The statement, released on Friday (24Feb17), comes after Iranian filmmaker Farhadi, whose film The Salesman is in the running for an Academy Award, said he would not attend the ceremony on Sunday due to President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban targeting Muslim countries.

Farhadi, German director Maren Ade, Martin Zandvliet from Denmark, Swedish filmmaker Hannes Holm and Australians Martin Butler and Bentley Dean each signed the statement.

"Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders," they wrote. "We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best colour. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts. Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist - for everybody.

“The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colours, religions, and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on - not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly ‘foreign’ and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better.

“These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different," they add.

Trump's controversial travel ban, which restricted people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., was introduced last month (Jan17). The ban has since been halted, but Farhadi announced on Friday he would be sending two Iranian-Americans, engineer Anousheh Ansari and former NASA director Firouz Naderi, in his place.