Egypt should abolish censorship of the arts

AFTE and Freemuse publish an extensive study on censorship of artistic expression in Egypt. The 84-page report ‘Censors of Creativity’ reveals that the Egyptian government needs to reform the current legislative and institutional apparatus of censorship. “Several conservative restrictions imposed on artistic creativity contravene human rights standards and basic liberties,” says Ahmed Ezzat, the Egyptian […]

Syria: Surviving civil war with heavy metal

Armed with a cellphone and borrowed camera, the young Syrian Monzer Darwish seeks refuge in producing a ‘rockumentary’ about Heavy Metal music in Syria. His documentary film called ‘Syrian Metal Is War’ is currently being edited in Lebanon. A trailer was published on in January 2014: Syrian Metal Is War – Documentary Promo Published […]

Belarus: Outspoken musicians endangered

In May 2014, the Icehockey World Championships will begin in Belarus, and the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka will do its best to ensure that fans and tourists experience Belarus as a “normal” European country. Lavon Volski is a musicians who wants to “rock” that facade of normality. With his new album he has decided to […]

France: Open letter addresses censorship in the arts sector

An open letter, ‘Against censorship, action!’, signed by 20 organisations and published by the French organisation Observatoire de Liberté de Dréation on 24 March 2014, has focussed attention on the ongoing challenges of censorship in French arts and culture. The letter denounces what it calls a “legal arsenal” used by ultra-conservative groups to prosecute, sanction […]

Iran: Signals of growing musical freedom of expression

With women singing on stage and a playlist of Western pop songs sung in English during performances of ‘The Last Days of March’ in Tehran, Iranian musicians are breaking new ground, reported Scott Peterson for Christian Science Monitor. Musicians and actors say that Iran’s culture space has opened up noticeably under the centrist President Hassan […]

Turkey: Report about freedom of expression violations

In the aftermath of a brutal government crackdown on dissent during the Gezi Park protests, PEN has prepared a report highlighting some of the issues raised by the nationwide protest movement ‘The Gezi Park Protests: the impact on freedom of expression in Turkey’ is a joint report published by English PEN and PEN International. In […]

Egypt: Revolutionary singer stopped from performing

The Egyptian singer Mohamed Mohsen known for his anti-government songs said Saturday that authorities stopped him from performing at an arts festival attended by the country’s interim president and military chief for “security concerns”. Mohsen told The Associated Press he thought officials might “specifically targeted” him over his revolutionary songs or because he participated in […]

“Don’t Like It? Destroy It…” Two chronicles on censored art

The magazine The Dangerlands has published two chronicles about “How we’re still going through the Dark Ages when it comes to art”. “Controversy will always be good for art, because art is meant to evoke emotion. As long as there is a debate and a clutch on freedom to deliver images like the two above […]

UK: Four artists shortlisted for Freedom of Expression Awards 2014

British theatre producer David Cecil, Lebanese playwright Lucien Bourjeily, Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud and the Turkish writer Arikan are shortlisted for the Index Awards 2014, which during 14 years have honoured some of the most remarkable fighters for free expression from around the world. The award show takes place in London, United Kingdom, on 20 […]

Artists are truth tellers risking their lives for us

Our consideration of the human rights in any country should include the freedom of artists to express their heart, writes Deeyah Khan – a critically acclaimed music producer, composer and an Emmy award-winning documentary film director – in this statement she submitted to the United Nations in March 2014. Video recording of Deeyah Khan’s speech […]

Lebanon: Inconsistent and bizarre censorship practices

March, a Lebanese NGO, have been documenting the obscure and arbitrary censorship practices in Lebanon via their ‘Virtual Museum of Censorship’ since the group was founded in 2011. In March 2014, Global Post published an in-depth coverage of their work and the current censorship practices in the country. “To describe their findings as bizarre would […]

Pakistan: Voiceless singers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cry for security

Black curtains have fallen on Pashto cinema in KP as militants have speeded up their attacks. Musicians are receiving death threats, being kidnapped and forced to leave their homes. Local government hopes a new cultural policy can change the desperate situation for artists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. By Sher Alam Shinwari, reporting for Freemuse from Peshawar […]

South Korea: K-pop music booms but censors still loom

The South Korean music style K-pop has become a success story of music export and glamour, but a long history of censorship and regulation still affects the music markets in South Korea. By Yoo Eun Lee, Global Voices Korean editor and founder of K-pop Decoder     K-pop has dominated the Asian music market for […]

The soundtrack of Syrian resistance

Music has been at the core of the Syrian uprising since its beginning in 2011, and for the same reason musicians have been killed and are being silenced by force. It is part of an attempt to impose political and religious agendas, reports Spanish-Syrian activist Leila Nachawati, who is a professor of Communications at Carlos […]

Music Freedom Day 2014 takes place in 18 countries

During 2013, the human rights organisation Freemuse registered 19 musicians killed, 7 abducted, and 18 music creators imprisoned. There are many reasons for organising the annual ‘Music Freedom Day’ 3rd of March, which puts focus on musicians’ rights to freedom of expression. “These are some of the statistics for 2013, which Freemuse publishes today, but […]

Cuba: Rappers persecuted – beaten, ransacked, arrested

Excerpt of blog-post by John Suarez at “The importance of generating and maintaining attention is critically important for anyone who dissents from the official government line. Rodolfo Ramirez, known by his rapping name as El Primario, member of the hip-hop duo El Primario y Julito, who appears in the above video was so badly […]

Turkey: Musicians of Grup Yorum plan hunger strike

Members of the popular Turkish band Grup Yorum announced that they are planning to stage a hunger strike to protest a government ‘assault on the arts’, according to a press release issued on 14 February 2014. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) “is targeting all artists that oppose it. They are closing theatres, […]

India: Tamil poets explains how music is permitted in Islam

“Islam is not against music,” said Tamil poet Abdul Rahman on 14 February 2014, and that statement was quickly quoted and republished on dozens of Indian news-sites and blogs. Abdul Rahman is the director of the Islamic Literary Organisation, Islamiya Ilakkiya Kazhagam – a pioneer literary organisation in the Indian state Tamil Nadu. “Islam is not […]

