The Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as El Sexto, could not collect the 2015 International Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissidence, in the ceremony organized by the Oslo Freedom Forum. The prize, awarded by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) of New York, was received by the activist Lia Villares, since the graffiti artist has been in prison since last December, charged with contempt, for trying to stage a performance with two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raul.”
After presenting a brief music video, with the refrain repeating “Three years [in prison] for two pigs, no,” and closing with the images of a rally to demand freedom for the artist and the phrase, “Contempt should never be avoided,” Villares read a letter written by El Sexto from Villa Marista penitentiary.
“I want to dedicate this prize also to those who have me in prison, to remind them that I am not alone,” the artist said. The graffiti artist also thanked the Ladies in White, his daughter, the writer Angel Santiesteban (who is also in prison) and the artist Tania Bruguera (arrested this Sunday in front of her house and released shortly afterward).
The other award winners, members of the Sudanese non-violent resistance movement and the Indonesian comic Girifna Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, personally received a representation of the Goddess of Democracy, the iconic statue erected by Chinese students during protests in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.
The Oslo Freedom Forum, which opened Monday in the Norwegian capital and will close on Wednesday, gathers the proponents of freedom and human rights from several countries. This year’s gathering is the Freedom Forum’s seventh, and focuses “on those places where it is impossible to stage protests, which are silenced or attacked, as in Cuba and Russia,” according to its founder, Thor Halvorssen.