Bosnian-Israeli pianist Sasha Toperich today announced his intention to resign his honorary title as UNESCO Ambassador for Peace in protest of UNESCO’s decision to ban the display of an exhibit on UN premises because it includes work from Tibetan artists.
Dr. Toperich, an acclaimed concert pianist who has performed around the world — including in China — will formally renounce his title at an event at Tibet House in New York City.
Also present will be Dr. Nawang Rabgyal, Representative to the Americas of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as H.E. Husein Zivalj, Bosnian and Herzegovina Ambassador to the UN.
The controversy surrounds the inclusion of a tangka, a religious painting from artists in Tibet, in an exhibition called “Art Beyond Boarders” which represents some 50 countries and cultures of the world.
The exhibit was to be sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Museum of Twentieth Century Arts (TIMOTCA) and was to open at the United Nations on June 15, 2001
>UNESCO withdrew its sponsorship in early May because of the inclusion of the Tibetan tangka.
In a May 7 letter UNESCO stated that the by including the Tibetan artwork in the exhibit “TIMOTCA took actions that had the potential to cause serious harm to relations with Member States.”
TIMOTCA’s mission is to include every country, dependency, territory, island group as well as other cultural representations in its displays. It has presented four exhibitions with UNESCO since 1995.
“TIMOTCA cannot compromise on this matter as it speaks to the very heart of the TIMOTCA vision,” said Maryann Del Pizzo, the organization’s co-founder. “Art Beyond Boarders will continue its world tour with an ever-expanding collection including art representing Tibet.
“It is ironic that Art Beyond Boarders has found a boarder it cannot cross – the United Nations,” Del Pizzo continued. “Culture and art by their very nature exist beyond and without boundaries, and we are hopeful that someday the United Nations will be able to function with the full vision of a world body working to change the world.”
This move by UNESCO is the latest in an emerging pattern that has shown the UN bowing to pressure from China to exclude anything associated with Tibet from UN activities.
Last August the UN barred the Dalai Lama from attending a summit of world religious leaders held at the General Assembly Hall. Similarly, Nawang Rabgyal, the Dalai Lama’s Representative for the Americas, was denied access to a conference he was to address at the United Nations in March.
The International Campaign for Tibet has called on the UN to justify is position and to reinstate the exhibition — including the Tibetan tangka.