Zambia: Censorship row over song that encourages child sexual abuse

Lyrics of a hit song which border on encouraging sex with an under-age was condemned in a press statement by the Children’s News Agency and as a consequence, the song ‘Kanselele’ was banned on several radio stations. Unrelated to the row over Krummy’s hit song ‘Kanselele’, a few weeks later, the musician Clifford Dimba – also […]

New Zealand: American rappers banned from entering the country

Rappers Odd Future from Los Angeles have been banned from entering New Zealand after officials decided they pose a threat to public order. In an official statement, Immigration New Zealand explained that the rappers had been “deemed to be a potential threat to public order and the public interest for several reasons, including incidents at […]

Ethiopia: Book about censorship of arts in the Ethiopian society

‘Maekeb’, which means ‘Sanction’, is a new book by Endalegeta Kebede. It focuses on the censorship challenges experienced by creative members of Ethiopian society. The Reporter in Addis Abeba and the global website published a review of the book, written by Neamin Ashenafi, on 8 February 2014. Excerpts: In countries like Ethiopia, where democracy […]

Cuba: Gorki’s trial suspended

On 10 February 2014 the news arrived, first as a rumour, that Gorki’s trial had been suspended. Then at 3:27pm over Facebook, Gorki Águila gave the following status update: “At 2:00pm, I was informed that the oral presentation of the trial scheduled for Tuesday, February 11 was suspended due to health reasons of my lawyer […]

Cuba: Punk rocker Gorki reportedly again faces years in prison

On 30 September 2013, Cuban punk rocker Gorki Luis Aguila Carrasco, lead singer of the band Porno para Ricardo, was arrested. On a citation for summary judgement dated 27 January 2014, Gorki has now been called to attend a summary trial on 11 February 2014. Exiled Cuban bloggers and reporters are all convinced that the […]

Iran: Unusual sight of musical instruments on state tv

On 1 February 2014, musical instruments were shown on Iranian state tv for the first time in three decades. Tv-viewers in Iran found themselves rubbing their eyes in disbelief when a morning programme on state tv broadcast a group of musicians playing traditional Persian instruments, reported The Guardian. For many it was the first time […]

USA: Freemuse Award winner Pete Seeger dies at 94

A flower has gone “His songs are a catalogue of social activism of the 20th century,” said Freemuse Director Ole Reitov receiving the news of the death of Pete Seeger, who in 2009 received the Freemuse Award. “Pete Seeger’s voice has been one which has constantly been on the side of the oppressed and which […]

Syria: Music banned as Islamic law takes hold in northern province

In a statement, the organisation The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant “banned music and songs in cars, at parties, in shops and in public, as well as photographs of people in shop windows,” warning that “whoever violates these rules will subject themselves to the necessary Sharia punishment.” “Songs and music are forbidden in Islam, […]

China: ‘Tiananmen singer’ Cui Jian censored

The Chinese musician Cui Jian whose song became the unofficial anthem for demonstrating students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests declined a major public appearance over censorship concerns. Cui Jian was due to play at China’s Spring Festival Gala, one of the most watched programmes anywhere on the planet which draws a tv audience of […]

USA: Bun B addresses rap lyrics being admissible in court

Bun B was asked to speak to the American tv-channel MSNBC about rap lyrics, freedom of expression and racial and social profiling. With the New Jersey Supreme Court set to consider whether rap lyrics of a criminal defendant should be admissible in a court of law, Bun B was asked about how this issue is […]

Iran: Freemuse and PEN welcomes release of poets on bail

PEN International and Freemuse welcomes the release on bail on 14 January 2013 of poets and lyricists Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi. They had been held in Evin Prison since 7 December 2013, apparently for their critical writings, no formal charges against them are known. No further action is required at this stage although PEN International […]

UN Special Rapporteur requested to discuss Tibet with Chinese government

Freemuse has requested the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed, to discuss the imprisonment of nine Tibetan singers with the Chinese government. The artists Lolo, Shawo Tashi, Pema Tinley, Chakdor and Choksal have been given sentences of between one and six years. The crimes for which they have been […]

Iran: Freemuse and PEN protest arrest of poets

PEN International and Freemuse protest the arrest of poets and lyricists Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, who have been held in Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin prison since 7 December 2013, apparently for their critical writings. They are feared to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment and there are mounting concerns for their well-being. […]

Iran: President Rohani says that “art without freedom is nonsense”

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said that creativity is developed in the light of freedom and that art without freedom is nonsense. “We have tried to restore trust among the artists by appointing managers who love the Iranian artists’ community… transparency and honesty are our mottos and we are seeking democracy in art,” stated Hassan Rohani. […]

Turkey: ‘Rock‘n’roll Imam’ under investigation

Turkish authorities are investigating whether the imam of a Mediterranean mosque, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, can continue his rock band, or whether the genre is incompatible with Islam. “I have heard that the decision will come in two to three weeks,” Tuzer said by telephone from Pinarkoy. Whatever the verdict will be, “I will continue to […]

Zimbabwe: Banned playwright and visual artist isolated

Playwright Cont Mhlanga and artist Owen Maseko have been harassed, arrested and detained for criticising the government – but while they have been made personae non gratae in Zimbabwe’s art circles, they have not stopped doing what they love. The two artists were portrayed by Inter Press Service, reporting from Bulawayo on 27 December 2013. […]

Iran: Two songwriters and poets arrested

On 7 December 2013 the two Iranian lyricists and poets Dr. Mehdi Moosavi and Fateme Ekhtesari were arrested by the Security Department of Iran Revolutionary Guards. It is generally believed that they were arrested maybe because of their lyrics which have been performed by a famous Iranian singer in exile, Shahin Najafi. Many of their […]

Russia: Freedom to imprisoned Pussy Riot members

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were among those prisoners released on a general amnesty on 23 December 2013. Among the criteria for amnesty were those in prison for non-violent offences and mothers of young children. “We didn’t ask for any pardon. I would have sat here until the end of my sentence […]

Tunisia: Rapper Weld El 15 has been freed

On 19 December 2013, the Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 was acquitted on appeal of singing songs insulting to the police and has been freed, according to his lawyer and his mother. The case against Weld El 15 (real name: Ala Yaacoubi) goes back to August 2013, when Weld El 15 and fellow rapper Klay […]

