enshrined in Article 38.c of the Iraqi Constitution.

As the commissioner of the Iraq Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale 2019, we have also decided to close the Fatherland exhibition during this period in solidarity. The Ruya Shop in Baghdad will also be closed.

Since our founding in late 2012, we have worked hard, frequently in inhospitable circumstances to create a platform for artists across Iraq to freely express their creativity, in a firm belief that culture is an integral component of any society, and a powerful force for change towards an open and free country. This is particularly important for Iraq, given its difficult recent history and authoritarian past.

Popular uprisings across history and in this contemporary period are emblematic of the youth. These are resulting from socio-economic conflict and a need for real change, for greater civil rights against ruling elites that has reached a saturation point in Iraq. This is also part of a larger trend taking place in the region today, in Algeria, Lebanon, Syria and the Sudan and the wider world in Chile, Ecuador and Hong Kong.

Ruya Foundation also shares this local, regional and global yearning to dream, to aspire, to think, to fight for and embrace new visions of a future that is inclusive of all, especially the younger generations that are the vanguard of this change.