Curator Christine Tohme, founder and director of the Lebanese Association for the Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan, has been denied a passport renewal by Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security due to a warrant against her, according to a report by Mostafa Heddaya on ArtInfo. Tohmé has released the following statement which is being circulated widely as it is quite reflective of the current precariousness of cultural workers in the region facing governmental obstacles:
Two days ago I applied to the Directorate of General Security for a passport renewal. When I went back to get my passport, I was informed that the renewal was suspended, due to a warrant issued against me.
I have no doubt that this warrant is directly linked to the domain of my work, as a director of the Lebanese Association for the Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan. As such, the significance of this action against me cannot be understated, as it affects the domain of other civic workers, as well as mine personally.
Using warrants illegally for obstruction of an administrative procedures, such as renewing passports, strips people of their right to mobility and travel. This is an illegal penalty issued by an administrative security authority, not a judiciary one.