India: Concern for ongoing harassment of filmmaker Leena Manimekalai


  • post Type / General news
  • Date / 4 October 2022

Humanists International is deeply concerned to learn of the circulation of death threats against Indian filmmaker, Leena Manimekalai. The flyers, which appear to have been posted through letterboxes in various areas of Toronto as well as been sent to the Aga Khan Museum, purport to be made by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – an Indian Hindu nationalist right-wing paramilitary organization. The threats have been reported to the relevant authorities.

Photographs of the flyers circulating in Toronto

The threats come in the wake of the cancellation of Manimekalai’s participation in the ‘Under the Tent’ film festival for which she had been commissioned to create and screen a short film on the theme of multiculturalism. Manimekalai’s film – Kaali – depicts the Hindu goddess Kali wandering the streets of Toronto at night during a pride festival, observing groups of people out on the town, riding the subway, stopping at a bar, taking selfies with members of the public, and sharing a cigarette with a man on a park bench.

The recent threats represent an escalation in the harassment faced by the filmmaker since sharing the poster on 2 July. Manimekalai has faced a barrage of death threats, a campaign of harassment on social media – with the hashtag #arrestleenamanimekalai trending on Twitter India – and at least nine separate legal complaints have been filed against her in India. As a result, Manimekalai’s film was withdrawn from the festival by its organizers CERC Migration – Toronto Metropolitan University, and not exhibited at the Aga Khan Museum, as scheduled.

Humanists International calls on the Canadian authorities to swiftly and thoroughly investigate threats against Indian filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, and ensure her safety.

Kali Goddess Photo by Sonika Agarwal on Unsplash

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