Sweden: Public broadcaster excludes hit rap song from playlists

Because of ‘violent lyrics’ and a ‘stance against the Sweden Democrats and the Moderates’, the song ‘Black Doves and Wilted Lilies’ (‘Svarta duvor och vissna liljor’) by Timbuktu (real name: Jason Diakité) and Sebbe Staxx (real name: Sebastian Stakset) will not be included on the national Swedish radio’s playlists and is thus practically banned from […]

Russia: Freedom promised to the two imprisoned Pussy Riot members

The Russian State Duma has passed an amnesty bill submitted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that seems to promise freedom for the two jailed members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. According to the attorney Irina Khrunova, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina may be freed before New Year, as soon as […]

Iran: Artists launch petition to end suppression of musicians

In a letter addressed to Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, a group of Iranian musicians, music principals, and supporters have asked him to end the suppression of musicians and music professionals and to ensure that artists are not imprisoned for producing artistic works. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, […]

Iran: Musician and music distributors arrested

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps arrested three men involved in the production, distribution, and promotion of Iranian underground music in October 2913, a source with knowledge of the arrest told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Musician Mehdi Rajabian, his brother, and Yousef Emadi, who managed BargMusic, were arrested on 12 October 2013 in […]

Russia: Pussy Riot appeal referred back to Moscow Court

The Supreme Court has referred an appeal by three members of the Pussy Riot punk group against their prison sentences back to a Moscow court. Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against their sentences on 29 May 2013. The defense team then appealed that ruling at the Supreme Court. The imprisoned Pussy Riot members Maria […]

Tunisia: Rapper Weld El 15 appeal hearing

Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 will spend the next four months in prison, unless he wins the appeal filed by his attorney on 9 December 2013. On 5 December, the 25-year-old artist was sentenced for performing songs deemed insulting to police. The Hammamet court ordered him taken straight to his cell. According to Tunisia rap […]

Tunisia: Two musicians denied access to perform at festival

The organising committee of the festival L’Angar, supported by Turning Tables in Tunis, announced that entry on Tunisian territory has been denied two of the festival’s scheduled artists: El Rass from Libanon (real name: Mazen El Sayyed) and Al Sayed Darwish from Syria (real name: Sawah). The unofficial reason was given orally from a representative […]

China/Tibet: Free jailed Tibetan singers, stars tell China

In 2013, China jailed seven Tibetan singers after they wrote and performed songs celebrating Tibet, opposing China’s occupation and calling for freedom. They join three other singers imprisoned in 2012. Peter Gabriel and Radiohead back campaign to free the imprisoned Tibetan singers who have received prison sentences of up to six years Peter Gabriel, Thom […]

Russia: Pussy Riot members’ appeal accepted by Supreme Court

Russia’s Supreme Court has accepted the appeal by two imprisoned members of the punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, and ordered a review of prison terms for the two, saying that the lower court ignored mitigating factors. The ruling on 10 December 2013 came three months before Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina […]

China/Tibet: Campaign to protect free speech in Tibet

To highlight the fast shrinking space for writers and artists to freely and fearlessly express their views and to pressure China to respect Tibetan rights, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, in partnership with Voice of Tibet and Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts is running a ‘Banned Expression’ campaign on social media and on official […]

Artist Alert: November 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 5 December 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Norway: Christian heavy metal band receives death threats

The heavy metal band Antestor have recieved many death threats because of their Christian religion, reported Karoline Paulsen Årrestad for NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation “It’s pretty disgusting,” said bass player Erik Norman Aanonsen. “Many in the black metal community feel they are a counterculture to the authorities, and especially to the church. That is […]

Tunisia: Freemuse condemns imprisonment of rapper Weld El 15

Rapper Weld El 15 (real name: Ala Yaacoubi) was sentenced four months imprisonment after he turned himself in to a court in Hammamet on 5 December 2013. Freemuse condemned the verdict. “Tunisia should live up to international conventions guaranteeing free speech,” said Freemuse Director Ole Reitov. Weld El 15 was sentenced in absentia earlier in […]

Iran: Popular rapper arrested by Morality Police

Iran’s Morality Police have arrested popular rapper Amir Tataloo. Colonel Massoud Zahedian, Chief of the Morality Police, told ISNA that his unit is actively identifying and confronting Iranian underground musicians who produce their work inside Iran and distribute it on television satellite channels abroad. Zahedian added that following the arrest, Amir Tataloo (real name: Amir […]

Belarus: Blacklisted musicians play abroad

Today a number of prominent Belarusian musicians face serious difficulties when they want to perform for the Belarusian public. Playing concerts in neighbouring countries is one of their solutions. Giving concerts in Belarus has become more difficult for many artists. The Belarusian authorities consider them a threat to the regime. In their songs, some bands […]

India: Rap song about corruption asked to be removed from film

‘Eggjactly’, a rap song about corruption composed, written and sung by Jaaved Jaaferi, is banned form televison by the censor board – and might also be banned altogether from the film ‘Jackpot’.  See on You can listen to the song on Jaaved Jaaferi gives an introduction on live tv to his song, ‘Eggjactly’ India […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member’s case against prison dismissed

Investigators have dismissed again a request filed by convicted Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to initiate a case against the administration of the Mordovian colony where she served her sentence for absence of a crime in the officials’ acts, the Investigation Committee reported. On 23 September 2013, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova declared a hunger strike and requested […]

Cambodia: Song writer Yorm Bopha released on bail

Cambodian land rights activist and protest-song writer Yorm Bopha was released on bail on 22 November 2013, pending a re-hearing of her case by the Court of Appeal. Yorm Bopha was arrested on 4 September 2012, and subsequently convicted of “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code on 27 […]

Russia: Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina appealing to Supreme Court

The defense of a Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, who was convicted last year of hooliganism for singing a song against President Vladimir Putin, will file a supervisory appeal against her sentence with the Supreme Court, her lawyer said. The appeal from the feminist punk rocker follows a similar application with the same court by […]

Tunisia: Rapper receives four-month reprieve on sentence

Rappers Men-Ay (real name: Aymen Feki), and Mister Mustapha (real name: Mustapha Fakhfakh) have been prosecuted for their alleged role in clashes with the police, “insulting a public official in the exercise of his duties” and “breaching good morals” – offenses punishable respectively by one year or six months in prison, according to the Tunisian […]

