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Nationwide Arts Event Lifts Ban on Invercargill Residents

“Artists Apologise to Mayor Shadbolt as Nationwide Arts Event Lifts Ban on Invercargill Residents”

‘Concerned Citizens’, a New Zealand-wide group of more than 60 artists and musicians, have lifted a ban on Invercargill residents attending human rights-focused photographic exhibitions in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Whanganui and Dunedin this month.

The ‘Unrecognised’ photography exhibition seeks to draw attention to Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s upcoming vote in the UN General Assembly in September, deciding whether or not New Zealand recognises Palestine as a state.

“Last week we were under the impression that Invercargill was not a legitimate city, and felt that it was appropriate to ban residents from attending the event around the country” says spokesperson Ben Knight.

“After speaking with Mayor Shadbolt, we now realise that we were seriously mistaken, and that people from Invercargill deserve the same rights as anyone else”

“We would like to extend a sincere public apology to Mr Shadbolt and all the residents of Invercargill, which we now recognise as a perfectly legitimate and lovely city” says Knight.

When contacted yesterday, Mayor Shadbolt described the ban as “ludicrous”.

“Invercargill is a perfectly legitimate city, full of perfectly legitimate people” said Shadbolt.

On Friday, the group also barred politicians from entering Parliament grounds if they were unable to produce documentation to prove they were not from Invercargill.

Green MP and Spokesperson for Human Rights Keith Locke was stopped by two large cardboard ‘checkpoint towers’ bearing the face of Minister McCully, and was dismayed to be refused entry when he could not provide proof of address.

Locke described the blockade as an “outrageous” breach of human rights, arguing that Invercargill residents deserved the same freedom of movement as anyone else, and the right to equal representation in Government.

The ‘Unrecognised’ exhibition also commemorates the 30th Anniversary of the Springbok tour anti-apartheid movement in New Zealand. Contributors include veteran human rights campaigner John Minto, highly acclaimed South African photographer Omar Badsha (co-founder of the influential Afrapix photography collective), prominent Israeli/Palestinian photography collective ActiveStills, activist Tame Iti, musician Imon Starr, artist Roger Morris, and South African film-maker Mark Fredericks, as well as more than 50 photographic artists from around New Zealand.

The ‘Unrecognised ‘ exhibition will also be showing next month at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in East London, South Africa.

‘Unrecognised’ runs until September 1st at the Te Karanga Gallery in Auckland, until August 31st at Tangente Café in Dunedin, and until Friday 26 th August at the Garrett Street exhibition space in Wellington, with a live auction at the space closing at 8pm.

Many of the works in the exhibition are available in an online fundraising art auction, open nationwide until 8pm Friday (26th August), at www.concernedcitizens.co.nz. All proceeds go towards helping ActiveStills continue to document the human rights situation in occupied Palestine.

High-quality footage of Parliament checkpoints banning Invercargill residents can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mglv-57LNTg

High-quality footage from exhibition opening in Wellington on Friday can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIaWX3kQUYc

ends

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