Tunisia: Fugitive rapper to appeal conviction

Tunisian rapper Weld El 15, on the run since receiving a 21-month jail sentence in absentia in August 2013, will appeal the ruling in court in December 2013, his lawyer said. The new trial will take place at the court in Hammamet on 5 December 2013, the lawyer Ghazi Mrabet told AFP, adding that his […]

Artist Alert: October 2013 | Article 19

Newsletter from Article 19, published on on 14 November 2013: Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. Artist Alert, launched by ARTICLE 19 in 2008, highlights cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused, and […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova located

News of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova finally surfaced after she was incommunicado for 26 days. The husband of the Russian band member said she was being held in a prison hospital in Siberia. According to Verzilov, there is a chance that his wife might spend the remainder of her two-year sentence in the […]

Mauritania: Two rappers detained and interrogated

Security forces detained rapper and singer Leïla Moulay (also spelled: Laila Moulaye) on 13 November 2013, one day after rapper Hamzo Bryn was taken into custody. The detention came in response to their 28 September 2013 online release of a video titled ‘It started from Nouakchott’ by Hamzo’s group Soco Izi, which provoked a wave […]

Russia: Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova punished with move to Siberian prison

The husband of the imprisoned Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said he had received “100 percent reliable” information that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being moved to a prison in the Krasnoyarsk region, four time zones and 2,000 miles from Moscow. The specific prison is not yet known, said the husband, Petya Verzilov, but early indications suggest […]

Egypt: TV bans ‘romantic’ songs amid unrest

The broadcasting of any “romantic” songs or music videos on Egyptian state television channels has been banned, a state-run newspaper announced on Thursday, adding that only “patriotic” tunes will be allowed to be aired. See on

Belarus: Cultural censorship as state policy | Index

Keeping tight control over every sphere of social life is the general policy of the Belarusian authorities. This is true not only about politics, economy or media; arts and culture face censorship as well. Zmitser Yanenka reports from Belarus. Zmitser Yanenka’s article contains three sections: Music: to “black lists” and back • Interview with Aleh […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member’s new prison location held secret

Convicted Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has not been heard from since she was transferred from one prison to another, her husband Petr Verzilov told international news media on 2 November 2013. Petr Verzilov said his wife was moved from a Mordovia prison to a prison in Chelyabinsk on 24 or 25 October 2013. […]

Nigeria: Increase in number of music videos banned for erotic content

Michael Ugwu, the chief executive officer of Iroking, an online centre for afrobeat and Nigerian music, said there has been a large increase in the number of music videos being banned for broadcast in Nigeria. “Artists have begun releasing videos purely for the internet to get round the censors. I have seen the content of […]

Malaysia: American artist banned for offending religious sensitivities

Malaysian authorities have banned a planned concert by the American pop singer Ke$ha after deciding it would hurt cultural and religious sensitivities. The organiser of the concert, Livescape, told the news agencies that it received a letter from the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia about the ban and that it will be losing US$ 350,000 […]

USA: Religious group opposes Christmas carols ‘ban’ in school district

The superintendent at Bordentown Regional School District in New Jersey, USA, was reported by Charisma News to have “banned any and all religious music in the December concerts the district’s elementary schools normally hold”. According to Charisma News, the superintendent at Bordentown Regional School District made a public statement that “religious music should not be […]

Maldives: Allegedly ‘anti-Islamic’ song banned

Maldives National Bureau of Classification stated that the song ‘God Allah Aur Bhagwan’ from the film ‘Krrish 3’ – a much awaited Bollywood superhero science fiction movie – was banned due to its anti-Islamic nature. See on

Tunisia: New union to defend rappers’ freedom of expression

Tunisian rap artists have launched a labour union to defend their interests and promote their art. The ‘National Rap Union’ will be linked to the General Confederation of Tunisian Workers and intends to “raise the level of urgency of files concerning the defence of freedom of expression.” This was reported by Magharebia on 15 October […]

Tanzania: Musician receives death threats for political song

Tanzanian hip-hop artist Nay wa Mitego has been receiving death threats following the release of his new song ‘Salaam Zao’ (‘Greetings’) in August 2013. The rap song’s lyrics are said to have been detested by a powerful section of the population. “They are sending text messages to try silence me. I received the first death […]

Lithuania: Criminal investigation of performers’ use of national anthem

In a performance in 2012, three women sang the national anthem of Lithuania with slightly altered lyrics. A politician complained that this was a “desecration of a state symbol”, and now Lithuania’s criminal police commissioners have allegedly opened an inquiry into the case. Created in 1898, the Lithuanian anthem only names masculine features such as […]

Russia: Imprisoned Pussy Riot member moved to better prison

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, is moved from the prison camp in Mordovia republic, allegedly one of the toughest women’s prison in Russia, to another prison in Alatyr in the neighboring region of Chuvashia. In two rounds, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been on hunger strike for better conditions in the […]

Tunisia: Rapper Klay BBJ acquitted after three weeks in prison

On 17 October 2013, an appeals court overturned the conviction of rapper Klay BBJ on charges of “insulting the police,” Human Rights Watch reported. A district court had sentenced Klay BBJ (real name: Ahmed Ben Ahmed) to six months in prison for performing lyrics it deemed “insulting” at a summer music festival. “It’s great to […]

Norway: Excluded after singing Sami-style joik in church

The Parish Council in Kautokeino rages after trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen ‘joiked’ – a singing technique used by the Sami people from north Norway – during a free concert sponsored by Thon Hotels in Kautokeino church. “I have told Thon Hotels that this was not as agreed. There will be no more concerts like this […]

Cambodia: Call to action for songwriter Yorm Bopha | PEN International

PEN International believes the charges against Yorm Bopha, a lands rights activist and protest song writer, to be politically motivated, designed to prevent her activities on behalf of the Boeng Kak lake community. PEN is calling for her immediate and unconditional release and shows what you can do to help. Arrested on 4 September 2012, […]

NME: Article on political oppression of musicians

“Music feels like a matter of life and death, and sometimes and in some places it really is,” wrote Kevin EG Perry in an article where he introduces NME Magazine’s readers to, among others, the case of National Wake — a punk band from apartheid-era South Africa. The cases of Pussy Riot from Russia, Lapiro […]

Uganda: Censorship, pay offs and deportation | Index on Censorship

“Artists have been censored, paid off or even deported, delivering big blows to artistic freedom of expression in Uganda in the process,” wrote Edward Ronald Sekyewa, Executive Director of Hub for Investigative Media, in an article which was published on Index of Censorship’s website on 4 October 2013. Read the article

Zimbabwe: Reflections of a banned musician – Leonard Zhakata

Listen to Leonard Zhakata – one of Zimbabwe’s biggest pop stars – talk about how he felt when his music was kept off the air. See and listen on

Senegal: Awadi speaks about self-censorship

You can criticise presidents but not religious leaders, says Didier Awadi, one of Africa’s leading artists, to Freemuse Didier Awadi, for decades considered one of Africa’s most respected and outspoken artists, has criticized neo-colonialism, corrupt presidents and politicians. But even outspoken artists consider the fine balance between what may be important to address and what […]

Tunisia: Rapper sentenced to six months in prison

Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ has been sentenced to six months in prison for insulting the authorities in his songs, reported several news agencies on 26 September 2013. That is 15 months less than the sentence he was first given in August 2013. Klay BBJ (real name: Ahmed Ben Ahmed) lost his appeal case after he […]

USA: Madonna launches platform to fight oppression and intolerance

‘Art For Freedom’, led by the American superstar Madonna, is a new digital initiative, an online ‘public art project’, designed to fuel free speech. ‘Art For Freedom’ encourages the world to express their personal meaning of freedom and revolution in the form of video, music, poetry or photography. ‘Art For Freedom’ will launch on 1 […]

Russia: Pussy Riot member subject to death threats and isolation

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who has been convicted to two years in prison over a “punk prayer” protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral in August 2012, has been moved into isolation after she announced to be starting a hunger strike. On 23 September 2013, a letter by the 23-year-old imprisoned Pussy-Riot member announcing her starting […]

Greece: Rapper murdered

On the night of 17 September 2013 approximately 25 Golden Dawn neo-nazis murdered the 34-year-old rapper Pavlos Fissas, known as ‘Killah P’, in Keratsini, a working class neighborhood in Piraeus, Athens. » Information can be found in @antireport, #antireport, #KillahP » This is one of his songs on, roughly translated as ‘I won’t […]

Swedish city offers Gaza rapper safe city residency

Video interview with rapper Khaled Harara from Palestine who the Swedish city of Gothenburg has announced will be offered a ‘safe city’ residency for two years. In April 2013, the 26-year-old rapper Khaled Harara came to the Freemuse secretariat in Copenhagen. Having toured Denmark, he was afraid of returning to his home in Gaza. Khaled […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç concert interrupted by protesters and power cut

A group of protesters intervened in folk singer Ferhat Tunç’s concert by singing the Turkish national anthem. The concert was organised by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Dikili, Izmir. Following a power cut in the concert area, Ferhat Tunç ended the concert saying he would keep singing freedom songs. Clashes broke out between […]

Cuba: Pianist banned and forced to cancel shows

The 41-year-old Cuban pianist and bandleader Robertico Carcassés has been suspended “indefinitely” from performing in Cuba after he improvised lyrics calling for direct presidential elections, freedom of information and the end of the embargo during a televised concert on 12 September in the Cuban capital, Havana. Many of Cuba’s most popular musicians performed at the concert […]

Syrian pianist: “We need freedom for true art”

Syria Untold spoke to renowned Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali about the emergence of new forms of art and music in Syria. Jandali, who composed the song ‘Watani Ana’ (My Homeland) at the start of the revolution, told us what he considers to be his personal contribution to his country: Music for freedom and […]

Cambodia: Golden era of Cambodian music given its second airing

“In 2009, Hobart-born, Phnom Penh-based rock guitarist Julien Poulson, 47, established the Cambodian Space Project. The ‘carousel’ of a band has had up to 22 singers, dancer and musicians, mostly from Cambodia, helping revive some of the music from the era, including that of the murdered artists.” “Pan Ron was the most risque of Cambodian […]

Tunisia: Two rappers convicted to 21 months in prison

Two Tunisian rappers, Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ, have been given 21 month jail terms in absentia for insulting officials, their lawyer said on 4 September 2013, criticising the ruling as a new attack on freedom of expression. This was reported by AFP. The trial took place on 30 August 2013 without the rappers […]

Malaysia: American heavy metal band denied permit to perform

Christian and Islamic groups in Malaysia called for a festival concert with the American heavy metal band Lamb of God scheduled for 28 September 2013 in Kuala Lumpur to be banned. As a result, on 4 September, the band was reportedly denied permit to perform in Malaysia. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir […]

Turkey: Imam who is also a musician receives threats

Imam and rock musician Ahmet Muhsin Tüzer gave a concert with a repertoire composed entirely by himself at Kaş Marina on 10 August 2013. After the concert was reported by the press, he began to receive threatening and insulting messages. ‘Imam led the prayer before concert | Rocker Imam Ahmet’. Published on on 11 […]

North Korea: 12 musicians executed by firing squad

Unconfirmed reports claim the famous North Korean pop singer Hyun Song-wol was among a number of musicians who were executed by firing squad on 20 August 2013, according to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo. On 29 August 2013, South Korea’s largest daily newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reported that Hyun Song-wol had been executed by […]

Iran: Over 200 rock fans arrested at concert

On 16 August 2013 Iranian authorities arrested over 200 fans at a heavy metal concert with the band Dawn of Rage. Police raided the concert without any explanation despite organisers having received a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance sanctioning the event. The concert took place in Shahrak Gharb, an affluent neighborhood […]

Russia: Rolling back free expression | Index on Censorship

As the G20 nations prepare to meet in St Petersburg, Russia in early September 2013, Index on Censorship is exploring the nations’ records on free expression. Their article about Russia, headlined ‘Russia: Rolling back free expression’ and published on 20 August 2013, contains the following paragraph about the artistic freedom of expression in the country: […]

Mexico: Drug ballads banned in Chihuahua

In July 2013 alone, four musical acts have been fined for violating a law prohibiting the performance of songs in the genre – one which often heralds the exploits of drug cartel members. The latest target of such a fine was Alfredo Ríos, better known as ‘El Komander’, who held a show at a baseball […]

Russia: American rock band sparked Russian outrage with flag stunt

The U.S. rock band Bloodhound Gang got kicked off a Russian music festival after having performed a stunt that was seen as the defiling of a Russian flag at a concert in Odessa, Ukraine, on 31 July 2013. Bloodhound Gang’s bass guitarist Jared Hasselhoff grabbed a Russian flag, jammed it inside his underwear and then […]

Vietnam: Musician fined for publishing CD with “depraved contents”

Ngọc Đại, a prominent experimental musician, was fined 30 million dong (app. US$ 1,500) for publishing and distributing his latest album without permission to do so. 1,000 copies of the album were printed, and almost sold out, before authorities reacted. It features lyrics by poets Bui Chat and Nguyen Dinh Chinh who allegedly are banned […]

Burma: Freedom of expression in transition | Index on Censorship

The third section of Index on Censorship’s report, ‘Freedom of expression in transition’, is about artistic freedom of expression and censorship within literature, comedy, visual art, performance art, music, and film in Burma. The report is written by Mike Harris, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, and was published in July 2013. » Shortcut […]

Tunisia: Rapper Weld El 15 set free with a reduced sentence

An agreement was reached to “end the prosecution of Weld El 15 in return for an apology to security officials,” according to National Union of Professional Tunisian Singers. Instead of the two-year prison sentence handed down on 13 June 2013 for his song ‘Boulicia Kleb’, the 25-year-old artist (real name Ala Yaacoub) received a six-month […]

Uzbekistan: Music video blacklisted with “strong suggestion” from security services

Uzbek pop stars sing about the forbidden. Homosexuality, currently banned in Uzbekistan, is finding its way into performances by pop musicians. In 2012, Azlar became famous – and banned – in Uzbekistan for a song about this topic, and now, the musician Asal Choi (“Honey Tea”) is stirring up controversy with a music video where […]

Egypt: Amal Maher’s music banned because of ‘revolutionary’ lyrics

The Egyptian Minister of Information, Salah Abdel Maqsoud, threw down a ban on the former Arab Idol contestant’s music because it was believed to be calling for a revolution against the president. See on

Turkey: Persecuted folk band Grup Yorum in centre of attention

The development in Turkey has given the Istanbul-based folk music band Group Yorum new fame and publicity around the world. On 18 June, Group Yorum signed a statement along with many other Turkish musicians who condemn police violence and what they term as “the government’s abuse of power in Turkey”. Rumors are circulating that the […]

Azerbaijan: Harlem Shake video-maker arrested in Baku, protests in London

One month since Ilkin Rustemzade was arrested for filming a Harlem Shake video in Baku, human rights groups marked the day by staging an ‘Azerbaijan Harlem Shake’ protest in London while calling for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan. This video was published on on 16 June 2013. Three days earlier, the Azerbaijani […]

Freemuse Award presented to Festival au Désert

Manny Ansar, festival director and co-founder of Mali’s world famous ‘Festival au Désert’, received the Freemuse Award on 3 June 2013 at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The award ceremony took place in connection with a UN session on the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity featuring artists and human rights […]

Tunisia: Rapper sentenced to two years imprisonment, violence in court

On 13 June 2013, the Tunisian rapper Weld El 15 was (again) sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the police in a song. Weld El 15, who had previously been in hiding, turned himself in and was immediately taken into custody. Cries were raised in the court room when the verdict was announced. […]

China: Two Tibetan singers sentenced to two years in prison

Two Tibetan singers, Pema Trinley, 22, and Chakdor, 32, who were detained in 2012 for releasing a music album titled ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’ are reported by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy to have been secretly sentenced to two years in prison. The two singers come from a nomadic village called Meuruma. […]

Sweden: ‘Impossible Music Sessions’ in Stockholm

On 11 June 2013, music written by the censored artists Pussy Riot and Arya Aramnejad will be interpreted and presented in the Swedish capital Stockholm by the artists Jennie Abrahamson, Linnéa Olsson and Love Antell. The concert, entitled ‘The Impossible Music Sessions Stockholm Session #1’ is organised by SKAP, the Swedish Society of Popular Music, […]

China: Video and song by Ai Weiwei banned

The song and video for ‘Dumbass’, the first track from Ai Weiwei’s forthcoming heavy metal album, ‘Divine Comedy’, are being blocked on the Chinese Internet — along with the search term “Ai Weiwei”, reported several news media. The track reconstructs Ai Weiwei’s 81-day detention in 2011, including what he says is an exact model of […]

Russia: Jailed Pussy Riot member in hunger strike

Freemuse published the following statement regarding Maria Alyokhina’s hunger strike: Freemuse learns with dismay of the launching of a hunger strike by jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, in protest against the brutal conditions of her detention and the lack of fairly adjudicatation of her conviction. Freemuse sent an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, […]

Freemuse Award to be presented in UN building in Geneva

Manny Ansar, festival director and co-founder of Mali’s world famous ‘Festival au Désert’, will receive the Freemuse Award on Monday 3 June 2013 at the Geneva United Nations headquarters in Switzerland. The award ceremony will take place in connection with a UN session on the right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity featuring artists […]

New book: ‘Music, Culture and Conflict in Mali’

Freemuse are pleased to announce the publication of our first book, ‘Music, Culture and Conflict in Mali’, which is launched in a digital and on-demand paperback edition on 21 May 2013. “Essential reading for anyone who has been touched by Saharan music. It gives a clear and gripping picture of what it’s like to live […]

Iran: Report from Tehran where banned tunes thrive

“Cab rides in Tehran reveal how many flout the rules banning music genres including metal, R&B, hip-hop and kooche-bazaari,” wrote the British newspaper The Guardian on 7 May 2013. The anonymous writer of the article in The Guardian mentions that Iman Hojjat — one of five Tehran musicians who were arrested in January 2013 on charges […]

India: Artists protest against state-sponsored censorship

A protest march demanded that the Bombay High court immediately release of members of the cultural troupe Kabir Kala Manch. Published on on 8 May 2013. On 2 May 2013, artists, writers, journalists, filmmakers, students, cultural activists and actors from theatre groups marched in protest from Sriram Centre to Maharashtra Sadan in Mumbai demanding […]

Algeria: Singer imprisoned for song which mocks police

29-year-old Algerian raï singer Cheb Fayçal appeared in court before the Attorney General in Oran on 2 May 2013 where he was sentenced to six months in prison. He is prosecuted for having performed a song that poked fun at the police and mentions the name of its top official, Abdelghani Hamel. Cheb Faiçal (real […]

Russia: Request for parole from Pussy Riot member rejected in court

A court in the Russian region of Mordovia has denied a request for parole from 23-year-old Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, mother of a five-year-old and one of two jailed members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, reported Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty with quotes from Interfax, AFP, and Russia Today Judge Lidiya Yakovleva said in […]

Pakistan: Online music video banned by Telecommunication Authority

“They are helping us by making this video controversial,” Beygairat Brigade’s lead singer Ali Aftab Saeed said to Pakistan’s The Express Tribune, after the band’s online music video ‘Dhinak Dhinak’ was banned by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Beygairat Brigade put out their new song, ‘Dhinak Dhinak’, on Vimeo on 20 April 2013. First Post wrote: “The song, […]

Myanmar/Burma: Corporate censorship is gaining control

Thangyat is a traditional form of entertainment performed for the New Year Thingyan Water Festival in Burma / Myanmar which takes place this week. Thangyat was banned by the military government after the uprising in 1988 but was kept alive in exile before being allowed back last year. But corporate censorship is now comfortably stepping […]

South Korea: Popular music video banned for ‘abuse of public property’

A South Korean tv station has banned Psy’s music video ‘Gentleman’, allegedly because the rapper can be seen abusing public property, kicking a cone which says ‘no parking’. According to the state-funded KBS, the video clip goes against its standards as a public broadcaster. KBS stated that they have banned videos in the past for […]

Turkey: Pianist Fazil Say sentenced for Twitter posts

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say was given a 10 month suspended jail sentence for blasphemy by the 19th Criminal Court in Istanbul on April 15 2013 after retweeting an ancient poem on Twitter. Fazil Say, 42, was found guilty of violating Article 216 (3) of the Turkish Criminal Code, which prohibits  the ‘denigration of the […]

Tunisia: Artists imprisoned because of rap video

Actress Sabrine Klibi and cameraman Mohamed Hedi Belgueyed were sentenced to six months in prison for their participation in the music video ‘Cops are Dogs’, reported Tunisia Live. At the Court of First Instance of Ben Arous, a southern suburb of Tunis, the artists were charged according to five articles of the Tunisian Penal Code […]

Morocco: Rapper El Haked is finally free

After being arrested twice and serving a one year jail term for his critical lyrics ‘Kilab ed-Dowla’ (‘Dogs of the State’), Mouad Belghouat, whose alias is El Haked (also spelled: Haqed), is finally free, reported Jadaliyya on 2 April 2013. El Haked’s trial attracted huge crowds and brought international and national scrutiny on the supposed […]

China: German band Kraftwerk banned for being pro-Tibetan

The German electronic band Kraftwerk have apparently fallen foul of the Chinese authorities, not for their lyrics or their dissolute ways, but for something they did 14 years ago: In 1999, they were scheduled to perform at a pro-Tibetan independence concert in 1999. According to reports in Beijing, the ministry of culture denied the German […]

Belarus: Feature film about repression and censorship

A unique film about the arbitrary repression in Belarus was screened in Stockholm on 20 March 2013. Unique because it dramatises the suppression in a way which for instance a documentary would not be able to. The film’s title is the Belarusian opposition slogan. It’s called ‘Viva Belarus!’ and is about the young rock musician […]

Angola: CDs, DVDs and audiovisual works confiscated by police

“The Angolan National Police have confiscated CDs DVDs and a series of audiovisual works by Angolan activists in an act of censorship against voices that are unsettling those in power in Angola,” reported Global Voices on 14 March 2013. These works include rapper Brigadeiro 10 Pacotes’ new DVD, a DVD about “the life and work of […]

Tunisia: Rapper and video team charged for hate speech, two arrested

Mohamed Belgueyed, the owner of a video camera, and actress Sabrine Klibi were taken into custody on 10 March 2013 for their connection to the new music video ‘Cops are Dogs’ by Tunisian rapper Weld El 15. The video was uploaded to YouTube on 3 March 2013: The rapper, Weld El 15, (real name: Ala […]

Turkmenistan: Two popular singers released from prison

The two popular singers Maksat Kakabaev and Murad Ovezov were released from prison as part of an amnesty celebrating the National Flag Day in Turkmenistan, reported Freedom Now: “Maksat Kakabaev (also known as MARO) and Murad Ovezov are popular singers who were wrongfully detained in Turkmenistan on fabricated charges. Mr. Kakabaev and Mr. Ovezov were […]

Azerbaijan: Rapper arrested, allegedly for song criticising police

“We strongly condemn the detention and harassment of popular Azerbaijani rapper Said Aliyev, also known as Dado, and consider this action as unlawful interference with his right to freedom of expression,” wrote The Art for Democracy campaign in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on 4 March 2013. On 27 February 2013, Said Aliyev was called […]

Pakistan: Manifestations of tolerance and acceptance of music and art

On Music Freedom Day 2013 at a local hotel in Peshawar, music lovers put their voices together to ensure the freedom of artistic and musical expressions. The participants boldly condemned militancy and extremism in all its forms. Also, at the Peshawar Press Club, a seminar and a protest walk was organised to inform about the […]

Pakistan: The undeclared ban on playing music lingers on

During the last decade, Pashto music has lost artists and singers of high repute. Some have preferred to seek political asylum in the foreign countries. Many are living a miserable life. Receiving threats from militants has become a routine matter. But have things improved lately? Sher Alam Shinwari set out to investigate what the situation […]

Harstad in Norway: First ever safe haven city for persecuted musicians

On Thursday 14 February 2013 at the Nordic music industry conference by:Larm in Oslo, the Norwegian Musicians’ Union presented their new project SafeMuse – and the first ever ‘safe haven city’ within the field of music: Harstad. Imagine that the police would come to the door of the artist and musicians after the concert in […]

France: Rap lyrics targeted

The French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls wants to fight “aggressive” rap lyrics attacking the state, insulting the flag and women. This is the conclusion after a member of the senate had chosen to question him on the subject of what she called “absolutely unprecedented violence against France”. Manuel Valls first responded that “rap […]

India: Major media attention on lack of artistic freedom of speech

India has been enthralled in what Salman Rushdie called a ‘cultural emergency’, with writers and artists harassed for opinions. “In India today, it seems, free speech is itself an atrocity,” wrote Suketu Mehta in New York Times on 5 February 2013: “Writers and artists of all kinds are being harassed, sued and arrested for what […]

Russia: 25-year-old rapper stomped to death

In Arkhangelsk, a city in Northern Russia, a man was stomped to death on 17 February 2013 for rapping at a sports bar. Alexei Gorlishchev, 25, was rapping at the local Bookmaker Pub, sparking the ire of some patrons, the tabloid reported. One of the critics, Artyom Furzikov, 21, offered the rapper to “take […]

Mexico: ‘Narcocorridos’ can be sung again in Sinaloa

On 14 February 2013, The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) in Mexico found that Sinaloa’s governor, Mario Lopez Valdez, had exceeded his powers when he created a legislation which banned public performances of ‘narcocorridos’, drug ballads. The court reversed the decision of the state government of Sinaloa, in northern Mexico, which in […]

Haiti: President accused of censoring three carnival bands

Lead singers behind some of Haiti’s most controversial carnival tunes this year say they are being shut out of the annual three-day pre-Lenten carnival because the President considers their songs too critical of the government. The Haitian bands claim that Haiti’s charismatic president, Michel Martelly, has personally been disinviting bands with carnival songs which criticise […]

Tanzania: Banned musicians appear on Zanzibar festival

This year, the Sauti za Busara festival, which begins today, focuses on freedom of musical expression. Tenth year in a row, the East African music festival again opens its stages for approximately 400 invited performers and an excited local as well as relatively large international audience. This year, the festival has a special focus on […]

Turkey: Pianist Fazıl Say in court for the second time

The celebrated Turkish pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say will be appearing in court for the second time on Monday 18 February 2013. Fazıl Say is on trial for some comments he posted on Twitter and is charged for blasphemy and insulting religious values, with a possible 18-month prison prison sentence. (More about the charges […]

Egypt: Concert cancelled because of threats

In Cairo, singer and guitarist Ramy Essam, winner of Freemuse Award 2011 who performed in front of hundred thousands of people during the final days of the 2011-revolution on Tahrir Square, had to cancel his performance to a few dozen fans due to threats of physical violence. Ramy Essam’s manger received information that groups of […]

Freemuse Award to Festival au Désert in Mali

“The Freemuse Award 2013 is given to ‘Festival au Désert’, which in spite of extreme Islamists’ attempts to silence all music in Mali, defends freedom of musical expression and struggles to continue keeping music alive in the region”, says Marie Korpe, Executive Director, Freemuse. From Bamako, Founder and Festival Director Manny Ansar says: “It is […]

Several musicians brutally killed in Mexico

Several of the musicians from the Mexican group Kombo Kolombia who have been reported missing since 24 January, have been found dead. It is still uncertain how many band members that have been killed.  Kombo Kolombia had been playing a gig in a private bar on Thursday 24 January and alledgedly the muicians were abducted […]

Iran: Singer Arya Aramnejad released from prison

Less than two weeks after a group of international artists joined Freemuse in a campaign for the release of the Iranian singer Arya Aramnejad, who was given 91 days prison sentence, he was able to leave prison. According to Freemuse’s sources, he was released due to so called “international reactions”.  In 2012, Aramnejad was given […]

Iran: Five members of an underground band arrested

Iranian police have arrested five members of an underground band suspected of producing music for Farsi-speaking, dissident satellite channels based in the US, and working with dissident Iranian singers abroad, reported PRI’s The World, and a semiofficial Fars news agency. A prominent Iranian songwriter was reportedly among five musicians arrested in a police raid in […]

International artists support imprisoned Iranian singer

In a letter to the Iranian authorities, world renowned artists join Freemuse in a protest against the imprisonment of their Iranian colleague Arya Aramnejad. The artists’ appeal letter [PDF] Singer Lapiro de Mbanga, who successfully ran a case against Cameroon in The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention because of his wrongful imprisonment, is […]

Chile: Arrest order issued for the killers of singer Victor Jara

A judge in Chile has ordered the arrest of eight former army officers over the murder 39 years ago of well-known left-wing singer Victor Jara — one of the best known victims of Chilean military rule. A few days later, four of the men handed themselves in to the authorities, reported BBC News and Fox […]

Turkey: Protests after Grup Yorum concert was banned

A concert with the Kurdish folk ensemble Grup Yorum which was planned to be performed at Olympic Sports Hall in Bağcılar, İstanbul, was cancelled in the last minute. Group members and a crowd of 500 protested against the cancellation at Bağcılar Yavuzselim district. Police arrived to disperse the protesters but were met with resistance. “They […]

Turkey: Ferhat Tunç’s prison sentence turned into speaking ban

On 27 June 2012, Dersim Malatya Third High Criminal Court sentenced singer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison for having promoted İbrahim Kaypakkaya in a speech he held on 1 May 2011. According to new legal rearrangements, the sentence has now been turned into a three year ban on speaking about the same subject. […]

Kidjo: Fight against censorship by supporting artists who are silenced

Under the headline ‘Songs of Freedom’, singer Angelique Kidjo writes about music censorship and the power of music in The International Herald Tribune’s special theme issue, ‘Global Agenda: Turning Points’ “The mix of melodies and words carries a message much more powerful than spoken ideas. Why? Maybe because when someone sings, truth speak directly to […]

China: ‘Gangnam for Freedom’ – Solidarity dance videos flourish

Ai Weiwei’s censored parody of the famous South Korean music video ‘Gangnam Style’ has created a special Internet trend: solidarity dance videos In October 2012, China’s best-known dissident artist Ai Weiwei presented a music video on the net, ‘Ai Weiwei does gangnam style’, dancing with handcuffs to symbolise Beijing’s efforts to silence him, which was […]

Azerbaijan: Art for Democracy campaign launched

On 10 December 2012, the Baku-based Human Rights Club launched a human rights campaign, Art for Democracy, to provide support to artists who are subjected to human rights violations. “It will be the first campaign of its kind in Azerbaijan, and we hope this new, creative approach will be effective,” said Human Rights Club Chairman […]



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